Bandai Namco just surprise-dropped 2 classic Baten Kaitos RPGs on Steam

Baten Kaitos Ⅰ & Ⅱ HD Remaster – Steam Launch Trailer - YouTube Baten Kaitos Ⅰ & Ⅱ HD Remaster – Steam Launch Trailer - YouTube
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Eleven whole months ago, a South African ratings board indicated that the Baten Kaitos 1 & 2 HD Remaster collection existed for PC, despite 2023's Bandai Namco only announcing it for the Nintendo Switch. That's a long time for a PC release to be MIA with no other sign it exists, but all of a sudden, whammo, here we are—Baten Kaitos 1 & 2 are out on Steam right now, after being released on the Nintendo Switch last September.

If there's a way to release a game with less than zero fanfare, this might be it. There's no sign of the games on the Steam homepage or even a news article on the Steam page itself contextualizing the launch. Which is a shame, because seeing these games now available on a platform where they'll be playable for decades to come is a great thing.

The Baten Kaitos games are among the last of a generation developed with highly detailed pre-rendered environments instead of fully relying on real-time 3D. There's a lush, painterly quality to them that few games evoke even today, though I'm not sure how well they hold up to modern resolutions (upscaling those kinds of detailed 2D graphics can unfortunately get pretty muddy).

I've only played a few hours of the first Baten Kaitos, but the second game, Origins, is a last-of-its-breed classic, a Japanese RPG with gorgeous art, an interesting world and surprisingly well-written and voice acted characters for this genre in 2006. It also has a crackling battle system: both games are card battlers, now en vogue but uncommon at the time. Where the original game's battles are a bit stodgy, Origins brings in an arcadey sensibility where you're playing cards at a rapid clip and stacking them into killer combos. Origins has flow, something Baten Kaitos's combat didn't quite nail, even though it still gives you some meaty strategy and card mechanics to chew on. And hey: they're both in the collection, anyway.

Because the pair of RPGs were originally developed by Monolith Soft for the Nintendo GameCube, which is now owned by Nintendo—and Origins was also published by Nintendo—there was speculation last year that perhaps a release on any platform other than the Switch was off the table. I'm glad that turned out not to be the case. I've had a running save file of Baten Kaitos Origins loaded up in my Dolphin emulator for years now, returning to it every so often just to enjoy the battles. It's great to see an official release bring another bit of JRPG history to PC, just a few days after the Kingdom Hearts series finally made it to Steam, too.

It doesn't look like Baten Kaitos 1 & 2 HD Remaster is Steam Deck verified, but I'm sure the series' fans will get it working on the Deck before long, regardless.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).