"As good as gold."

Background/Story
The small village of Vale sits at the foot of Mount Aleph. This mountain is the most sacred peak in the continent of Angara. The Sol Sanctum-a temple on the Mountain is guarded by the Elders of Vale. The Sol Sanctum contains a seal that controls the powerful ancient science of Alchemy. The seal has been broken and if the powers of Alchemy fall into the wrong hands, the world will come to an end. And, of course, the powers of Alchemy have fallen into the wrong hands. It is up to Isaac and three of his friends to restore order to the world. This game is developed by Camelot and published by Nintendo.

Game Statistics
64 megabit cartridge.
4 characters per party.
Battery backed memory to save progress.
3 save locations.
2 cartridges required for link play.

Game Design
Golden Sun plays like many other RPGs. The main character (and his party) goes from location to location fighting in battles and gains experience as a story progresses. Experience is gained through fighting in battles. As experience is gained, the characters gain new abilities and become more powerful. What separates Golden Sun from other turn based RPGs is that there is more emphasis on using magical attacks (called Psynergy) then physical attacks. Small creatures called Djinns dictate the power of the psynergy that can be used. The more Djinns that are given to a character, the more psynergy can be used. Of course, the experience level of your character also dictates the amount spells that can be used. Djinns can also be unleashed in battle. Different Djinns do different things when they are unleashed, some will damage the enemy while others will improve the party's status. Once a Djinn is unleashed it can be summoned for a powerful attack. If many Djinns of the same element are released an extremely powerful attack can be summoned. Golden Sun also includes a multiplayer mode where one can battle another's party. While it is not a ''killer'' multiplayer mode, it is a nice addition to an RPG. All in all Golden Sun is a very well designed game. It can stand up to the best-of-the-best of the RPG genre.

Graphics
Simply stunning. The best looking Game Boy Advance game to date. The world map uses mode 7 graphical effects such as Mario Kart: Super Circuit and looks excellent. The towns and dungeons are very detailed and look comparable to the environments found in 2-D Nintendo 64 games. However, it is during the battle scenes when this game truly shines. The graphical effects when psynergy and Djinns are used are phenomenal. It would cause you to wonder what Game Boy Advance games will look like in a year from now. However, during some of the elaborate summons and spells, the framerate takes a hit.

Sound
The music and sound effects are awesome. The musical score mostly consists of orchestrated music, which is well implemented to the different areas of the game. The sound effects contain the typical sword ''sha-wings'' as well as awesome sounds for the different magical effects. However, the single greatest audio element is the use of character speech audio. Do not get confused, there is no audio speech, (cartridges do not have that much space) when a character speaks, a simple mumbling can be heard. This mumbling really moves the story; it allows the users to feels the character's emotions. The audio quality in this game, much like the graphical quality, is extremely high.

Control
Overall, the controls are great. However this game does have a few shortcomings in the control department. The main action button is the A button, it is used to speak to people, to make menu selections, etc. However, it also brings up the menu screen during game play. Often times, one will press A to bring up the menu screen and something else will happen. Also, all turn based RPGs should have menus that can be quickly navigated during battles. Golden Sun's battle screen menus are slower then other RPGs. For any upcoming Golden Sun sequels, I certainly hope that these problems are corrected.

Satisfaction
RPG fans will love this game. It has all of the elements that make a good RPG. People who are being introduced to the genre will enjoy playing this game as well. This RPG is not as complicated as some other RPGs (such as the Ogre Battle series) and it is not incredibly easy either. Golden Sun is in the mid-rage in terms of difficulty.

Replay Value/Game Length
While Golden Sun is not as long as some of the SNES classics (Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger), you will get your money's worth. The multiplayer battle mode also adds some replay value to the game.

Overall
Golden Sun is certainly an awesome game. It is well worth a purchase. There are a few minor shortcomings that prevent this game from being one of the best-of-the-best for the Game Boy Advance. It looks like Camelot has a nice new franchise to develop and expand upon.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/15/02, Updated 03/15/02


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