Review by EJRICH
"A Golden Legacy"
Before the age of the N64, it was common practice to do a slight shading of what was to come in a game. For a short time before the game began, a prologue would allow the developer to set up certain points that would tie in with the main plot one bit at time. This was abandoned as time passed, in favor of the more realistic setting that throws the player in the midst of turmoil right away. The story of GS does an excellent job of revolving around certain points that are foreshadowed early on in the plot. The developers managed to strike an almost perfect balance of symbolism, which ultimately allowed the plot to play out with a sense of both smoothness and equality.
The story at first revolves around a young boy named Isaac, an adept from the village of Vale. In the world of GS, Adepts are people who possess a certain link with their natural element, which allows the user to channel it into energy. One fatal night, a roaring tempest arises in his village, and a giant stone is dislodged from its resting place. All at once his life is utterly ruined, with his father dead and his moral broken. His friends received nothing better in the realm of fate than he did. Years later, they are now young adults, students of the village sage Kraden. Problems arise when they enter the innermost sanctum of the local temple, and the quest to rescue a friend is set. One thing that this game does tremendously well is tying in the overall way that characters are developed, and as the game goes by the passage of time will clearly show itself evident in this fact.
Who do you think it is, Godzilla?
In order to clearly connect each village that was integrated within the game, the developers chose to include an over world. The over world is practically the easiest method that could have been implemented, as if they had to actually create pathways for each section of the game, it would have turned into a cumbersome venture for both player and the developer alike. One point that definitely deserves mention originates in the direction of the random encounter ratio of enemy encounters. Generally, it becomes extremely boring to sit through each encounter as you move about the map. This can translate into boredom for the player, which can detract from experience. Another thing that can sometimes hurt the experience of travel is the repetitive background music that continuously loops as Isaac moves about the map. It was very well done, but it just lacks that overall sense that is truly needed to make it an enjoyable experience.
Once you reach a village or town, a dungeon is usually soon to follow. Dungeons incorporate simple puzzles, usually either block or jumping. Both are fun to navigate, as they neither are too hard or too easy for the player to adequately beat. One thing that truly helps the player in this was that the developers chose to actually incorporate the back out feature. Practically speaking, if the player messes up on a puzzle, simply leaving a room will reset it. By allowing this to happen, time is saved. They really did take into consideration the portability factor that this game has to deal with, and while it does have some length issues, it ends up working out perfectly when it is all said and done. Enemy encounters in a dungeon usually last between thirty to fifty seconds on average, which is a good clip for a portable game.
It's a small picture, but the detail that it shows in the form of the ice spell is amazing. Let's look on as the enemy is pelted with jagged snow cones.
With that being said, the game revolves around the age old method of turn based battles. By the end of the game, your party will consist of only four members, which works amazingly well with the system of this game. Each character specializes in a different element-earth, water, fire, and air. These elements all defeat one another in a complex circle, and all enemies hold virtue to this fact. As the game progresses, players will encounter special creatures called Djinni that allow for the class system to be set in place. The class system is customization at its finest, as the ability to mix and match each type of element really adds to the amount of time that can be spent in this system. If the option to set these creatures on standby is chosen, then the ability to let off summons is released. Summons are what some may call the big guns of the game, but they really do hurt the player in a general competitive sense. By using these beats, players weaken themselves to be easily beaten by a character within a higher class. In an overall sense, most prefer just to stick with the abundance of classes.
Sporting some of the best graphics to hit the GBA to this date, Golden Sun truly sets a precedent for future titles. The summons look magnificent; and the ability to see that the developers left out no detail is truly evident. The one main problem that most have with this game is the fact that the over world is very pixilated, and it hurts it to a very high degree. There is an extremely stark contrast between the over world and village graphics-it's almost frightening actually. If they had chosen to spend more time with this, then it could have possibly been avoided. At least taking off the rough edges would have made it look decently better. For a portable game though, there is honestly nothing better.
Let's hope he doesn't fall, because it's a long way down......Can I push him? PLEASE!
After hearing the track that this game offers to its players, one would probably go mad. Some points are absolutely stupendous, while others just sound flat out hideous. What the heck were they doing? There is honestly no excuse for the receptiveness of the over world, as well as some tunes throughout the game such as the danger music. The battle music though is where the game truly shines. Fully orchestrated, everything is absolutely flawless. Granted, it can get a tad bit repetitive, but the overall feel of it is never truly lost. The final battle music alone is one of the best musical pieces that have ever been preformed for a game, outside of the FF series of course. Most boss tracks are a joy to listen to, but the overall atmosphere of the game itself takes away from it in a sense. Some people recommend just listening to it for a moment, and then fighting the boss. Either way, almost everything that this game has to offer is excellent.
The game is generally very easy, with little problems at all.......except when a boss battle comes around. Probably the biggest problem that this game presents is in the way that difficulty is regulated, mainly because something that is easy at one point may not be easy at another. The big point that should be stressed here is the fact that while the boss battles are decently hard, the rest of the game isn't. Random enemy encounters generally are very easy to get past without a single problem, especially since the AI isn't exactly there. Enemies in general won't target your healer, let alone someone who's about to die. Bosses will though, and boy do they do it with spite. Most of the time they will take pot shots at your healer first, then go for the rest. Without a healer supporting your party, things can quickly get out of hand and possibly finishing to your party. The random puzzles that pop up in a dungeon aren't that hard either, mainly because with a bit of thought you can easily get past them.
Throughout each feature of this game, no detail is left out. The worlds of fantasy and adventure collide almost perfectly, with only slight problems in between. They had a very large task ahead of them in the form of making this game have a sense of portability, but in the end they made it work. Buying this game is one of the best purchases that one could ever make; to make it even better the game is going for a decently cheap price as well. Kudos to Camelot for an excellent game.
+Excellent System of Battle.
+Great Character Development.
+Fantastic Music in Most Parts.
+Over World is Poorly Developed in Terms of Graphics.
+Music Can Get Repetitive in Some Spots.
+Random Enemy Encounter Rate is Off.
It's tough to call this game bad by any means, and it would be a shame for you to miss out on it. Think of it like this, it's pretty cheap to pick up right now, and add that to the fact that the game itself is excellent and you have a good buy. You have no excuse not to get it, being bluntly enough. If you don't get it, then shame on you for missing a great game. If you do decide to pick it up, then congratulations for actually being smarter than the guy who doesn't, because you definitely are in for a great deal that you will not be sorry for at all. In a sense, the game is excellently done, so if you don't get it you're only depriving yourself from a truly great experience.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/06/07, Updated 12/22/09
Game Release: Golden Sun (US, 11/11/01)
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