Isaac, the young
leader of a reluctant party of would-be heroes discovers the truth
behind his heritage. The adventurers set out to rescue their
life-long friend, and in turn save the entire world from those who
would see it crumble underneath dictators who wield awesome power.
"A brave soul must now arise!"
Does that sound
familiar? Ya, well, itís the standard RPG story that we all know
and love. But go with what works, right? Thereís something to be
said for a game that takes the standard ingredients, pours them into
a new mold, and creates a solid game.
game is not without some innovation. Characters, aside from leveling
up with the usual experience point system (and random battles), can
power up by finding and equipping magical creatures known as Djinn.
Djinn come in four types, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury, which
correspond to each of the four elements. These creatures are spread
throughout the game, and some are difficult to find (maybe not as
difficult as the Ultimate Weapons in FFX, although you may still
need a guide, or online help), but itís well worth the effort.
Each Djinn, when equipped, gives the character boosts to attack,
defense, luck, HP, etc. As well as bestowing some powerful spell
effects (in game terms known as psynergy) onto the bearer. In
addition, the Djinn can be unleashed upon your enemies, and combined
with other Djinn of the same type, can summon even more powerful
spirits for devastating results. Each character can equip up to
seven Djinn (but every character must have an equal number), and the
number and type that each player carries can change that characters
class, which in turn provide added psynergy.
Again, as with most
RPGs, Golden Sun boasts an elaborate weapons, and equipment system.
This one, however, is surprisingly deep. Not only can you buy, find,
and equip the usual weapons, armor, helm, and shield; but you can
also equip boots, shirts, bracers, rings, and more. The only problem
I had is that there is usually little in the way of decisions to be
made. At each step in the adventure the equipment available to you
is almost always better than the equipment you currently own. So you
sell your old stuff, and buy the new stuff, itís a no-brainer.
There are various artifacts that you can find along the way, but
they donít seem to be all that rare, and there are often multiple
copies (I think I had about 7 or 8 "assassin blades" at
one point.) The subtle differences in elemental resistance, or the
slight difference in attribute bonuses, donít effect the game as
much as the sheer attack power or agility bonuses. Thatís a shame.
The music in this
game is also surprisingly good. Because of the fact that in the
current generation of consoles (even the previous generations), we
as gamers are used to CD quality musical scores, the 32-bit
mini-powerhouse that is the GBA usually falls very short in the
auditory ambiance category. When playing on the subway, or plane, I
prefer to turn the sound off on most games rather than use
headphones (while trying not to offend fellow passengers.) It may
not sound like high praise for a game when I say "I didnít
even turn the sound off", but seeing as how the sound is
generally agreed to be the weakest part of the Game Boy Advance, it
can be considered high praise indeed.
particularly during the battles, are excellent, when you can see
them. I wonít get into why on earth Nintendo would go ahead and
release yet another handheld system without a backlight. And then go
so far as to ignore that a problem even exists by refusing to
manufacture a first party game-light. Obviously the powers that be
thought that the addition of a backlight would be a prohibitive
costs, and add too much to the weight of the unit. But at least
admit that it is damn hard to see the graphics more than half the
time, unless sitting in a brightly lit (with fluorescence) room.
sound, and music that push the limits of the system to new, higher
levels an innovative combat and level-up system, and an intriguing
story line. You would think that we were discussing the latest in
the Final Fantasy series, or some new PC title shooting for
game-of-the-year. Itís amazing in itself that this title is
appearing on a handheld. Nintendo, once again, has outdone itself by
surpassing everyone expectations. This time, producing an RPG for
GBA that stands up against any RPG, on any system. It may not be the
most innovative game, it may not have the best graphics, but itís
all around solid. And Iím sure that it with be considered one of
the great RPG series for years to come (Golden Sun 5 for PS3
- Superb RPG
for any system, much less the GBA
- Good story
and world map locations
- Good battle
system and 2-player mode
- Abrupt ending
variation and party development
This game really
sold me on the Game Boy Advance in general. I havenít played that
many GBA games in total and mostly the ones I have played were just
to pass some time. I thought that was what handhelds were for: on
the bus, on a plane, on a train, etc. Why, I thought, would I ever
choose to play my GBA when I could play PS2, or GameCube, or just
watch TV, or anything? With Golden Sun, I found myself spending
nearly ALL my Ďgame timeí playing right through to the end; And
itís by no means a short game. This is a quality RPG from start to
finish. It has everything any good RPG should have, and more. It
might not be a flashy as the Final Fantasy series, and it may not
have the complexity of something like Chrono Cross, but it IS in the
same league. And donít forget, itís a handheld. Iíll never
underestimate my pocket systems again.