Review by onlyoneinall
"Exceptional graphics, horrific story"
When Golden Sun first came out and I played it, I thought it was wonderful. The game was an RPG, and for the GBA at that. Finally, a portable RPG! What more could one ask for? The game had everything. Exceptional graphics... sound... music... it was all good quality. Or so I thought.
The first two things that started to get to me was the sound effects and the dialogue. Then everything else started to sort of fall apart. This game was not the great game I thought it was going to be. In fact, it's not even close. I regret the many hours I have spent playing this game, especially when it came to training my characters for hours upon end just to get them a few decent spells and to have them imported over to the next Golden Sun, which was also a complete waste of time. Eh. You live and you learn.
GRAPHICS - 8/10
The graphics in Golden Sun is the only thing that will shine. Being the first game I've played on the GBA, Golden Sun had some of the best graphics I had seen on the GBA, and it still held true as I got more games on the system. The details, shading and colors were beautiful, and the summons and Psynergy attacks were something to behold. Watching the weapons unleash an extra powerful attack was rewarding. The graphics were truly that of a great RPG.
There are a few flaws however. The graphics are not quite perfect. Like in many RPG's, palette swapped enemies are common, and some of the graphics are choppy, especially when they take an enemy and enlarge it. Psynergy attacks are similar, in the fact that stronger attacks just have more of the original attack, i.e, a bubble attack that just adds on bubbles.
Overall however, graphics are fine, and they will keep you pleasantly content.
MUSIC - 8.5/10
The music is just good. They set the mood, and bring out the GBA's potential. You'll find the music at the towns homey, the overworld map song adventurous, the battle theme songs appropriate , the dungeon music spooky, it all fits the mood. Don't expect to find anything wrong with the music, it's all pretty good and there probably isn't any other music that can fit it any better.
SOUND EFFECTS - 4/10
The sound effects will get to you after a while. I'd say there isn't any more than 10 different sounds, as you will be hearing the same sounds over and over. Every attack either has a semi-slash like sound, or a "tic-tk-tk" like effect. You won't hear any other sound for the entire game when you attack, the number of sounds are very limited. This unfortunately, can cause a problem to the ears, as you will get tired of the repetition and wish at least one of the attacks could just sound different. They ALL involve the semi-slash sound or the "tick-tk-tk" sound. You'd think they'd have at least given a little more variety to the sound effects.
It's also the same thing on the overworld and dungeons. You'll be hearing the same jumping noise, spell cast, twinkling, opening door, etc. The sounds from the battles even carry over to the overworld (or is it the other way around?)
STORY - 2/10
Here is where it pains me to give the game's story a 2. I'm not sure if it even deserves the 2.
The story of the game revolves around Alchemy. Four lighthouses around the world can be lit by four elemental stars. If this is done, it is said it will release Alchemy into the world and cause the end of mankind, or something like that. There are two guys who want to light these lighthouses, and your main goal is to stop them.
The plot is nothing new, and not that exciting either. It is only a meager push to keep going. Really, this is just a typical RPG plot, and nothing more. If they told a good story, it would have been great though. A good RPG can take a typical story and turn it into something magnificent.
But Golden Sun doesn't do that.
Instead, it chops up the story with repetitive and horrible dialogue. In Golden Sun, you'll feel that half of the time is spent on besides solving boring puzzles, listening to a pathetic story.
For me, dialogue is an important part of the game. If the game can't tell a good story, they will not see me playing again much, except when driven to extreme boredom. A game with an excellent story can keep me playing for as long as I can stay at it, no matter how much I've played it already. Just as a note, games like Advance Wars and Pokemon are RPG's with horrible story/dialogue. I will not play those games much because of it. On the other hand, a game like Fire Emblem excels at its dialogue/story, keeping me at it forever.
Now, back to Golden Sun. It is a game with some of the worst dialogue I've ever seen. They try and add a little expression to the characters with their thought bubbles and sweatdrops, but it is not enough, if it only exacerbates the problem.
You see, the characters talk very.. well, unrealistically. They drag their dialogue on, they keep saying the same things over and over, they repeat themselves and the others around them, they talk like they're little five year olds desperate to use some language but don't know any or are afraid of being reprimanded by their parents. In other words, this dialogue is HORRIBLE, and you'll see it a LOT. Characters drag on conversations long past their due date, and without good reason. They talk like drama queens of modern day society with nothing better to do than be fakes and dramatize everything while speaking in a childish manner, not like people who live in days of long ago where the world is coated with magic. It's horrible. You can't even skip the dialogue. They force you to sit through it and any attempts to skip it is futile, as they will go through, only one dialogue box at a time most times. You will have to keep pressing A or B, skipping hundreds of text boxes full of pointless chatter and crap, all with the unrealistic horrible translation of English dubbed Anime's.
No character development is put in the game either. You'll see everyone's little face picture when they talk, but you won't see any personality. Not even looking at their pictures will give it to you. Everyone talks so similar, there is no distinctive personality in any of them. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Horrible headaches will occur if you like a game with a good story.
So, if that isn't enough for you to have enough reason not to play the game, you must be like the others who gave it a 9 or 10 without regard for if the game needs to have a story or not.
Gameplay is no better... it is repetition after repetition of boring dungeon puzzles and more boring dungeon puzzles. Why are there so many puzzles in the dungeons? Why is the game so linear? Why are all the battles the same and the arena battles so tremendously difficult when you get a few level ups? How much thought has been put into the game when it was created?
Apparently not much.
That's all there is to gameplay. You will come across a dungeon where you will find a lame set of puzzles. You complete it using Psynergy. Meanwhile, you fight enemies that all look the same and act the same. You deal the same amount of damage and your Psynergy attacks and normal attacks are poorly balanced. After you beat one dungeon, you head out to the next and keep doing so until you reach the end. Boss fights revolve around doing your most powerful summons over and over until you win. Really, there isn't much else to it.
Ah, such poor gameplay. What could it possibly be that causes this game to be so loved by the general audience who plays it? It certainly can't be the gameplay, unless they enjoy the repetitive action of beating up a boss with the same attacks and not getting rewarded for it, except maybe newer repetitive Psynergy or new even more repetitive poor crappy dialogue. Whatever it is, perhaps I'll never know.
Oh, and the few mini games at Tolbi doesn't help much either. A few gambling games, but that's it. RPG's always seem to promote gambling.
OVERALL - 4/10
Eh... maybe the score is a little too high for it's horrible dialogue and poor gameplay. Yes. Definitely a little too high. The only thing that saved its grade from plummeting to the lowest I can give it is it had graphics. Good graphics. But that was it. Nothing else to play for in this game. So, why not learn from this review and if for some reason you're reading this, save your money or time and get something else to play with a decent story?
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/14/05
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