Fifty hours. That’s right, fifty hours. It took me fifty hours to beat [i]Golden Sun[/i]. It’s not as bad as it sounds though. I got to the end of the game once and realized that not only did I suck, but I was weak as hell. I was missing just about everything one could miss and still make it to the end of the game. That’s what my stubborn ass gets for refusing to use any walkthroughs or guides. I could have gone back through the game and tried to get everything I missed, but I had a feeling it would be more fun to just start a new game. I did just that. This time I stopped being stubborn and consulted a guide. The only guide I used however was to collect the Djinni. Three other times I referenced a walkthrough since I was overlooking a couple minor details, but overall, I used just the Djinni guide.
What are Djinni? Well, they are little creatures aligned with certain elements. Mars Djinni are aligned with Fire. Venus Djinni are aligned with Earth. Mercury Djinni are aligned with Water, and Jupiter Djinni are aligned with Wind. While this may not seem very important, it really is. The four characters that you use in the game (you start with two) are also aligned with those elements. Isaac is an Earth Adept, Garet a Fire Adept, Ivan a Wind Adept, and Mia a Water Adept. Adepts are simply people who can use Psynergy, which in any other game would just be referred to as magic.
Anyhow, it’s best to keep Djinni with the person that shares the same elemental alignments as them. Every time you find a Djinni and set him to a person, it changes their stats. For instance, if I put a water Djinni on Garet, it may have a negative affect on some of his stats, if not all of them. As we know, fire and water do not mix, so it’s not always best to do this. Still, there are times when mixing the Djinni is a good idea. Djinni not only change your stats depending on who they are set to, but they can also affect the spells that you are able to cast. Mixing them up can give you spells that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and other times, mixing them up will cancel out most if not all of your spells. The biggest challenge in [i]Golden Sun[/i] is not the game itself, but rather learning how to manage your Djinni properly to be as powerful as possible.
That’s not all with the Djinni though. Every one of them in battle can offer an elemental ability to the user. It’s like casting a spell, but instead of using your Psynergy points, it just sets your Djinni to standby after you use them. Some of them can increase your attack, create a firewall to protect you from damage, heal you, poison your enemy, or what have you. The more you get and the more experience you have with them, the stronger you will be in battle.
I mentioned, after you use a Djinni in battle, he will be set to standby mode. You can actually manually set them to standby outside of battle, but when in standby mode, you lose the stat benefits they would give you otherwise. That is why personally, I recommend keeping your Djinni set to your characters so you have your stats as high as possible. Once your Djinni are set, they can be used together to form even more powerful elemental attacks. These could be best described as “Uber-spells” that use the Djinni rather than Psynergy Points. You can use one, two, three, or four of the Djinni with the same elemental alignment to form an attack. Naturally, the more Djinni, the more powerful the attack. These attacks are nice though in that they are not at a set strength. The more you use them, the stronger your attacks with them become, which is very useful over time. Even though every character can have 7 Djinni at a time, the max of 4 being used at once is initially disappointing until you realize that as you use your skills, they will be stronger. Once you have used your Djinni in a grouped attack, it will take several turns in battle for them to be set to you for use again. If it was just one Djinni, then it will take one turn. If it was two, then one of the Djinni will be set after one turn and the other will be set after two. Continue this process for up to 4 Djinni, and you get the picture.
Throughout the game, Djinni will be incredibly crucial to your gaming, and without them, you will not survive. I recommend using a Djinni guide to get through the game, because even though I was able to locate most of them on my own, several I found I was unable to reach without help from the guide.
