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Golden Sun (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Golden Sun (Game Boy Advance) review

"From its incredible graphics to its engrossing storyline, Golden Sun proves that huge surprises can come in small packages. "

Handhelds have long been without a defining RPG, but Camelotís new offering, Golden Sun has changed that. From its incredible graphics to its engrossing shtoryline, Golden Sun proves that huge surprises can come in small packages. And what a surprise it is! You can expect a very dramatic and lengthy quest (40 hours!) as you assume the role of Isaac, the young hero who learns early on that he and his friends possess an ancient and mysterious power. Isaacís friends are kidnapped by evildoers while trying to rescue four elemental stones from their sacred shrine. Not only are they were they whisked away, but three of the stones were taken with them, leaving Isaac and his friend Garrett to seek them out in order to swap the fourth stone for their buddies.

Along the way gamers are treated to vibrant environments that rival any console RPG. Dungeons are a blast to wander through and boast a wide variety of enemies around every corner. The battle system, while traditionally turn-based, is deep enough with a long list of magic and summon spells to keep you busy, but what sets this game apart from others is the ability to set little creatures known as Djinn to your characters. Djinn are powerful little critters found throughout the game that allow you to unleash awesome power in battle to decimate your enemies. While summoning these guys isnít quite Final Fantasy caliber, it still looks amazing, leaving you in awe of just how much power the Game Boy Advance really has. They also add a lot of depth to the somewhat straight-forward battle system, since your characterís classes and attributes change as you attach different Djinni to them. Gamers will also find a host of challenging puzzles to solve and mini-games to play ranging from simple statue pushing to more abstract events such as ice-skating.

As with any RPG, the sound is integral to the experience. Golden Sunís score is pretty without being over-dramatic, with just enough charm to keep you sane after hearing the same stuff for 20 hours. As the music erupts in a swell of strings during the more dramatic moments, or gives you a hint as to what kind of danger is lurking through the next door, the only thing that could make it better would be to have it pumping through huge stereo speakers. This is certainly the type of music to expect in a Nintendo title, lending itself to having the appearance of kidsí stuff. Make no mistake however that underneath its childlike tones the soundtrack reflects a world of complete immersion.

The gameís controls are pretty intuitive with hardly a learning curve for those who may not be associated with RPGís. While people might shy away from some because of cumbersome menus, Golden Sun features a very friendly interface thatís very satisfying without being too simple, so seasoned gamers can definitely have a ball with this.

The only problem with Golden Sun is its level of difficulty in some areas. People will no doubt be frustrated by quite a few enemies and bosses that can seem impossible to defeat, and repressing your urge to smash your GBA into bits will be common. The reward however is worth it, as this addictive little gem begs you to keep progressing through the game.

Since their split with Square, Nintendoís library of games has sadly been without great role playing games except for the beloved Zelda franchise. This proves that Nintendo can still serve up quality and engaging software from any genre and show the world that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Gamers everywhere as well as RPG nuts owe it to themselves to play Golden Sun and to hope that Nintendo sends more like this our way.

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Community review by matsuko (Date unavailable)

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