A fantastic old school RPG that demonstrates the power of the Gameboy Advance
Feb 23, 2002
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In general, there are two types of gamers, those who love RPGs, and those who hate them. I fortunately, am a fan of the genre, but this title embarks to convert the non-believers with its' detailed, colorful graphics, sparkling music, good sound effects, and cool battles. From the second you switch the game on, you can tell a lot of effort went into the development of this game. The beginning animation of the mountain with the sun and its' lens flare effect is cool. When you actually begin playing, the detail of the visuals is amazing for a handheld system, almost PS1 level. Several graphical effects are used throughout the course of the game; lighting effects, particle effects, transparency, and more...all are very cool, and prove what the GBA is capable of. My favorite effect is the rotation and zooming that is used in the battles, that gives the battles a pseudo-3D feel. There are some downsides to the graphics, though, the regular enemies are sharp and detailed, but the large bosses, while having ample detail, have a very pixellated look, also, when you use the more elaborate summons, there can be some slowdown, but it's not that bad. Just as impressive as the visuals is the audio of this game, from the title song to the lighthouse theme, the music is fantastic, with realistic sounding instruments, I would even go so far to say that the music in this game measures up to the standard set by the SNES classic Chrono Trigger. The sound effects, though not very varied, are pretty good as well, with blasts and screams abound. Now let's get down to the most important part of the game, the gameplay. As any gamer knows, graphics alone don't make a good game, gameplay does, and Golden Sun has plenty of classic RPG goodness, while adding a few innovations that make it stand out on its own. You begin the game in your hometown of Vale, and have to navigate to the lower portion of the town, through the storm, to get help. After getting the situation under control in Vale, you begin your journey, and travel the World Map to the next town. The battles on the World Map are pretty frequent, but this is balanced by the fact that your Psynergy Points(needed to cast spells) slowly recover as you walk around. The battles are varied, with your party facing up to six monsters at a time. Many spells effect more than one monster, and the larger crystal indicates the creature receiving the most damage from the attack, while the creatures outside the center receive less damage. Your characters will level-up fairly quickly with the amount of battles, and will sometimes receive more powerful spells. The most innovative aspect of the game is the "Djinni" system. Throughout your travels, you will capture spiritual creatures known as "Djinni", and setting these creatures to the different characters in your party can improve their class, and give them new spells. You will have to mix and match to find the best combination of Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire Djinni for each character. You can unleash the individual Djinni from your characters during battle, which uses their abilities, but takes the benefits of that Djinni from the effect character until they are set again on the next turn. you can summon the Djinni that aren't set to a character for extra damage, but then they must recover for awhile before being able to be set again. You must decide whether the extra damage of a summoned spirit is worth sacrificing the benefits of the set Djinni for a few turns. You will need to use summons quite a bit when you challenge the games bosses which range from giant squids to two-headed dragons, and are very challenging. In short, it doesn't stray far outside the bounds of the traditional console RPG, but its' few innovations give Golden Sun a unique feel. It's also fun to go into the battle arena while you are playing the game, or after you have beaten it, to see how many consecutive monster parties you can beat before being defeated, or challenge another player(s) through the link cable - this feature definitly adds some replay value to the game.
There isn't much to dislike here, but there are a few aspects that could have been improved upon, for one thing, the game seemed a little short, and not as challenging as it could have been, another thing, is that there isn't too much variety in the sound effects, and the pixellated look of the boss creatures. I also felt the ending could have been better.
The Bottom Line
A classic-style RPG with a stunning graphics, and a few innovative ideas. Well worth a play whether your a fan of the genre, or not. This game may convert you. This game, unlike many other GBA titles, is well worth the asking price, I highly recommend you pick up a copy today, for some portable RPG goodness.
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