Review by Mamsaac
"You: Is this a good game? - Isaac: [YES] NO"
Golden Sun is the reason why I visit GameFAQs. Mainly because the game contains lots of items and stuff one can miss if one isn't checking everything perfectly, so using a FAQ becomes interesting and almost necessary in order to get it all.
Now, talking about the game, this is a very nice RPG for the GBA that everyone should give a try. Some say that it is only for virgins and that "hardcore RPGers" will not like this game. Well, I don't agree with that, but if I want to say why I don't agree I will better just start with the review :)
It's impossible to deny that the graphics from this game are very good. On battles, the "psynergy" attacks look really great and not only that, but the enemies and the main character sprites are amazing. The backgrounds are "static", they never move or have any animation at all, but they still have a nice style with lights and defined colors. The cities are detailed to the max (a nice color selection, effects, well made houses, etc) and the people look funny with their huge heads.
A complain could be the world map, which looks somewhat pixeled. Also, some of the major bosses look awfully pixeled. That bothers since after all the good graphics one expects something cool at the end but then gets rewarded with a pixeled last boss.
Now, that the best factor from the graphics area are the summons. The summons, which will be checked deeply on gameplay, are filled with outstanding graphics and there is no doubt that one can see the full potential of the GBA in them. They usually have an "anime" style and look like a cartoon, but the animations are really good and Judgement is just something you want to see.
The weapon and djinn unleashes also look good, but there is nothing amazing in them. Now, that unleashes will become much better looking on the sequel... but we are not going to talk about it now.
Amazing. I heard some people talking bad about Golden Sun's music, but I think that's an insult to the gaming world. This music is awesome, easy to perform, but very good to your ear. When one needs drama one gets drama, on towns that look or are friendly, one gets a peaceful song, and whenever you think "the music is getting tiring, I hope it changes", then the music changes.
There is a large number of soundtracks that you will like, and I doubt any of them will bother you much. Some people complain that there is not a sound test in this game, but you will get it on the sequel (The lost age).
Some towns share music, which might cause lack of variation, but technically this game has enough different music to make it perfect.
A bit lacking here. There aren't too many sounds because they aren't really necessary, but the few that appear are a bit bad.
For example, the sound that bothers me the most is the "talking sound". Since there isn't voice acting on the GBA, they decided to make a sound so that you get the idea of someone talking. At the beginning it was fun, but it becomes boring really quickly.
The other sounds which I can notice while thinking about the game are the animation sounds. Each time you attack, use psynergy, use djinn or summon you will hear some sounds which aren't bad, but they just don't sound realistic.
Being objective, the GBA doesn't have great sound at all, but I still give it a 7 for the damn "voices" which bother me a lot.
The story might not be the most original since it is the classic "fight to save the world", but the way you get into it during both, this and the next game (the story is one, it's necessary to talk about it from a both GS games view) is really cool.
The world destruction reasons are original, it's not the classic "do this or all is screwed up", but now you will see a new way of seeing destruction (I don't wanna get too much into it by saying why it is new). This game's story touches one important thing, which is how power corrupts people. It's a topic that interests me a lot.
Also, the RPG is alive in this game. You really feel as if you were in the story of the game since it gets really in-depth. Also, everything you meet during this game is related to other stuff... oh well, I won't say more or I will spoil the story to you.
So what is this game about? Some people (who seem to be evil) stole the elemental stars. Now they want to use it to lit the lighthouses and restore the power of alchemy. It seems that the power of Alchemy corrupts man and it will destroy humanity. Someone you know (all the rest of the info had minor spoilers, things you learn at the beginning of the game but this someone is a big spoiler so I just skipped the name :D) is helping this people to lit the lighthouses This is a really important factor from the game since you wonder all the time why is he/she helping them in such a terrible quest. So, resumed, the story is this: people want to lit lighthouses and you have to stop them.
