Believe it or not, I got into the RPG genre later than most my age. Yeah I played Super Mario RPG the few times I rented it from Blockbuster but I never really seriously touched any RPGs until Golden Sun on the Game Boy Advance came out. “But Marc, you play Final Fantasy!” I’ll admit, I haven’t actually finished any of the games on PS1 and I never had a PS2 and my backlog of games on it was too big to even get around to most the major RPGs on it. But that’s enough about me. Golden Sun is the RPG you probably haven’t played, and one you should pick up.
Weyard, the world Golden Sun takes place in, is a flat earth. The oceans spill over the edge into an endless abyss and we begin in the town of Vale at what is basically the heart of the world. But one day, the mountain, Mt. Aleph, above the town erupts causing a catastrophic event in Vale. Citizens were lost and buildings ruined. Years later, Isaac and his friends Jenna and Garret grow up practicing Psynergy, the “magic” of this world so they can research Mt. Aleph and the cause of the previous incident.
Seeking within the shrines in the mountain with their mentor they find the sacred sanctum within the mountain housing the 4 elemental stars, the keys to unlocking the true potential of alchemy. Within the sanctum though, they discover the antagonists, Saturos, Menardi, Alex and Felix (Jenna’s brother thought to be lost in the incident) are after the elemental stars with the intention of igniting the elemental lighthouses and reawake alchemy in the world. From here, Jenna is taken in by Felix and his crew, while Isaac, Garret and their mentor Kraden are left to pursue them in attempts to stop them.
The story from here takes on a grand adventure across the continent making allies and enemies alike in the travels. Some of the more powerful allies are the Djinn. The Djinn are small mystical creatures that provide party members with stat boosts when they are active, and when used they provide powerful skills. But once you use them they are placed on standby and you lose the stat boost but gain the ability to summon an entity of that element to do even greater damage to the enemy.
The Djinn are assigned to a party member and the party member’s class is based on the elements of the djinn assigned to them. This allows for a little deeper customization of characters. Each class provides a different skillset for that character. The elements have a general idea of what they do, such as water having more heals and fire having more heavy damage attacks. Some psynergy are even not available unless you are mixing djinn on a certain character. What adds more challenge to this is the fact that djinn are not handed to you aside from a select few. If you want to collect them all you need to actually go hunting in side dungeons and side quests to hopefully find them as a reward.
The game’s graphics are outstanding. As seen in the Judgement summon above, the effects are on a large and flashy scale and all attacks feel so very rewarding. The environment art is also stunning for a GBA game. Locales are all designed with distinction so the next place always feels new and not recycle.
Music is outstanding. Give it a listen yourself. Each track draws you into every note. They get you pumped in fights and when the setting is calm the music matches. While it shows its age, it’s definitely memorable and an excellent soundtrack for the grand scale of this RPG. When you play this game, definitely give a moment to appreciate the soundtrack while you get sucked into the world.
Looking for a good ol’ RPG to play? Pick up Golden Sun. It’s worth it and I’m sure you will enjoy it if you are a fan of any RPG. The customization with character classes add equipment give way to a good deal of replayability. This game is easily a 10/10 and a golden nugget of its time. Have you played Golden Sun? Let me know what you think in the comments! But what happens next? The game got a sequel, Golden Sun: The Lost Age which I even think is greater than this game, but let’s save that for another day.