Now that we are done with the Djinni, which happen to be the biggest chunk of the game, let’s get into the story. You start in Vale as a young teenager. Your name is Isaac, and your friend Garet also lives in town. Your enemies(which you don’t know about yet), Menardi(the female), and Saturos(the male) are Fire Adepts, and their goal is to collect the Elemental Stars. The four elemental stars are used to light up the lighthouses of their same elemental alignment. Lighting them could bring destruction upon the world, and since Saturos and Menardi wish to rule the world, they will need these elemental stars to light up the lighthouses. The elemental stars happen to be located(and protected by) a mountain just north of Vale called Sol Sanctum.This is how Isaac and Garet get tied into this story. Saturos and Menardi entering Sol Sanctun creates a storm unlike anything Vale has seen. The townspeople don’t have enough psynergy to prevent a large boulder from falling down the mountain and ravaging the town. The boulder kills Isaac’s father, and is thought to kill Felix, the brother of Jenna, but then it turns out that Felix is rescued by Saturos and Menardi who he then joins on their quest. Isaac and Garet meet up with Saturos and Menardi and get defeated in battle after overhearing their heinous plans.
Three years later, after feeling guilty about not being able to save those who died, or being able to defeat their enemies, they have spent their time studying Psynergy. Saturos and Menardi return yet again, this time to get the elemental stars. They were not prepared before, but they believe they are now. This is where the game itself really starts. Your first mission is to investigate what is going on at Sol Sanctum at which point you find the elemental stars and meet up with Saturos and Menardi yet again. Naturally, they escape(like the game should be that short), and you basically spend the rest of the game chasing them from lighthouse to lighthouse while helping the people of the land on the way. There are many towns, puzzles, and even a few sidequests that aren’t all that neccesary. As with any RPG, you spend your time leveling up as you go along, but thankfully, the design of this game doesn’t make you feel like you are just playing to level up and just level up. You tend to level at the proper rate for what you are getting done in the game, and this is great since the game is quite linear and you can just play straight through it.
Let’s move on to the technical aspects of the game. The sound in the game is well done for everything, and it doesn’t feel generic. On top of that, for a 2D RPG, the graphics are just spectacular. I was amazed that the GBA could push those graphics with no slowdown issues of any sort. The story of the game is very enveloping, and you will find that you don’t want to put it down because you want to see what will happen next. Speaking of that, you CAN put the game down anytime. You can save on the fly any time outside of battles, which is great for just spending 20 minutes leveling up in between meetings at work or while on the throne. Like most GBA games, it also has a sleep mode as well so you can close the game up real quick if you are interrupted and then pick it up later where you left off.
I really can’t say much more about this game without spoiling any of the story, which is one of the biggest reasons I kept playing it. I spent fifty hours on this game, and it cost me $20 when I bought it. That’s a cost of less than 50 cents an hour, and considering how much I enjoyed the game, it was a great price.
This brings up the only real flaw in the game. It isn’t finished. In order to get the rest of the game, you have to buy [i]Golden Sun: The Lost Age[/i]. I don’t mind, because even for the two games, I will have spent $50 on them. I would have gladly spent $50 to have the game entirely on one cartridge, but I can understand why it was done this way. No casual gamer will drop $50 on a Game Boy game. If they drop the $20 on [i]Golden Sun[/i] though and get to the end and love it, then they will have to drop the other $30 to get [i]The Lost Age[/i]. This was how I was. I haven’t been a big RPG guy since the 16 bit days, which was why I went into this not expecting much, but when I realized how much it reminded me of the classic 16 bit RPG’s, I fell in love. Still, the two cartridge thing can be a pain. You can transfer your characters over, but you have to use a 200+ alphanumeric/punctuation passcode to get your characters back in the next game. The good news is, if you have a link cable, you can visit a friend who has a GBA(or if you happen to have two of your own), link up and transfer your characters. I’ve been looking for a reason to buy a link cable, so I will get one when I buy [i]The Lost Age[/i].
So really, that whole two cartridge thing is the only real flaw with the game, but from a marketing point of view, I understand entirely. There is no way they could have made any money selling the game for $50 on one cartridge, because most people would not have bought it. That makes sense, but it is still a flaw.
Even so, this is one of the greatest games I have ever played, and I am really looking forward to buying [i]The Lost Age[/i]. The sole flaw was the dual cartridge game. Otherwise, it was perfect. The puzzles were the proper difficulty, the game flowed smoothly, and I never felt like I was spending time playing just to level up. I was always playing with a goal in mind, instead of just mindless leveling. I loved this game, and for $20, I recommend it to every Game Boy owner out there.