Reviewed by Psycho Penguin
It seems every week a new "greatest game of all
time!" comes along and brings along with it a ton of
hype. While sometimes this amount of hype is
completely warranted (Final Fantasy 7 is a pretty
good example of this), most of the time, the
exceedingly increasing amount of hype causes decent
games to look absolutely stinky. Metal Gear Solid is
a good example of this. While it is a fantastic game
in its own right, it was implanted into everyone's
brains for over two years that it was going to be THE
game to own. When it came out, it blew everyone away,
but the gameplay didn't live up to the hype.
In the rarest of cases, the hyped game will come out
extremely stinky, even if you take away the insane
hype it received. Golden Sun is a good example of
this. While it was not touted as being a special game
before it came out, when it was released, everyone
fell in love with it. Some called it the greatest
role playing game of all time. Some called it the
best reason to own a Game Boy Advance. Some called it
the best game they've ever played. And only a select
few found faults in the game.
However, many people should have been able to see
past the "this is the first role playing game on
Game Boy Advance so it has to be good" nonsense and
see this game for what it really is. I think Golden
Sun has very few redeeming qualities and fails in all
of the essential elements that a role playing game
needs to be successful. The storyline is absolute
garbage, the battle system is mind numbingly boring,
and most of all, the game just isn't fun to play at all.
Perhaps the prime example of how stinky Golden Sun is
the boring storyline. Half the time you won't have a clue
what's going on due to the idiotic
characters. The other half of the time you'll be
crying. You know you have a bad storyline when I am
hoping I won't have to pay attention to a story
scene. And there are a lot of story scenes. It feels
like every ten minutes you are dragged into another
meaningless scene. And then another one. And another
one. It's enough to make you want to give up role
playing games forever and take up chess.
The story starts off interesting enough, as you play
the role of some moron named Isaac. Isaac is the
average role playing game loser, er hero, who decides
to be a beloved mute. Anyways, Isaac and a couple of
his dear friends decide to go into a shrine. A scribe
takes them in there. As you can probably surmise,
something bad will happen in the shrine. Some evil
guy, Saturos, has decided to open up the seal
containing the magical power of alchemy. That is not
a good thing. So, you spend the remainder of the game
trying to save the world from the mass destruction
that would occur if Saturos got his hands on the
power of alchemy. Soon after this, you find out that
Saturos needs four Elemental Stars. He only manages
to get three of them, as your party escapes with the
fourth. You need to recover the other three and then
defeat Saturos in order to save the world. There is
also another villian named Menardi, but he never
really gets into the main storyline as much as you'd expect.
Yes, it is your typical storyline, and it drags along
more so than any other role playing game I have ever
seen. Most of this is due to the most drab set of
characters ever created. Besides Isaac, who is right
up there with Squall and Crono in the personality
department, are his friends Ivan, Garet, and Mia.
These guys are so boring, they make watching a
Duke/Winthrop tournament game seem watchable in
comparison. Never before have I thought it was
possible to see such mundane characters. Garet is the
only one that shows any sort of personality in the
entire game, and sadly he shows the bad kind of
personality. He acts like a friggin 12 year old
schoolgirl for the entire game. He shows no signs of
intelligence and is the kind of guy that would want
to touch a bomb that's about to go off instead of
running away from it. Mia should have acted like a
schoolgirl, but instead she just sits there like a
mute for much of the game. Ivan could have been the
typical brute found in every role playing game, but
instead he's just.. there. Fun.
Golden Sun's extremely crummy storyline would be
forgiven and forgotten by me if the gameplay was
decent enough. Sadly, that is not the case, as Golden
Sun tried a lot of new ideas that did not work out
well at all. The game is a lot like any other other
role playing game out there. You get into random
battles, you level up by gaining experience points,
you buy things by getting money. You face bosses
every once in a while, and as you complete one area,
you move onto the next area. Camelot added a bunch of
new ideas to the genre, as well.
