Friday, December 19, 2008

Golden Sun - 5 Star Gameboy Advance Game

Golden Sun is the first original role-playing game for the Game Boy Advance to appear in the U.S. And despite perhaps a too-familiar story line, Golden Sun's jaw-dropping graphics, deep magic system, and unique multiplayer arena mode truly show that the Game Boy Advance is capable of a serious RPG.

Game developer Camelot (which also made the legendary Shining Force series for the Sega Genesis, and, more recently, Mario Golf and Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64) designed Golden Sun from the ground up to take advantage of the GBA's horsepower, and it shows. Sharp, vivid landscapes, detailed towns and dungeons, and awesome weather effects--it looks like a Super Nintendo game with some extra zing squeezed onto a handheld system. Fans of Secret of Mana or Chrono Trigger will appreciate the feel of this game.

But the game's greatest strength is its magic system. Your characters each have their own latent psychic abilities based on one of the four elements of alchemy (earth, water, wind, and fire). The characters will be called upon to use their individual forms of telepathy and telekinesis to solve various puzzles in the game. Also, you can collect Djinn (elemental spirits) and link them to your characters. Not only can these Djinn be summoned in battle, they can also bolster or hinder your characters' latent psychic abilities, give them special attacks, and even change your characters' class. This system is similar to Final Fantasy VIII's guardian system, though far more intuitive and easy to master.

Golden Sun employs a basic turn-based battle system, but it has amazing spell and fighting techniques that really take advantage of the GBA's technology. The game achieves a nice balance between flashy attacks and the brevity of these same attacks--a lesson the makers of other RPGs should learn. Battles are beautifully and quickly fought, and don't overtax the gamer.
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