Review by Kaiden
"Best RPG available for the GBA, ever."
Here it is, Golden Sun is one of the best RPG available on the GameBoy Advance, and it's even better than some others RPG for other consoles. Why? It's a fair simple RPG, with puzzles, status and everything. The graphics are still amazing, the musics are ok, the Battle System and Status Improvement System are far the best I've ever seen, the Characters, even if they're not much characterized, are still great.
GRAPHICS: I think it's the game with best graphics available on the GBA: all is in false-3d (on a 3/4 visual like Final Fantasy VI). Cities and tilesets are MANIACALLY detailed, character sprites are also wonderful (with plenty of different animations). Dialogues are easily readable and well written. The World Map is nearly 3D, but it isn't as detailed as in-depth maps like villages, dungeons and others. Psinergy (the Magic of the game) effects are wonderful (even if the goofy White Hand can repeat itself, even if it has different moods) and so are movements (speedy and fluid). As for the battle, Golden Sun presents a very very very near 3D battle system (it has a rotation system so it seems 3D but it's not). You basically see your characters by behind with the enemy in front (all diagonally)...and Characters and Enemies do MOVE even if they're doing nothing. Spell (Psynergy) animations are far the best for an RPG (even not GBA ones): there are nearly 80 different Psynergies in the game...even if some are only the improvement of the one below (F.E. Turboray is an improvement of Ray, so only a few light shots are add). Summons effect, even if the creature does not move, are beautiful! There are sixteen summons in the game and (except for the first 4 of each element that resemble much each other, if it wasn't for the colour)are all well-animated and coloured. Still, the graphics of Golden Sun has shocked me. I don't know how much time has been spent for this...but it's definitely worth of it! One bad note: EVERY sword looks the same on one character, and so is for EVERY axe, EVERY dagger, EVERY rod...anyhow, it's still a wonderful work! 10/10
SOUNDS: Well..there's nothing to be excited about, here...musics are certainly good (the Final Boss one and the Battle one are far the best I've ever heard in a game) but the Battle music can be boring sometimes, because you'll hear it MANY times...lucky the Boss music is still good...
Sound effects are fairly good, but repeat themselves much (almost every Weapon Special Attack has the same sound...not the same effect, though, but nearly). Cities have nice but few musics...there are many villages and the musics are 2-3...too bad they haven't add any other. Still, the two deserts in the game have the same strange music...well, overall they could be better if only Camelot would have improved them a bit...anyway, they're still good for the GBA. When you see a dialogue, you can hear some sounds...they're supposed to be the ''voices'' of the character that is speaking...well..they aren't really ''voices'' but they're balance: a kid will speak more sweetly than an old man...well, nice touch. 9/10
STORYLINE: Someone says it's the basic ''Save the world'', well, it may seem so...but let me explain! Golden Sun is a wonderful story of some boys that live in a village named Vale. A day, a tempest kill Jenna's (a girl) parents and Isaac's (the main hero) father. All seems to be connected to the power of the Alchemy, the ancient science that study how to became immortal and how to morph metals into gold. Three years later, Isaac, Jenna and Garet (another boy) had all studied the Psynergy. the mental power derivated from the Alchemy. They go on the Mount Aleph with an Alchemist named Kraden (an old one =P) and search for the Sol Temple. They find the 4 elementar stones and take them, but someone steals them...and wants to use them for lightening the four Lightouses and by so doing, unleashing a great power...
Well, since Golden Sun doesn't have an end without the second one (Golden Sun: The Lost Age), we can say that it ISN'T the basical ''Save the world!'' because by arising the ''Thing when all the 4 beacons will be lit'', some villages will be destroyed but NOT the world....obviously, there are villains that WANT to use Alchemy power in order to govern it (why destroy it, if it's the only world?). It isn't really an original storyline...but at least there are not anymore crystals or similar (thus there are the 4 elemental stones)...nice one, Camelot. 10/10
GAMEPLAY: A long paragraph...basically, like others RPG, there are tho phases in this game: the Field one and the Battle one...in the Field one you move your character with the + Pad and talk, look and other things with the A button...you can cancel with the B one...you can use shortcut psinergy with L/R buttons. A button, if there aren't things to look at or talk to, will call on the menu (not the main), even if you can call it near to things by pressing Select. By pressing start, you have access to another menu.
Golden Sun has a difficult (or easy, that depends of you) Status System...we can say that if we don't do anything, it's like other games, you gain EXP by defeating enemies and when you have enough you gain a level and all your stats except Luck increase a bit. When reaching a determinate level, you'll learn a new Psynergy (that can be subdivided in three groups: Field, Defense and Attack...you can use Attack Psynergy only in battle, in order to cause elemental damage at the enemies; Defense Psynergy for improving your stats only during that battle, or for decreasing enemies stats: Field Psynergy only outside battles, for resolving puzzles...some Psynergies are both Attack and Field type, though)...but Camelot had the idea to put in Golden Sun the elemental creatures, the Djinn: Djinn are little creatures that provide you new powers: basically you can SET them, and they can change your Stats, Class (no, don't get shocked, it's not like Jobs) and Psynergy, or you can leave them STANDBY, in which your stat will not be changed even if you are carrying them. When a Djinn, in battle, is STANDBY, it adds a Summon Point to the total...even if you have only 1 Summon Point for one element, you can summon a creature. After that, the Djinn that have provided the Summon Points will be in RECOVER and cannot be SET or STANDBY anymore until they regain strength (if you win the battle with a summon, you'll have to walk around a bit in order to make your Djinn regain strength). There are a total of 28 Djinn in Golden Sun, 7 for each element (Earth = Venus; Water = Mercury; Fire = Mars; Wind = Jupiter). There's no more to say. There are MANY classes, MANY Psynergies and others. Obviously, weapons raise your Attack, armors increase your Defense (and may also increase Agility), Shields increase your Defense (and may also have some effects in battle too) and some other items can be used to boost stats. Another thing: the 4 main characters has their basic element, beside that you can always SET a Djinn on a character of the opposite element: this is the key for getting different classes throughout the game. When you finish and save the game, you can create a password to use in the second Golden Sun. A great work, really. 10+/10
DIFFICULTY: It can be easy to VERY hard. You'll need to cure with your main hero (or others, depending on Djinn settings) almost every battle, during the game. Monsters deal BIG amounts of damage and have high HP...well you can run, but not forever. If you don't fight monsters and level up, you'll mostly get slayed by bosses. Especially bosses are THOUGH if you don't prepare your squad properly. You're warned.....anyway, it's well balanced, even for beginners. Trust me, even if you haven't ever played an RPG, you'll finish it without problems. Battles are funny and VERY useful to level up. As for many RPGs, being at high levels at the Final Battle is the key to win. 10/10
REPLAY VALUE: Great. If you've finished the game without searching for everything, completing all the dungeons at 100% and others, you'll SURELY want to play it. Well you may wait until you get strong to do all this stuff but it's definitely worth of it. There is a secret dungeon with a secret boss...and they're THOUGH. They're quite a challenge even if you are very powerful. Levelling up is quite fun too, you'll hardly get near level 60 or even 50 in this game, but if you like fight monsters....you'll manage it. 9/10
OVERALL: A wonderful game from Camelot (and Nintendo...), the best RPG available for the GBA (and even better than others). If you want a great game, with great graphics, good musics, amazing battle system, great storyline and MUCH MUCH more, buy it.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 08/28/03
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