Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 04/14/03 | Genre: RPG
If there is one Game Boy Advance game I have played longer than any other it would be Golden Sun. I spent hours upon hours in the world, gaining experience, obtaining new skills, uncovering every secret, and making sure I had the best equipment available for my party. When it was all said and done, I beat Golden Sun two days before The Lost Age came out. If there is one thing I hate about writing reviews, it is that I cannot devote as much time to a game as I normally would like to. With so many games that I personally cover and being Editor of CVGames, there just aren't enough hours in the day for me to play every game as long as a I want to. But fortunately I found time to make my way through Golden Sun so I could start the second chapter in the Series, The Lost Age. While I didn't have to wait long after beating the first to star the second, developer Camelot has done a remarkable job with the title.
For those of you not familiar with Golden Sun or The Lost Age, it is a Role Playing Game set in the world of Weyard. In the original, you control a party of four characters. The main two are Isaac and Garret. These two young men come from the town of Vale--that was given the task of protecting the sealed power of Alchemy. However, disaster strikes when Saturous and Menardi attack Vale and begin a quest to free the powers of Alchemy by lighting lighthouses across the world of Weyard. The original Golden Sun ends with the first lighthouse being lit. After starting Gold Sun: The Lost Age, the story starts with players controlling Jenna, a friend of both Isaac and Garret, through the last events of the first game. Except this time you are seeing this part of the story through her eyes. As the game continues, Jenna and her brother Felix will team up with their party and deal with Saturous and Menrdi's plans to bring alchemy back in their own way.
If you have managed to make your way through the original Golden Sun, then you have had a chance to make a final save in the game. This save game can be used to import your data into the new Golden Sun: The Lost Age. There are two ways of doing this. First, the easiest way is to have access to two GBA systems and a link cable. However, if this is not possible, you can write down an extremely long password. If you haven't yet played Golden Sun or have not made your way to the end of the game, I highly recommend that you play through it and defeat it. While it isn't required to play The Lost Age, I feel like you are cheating yourself of the Golden Sun experience unless you have made your way through the entire first game. The game can be found at many locations for twenty bucks or less. Also, if you are stuck in the game, you can find a variety of Strategy Guides on the Internet for free. Prima also sells an excellent strategy guide that covers both titles.
Visually, Golden Sun: The Lost Age is slightly enhanced over the original. However, you probably won't notice much of a difference at first glance. By looking real close, you can see the graphics have been touched up very slightly. At its heart, Camelot uses the same great graphical engine that they used in the first game. Even though it was developed several years ago, GBA RPGs still have not passed what it can do visually.
The game plays exactly like the original. You control a party of four characters through a variety of locations, as you build up their experience, upgrade their equipment, learn new abilities, and advance through the story line. The only unfortunate thing about the gameplay is that it is extremely linear. You will be unable to break away from the main story line in the game and continue the story. This can become very frustrating if you become lost. Because of this, I recommend the Prima Strategy Guide--which covers both Golden Sun and The Lost Age. You can also check the guide as you progress through the different parts of the world to ensure you haven't missed any secrets.
The Lost Age features a great soundtrack that includes many exclusive songs in it that the original did not have. However, the sound effects are pretty much exactly the same as the first game.
Combat is played out in a 3D, behind the back non-animated screen. While it is nothing compared to what the home consoles are doing these days, it is very reminiscent of the 16 bit days. When you perform a summon or magic spell, a brief animation will appear on the screen. However, once these are over, the screen will become non-animated again. It is nothing fancy but gets the job done well on the GBA.
Gold Sun: The Lost Age increases the challenge by adding tougher puzzles and a longer journey than the first game. Expect to spend 25 to 35 hours completing this game and locating all of the secrets.
If you are a fan of the RPG genre, this is one game that belongs in your library. While Nintendo delayed the release of Golden Sun: The Lost Age in the American market for over a year, it was worth the wait. However, for those of you who aren't RPG fans, The Lost Age probably won't do much to satisfy your gaming hunger. As it stands, this is about as good as RPGs will ever get on the GBA. (Until Square Enix brings the GBA their WonderSwan Color ports of the Final Fantasy Series...)