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   Golden Sun: The Lost Age - Reader Retroview  

Golden Yes – But it can be Platinum
by JuMeSyn

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Surmountable
COMPLETION TIME
~50 hours
OVERALL

4.5/5

Rating definitions 

   Golden Sun was released as part of the second rush of GBA software in late 200l. Its continuation, Golden Sun: The Lost Age was released in Japan the next summer. English speakers had to wait until the spring of 2003 however. This lengthy wait is understandable in the case of most RPGs, the sequels to which are usually unrelated and even in the few exceptions tell different stories within the same world. Golden Sun is an exception to this mode of RPG storytelling. Golden Sun: The Lost Age starts just before Golden Sun ends, and its story is the equivalent of Part 2 in a novel. Playing Golden Sun alone leads to an incomplete tale, while playing Golden Sun: The Lost Age alone (which does include a quick encapsulation of the events in Golden Sun) is skipping ahead in the text.

   Story is one aspect that the prospective player might wish to skip through in Golden Sun but has been vastly improved for TLA. Isaac and company are shunted to the side for quite awhile, and the kidnapped Jenna and Sheba along with somewhat mysterious Felix continue the quest begun by Saturos and Menardi. Why would they do such a thing? Such is for the player to discover. Eventually Felix’s group will gain a fourth member in the person of Piers, whose personal goals mesh well with Felix’s. New antagonists will appear also in the persons of Karst and Agatio, who are disinclined to believe the dedication of Felix & co. to their purpose. Let alone the reaction of Isaac’s group when the two finally do meet again…. The generally uninteresting story of GS has been supplemented grandly in TLA.

Gasp!  Not a Ruffian!  I can deal with Bandits, Rogues, Jerks, Uncouth Citizenry, even a Rebel Without a Cause – but not a Ruffian!  Won’t someone please think of the children! Gasp! Not a Ruffian! I can deal with Bandits, Rogues, Jerks, Uncouth Citizenry, even a Rebel Without a Cause – but not a Ruffian! Won’t someone please think of the children!

   Aesthetics have been upgraded only slightly, but they were already at the pinnacle of GBA efforts. Visually we have new spells and summons, along with some new enemies and environments to behold. None of them are depicted in more beautiful fashion than what existed in GS1, but the sheer amount of visual content on this cartridge is quite enough to justify a stellar visual score. Motoi Sakuraba’s score has been greatly embellished for this effort, with all the original tracks extant. New music accounts for almost twice the amount of previously composed tracks as a means of compensating for anyone tired of the old stuff, and Sakuraba’s music was already difficult to become annoyed with. Sound effects are about the same between the two titles and are the only unexceptional aural component, but the resplendent music outshines the sound effects.

   The role of Djinni has not been altered in substance or form in TLA, only in quantity. There is now a limit of 9 Djinni per character instead of 7, with a corresponding increase in potential character classes. For the RPGamer with a desire to mould even more character classes, several items are now present that introduce further classes that exist only with the item in place. Summons that mix Djinni types are now present, but to obtain them the player must locate the tablets that teach these summons to the characters. Djinni in-battle abilities do not vary enormously from those already displayed but plenty of differences are to be observed.

   Psynergy use out of battle retains its prominent place while being granted some new techniques. The old techniques of growing things, moving certain parts of the environment around, and freezing water (among others) are still essential. Additions to the puzzling arsenal include the ability to dry up small bodies of water, to blow up certain weakened environment structures, to hover in the air, and others that the precise enumeration of would cause the reader’s eyes to gloss over. Using the brain to get through the environment is just as mandatory in TLA as it was in GS.

A little known side effect of Painting By Numbers’ success. A little known side effect of Painting By Numbers’ success.

   Challenge-wise TLA is just like its forbear: nothing mandatory is terribly difficult to progress past. The puzzles are more challenging than the actual combat, frequently. As for replay, this depends to an extent upon one’s willingness to replay Golden Sun prior: many events in the first have an effect upon events to occur here. There are also a number of optional places to visit, with 4 optional bosses guarding the most powerful extra summons. There is no extra content in the main story to experience however. The inclination of the individual RPGamer toward replaying the two titles in sequence is best judged for oneself at this point.

   If Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age were combined into one title, it would rate a 5 from me. Because they are not the player wishing to transfer save data from the opening chapters onward must either have two Game Boy Advances and use a link cable, or transcribe one of the longest passwords ever seen and then enter it into TLA upon starting. With the exception of this incredibly irritating incidence at the beginning, Golden Sun: The Lost Age represents a far better RPG experience than its prologue. It is not perfect but as GBA RPGaming goes the title nears the pinnacle. Combined with its predecessor the two represent one of the best RPG experiences on the system.

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