Review by AstralFire

"A definite improvement. Not amazing, but certainly not bad... Get it ASAP."

Golden Sun: The Lost Age, the awaited sequel to Camelot's popular Golden Sun, and one of the few RPGs for a Nintendo system post-SNES era.

Does it live up to the hype? Let's find out!

I'd like to note for anyone coming from reading my review of the first that my rating system has become a lot harsher. The first would have only scored a 7/10 on this scale, so this game is, in fact, better than its predecessor.

Setting

This is often considered a trademark of the traditional RPG. Golden Sun is made like something of a hybrid, so how does it compare?

Atmosphere

The first and most important part of its setting is the Atmosphere. By that I mean how real the game feels. Does this game feel real? Well, does it?

The answer is a resounding yes. TLA's cities really come to life, with people doing chores, animals running freely, and people reacting to the events around. Camelot got this more than down pat.
Atmosphere Rating: 10/10

Plot

Heh... nothing too original. If it works, it works. Ya gotta save the world from the bad guys... but wait! This isn't going to be half as simple as Golden Sun made it seem. I have got to give the makers a big hand for the twist they gave the plot. It didn't look like we were going to get anything worthy of a traditional RPG... it's not Squaresoft quality (pre-FF8, that is) but they inserted some twists here and there that make it not half as boring as the original.
Plot Rating: 9/10

Setting Rating: 9.5/10

Graphics

It's Golden Sun! What do you expect? There isn't going to be anything revolutionary compared to the first installment, but that in and of itself was revolutionary for the GBA. You've got beautiful particle, flame, and lighting effects... but that's not the end of it. The summons are simply amazing - the ultimate summon Iris is one of the most awesome things I've seen, visually, on any system. Although the GBA is only a 32-bit system, the screen is small, so it looks simply gorgeous - at times surpassing the Gamecube and Xbox. The only problem is, the graphics tend to reuse themselves simply because they push the Game Boy Advance to its limit. But hey, give them a break - they could have done a LOT worse.
Graphics Rating: 10/10

Sound

I must repeat myself, it's Golden Sun - what do you expect? From woodwind etudes to a brilliant battle fanfare, TLA delivers with amazing results. The tunes are generally not catchy, which is impressive - for a piece of music on a pocket system to be both memorable and not ''so catchy you'll sing it until you DIE!'' is a rare event, in my opinion. And the music's not just good, the music compliments everything perfectly. You'll get dramatic music when you need it, and not JUST dramatic music, but a score that goes along with the events. Apollo was the god of the sunlight and music both, and the relationship is clear here.
Sound Rating: 10/10

Gameplay

Meat and potatoes boys... Just how filling is it?

Well... it could have been worse. The battles are not ''Press Button, kill'' like in Golden Sun, but ONLY as far as the optional dungeons and final boss are concerned. Only a few class setups are really viable in the two player game, although this has been expanded from the first, so strategy is kinda limited. Djinn add something of a neat little twist, making you pay for your summons in an unusual way, but... I don't see much challenge in this game. Most of the battles are far too simple.

There are no hour long battles in this game, no Omega, no Shinryuu. Dullahan is the closest thing, but he is one of only two fights that you can't be almost certain to win if you've been keeping up your levels. It's kinda... disappointing, actually. But only disappointing in regards to what it could have been. Don't get me wrong, this game offers some pretty neat gameplay options, I do enjoy the two player battles.... It's just no Pokemon or Tactics Ogre.

The fact that this game is much longer - three times as long as the original - offers yet another saving grace. You won't finish it in a week and be done with it, never to play again. The replay factor has been upped a bit with the New Game+ mode. They STILL need more damn minigames, though.

What I liked most about the Gameplay was the ability to port over your stats and characters from the first installment. Makes you feel not quite as pissed off about not having Idiot, Garet, Ivan, and Mia at the start. I would have given only a 5/10, but the link battle, password continue, and New Game+ features - the latter something I haven't seen in a while - bump it up another notch. Once again, I must remind you - a 5/10 means average. 6/10 means good, 8/10 or higher means very good. So DON'T STONE ME. --;
Gameplay Rating: 6.5/10.

Final Rating

My rating system is as follows:
10% Sound
20% Graphics
30% Setting
40% Gameplay

Using that, my final exact score for this game is a...
84.5/100!

Ouch.... another 0.5/100 and it'd be a 9 on the outside... still, a very good score. Buy it!

That means a lot - using this rating system, an 80 is an excellent score. It's by no means a masterpiece, but it certainly does kick ass. Get it by all means.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/16/03, Updated 04/16/03


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