Review by MetalSonic700
"When the greatest industries collide once again they create Golden Sun"
This is a review for Camelot's Golden Sun for the Game Boy Advanced. This is the first of two installments in the Golden Sun saga. The game was released in 2001. I have yet to play or complete the second game, Golden Sun 2 the Lost Age, but if you like this game, you should definitely get the second one some other time. I have completed this entire game, and would like to state that this is a great game, and I hope you enjoy my review.
I am going to come right out and say, that this remains my number one favorite Game Boy Advanced game. The entire game plays amazingly, and once you have gotten started, you will not want to put the Game Boy down. Golden Sun is an RPG turn-based style game. If you liked final Fantasy X, you will like this game. You start with two characters, and as the story progresses, you gain and loose party members, keeping the variety at a high level. The more you play, the more the game grows on you, and this game has a lot to be played.
Like any RPG, you gain experience and grow levels, enabling you to learn new and better attacks. Naturally, the more you level up, the stronger you get. But there is another upside to leveling up. The higher your level, the more weapons you will be allowed to use. This game has an incredibly large amount of weapon variety. There will not be only one weapon usable for one level. Some weapons may have different abilities than others, and some may carry a curse that slowly drains your life. There are also tons of items you can get from adventuring. An FAQ would definitely be a good idea for collecting these items. If you cannot seem to find those items in the wild, you can always buy them at the shop. Weapons are not the only special item that you can find and/or buy. There are also various armors you can collect, that also have their own effects. Collecting armor is done in the same fashion as weapons, except there are quite a few more different types of armor. There is headgear, vest gear, boot gear, glove gear, and even ornaments like bracelets and scarves. Each character has certain items only he or she can collect, making their attacks unique. This earns the game play an awesome, enjoyable, 10/10.
Now lets get to the battles themselves. Each battle is just a basic RPG turn base, and there is not much difference from most games. What sets this game apart from Final Fantasy X and its clones is that this game is VERY magic heavy. There will be lots of magic used, but not so much that physical attacks seem worthless. The Djinn add a special curve to the battle, but it feels as though there is something more that could have been added. Unfortunately, this causes the battles to weigh down the system with an 8/10.
One of the things that make this game unique is Psyenergy. Psyenergy is the type of magic that you and your party use. Why does this make these powers special? You can use some of your special powers to help you outside of battle. You start out with the most basic maneuvers. First is push, which allows you to move certain objects. This is extremely helpful when trying to get to certain hidden items and Djinn. Another is catch. Catch enables you to grab things from high places. Often there will be items, like herbs, stuck high in a tree that catch can, well, catch! Finally there is heal, which allows you to heal your party members outside of battle. As you obtain new characters, they may have they're own Psyenergy, like Mind Read and Whirlwind. Another way to get new Psyenergy is to collect Djinn, which I will talk about in a minute. I like the Psyenergy, and I like it a lot, this aspect receives a great looking 9/10
Possibly the thing that sets this game's game play apart from any other RPG is the Djinn. The Djinn are little magical fairy-like creatures that join your party. Using certain combinations of Djinn on certain characters will give that character unique abilities. Some of these abilities will join the Psyenergy. With a total of 16 Djinn in the game, 4 of each element, there are a LOT of combinations. In fact, there are actually 64 different combinations. Also, you can use the Djinn's special summon attacks. You can summon one Djinn to use its special power, or you can summon multiple Djinn of the same element to use and ultimate attack. If you collect and summon all four Djinn of the same element, you use an insanely powerful secret move that will demolish any opponent. But these Djinn are not easy to collect. Once again, an FAQ is definitely a good idea. The Djinn idea is so great, it help with its perfect 10/10
Now lets get to the graphics. Considering the Game Boy Advance's graphic capability, this game looks great. There are some 3D parts, and some 2D. The towns and areas all look crisp and beautiful. The graphics are so great in some areas, you tend to stand in one spot and stare at the screen. The only flaw in the graphics is the battles. Sometimes, if there is a lot of background, the battlefield will look very choppy. It seems as though the developers were trying to cram too much detail onto the tiny sprites. On the other hand, the actual movement of the battles is fantastic. The way the characters move is fluid, and most of the attacks look great, though some are a bit lagging. One of the high points of the graphic designs is the bosses. A boss usually looks very cool in this game and their attacks are just a blast to watch. Another high point is the summons. They are not Final Fantasy quality, but they still kick major butt, and I, personally, never get sick of them. The graphics earn themselves a solid 9/10
This game has an amazing soundtrack. There are a lot of cool mixtures of different beeps and clicks and miscellaneous noises. I have caught myself dreaming these songs. Even now, I have not played this game in around six months and I can hear the music in my ears as though I were playing. The battle music is intense and appropriate, and no music plays at the wrong time. If you enter a town full of happy people, there is going to be an upbeat Mario style tune. If you enter a town torn by war, there is going to be the harsh beats of the drum. In other words, you cannot hate this music. The sounds that the environment makes are also great. When you slice at an enemy, you hear an incredibly realistic cutting noise. The enemies, though, are very lame, and they all let out the same basic cry, just lower or higher pitched. This lowers the grade to an 8/10
This is one of the longest, if not the longest, Game Boy Advanced game out to date. Collecting every Djinn, and conquering the secret area, but not collecting every item, took me fifty hours to do. This is a great game to take on a tong tip across the country, or on a 14-hour flight. What makes this easy is you can save whenever you want like in the Pokemon games. You simply press start and save game, and you will be right where you were standing when you turn it back on. There are quite a few side quests and plenty of extra things that will keep you occupied. If you really like this game, you may find yourself beating it twice or even three times. If you do not feel like playing the entire fifty hours again for, say, the rest of your life, you could always buy the 2003 release Golden Sun 2 the Lost Age. Then you can complete both games in chronological order. No, I was not being sarcastic, there really is another fifty hour Golden Sun waiting for you to pick it up. Because of this, the playtime deserves a good, indestructible 10/10.
Now it is time for one of the most important parts of this game, the story. This game is extremely, almost overly text heavy. If you are a big action gamer, and are not really into RPG style gaming, you will not like Golden Sun. If you like the game, but not the story, the text is fast, so you can skip it fairly easily. The plot is very good, and has very few cliche moments. You are trying to help your friends who were kidnapped by two psychos who want to bring destruction to the world by tapping into the power of the four lighthouses. These lighthouses are the source of all magic power for the continent, and you have to get to them before your enemies. There are major plot twists strait from the get-go and the end is a major shock. But you must be careful. If you decide not to read something at one point, then the rest may make no sense at all. At one or two points, I accidentally missed an important piece of the story and I was left completely confused. That earns the story a third at best 8/10.
FINAL ANALYSIS: This game is not for everyone, but all RPG fanatics will find something to like here. If you like anything with a good story, this is for you too. This game has some of the most fun, most advanced game play on the Game Boy Advanced, and an incredible soundtrack. The graphics are great but the battles suffer minor flaws. For a thirty-dollar game, you can't go wrong with Golden Sun. If it has not already become obvious, you definitely want to buy this game, not rent. There is probably no time to beat the whole game if you rented it anyways. If you do end up buying this game, I would have to suggest that you either buy a strategy guide, or use an FAQ from Game FAQS, because while it may not be to linear or lose, this game can be very difficult. Overall, this is one of my five all-time favorite games and deserves a hefty 9/10.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/30/04
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