Review by Fossil
"One of the first RPG's on GBA to kick it into high gear."
Golden Sun was one of the first RPG's on the Gameboy Advance. I must say, from the day I bought this game I knew it was going to be one of those greats we all remembered some 15 years down the road. And even though it's been a few years since I've played it, most of the game is still etched into the back of my head.
I never heard of Camelot until Golden Sun. They did a great job bringing the RPG era to life on the GBA. This game has a rich storyline and great gameplay to offer. Any true RPG fan can easily appreciate it's uniqueness and value in the gaming world. No reason not to give Golden Sun a try.
Gameplay - 10/10
Golden Sun has a rather unique setup for play in my opinion. Given, I'm not an avid gamer much anymore, but compared to most RPG's I've played, this is much different. Menu's after menu's under more menu's, the options are near unlimited. Most 2D games that involve moving objects of sorts around usually have this 'discoloration' to them that tells you it is an animate object you will end up using. Golden Sun does a good job of keeping puzzle objects and the such blended in with everything else. And might I add, the puzzles can get very tricky. I remember many a times I gave up for weeks because of one stupid puzzle, just to turn the game back on and suddenly figure it out from something I skipped or forgotten in the past events.
The game consists mostly of 3 different "real" types of play. Overworld, third person and battling. Overworld is you venturing across the continent with a birds eye perspective. Third person is everything in-depth after you leave the Overworld. Everything is much more detailed and gameplay mostly takes place in this setting. You will find battling can take place just about anywhere but in towns. Though you probably will get annoyed of running into monsters every half second just trying to make it to the next town.
Psynergy is the chi, so to speak (bodily energy) in Golden Sun. Adepts are the only ones capable of using it and it "just so happens" everyone you adventure with is an Adept. As you play more and more, Psynergy will become something you will get used to using very quickly. You'll gain a very wide range of skills from something as simple as Pushing objects, Pulling, Gust, to harder abilities like Cloak and Force. They all have there applications throughout the game and one good thing is the L&R buttons can be used to hotkey 2 of them so you don't have to enter the menu all the freaking time just to use it at the heat of the moment. Most Psynergy can be used in and out of battle. Depending on what it is. Like Cure obviously has healing properties in a fight, but Move wouldn't really do anything in a fight.
Then there are the Psynergy battle moves. Psynergy is awesome to use and the more you level, the more powerful the attacks become. Mixing Djinn(explained later) can give your characters some very interesting and unique Psynergy to use in battle. Definitely explore with this and get a taste for all of it.
Like all RPG's, Golden Sun has the typical character stats, leveling and items/weapons to make your characters more powerful and all that good stuff. Weapons and items can mostly be obtained from one of two ways - Buying them or finding them. Most towns have shops to buy healing items and/or the next best weapon or armor to equip on your characters. However, usually when you find something worth buying, there is something else just a little bit better ahead of you. Psynergy will come in use for finding random items or coins hidden in pots/barrels/crates, etc.
In Golden Sun there are little creatures called Djinn that possess the powers of Psynergy. There are 4 different types of Djinn that correlate with the game's elemental energies. Earth, Fire, Water and Wind.
You find them throughout the game and the more you find, the more powerful your character becomes. Most are a pain to get though because it requires doing some complex puzzle or tricking them too going with you. Just like leveling, finding Djinn can also grant you new powers in battle. You can also switch different elemental Djinn with your characters and really make for some interesting Psynergy. However, in my opinion I generally find pure classes more powerful than mix. But mixing can get you some Psynergy powers that other characters may not be capable of using normally.
Djinn also have another important use. Summons. When you engage in combat, you can use Djinn to perform an action that ranges from extremely powerful attacks, raising your attributes or placing negative effects on your enemies. You can choose to either use a Djinn or set them in standby. Doing this pretty much prepares them for a Summon. The more Djinn you have in standby, the more powerful the summon will be. Which make for some of the most impressive graphics I've ever seen for a handheld game. After summoning, the Djinn will go into recovery. After a few turns or after enough steps have taken out of battle, they will return to Set mode to be used again.
Battling in general is very engaging. You have many options to decide what you want to do, especially later on when your party has 4 people in it. Attack, defend, use Psynergy or Djinn. Use an item to heal or use an item to attack with, etc. I always love using Psynergy, the graphics are bad ass, especially the summons later on.
Control - 8/10
There are tons of menus in this game which you can get lost in very quickly. So it might take some time to get used to after you get lost in a sub-menu of another menu. :|
Storyline - 9/10
The storyline is very rich in this game. From the very second you start, storyline storyline storyline. I must admit, there is quite a bit of dialogue at the begining, even for an RPG game. However it serves to help you understand everything from the get go and you will find yourself hungry for more.
Graphics - 9/10
What can I say about detail. Handheld games these days can do impressive things with the limited technology they have. Golden Sun went beyond the limit as far as graphics go. I was very impressed with backgrounds, especially using psynergy in battle *cough*Ragnarok*cough*. I mean the only thing more impressive would be to see how this would look if it were a 3D game.
Music/Sound - 10/10
The music in this game is AWESOME. I love this music so much I have most of it set as ringtones on my cellphone. I honestly can't even describe its awesomeness. It creates such an ambient environment that mixes beautifully with the setting you are in.
The sound is just as good as the music. It blends in nicely, the Psynergy attacks especially. Background sounds are kind of interesting, they help you solve puzzles actually. Be sure to pay good attention to what you hear. You might just hear something familiar that'll help you advance.
Overall - 9/10
Definitely give Golden Sun a try if you own a Gameboy Advance/SP. It's a great RPG title for any fan of the genre. Though I wouldn't say the replay value is very high since the game doesn't really provide you much free roam to play with outside of the main objective. You may be satisfied with the overworld exploration by itself. And if you do, you will fall in love with the sequel very quickly. Playing through should last you a good 20 hours at least. Depends on how quickly you play. If you rush things, explore, take time to read the unfolding story or simply level up beyond what is necessary to take out the next level of enemies.
I'd probably play a lot of my RPG games over and over, however most of them like Golden Sun are burned into my brain for many years down the road. Sucks really, but the game doesn't. Now go play it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/26/06, Updated 09/01/08
Game Release: Golden Sun (US, 11/11/01)
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