Unfortunately for them, these ideas just did not
click. Perhaps the main addition to the game was the
Djinn system. This was the main magic system, and to
be honest, I was rather intrigued by the idea at
first. You first need to find a Djinn. Usually, you
will have to fight and defeat the Djinn in order to
"capture" it, but sometimes you can just get one
without needing to battle it. Once you receive a
Djinn, a character can equip it. Each Djinn has a
certain element, and each character has a certain
element. You can mix and match Djinn elements with
the character's elements to produce some devastating
results. Sometimes the combination will work out
well, but sometimes it will not work out well at all.
When you equipp Djinn to a character, sometimes their
job will change. With this, they gain stat changes,
as some stats will go up, while others will go down.
Also, they will gain new abilities and spells that
they didn't have before. Each character can equip
Djinn, and doing so allows them to completely change
skills. This allows you to have an insane amount of
control over how each character acts. You can have
Garet be a magician, Mia be a butt kicking machine.
The amount of options you have over your character's
growth is amazing.
Once you get into a battle, you can use your Djinn
you have equipped to do a special attack. Each Djinn
has a different special attack. Some allow your party
to gain certain enhancements, while others allow you
to attack the enemy for a decent amount of damage.
The downside to this is that when you use a Djinn in
battle, it goes into standby mode. The character
equipped with it loses the Djinn for the battle, and
is essentially going to change jobs and lose
abilities. The upside to this is now they can cast a
summon, which does massive damage to the enemy. In
another round, they will gain the usage of the Djinn back.
Now that I have made the Djijnn system sound somewhat
good, I will now go blast it. I hated the whole
concept of this. You will literally need to spend
half an hour just to set your Djinn properly in order
to have the right combination of abilities to beat a
boss. When you finally have the right combination,
you lose all your abilities when you summon a Djinn,
and you are left weak for one round without the
proper abilities. Outside of battle, switching Djinn
and putting them on Set and Standby can get confusing
quickly. I literally get lost trying to set my
characters properly. I never tend to get the
combinations I want, and I get tired of mindlessly
switching Djinn in hopes of getting someone to get a Cure spell.
Another rather innovative aspect of the game is the
psynergy. Okay, so it's basically just magic, when
used during battle. However, outside of battles, you
have to use it from time to time to complete an area.
Using the "move" psynergy allows you to move
statues and other items, enabling you to clear the
pathway. That is just one example. I hated the whole
concept of this. While it was easy to do this
sometimes, by using L or R to set the psynergy so you
only have to push one button, sometimes I'd have to
go to the menu and find the psynergy. And if you
don't have the psynergy needed, you'd have to
de-equip Djinn just to get the ability. Then you'd
have to re-equip the Djinn. It got annoying really quickly.
The battle system was okay, but it disappointed me in
a couple of aspects. For one, the menu system is
pretty simple to figure out, but it gets annoying,
like the menu system in Breath of Fire. The main
problem I had with it was the "Final Fantasy"
problem. For those of you that have played the
original Final Fantasy, you probably remember that
when you aimed for an enemy, but the enemy died
before you had a chance to attack it, instead of
moving onto the next character, there would be an
"ineffective attack". The same thing happens in
Golden Sun, only the character defends instead of
there being an ineffective attack. While this makes
the battles more strategic, it is also an annoying
element, since you can't plan a critical attack.
There's a reason Final Fantasy's the only Final
Fantasy to "feature" this.
Golden Sun features a lot of puzzles, more so than
mostly any other role playing game you will ever
play. Sometimes, the puzzles blend in well with the
area you are in, but some of them feel out of place.
It's like Camelot just had to throw in as many
puzzles as possible, and the results are shown in
some rather odd puzzles. Most of them just require
you using your psynergy to do something, but some
require some serious brain power. It's no wonder I
had trouble with this game. ^.^
At least the game features some nice controls. The
menu system gets confusing sometimes, especially the
Djinn settings, but the controls are relatively
painless. Navigating through the various menus is
simple enough, and battles are simple. Sometimes it
is a pain to control the characters in certain spots,
and it is a definite pain to use psynergy if you
don't have it equipped to L or R, but otherwise the
controls are really solid.
