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Sadly this is not a review of the local takeaway, but it is instead an assessment of an RPG for the Gameboy Advance. So all those expecting a review on Kung Po Chicken and Duck Lap Lap, all look away now.... Still here? Great. Because I'm about to detail to you one of the finest RPGs I've ever had the pleasure of playing.
Golden Sun, as I've said is an RPG (or role-playing game for those unfamiliar with the terminology) made by a company called Camelot (No relation to the flawed Lottery company I can assure you! :)). The basis of the story is that Alchemy is the basis of all things in the world - in this case a world known as Weyard. Alchemy itself is split into the four elementals of Fire, Earth, Wind and Water with everything in the world being made up of a combination of these four things.
Of these four elementals there are four concentrated orbs that control the essence of this power - one forn each elemental. These orbs are stolen by the enemy in the early part of the game, in order to light the four lighthouses (one for each elemental again) in their bid for world domination. Its therefore up to the young heros and their powers to stop them and save the world.
As you can see the story isn't going to win any awards for originality, but the way in which you are taken through it step-by-step is genius and there are plenty of twists to keep you engrossed.
The game takes the basis of a large-spanning overworld that is free-roaming, split up with towns and dungeons to explore as you progress. As with any RPG, it is fairly linear, but that only emphasises the need for the story and how well it is executed.
Combat with monsters occurs through random battles, which are turn-based in which you can choose a variety of options in an attempt to see off your foes.
For the stat-lovers out there, Golden Sun is packed full of them, so you can tweak every aspect of your heroic party in order to best prepare them for the many challenges they undertake.
The one thing I liked in this game was that it was very challenging mentally. Don't get me wrong, we're not talking rocket science here, but some of the puzzles that need to be overcome require quite a bit of cerebral effort on the gamers part, and there's a sense of achievement to be had at when you accomplish one of the harder puzzles for yourself.
The visuals - for the Gameboy Advance - are of a very high standard, and add to the oozing atmosphere of the game. In addition to this, the music applied to the game is worth a mention as it is incredibly varied and there appears to be a little ditty for every situation you come across.
Camelot have clearly put a lot of effort into this game and it will take a while to complete (as most reputable RPGs do). Expect to get at least 25 hours out of it for your money and there's plenty of scope to play it again and find all the secrets the game has to offer.
One important point of note is that the sequel to this game provides a link to this one, and it is possible upon completion of this game to input all of your characters information (experience level, equipment etc) into the sequel, thus emphasising more the importance of replaying it to obtain decent characters at the end.
Overall Camelot have done an excellent job with this game and anybody with even the slightest love for RPGs will fall in love with it instantly as I did. It may even convert those who hadn't previously considered themselves RPG fans, so why not give it a go?
The recommended retail price for this game is around £24.99, but it can easily be found cheaper if you look elsewhere in games stores or even online on say like E-bay or Amazon. I can't recommend this game enough people, three simple words: get it now!
Whereas it took the PS2 about six months to get even one genuine classic game, the ... more
doggedly reliable GBA is quietly feathering its nest with barnstormer after masterpiece. Golden Sun is the first proper role-playing game on the portable and it's a stonker. RPG fans will be completely un-shocked to learn that the game centres on a spiky haired hero who discovers that the small town life is not for him and he's actually destined to be the saviour of the universe, or something. Although it's not much of a surprise to discover that the game doesn't shy away from the story clichés of the genre it is perhaps a shame that it sticks so close to the usual gameplay traditions, i.e., random battles, turn-based combat and an over-complex spell system. Still, it does do the old customs proud and the combat sequence look particularly good with a rather spiffing 2½-D graphics system and some great 3-D world map views. The puzzles are also more interesting than the norm, most being Zelda-esque physical puzzles as opposed to the usual super-obvious RPG no-brainers. Mired in sentimental tradition it might be, but Golden Sun is certainly more enjoyable than the po-faced interactive movie that is the modern Final Fantasy game. At the time of writing there's nothing quite like it on the GBA, so it's hard not to recommend it. --David Jenkins