Review by proach_

"Golden Sun is as good as Gold!"

When I first heard that this game was released, I couldn't wait to play it. After playing Dragon Warrior VII, I was hungry for more of that vintage SNES style of RPGs and I thought what better way to satisfy that hunger with Golden Sun which was just that, a memory of the SNES Era(1991 to 1996). Now the question is, does it live up to the Golden Era of Console Role playing? The answer would have to be yes, Golden Sun is right up there with those SNES classics.

Battles-
The battles engine in Golden Sun is pretty basic stuff with a twist. It's the same old Turn based, Menu based kind of thing. However there are forces called Djinni that you can summon and this feature helps spruce up the Battles. You can find up to 28 of them scattered around the world and in order to obtain them you can either catch them or fight them. Much like obtaining Summons in Final Fantasy games or obtaining Pokémon in Pokémon. Seven of these Djinni are of the fire element, seven from the water element, seven from the air element, seven from the earth element. Now when you have these Djinni slotted onto a character, you can choose to put them on standby or set them. If you choose to set them, you will acquire certain attribute bonuses according to the Djinni that you set. When you summon a Djinni in battle, they are automatically put in Standby. If you have enough Djinni put on standby, you can then call a particular Summon. For eg. The level 1 Fire Summon requires your character to have 1 Fire Djinni on standby, The level 2 Fire Summon requires your character to have 2 Fire Djinni on standby, etc. There are 16 summons in total, 4 for each element. There are level 1 summons, level 2 summons which are more powerful, level 3 summons which are even stronger than level 2 and level 4 summons which are the strongest. After you call a summon, the Djinni that you had on standby will need to take a few rounds to recover. Some may think this is a rip off from Final Fantasy's Summons but Djinni are much more than that, they are like Final Fantasy and Pokémon with a twist. Also, Golden Sun seems to be a lot more forgiving when it comes to using MP which is called Psynergy Points in this game. Psynergy Points can regain over time when you walk and they are much more useful than Magic as in other RPGs. In most games, the mindless Normal Attack and heal occasionally method will work almost all the time, but not so in Golden Sun. Golden Sun forces you to rely on your Djinni, Summons and Psynergy. Overall, for a Game Boy Advance game, Golden Sun has an excellent battle system. Even though the game was released in 2001, You can't expect a whole lot from a handheld that is equivalent to the SNES in terms of power but with 32-bits of memory instead.

Controls/Menus -
It is all pretty basic RPG stuff. You press the A button and you select from a menu. You go up to a person and press A to talk, you press B to sprint, etc. There are also hotkeys for instant Psynergy spells, which you can set in the game and those hotkeys are the L and R buttons.

Gameplay Mechanics-
Golden Sun has your basic gameplay mechanics. You have the same old stats: Hit Points, Psynergy Points(Equivalent to Mana or MP as most RPGers are familiar with), Attack, Defense, Agility and Luck, you have the same old level up system, equipment, items, shops, inns, dungeons and puzzles. However Golden Sun is much more level up friendly in that you don't need to spend the time to level up much and the game is centred more so on puzzle solving. In fact, there is a tournament in which you have to solve puzzles almost exclusively in the game. I found the enormous amount of puzzles really fun and pretty challenging, it was a fresh experience from rather than having to read over mountains and mountains of text(Final Fantasy), levelling up and exploring dungeons for treasures (Dragon Warrior, just about any Online RPG out there :) )

Challenge-
Having to put up with the enormous difficulty in Baldur's Gate recently, Golden Sun seems as easy as taking candy from a baby :) But in reality Golden Sun is more of a easy/medium difficulty level, it's not that easy. The puzzles add in the challenge and some of the boss battles are pretty tough. The random encounters can be tough if you just mindlessly press that action button like most RPG Gamers do but they are usually nothing to worry about. Overall, Golden Sun is more on the beginner side but its not incredibly easy like Final Fantasy VII.

Replay Value-
I'm not going to lie to you, when it comes to length, Golden Sun comes out to be a little short. However, the longevity can be stretched a bit with the Battle mode in which you can duel against your friends. Why most RPGs don't have this type of option available is beyond me.

Graphics-
For A Gameboy Advance game, Golden Sun looks beautiful. Great 2D art, lots of colour, great character art, great monster art, and excellent animations especially the Djinni animations.

Sound-
The musical score was great especially for the Game Boy Advance, which has sound quality that doesn't even match up to the SNES. A lot of the tunes are memorable and there was such a great use of a variety of instruments used in the MIDI-like tracks for Golden Sun. The sound effects were pretty good as well, nothing annoying or irritating to mention.

The Scores:

GAMEPLAY- 9.3
GRAPHICS- 9.0
SOUND- 9.0
VALUE- 8.0
FUN/ENJOYMENT- 9.5

OVERALL SCORE- 8.9(Rounded to 9)
Golden Sun is an excellent Role playing game for the Game Boy Advance. I know this saying is clichéd (much like Golden Sun is in general) but even though the game may be short, it’s still sweet. This game, in my opinion should have won the RPG of the year award for 2001, definitely. Instead, Final Fantasy X got it and this was to no surprise seeing that Camelot is nowhere as popular as the RPG Giant that we know as Squaresoft. I recommend that you buy this title, because even though you might finish the game in just 20 hours or so, you can still have fun duelling friends. If you happen to enjoy this game, you may want to pick up Golden Sun 2 in the Christmas of 2002.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/10/02, Updated 03/10/02


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