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Golden Sun: The Lost Age (GBA)

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Released in 2003, this was the sequel to Camelot’s Golden Sun. It is one of, if not, the best RPG on the GBA.

Story

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9/10

The plot follows on from the original Golden Sun, where you were tasked with saving the world. However, there is a twist in that rather than play as the team you were in the first game, you now play as the opposing team. The plot itself is intricate and does its best to immerse you in the game.  There are a few minor niggles with the yes/no question and answer system the game uses, where answering yes/no to a question only changes the next few lines of dialogue rather than altering the plot as a whole. There is one scene I can think of which you unlock if you answer ‘no’ at certain points in the game prior to that, but more of that would have been appreciated.

There are also places where the story really does make you feel – there is one particular point near to the very end where you will feel  a real tear-jerker. There’s also places you visit, such as the werewolf village of Garoh or the fallen hard-on-the-times  Yallam,  where you will feel sorry for the inhabitants.

Although the game does give you a recap of the events of the original Golden Sun at the beginning, this game will make little sense if you go into playing it before playing through the original, so I would recommend you do that, just so you can make sense of this game.

Sound

10/10

The soundtrack for this game, along with the original’s OST, is one of the best handheld game soundtracks, in my opinion. All the music fits the atmosphere of the various places you visit, the soundtrack is of very high quality, and it is just all-round fantastic. Some of the more outstanding points in the soundtrack for me are the Tundaria Tower theme, the generic desert theme, Yallam’s theme, the lighthouse music is awesome, and the boss battle themes are wonderful. Then again, I also own the OST for these  games, so what do I know?

The only thing which does gripe me about the music in this game is the lack of sound effects, yeah, sure, occasionally you can hear dripping water in the caves but that’s about it. The fact there’s only one overworld sound for the use of Psynergy annoys me slightly as well,  but in light of how excellent the actual OST is, I can let Camelot off.

Graphics

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10/10

For a GBA game, the graphics are fantastic. Everything looks bright, the background is as detailed as the foreground, there must be at least 100 individual character portraits in this game, the weapons and armour all have individual icons. In-battle graphics are brilliant, enemy and character models are excellently detailed. Heck, you can make out shadows and bubbles in the background. But the best stuff? The Djinn unleashes, weapon unleashes, summons and bosses. Psynergy looks fantastic in battle, with each individual Psynergy getting its own presentation when used in battle (Supernova is my particular favourite Psynergy on looks). Everything looks amazing. And from best I can tell, there are very few, if any, graphical glitches present in this game.

The only real problem with graphics is occasionally during battles, when there’s close-ups during attacks, the background can zoom in and look a bit pixelated, but that’s about it.

Multiplayer Options

6/10

There is multiplayer in this game, but short of allowing you to fight against your friends with your teams, there isn’t much else to it. Still, to try out new classes and things, it works fairly well. You can also challenge yourself in the multiplayer mode, fighting against unending hordes of monsters, which is always nice for a distraction.

Challenge

5/10

The main game does lack in challenge, as you’re always constantly finding new, stronger weapons to use, and the enemies don’t level up to scale with you. Although a couple of bosses will make life difficult for you (the Serpent and Poseidon come to mind), most of the boss fights aren’t that difficult either.  The challenge comes from when you inflict things like low level runs, or no Djinn runs, or Psynergy-only runs (or no Psynergy) on yourself.

Psynergy is also massively overpowered in this game, and as it restores while you’re walking around the map, it isn’t that limited either, so you can always pound opponents into the ground with Psynergy. Or mash the attack button, both work, and neither gives much of a challenge.

Gameplay

10/10

This game is what every handheld RPG should aim to be. It has all the staples of RPGs – magic, weapons, armour, stat tinkering, the lot. The real depth to the gameplay comes in the form of the class and Djinn system. In the game, there are about 70 Djinn sctattered around, which you have to collect. Each Djinni is tied to an element, and by giving certain combinations of Djinn to certain characters, you can change their class, which completely alters what Psynergy they have access to and what stats they have.

As far as the overworld goes, you have to use certain Psynergy in order to progress and solve puzzles throughout the in-game world and in dungeons. With the exception of one dugeon (Air’s Rock, anyone?), all the dungeons are of a decent length and do offer a challenge. You will spend a few minutes thinking about how best to proceed in each dungeon and how best to solve the puzzles in each. Gameplay is fantastic in this game.

Replay Value

7/10

Well, I’ve owned this game since release in 2003, and I keep finding myself coming back to it. However, it is a 40+ hour game, and seeing as once you’ve played it, you’ve played it, there’s no way to see differences in the story by choosing different dialogue options, so you may be hard pressed to find a reason to replay it. However, I keep finding reason to play it over and over again, so there’s something to this game.

Overall

Story: 9

Sound: 10

Graphics: 10

Multiplayer:  6

Challenge:  5

Gameplay:  10

Replay Value:  7

 

Overall:   8/10

This is one of, if not the best GBA game, let down only by the lack of challenge and the multiplayer. Go and play it.

Written by Karen

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