- Golden Sun game for the Game Boy Advance
- Enormous Role Playing Game
- Amazing Magic System
- Head to Head Battles with Game Link Cable (sold separately)
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This role-playing adventure for 1 to 4 players lets you plunge deep into a new world of fantasy and wonder, and experience the dawning of a new series. Your quest is to recover a powerful artifact that was stolen from your remote village and now threatens the world with total destruction. You will make use of psychic powers, magical spells and the lost art of alchemy to undo the evil that has befallen the land. Gather the four elements-fire, water, wind and earth-and use them in different combinations to master new, more complex spells. New interactive possibilities are possible with the Multiplayer mode that allows 2 to 4 players to quest together (requires Game Boy Advance Game Link cable).
This role-playing adventure for one to two players lets you delve deep into a new world of fantasy and wonder, and experience the dawning of a new series. Your quest is to recover a powerful artifact that was stolen from your secluded village and now threatens the world with absolute destruction. You will make use of psychic powers, magical spells, and the lost art of alchemy to undo the evil that has befallen the land. Gather the four elements--fire, water, wind, and earth--and use them in different combinations to master new, more complex spells. New interactive possibilities are possible with the multiplayer mode that allows two players to quest together (requires Game Boy Advance Game Link cable).
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--- 4.5 STARS ---
I'll get the negatives out of the way first, because even though I give it a 5/5 and a "Sean's favorite game ever award", it isn't perfect. The introduction stretches on for a bit too long, and the game overall is very text-heavy. I actually rather enjoy a lot of text, because I find the characters engaging and the plot interesting, but I can understand where that's not everyone's cup of tea. You have very little actual decision in the game, as the story line is very linear. Of course, "wide" stories were relatively rare in 2001, so for its time, that's hardly a con at all. Newer gamers may find it frustrating, however.
Now, on to the positives, of which I could write volumes, but for brevity's sake, I'll refrain. I am generally a champion of plot and character, all about the writing, and all of those ranged from good to excellent (more on that later) but what really astounded was the game's brilliant atmosphere. Each town, cave, forest, and castle has its very own aesthetic, like thousands of years of history lay under the world's map. This was complimented by the game's ground-breaking graphics and sound. Despite being an early GBA release, the only game to rival Golden Sun's graphics was its sequel. Richly colored and intensely detailed, Camelot pushed its hardware to its limits. Motoi Sakuraba, known for his work in the Tales and Baten Kaitos series, lent his masterful touch to Golden Sun's soundtrack, creating some of the finest pieces I have ever heard and, in a fairer world, would have earned him a place among classical European composers. I have the soundtracks, and still listen to them. They can whisk me right back of that world with their emotive power, grace, and a touch of melancholy.
The plot is fairly traditional. World threatened by bad guys, kids go off to save it. A twist in the sequel makes it all much more interesting, but that's there, not here. The characters, however, are varied and interesting (with the exception of the main character, which is more of the blank-slate player avatar type). They are pretty trope-y, but there's nothing that says that tropes can't make fun characters, and their interactions with the world can be tragic, humorous, and sometimes one after the other in immediate succession. You've got a balanced silent type, a hotheaded bruiser, the quiet little mage, and the sweet healer. They'll surprise you though, with little touches in the dialogue that add dimension to their characters. The supporting cast is as colorful as it is varied, which is to say, very much so. You will explore giant sentient trees, confer with great floating rocks, and handle all manner of insufferable royalty, and face down all the world's cunning.
As to the gameplay, you'll get a respectable amount of time out it, about par with other portable RPGs, though the actual time will obviously vary based on how many of the extras you seek. The puzzle mechanics generally utilize Psynergy, which is more or less the magic of the world (based on the four elements). While it spices up battle, it really shines in puzzle-solving and exploration (especially Mind Read, which adds an extra layer to every single NPC you meet). While the puzzles are not mind-bendingly difficult, most will offer some challenge to the first-time player, though they obviously decrease in difficulty in subsequent plays. The battle mechanics are very interesting, because aside from the traditional "attack, magic, item, run" setup, there are also collectible creatures called Djinn, with varying effects on characters (they can change your stats and class, giving all of the characters access to an incredible range of abilities and battle roles) and in battle themselves. They can also be combined into screen-filling "summons" that can blow away not only enemies, but every other GBA game in terms of graphical scale. The unique Djinn mechanic, combined with monsters that require varied approaches (some are weak to certain elements, some resist specific kinds of attacks, some come back from the dead or summon allies) keeps battles interesting throughout the game, and makes the boss fights absolutely astounding.
But lots of games look and sound nice, or have interesting mechanics. The details make Golden Sun what it is - how if you look in a house's oven, you can learn something about the region's home cooking. How little events or snippets of dialogue stay with you long after you've set the game down, like a fond memory. The tiny emoticons that appear when the characters speak, giving life to the dialogue. These, along with everything else, are what establish a legend.