The Importance of Being Fair – Golden Sun GBA review…

July 4, 2008 § 4 Comments

SparkiJ here, writing for the first time for The Clockwork Manual. My colleagues who I have known for a very long time seem to have followed the footsteps of the reviewing games in the “7th Generation” which people have renowned as the golden era of gaming. To follow suit in writing of games we as individuals adore, I decided to go for a game probably hardly anyone has actually played especially as the vast majority of people owning Nintendo Wiis/Playstation 3s/Xbox 360s claim to be “into” gaming but have only gotten “into” it because they hit the age where they realised that they have a questionable social life, lack of or non-existent real friends and have bought a 7th generation console to fritter away the moments that make up a dull day. Okay, admittedly those few lines were a subtle scathing attack at someone in my school that claims to know about the story of Metal Gear Solid after only playing the most recent one…

But I digress! With trolleydude being part of the Xbox, foam at the mouth, death and destruction party and Hailogon at the shinier hardcore state of the art hardware Sony family, I feel Nintendo isn’t getting its fair share of… well, anything. Yes okay I own a playstation 3 and yes I may hold resentment for the Wii through no fault of the actual console but the fanboys who are sad enough to fight the wars of Nintendo through internet forums and being annoying gits. I always thought calling fanboys sad and saying they have no lives was a bit harsh, you see they are just like you and me who have an interest in gaming. Contrary to popular belief you can adore sitting at home playing Timesplitters or what have you and still have an active life that isn’t based on defending your console. Not to sound too nostalgic but I remember a time when not every Nintendo based product made me want to top myself or rather top someone else.

Golden Sun is a JRPG or (Japanese Role Playing Game) for the Game Boy Advance. This is the point where majority of people would have stopped reading because of the abbreviation, “JRPG” mentioned before. I’ll review this game in a different way then. Instead of pointing out first and foremost why the game is good, I’ll explain why it doesn’t suck. First of all the RPG style is that of a turn based attack sequence, much like some Final Fantasy games which is simple and fun. Okay, that’s opinion but I’ll tell you, the story and whole culture of the game is very, how can I put this… very un-Japanese in some respects. There are no oversized swords and hairstyles that make you moan and groan and think, “oh dear more characters designed by Japanese 40yr old virgins.” The story is not about defeating another oversized, overpowered, good looking Japanese dark character who has wronged the main protagonist many moons ago when the sun was still young, blah blah blah. If anything the game mixes culture and elements in a very successful way. For example there are references to Greek, Roman, Egyptian mythology. The names of the characters are not in any way “JRPG” like, unless you think Jenna or Alex are particularly Japanese. The main story is done in an original way in that it actually makes sense. You as Isaac, the protagonist, lead your party who are connected in different ways, to stop the lighting of the elemental lighthouses. Right I know what you’re thinking, “that sounds gay.” But come on, give it originality points for not following other RPGs. Along the way you meet elemental creatures called the “Djinn” that make combat more interesting. These Djinni change the elemental status of your character, i.e. Earth, Fire, Wind and Water so you can give each character their own specialising element, or you can mix and match and give them new and different abilities. For example giving a character Fire and Earth Djinni gives them abilities to summon giant thorns with supernovas and if you didn’t experiment and mix around, you would have just got the boring flares and earthquakes. These Djinni can also be used on battle and have their own special abilities. After using a Djinn to heal or attack or whatever, they are on standby and the more you have on standby, the greater the level of summon you receive. This is where the game really excels graphically. Having a 4 Wind Djinn standing by, allows you to summon an elemental God called “Thor.” Each summon for every level has its own unique cutscene during battle before unleashing a unique attack.

Instead of the normal “magic” system there is a more original take on it. Each player has “psyenergy” powers which is different to normal RPGs because they can be used also whenever you want outside of battle also. You can use the psyenergy “frost” in battle to perform an ice attack or you can use frost during the game to freeze a puddle to make it into a pillar for you to jump from. This really stands out for me because the makers of Golden Sun seem to hate the player. In RPG puzzles now, we are basically spoon fed the answers and told in tutorials or retardedly obvious hints as to what to do. Golden Sun seems to throw anything obvious out of the window. You are given the psyenergy techniques, sometimes you have to travel and learn new ones for yourself, and you are given a puzzle. Nothing else, its just you and a good puzzle to solve. Even the weapons are beautifully done. You get the normal weapons where you can buy in shops and there are those you buy in small markets that might be cursed but insanely powerful or weapons dropped by enemies. Special weapons unleash special effects to do additional damage, for example the Gaia Blade sometimes summons a gigantic piercing sword into your enemy. Its just good round violence! There’s nothing quite like it, its not just a normal stab and so and so takes -5 damage. Your in battle and you attack and suddenly A GIGANTIC SWORD COMES DOWN FROM THE AIR INTO YOUR ENEMY’S BRAIN?!

To round it off all the characters are well rounded and the storyline is gripping, although the long cut scenes make you feel suicidal sometimes with the constant pressing of the A button. The point I’m gradually making is that this is a game that I’ve played easily for over 80 hours. There are so many things to find, and puzzles to do. I also purposefully chose a Nintendo game that isn’t the jittering of a dying franchise to show Nintendo aren’t all a bunch of boring tossers who seem to think a steroid pumped blue hedgehog and an Italian plumber with the ability to jump on things is the way to go in gaming. New franchises are fun, and Golden Sun and its fantastic sequel prove this point. Stop forgetting why we all love games in the first place, its because they’re fun and that girl you like that you’ve been stalking for the past 2 years doesn’t actually like you, so instead you pretend you can summon giant swords into her boyfriend. Not me though, I’m made of awesome.

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