Review by Tuxedo Jack

"Overrated? Hardly. Underrated? Hardly. Just right? ... Maybe."

It's been nearly a year since this game was released in Japan, and about a few weeks after that, a ROM of it was released. I swore to myself that I wouldn't get it; since the game was coming out a week before my birthday, I'd just wait until it was brought over here.

And I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

And eventually, April 14th rolled around, and I waited another week and got the game for my birthday.

After transferring the godawful 260-character password (I forgot that my little brother had a GBA) over, I immediately dove right in and began playing.

Is it disappointing? Read on.

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Challenge

Geez, how can I describe this?

The normal battles are your standard turn-based RPG fare - hack, slash, heal, cast, nuke, victory, experience, gold, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. They're nothing really special until the seas, when a nice new battle music (51) comes into play. Tragically, you lose this music late in the game, but hey, it's dang good.

But I digress!

The enemies are more of the same fare from GS1, but as a general rule, they're more graphically impressive, and they have a smarter AI (especially bosses, some of which rival FFIV in their complexity).

The bosses are incredible. Around the middle of the game, they start getting a lot harder, and some can attack more times a turn than the Fusion Dragon/Deadbeard from GS1. Yeah, you read that right. _3_ attacks a turn. And you thought that a double Outer Space was hard to defend against...

The puzzles are even more confuzzling than before. I've spent hours attacking certain puzzles, and then I exit, curse, go through another door, and then slap myself as I realize the solution.

Psynergy plays a more prominent role in the puzzles than ever, thanks to the new ones that use the power of the elements to move around towns/dungeons.

However, levelling up is absurdly easy in the end of the game. There are enemies in the Mars Lighthouse and in certain sidequests that spew out up to 10,000 experience... each. This completely dwarfs Venus Lighthouse, in which I only ever saw experience gains of up to 1800 points a battle.

Due to this, I hereby award the challenge portion of the game a ten.

Sound/Music

_EVERY_ piece of music from GS1 comes back, even the ones that you only hear once (Sol Sanctum, Saturos' battle theme, Saturos/Menardi's battle theme). In fact, some of them are actually used in the game in towns, and some are in battles.

The original score for this game is... wow. New battle music, new world map music, and new dungeon music. It's great, quite simply put, and the theme for the two main antagonists is even more menacing than Saturos and Menardi's. However, certain pieces (towns) have a tendency to drill themselves into your head after a while *Cough*Mikasalla*Cough*, and it's annoying as a crying baby on an airplane.

Due to that, I award the sound/music portion an eight.

Graphics

Sweet mother of pearl, these are beautiful. They _way_ outstrip anything you've seen before. Golden Sun? Forget it. Final Fantasies 1-6? Blows them away. Anything on Genesis, Neo-Geo, Dreamcast, or Super NES? Not a chance. This takes your ideas of graphics for an RPG and blows them away.

The summons are indeed graphically stunning, and even more so on the ones that require five or more Djinni to use. The new Psynergies (such as Megacool, Serpent Fume, Cool Aura, and Rising Dragon) have incredibly detailed graphics, and the unleashes for the two most powerful weapons in the game (Excalibur and the Sol Blade - yep, folks, you can get it in here without a Gameshark) are stunning. The Sol Blade's unleash - Armageddon/Megiddo - actually looks pretty much like a fusion of an anime attack and the Meteor summon.

However, the standard four-point camera system still applies, and that makes the graphics very pixelated when you perform hyper attacks such as Spark Plasma, Freeze Prism, or any of the top-level spells that rotates the camera angle. (As if the Plasma series wasn't pixelated enough as it was...)

So sue me. I'm giving the graphics a nine.

Storyline/Dialogue

One word: Oy.

It hurts to even think about this.

It's written like a bad piece of self-insertion fanfiction - tons of dialogue (though the new feature that allows you to speed through LEDS - Lengthy Expositional Dialogue Sequences - by holding B is quite nice. You'll get lots of use out of it), very little plot twists (except for the one involving Mars Lighthouse and the one with Ivan. >_< Oy.), and so much useless text that it makes a high school textbook seem like better reading.

Admittedly, there's some good dialogue (the whole sequence with Piers on the ship after leaving Lemuria, the Sheba sequence after Atteka Inlet, and the thoughts of the two antagonists in the Mars Lighthouse), but still, the dross outweighs the jewels here.

This earns the game its lowest mark ever: a 6.

Sidequests/Replay factor

I'll put it this way - it's higher than a hippie on acid.

If you transfer a game from Golden Sun, you can get 72 Djinni. Yeah, you read that right. 72 Djinni, of which there's 18 of each element. Since each character can now equip 9 Djinni, there's far more classes, many upgrades to existing ones, and classes that are available only by equipping certain items.

The GS1 game can bring over certain events, such as the infamously Three Stooges-ish robbers from Vault or Feizhi (and her apparent crush on a party member), and those are uber-sidequests.

The single hardest sidequest is the search for the summons. I've spent over 10 hours levelling up and trying to find each Combo Tablet which enables the summons, and they're friggin' _hard_ to get, plus there are some that are guarded, and those bosses are arguably extremely hard. (Matter of fact, one can actually use your own Djinni to do summon damage to you. Yeah, that's right.)

Then there's the whole gigantic world map, the rusty weapons, the forge, the slots, the dice (_two_ kinds this time - stick with the original Lucky Dice if you want cash), the medallion spring (just like Tolbi, but better), and the ever-wonderful dungeons where you find monsters that can quite literally tear your head off (especially the ones who can put your Djinni on rest, whether or not you like it).

This earns the game a 10, hands down.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Overall

This is most definitely a game worth buying. The sheer complexity of the world made within will keep any gamer entranced for hours, perhaps even playing through the night, just to make it to the next major town or to solve the current puzzle.

This game earns the score of a nine, most definitely. (It's really 43/50, but that turns to 86%, and I'm rounding to the nearest 10%.)

Go, buy, rent, and enjoy. And in the name of God, get some sleep!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/28/03, Updated 04/28/03


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