Review by zephyrmaster

"Good RPG profiling the best of the GBA"

When I walked into my local Game Crazy store (An affiliate of Hollywood Video if you didn't know), I wasn't planning to buy any game. In fact, I was considering buying a used copy of Chu Chu Rocket, which seemed very appealing. Then I saw a copy of Golden of Sun, used, for the price of $20.00. I thought, ''What the heck, I heard it's good'', and I asked to try the game. One try with the game and I bought it. It was worth it.

Gameplay: Excellent. This game's gameplay is extremely good. The main view in cities and in levels in similar to final fantasy games for the gameboy, but with the ability to climb stairs and go up and down in a level etc... This view is clear and concise. When you are traveling between the many towns and levels, the view changes to a world map view. This view is very cool, as it looks very crisp and is in 3d while you run around. In the world map, L zooms out and R gives you a static map. A neat feature is the random battles with the elusive Djinn, which will be explained below. Fortunately, this game has a run button, and if you are like most people, you will be constantly holding that button because the normal walking speed is slow.

The rpg elements in this game are fairly weak, especially for ''hardcore'' rpg gamers. Each character has a few basic stats, and these just go up with the level. Hp, mp, and exp are also there, being standard fare in almost all rpg games. Leveling up in this game is fairly easy, and leveling up will occasionally grant you a psynergy (more on that and Djinn's later). You can't customize your character at the beginning of the story, everyone plays with the same character. During the game, you get allies, but these allies are always the same also. This game's rpg elements are almost akin to Final Fantasy's system.

The battle system in Golden Sun is very bland and very weak. Many bad-guys can be defeated in combat by just pressing the a button until you have chosen all your commands. The options include attack, use psynergy, use djinn, summon djinn, use item, and defend. One very annoying feature of this game is that when an enemy is defeated, any of your other characters that were going to attack it default to defend rather than attack a different enemy! This is quite a distraction, as throwing all your guys at one enemy could severly lengthen the battle. The backgrounds in battle are different from each area, and are simply stunning. The enemies in Golden Sun are derivative, and most of the enemies are copied from area to area, with just a new name, new stats, and occasionally a new coloring. The bosses are much better, and not much excess leveling up is required to beat most bosses, which is a definite plus.

The Djinns and psynergy are Golden Sun's forms of magic. The Djinns are particularly interesting, as a feature similar to them has not been on any recent game. The Djinns are basically creatures that augment your character's ability. The game has a total of 28, 7 each of the 4 elements, earth, wind, water, and fire. One fault of Djinns is the fact that they have to been as evenly divided between the characters as possible. This is a definite downfall if you have an excess of one element's djinns. Djinns can be in two states when held by a character, set and standby. In set mode, the Djinn augments the character's ability, and will generally change the character's class. In standby mode, the Djinn does nothing to the stats of the character, but can summoned in battle to great effect. Using a set Djinn in battle will do a specific thing. For instance, one djinn could heal the hp of the party, while another could reduce the foe's agility. Some Djinns can be found in random battles, while others have to be found in specific areas. The inclusion of Djinns in this game increases the replay value, as it's fairly difficult to find them all.

Psynergy is Golden Sun's magic system. All of the psynergies that are essential to the completion of the game are usually given by items, the rest are decided by the character and the djinns that they have. All of the characters have a propensity toward a certain element, and mixing djinns of different elements will in fact weaken the character overall. Different combinations of djinns can produce different psynergies for each character. Many of the psynergies are used outside of battle, in the gameworld. Some psynergies include ''Move'' (guess what that does...) and ''Catch'' (guess what that does too...). Other psynergies are only usable in battle, either causing damage or increasing or decreasing abilities. Some of the most essential psynergies include the healing psynergies, which are very useful since the magic points slowly replensish!

This games puzzles and levels are very nice. Some of the puzzles in the game are very easy, but occasionally a difficult one will take a little while to find out. This game can definitely be considered as a rpg directed toward children. The less than difficult puzzles and levels won't present much of a problem to an experienced gamer or ''rpg'er''. There are plenty of puzzles in the game, and most aren't repeated very often. Puzzles will range from standard game fare with ''pushing the blocks in the proper place'' puzzles to having to roll logs into stragetic positions. The various levels in the game are nice, and each area has a very definite and obvious general theme as you enter them. None of the levels are very expansive, which is a large disapointment. Most areas can be passed through easily without using restorative items or having to load a previous save game.

Story: The story in Golden Sun is questionable. The story is nothing special, it is standard rpg fare, with no distinguishing features. Basically Issac (your main character), and his eventual party have to defeat the evil Saturos in a climatic battle for the fate of the world. Yeah, it's cliché, but the story really detract much from the overall game. The story is told through occasionally lengthy cutscenes, full of talking, emotions, and movements that use the standard game engine. If you enjoy following a story and actually knowing what you are trying to do, the cutscenes will be a welcome feature. If you don't enjoy cutscenes or you are replaying Golden Sun, you will despise the lack of a skip feature. This omission was obviously intended to aid the ages that this game was targeted at originally (kids).

Graphics: Three letters. W-O-W. I know that some won't agree, but this game' s graphics are superb and really show the GBA's abilities. Everything that involves graphics in this game is top-notch and is absolutely stunning. The characters look awesome, the towns look awesome, the backgrounds look awesome, the djinn attacks look awesome, the psynergy attacks look... you get the point yet? If you want a game that really shows what your gameboy can do, try this game out.

Sound: If this game were just rated on sound and graphics, this game would recieve a 10.5/10. Remeber, this is a GAMEBOY, but when you listen to the music with headphones on, you will understand my infatuation with this game's wonderful music. The music in this game is almost CD quality, running multiple sound channels with wide varieties of sounds. The music isn't a lame sequence of beeps and boops, it's well composed, with many classical instruments. While some of the music does repeat, it always sounds good. The boss music is especially notable, as the the boss music always seems to match the boss. In the sound effects category, Golden Sun receives a perfect with one exception. The ''speech'' sound that the characters make when talking is both aggravating and annoying. Fortunately, you are able to turn it off in the options menu.

Replay Value: Anyone who has played an rpg will realize that rpgs generally have a low replay value. Unfortunately, Golden Sun is no different. Collecting all the Djinns may take a while, but after that, there isn't much left to do in the game (once you have beaten the final boss of course!). 'Nuff said.

Pros:
- Stunning graphics that truly display the Gameboy Advance's best abilities.
- Fairly Lengthy (20+ hours of gameplay)
- Innovative Djinn system that adds to gameplay and replay value
- Superb music. Use headphones and you will agree.
- Not much repetetive leveling up is required to beat bosses
- Save anywhere (no annoying save points!)

Cons:
- The story is extremely cliché
- Occasionally clunky user interface
- Easy and simple battle System
- The ''speech'' sounds very annoying (can be turned off)
- Easy puzzles
- Only three save slots
- As with all rpgs, low replay value

Overall : Worth the purchase, for all owners of the Gameboy Advance. While this game does have some flaws, its still a good solid game, and is one of the best games currently out for the Gameboy.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/02, Updated 11/08/02


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