At least everything is not horrible. The graphics are
quite good, especially for a portable game. The best
part is, you won't need to keep tilting the game boy
advance around just to get a good light angle. The
game features bright and vibrant graphics that gives
it its own unique feel. The battles are fairly well
animated, but sadly, most of the time you will never
see some of the incredible magic attacks. Due to the
fact that the game uses that text system instead of
numbers over the enemy's heads. Wow, the
game manages to channel Dragon Warrior and Final
Fantasy, only the bad elements! The character designs
are nice enough, especially in the little portraits.
Each terrain is designed quite nicely, from the icy
tundras to the grassy fields.
Back to the disappointing elements of the game, the
music is nowhere near as good as everyone claims it
to be. Some of it is average, while some is really
horrible. For instance, the main title theme is
decent, but nothing special. The boss theme will
never annoy you, because you won't hear it that much.
However, the battle theme is really horrible,
especially after you keep hearing it over and over
again. The sound effects don't help either,
especially the bleeps and bloops that occur every
time you choose something in the menu. The sounds the
Djinn make sound good, but otherwise the sound
effects are worthless.
There's only two reasons I ever decided to play this
game as much as I did. I went on a long trip to New
York, via car, and I needed something to pass the
time. Circle of the Moon is fun, but not as much fun
after two completions. So, I decided for a change,
and Golden Sun was on sale. I have barely played it
since I came back from the trip. It's an absolute
boring game with a lot of crazy elements that will
make you depressed. I didn't think it was possible to
make a role playing game this boring, but Camelot did
it. I can't think of a reason to want to play through
it a second time, especially after the really stinky ending.
The puzzles are challenging, but otherwise the game
is pretty simple. Some of the boss battles can get
pretty intense, however, especially early and late in
the game. Once you get a ton of Djinn and summons,
battles will start to get really wild and
challenging. Strategy plays a bigger part in battles
than it usually does in role playing games, due to
the element of needing to target the right enemies,
and setting Djinn and abilities. Some of the puzzles
are really wicked. They definitely take a high amount
of thinking in order to complete. The game is fairly
short, at just over 20 hours, but you'll definitely
face a fair share of challenges while going through the 20 hours.
Simply put, Golden Sun failed to even come close to
where it should have been. It could have been an
absolute incredible game, but the final product seems
just a little rushed, and it also features some of
the most boring story scenes ever put into a game.
You'll want to turn the game off after putting up
with even one of the story scenes, much less the
other 300 you'll have to put up with. Everything just
falls short. The game is not fun, the story is
boring, and the character development is predictable
and lackluster. It's like going to your favorite
band's concert. You'll get way hyped, and end up
feeling a little disappointed when it's all over.
Only this time out, you'll feel like you wasted 20
hours of your life.
-The sound effect the summons make are pretty cool.
-You can turn the game off whenever you feel like it.
-The game actually starts off interesting enough.
-The battle system is pretty decent.
-The graphics are not bad, at all.
Not So Good Points
-Boring story scene after boring story scene.
-The character development is just awful.
-Overrated music, which gets especially annoying
-The djinn system is innovative but not implemented
-It gets frustrating to have to keep changing djinn
just to use one psyenergy to move a little bit
forward in some dungeon.
Golden Sun is a terrible game. All of the good points
combine can't save it from even one bad point. It's
worth a rental, at most. Just wait for another role
playing game to come out.
Storyline - 3.1/10
Graphics - 8.9/10
Music - 3.4/10
Sound Effects - 4.3/10
Controls - 9.2/10
Gameplay - 3.1/10
Replay Value - Below Average
Challenge - Above Average
Is This Game Worth A Purchase? - Just wait for a new RPG to come
out for GBA..
Overall - 3.2/10