Interview: Baten Kaitos I & II HD Remaster is out now! Here are some thoughts from the original development team
To celebrate the release of Baten Kaitos I & II HD Remaster, we asked some key developers from the original games (and who oversaw the update) to reminisce on the classic RPG series.
What was it like re-releasing work that you did 20+ years ago? Was there anything surprising to you about returning to these classic games from an earlier part of your career?
Honne: Although I am only supervising the Remaster version, to be honest I really want to remake the whole thing since the original version was released 20 years ago. But unfortunately, I don't think any gamers out there have the same thoughts as mine, haha.
I feel relieved and happy to look back at how well the game was made, in terms of playability and length.
Kojima: We are genuinely happy that more people will have the opportunity to experience Baten Kaitos. I would like to thank all the fans for their continued support and everyone involved in the Remaster's production.
One thing that amazed me once again was the background art, which is still beautiful after 20 years, probably because it is 2D art. It is also surprising that Mr. Honne drew all these almost by himself at the time.
Higurashi: It is a very strange feeling, and to tell the truth, it feels surreal. I have enjoyed playing the remastered titles of respected seniors in the industry, but I never had the thought of having the opportunity to be a part of a remaster project based on a title I was involved on.
When creating the key art for the remastered version, I faced the illustrations I drew in the past. Looking at Kalas in the drawings, I could vividly recall what I was thinking in the past when creating, the feeling of the tools I used, and the faces of the people who supported me. It really made me want to talk about each of my memories during development in the past, recall how much fun I had and how fortunate I was to have the opportunity to work on such a good title.
These games have stood the test of time and the fanbase enjoys various aspects of the games. What do you personally enjoy most about them?
Honne: While I am very confident and proud of the background artwork since I take the worldview and the use of colors very seriously in the game, at the same time Baten Kaitos is a game where all development staff worked hard; hand-and-hand together like an orchestra, skillfully piling up their own rich and dignified notes. For my favorite, I personally would choose Mira, the City of Illusion that goes its own ways.
Kojima: The charming character designs, the uplifting music, and everything apart of those are lovely, but if I had to pick only one thing, it would be the fact that the player can become a spirit and participate in the story. This wonderful world setting is what I love about Baten Kaitos.
Higurashi: Hmm, will it sound like I am lying if I say I love all of them? I’m a big fan of Baten Kaitos so I can list out a lot of different elements, but if I need to choose just one, I will say I love the story of the characters the best. Every character has their own desires and emotions, and I feel like all characters and the universe of Baten Kaitos have their own souls.
Do you have any special message to fans who are experiencing these games for the very first time?
Honne: Although the original games were released 20 years ago, I hope you can enjoy going on a relaxing journey in the world of Baten Kaitos I and II. I am sure that wonderful memories will be made.
Kojima: Baten Kaitos is a fantasy RPG in which you and your companion explore a wide variety of landscapes. It is such a classic RPG, yet it is filled with various innovations, including an innovative battle system. We hope you will enjoy this journey away from your daily lives.
Higurashi: We are very happy to bring to you the remastered version for Baten Kaitos. Although the original titles were released 20 years ago, they are still such masterpieces that even me as a creator is very eager to share from a fan's perspective! I am confident that those who are playing the games for the first time will enjoy this remaster.
The Music of Baten Kaitos with Motoi Sakuraba
What was it like revisiting your work on Baten Kaitos? Is there anything surprising about relistening to compositions you made in the past?
Sakuraba: The orchestra pieces sounded beautiful. The arrangement is simple and the melody is easy to enjoy. I was surprised when listening to the rock pieces and other tracks with synthesizer because I remembered I had a lot of creative freedom when composing them.
Is there a piece of music in the games that you are particularly proud of?
Sakuraba: I’m proud of all the battle songs from Baten Kaitos I & II. I like them because they show my true side the most. The other one is "Le ali del principio" from Baten Kaitos II. My daughter, who was a small child at the time, sang it. She did her best to sing it in Italian until the end of the song.
The Baten Kaitos soundtracks incorporate many different elements from grand symphonic orchestration to synthesizers/prog rock. Can you describe your creative process a little bit?
Sakuraba: Many of the songs in the Baten Kaitos soundtrack were not created with a specific musical genre in mind but rather came naturally as a result of trying to bring out my feeling. So, I didn't have any idea of what elements I wanted to include in these songs.
To create these songs, I needed to understand the emotions for the scene, and if possible, I referred to the visual. Then I tried to adjust or rethink the piece I made by discussing with the producers.
What I tried to achieve with the Baten Kaitos I & II soundtrack, and this goes for other titles as well, is to make the music blend perfectly with the gameplay so people are fully immersed when playing the game.
Did your creative approach change between the first and second game?
Sakuraba: In Baten Kaitos I, battle songs usually emphasized hardness. In Baten Kaitos II, acoustic instruments such as piano and violin were also used, adding a light atmosphere to the songs. In addition, one thing that I incorporated into Baten Kaitos II that I couldn’t in Baten Kaitos I was putting actual vocal sounds into the main songs.
Do you have a message for new players who will experience these games for the first time?
Sakuraba: We hope you will enjoy this work with its unique atmosphere and music! It would be great if you would listen to the music because it is very easy to understand.
BATEN KAITOS™Series & ©Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.