How do you take a perfect game styled after the classic RPGs of the past and improve upon it? Well, I suppose tagging [i]The Lost Age[/i] onto the name is enough. I can’t really explain how this game lived up to the greatness of the original [i]Golden Sun[/i], but somehow it did, and I am quite impressed.
This game picks up right where the last one ended. While the lack of a complete ending in the last game could have been bad, the game had a good feeling of accomplishment when you did beat it, therefore leaving you feeling satisfied at the end. Satisfied or not, though, you still wanted more. When I finished [i]Golden Sun[/i], I went right out and bought [i]The Lost Age[/i]. I hoped that this game would deliver and it sure did.
Going into this, I didn’t care if all the skills and spells were the same. I simply wanted to continue on the story and triumph over evil and the like. I was pleasantly surprised to find out very early on that there are many different things. Of course the first thing you will notice is the new world layout. You can see the entire world this time from falls to falls (that’s right, waterfalls are at the ends of the earth). You can see on the map the land you once traveled through with Isaac, Garet, Ivan, and Mia, but now you can no longer get to that area. You start on an island continent that up until recently had no contact with other land. Due to the lighting of the Venus lighthouse however, the island has shifted and is now connected to the southern part of the Gondowan continent as well as another island continent. Your travels of course will take you through all these new lands, new towns, and new environments. Other new things include spells and skills, Djinni abilities, forgeable items, and so on.
The main difference in [i]Golden Sun: The Lost Age[/i] is the focus on the other half of the story. This time you play as Felix, accompanied by Jenna, Sheba, and eventually a newcomer to the game, Piers. Playing the role of Felix opens up a lot of the story and helps you to understand why he was against Isaac in the prior game and what his intentions are. Because you are playing as Felix, that is the excuse the game offers for why you can’t go back to the towns you visited in [i]Golden Sun[/i]. Those people remember you as an enemy and do not understand the intentions behind your actions, so it is safer to not visit them. I think Camelot did well with this detail to help you feel like there’s a reason for not going back beyond them not having all those areas programmed into the game.
Even though you see the story from a different perspective as Felix, the story still remains pretty much the same. Instead of trying to stop the lighthouses from being lit, however, your goal is to get to them and light them. Felix has his reasons, but so as not to spoil the story, I will leave that out. Most RPGs tend to have a problem with using the same enemies over and over, but this is not so in [i]The Lost Age[/i]. While some enemies you faced in [i]Golden Sun[/i] are back, most of the enemies are new and fresh. New skills of course help out, and the new Djinni seem even more powerful than once before. For instance, in [i]Golden Sun[/i], there was a Djinni that could revive a fallen comrade, but along with those, [i]The Lost Age[/i] had a Djinni that can revive all fallen comrades. Between the new enemies, levels, towns, skills, Djinni, and characters, this truly is a brand new game in its own right. While it plays the same as the original [i]Golden Sun[/i], it feels like you are playing an entirely different game, and this of course is a key element in what makes this game so enjoyable.
Speaking of similiarities and differences, this brings me to something I wanted to mention. A lot of people are hesitant to get this game because they haven’t played the original [i]Golden Sun[/i]. While that is certainly a good reason to try [i]Golden Sun[/i] first, [i]The Lost Age[/i] can be played without having played [i]Golden Sun[/i] prior to it. When you first start you get a briefing on what happened in the prior game, and since you are using new characters, you don’t actually need your characters from [i]Golden Sun[/i].
While you don’t need your characters from [i]Golden Sun[/i], for the best gaming experience, I recommend playing the first game and then carrying your characters over to the next one. Some parts of the story will mean more if you have played the first one, and I found that in the case of the final boss in [i]The Lost Age[/i], I needed all eight characters. While you can only play as four at a time like before, once your party (Felix) meets up with Isaac, you can mix and match characters, Djinni, etc. I finished the game with the lineup of Felix, Garet, Piers, and Sheba who are Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind adepts respectively. Jenna’s low HP made me drop her to my backup team. On the final boss though, I did as much damage as I could with my backup team, then when they died and Team Felix continued where they left off, it was easier. Since the final boss did more damage as the fight went on, it was easier this way.
Being able to move Djinni from character to character between teams was incredibly helpful, but even with the best Djinni setups, some enemies have a Djinni drain skill. Two enemies that I can remember had this. One was only able to drain one Djinni at a time, which wasn’t a big loss since I had a dozen others to work with, but the final boss had a habit of draining all the Djinni on one character. While I could live without the skills, the hit point, attack, and defense bonuses lost from this made dying all too easy.
Thankfully though, because of the game’s random enemy spawning like in most classic RPGs, you tend to level up at just about the pace you should be leveling up for your travels in the game. Just like in [i]Golden Sun[/i], when I got to the end I was the proper level to make it possible to beat the final boss, but it was still a fair challenge making the reward of winning that much sweeter.
Speaking of winning, the game’s ending is superb. While I don’t want to spoil anything, I will say that it ties up a lot of loose ends and brings plenty of closure to a game that was essentially left wide open at the end of the first one. As much closure as there was though, like most great games and movies, there is just enough left without a conclusion that makes it possible for yet another [i]Golden Sun[/i] game. Again, I won’t spoil anything, but if Camelot wanted to right now, they could make another [i]Golden Sun[/i] game and I would be ready and willing to plunk down the cash for it.
I really can’t say anything bad about this game. It is a perfect game styled after the RPGs of old, and just like the first one, it was a very solid gaming experience. With the longer gameplay(about 35 hours compared to the previous 25 in [i]Golden Sun[/i]), you really get the most bang for your buck. I can’t recommend this game more to anyone who owns a GBA. If you like RPGs in the least, you owe it to yourself to go out and buy [i]Golden Sun[/i], and then follow it up with [i]Golden Sun: The Lost Age[/i]. You will be glad you did.