Seems too classic, but you will learn some incredible stuff about Alchemy during this and the next game, which should change your mind about the story.
The gameplay is based on the classic turn based RPGs. In battles you can attack, cast a psynergy, unleash a djinn, summon a spirit, use an item or defend. Now, attacking can be simple, a critical hit or if your weapon has an unleash then you can unleash a strong attack which is generally very good.
For the djinni, you obtain them in different ways: some you have to battle them on random encounters on the map, others you have to find them on dungeons and others are given to you. Sometimes the djinn battle you and others they just seem to be more friendly and just go with you. Each unleash has different effects which makes their use more strategic. Now, to summon you have to unleash a djinn which was on "set" (rested and unused), which after being unleashed will change to "stand by", then you can summon the spirit. Depending on how many
djinn from one element you have on "stand by" the summon changes.
Now, the psynergies change according to your class... And here comes another interesting use of the djinni. In Golden Sun you can have up to 7 djinni on each character. There are 28 djinni, 7 of each element. Now, depending on how you combine the elements (it doesn't matter which djinni, only the element) the class of the character will change. You can get some really cool mixes by doing this and here is most of the strategy you will use. Not only will your psynergies change according to your class, but also all your stats.
So, what's with the gameplay when you are not fighting? Then you will use your psynergy. Not all psynergies can be used while you are not fighting, but there are some fun uses for them. There are also a few easy puzzles which should entertain you for a while.
It's a nice gameplay. The only thing that I don't like is that it is turn based which can get boring sometimes. Also, the random encounters will end up tiring you a bit, as it happens in any other game that contains them, as pokemon, final fantasy, etc.
The game is fairly easy and you shouldn't have problems to finish it. Now, I never got stuck in any part and I don't think it's easy to get stuck in any part of it. The game is a bit linear but there are parts in which you can do whatever you want. This means that you can skip two sidequests that are a bit more difficult than the rest of the game, but it's good since you will feel more freedom.
The bosses are interesting and the fights are good. It's cool that summons do more damage to bosses... but that makes it even easier than it was already. Now, an important detail on difficulty when it comes to bosses is that you shouldn't do "summon rush" or they all will be way too easy. Summon rush means putting all your djinni on stand by before battling and when the battle starts you just summon your strongest spirits when battle starts, which will cause really high damage to the enemy. If you don't do that, the difficulty is good enough when it comes to bosses.
REPLAY VALUE: 7
Some people don't feel like playing this game ever a game... that is not my case. I have played this game a bit too many times and I really enjoy it every time. I try new classes combinations, sometimes I do "low leveled" games and stuff. You can do stuff to make this game difficult and interesting, plus you will discover some new things sometimes.
One personal commentary is that I don't think that you are supposed to get level 99 in this game. You can, but it's much easier in the next one so just stay on a level like 35-50. It would be really boring to level up too much in here.
This game is very good and should give you a very good experience for a handheld. The hardcore RPGers will find it not amazing, I agree, but I think that if one plays both games you should end up enjoying it.
Now, not everyone will love this game. One problem is that it starts reeeeeeeaaaally slowly, so people like my brother will just get tired and stop playing it. But after the first hour, which I repeat is slow, the game becomes really good and exciting.
A second problem is that there is a lot of text. Talk and talk and talk. Some people can't stand that. Most of times they say things that just aren't necessary.
The third and last problem is that the main character, Isaac (or however you name it), never talks. The only thing it can say is "YES" or "NO". It doesn't bother me either, but it's still not as good as it could have been if it had some dialogues.
Other than that, this game is really good and has no big flaws.
BUY OR RENT?
I will say buy. If all the things I mentioned before doesn't really bother you then you will like this game and I guess you will also buy it's sequel (GS:TLA). To fully enjoy GS:TLA you need to transfer information from this game to the next one, so renting would really be bad. I don't think renting is an option... I say buy this or just don't if you think turn based RPGs are boring.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/05/06, Updated 01/09/06
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