I've always wanted to play Baten Kaitos--probably since I finished the first Xenosaga. I received Baten for Christmas, but haven't gotten around to it until now.
I have to say, it's the strangest RPG I've ever played. It's not the characters or the so-so story. Rather, it's the atmosphere and the details, the different worlds that you travel to. (I don't want to ruin any surprises for anyone who hasn't played.) All I can say is: bizarre.
I'm really hooked. I wasn't sure how I'd like the card base battle system, but I love it. I actually look forward to dungeons because I never know which cards will come up.
So far there hasn't been any big problems in regards to gender. The main character is a whiney guy who ends up joining a young girl on her quest. I have my own role in the game as a spirit guide--something I really like. I don't have to identify closely with the main character, and I get the opportunity to choose my own name and gender. As far as I can tell, the story doesn't change depending on what gender you chose. (Gender parity? Score!)
There has been the requisite tassel-on-breasts-boss, and a brand new member in my group's party seems to be filling in the role of femme fatale, but on the whole I have to say that I've been pretty happy.