I finally had to throw in the towel…Golden Sun on the Game Boy Advance has beaten me. I must say it was a fun journey, but here I must admit defeat. When you consider the number of times I had to look up on the internet about how to solve a puzzle, find an item, acquire a dijinn… there is just no other way to put it. In fact i had to cheat for the first time a mere 10 minutes into the game! All that being said, Golden Sun is the best JRPG I’ve played since Phantasy Star, and for those of you that know me, that’s saying something.
Who would have guessed that such a little gem lay hidden in a GBA cart?! There is a small back story into how I acquired this game. Many years ago, the Sega Dude gave me a boxed copy of this game. While the box and manual were kept safe, somehow the game became lost. Now I know some of you might think “oh he just gave you the box as a prank” (and he certainly wouldn’t be above that!) but I can attest that the game was there at one point… it somehow disappeared into the abyss. What’s kind of funny is that when the Sega Dude gave it to me I didn’t even own a GBA. Well his ploy worked… I bought one for myself that Christmas, but this was more so I could play Metroid Fusion. Golden Sun was put on the back burner and that’s how it got lost. Anyway I recently purchased a copy of the cart at Chumleighs in Peterborough, ON and decided that the game should be played… and what a better time than summer holiday to do it!
Now I’ll be honest… while there is much of this game that I did like (the music, battle scenes, graphics) there was also A LOT that made me extremely frustrated at times.
1. Where the heck do you get the “halt” ability? Actually I looked it up and you can acquire it somewhere in the middle of the game, but it was soooo far back that it would take me several hours to get it. It’s not an essential spell (you don’t “need” it), but it would have made it a bit easier had I had it… or at least it would have prevented me from having to look up how to solve one of the Crossbone Isle puzzles on the internet.
2. The Venus Lighthouse (the last dungeon of the game) is RIDICULOUSLY hard to figure out, and I must give props to Zipdog12 on youtube for actually sorting this out. I’ve been in some hard to solve dungeons before, but this one takes the cake!
3. Finding/locating/acquiring/managing all the dijinn. There should be a “for dummies” book on this! Having a good understanding of the dijinn and how they work are essential in beating this game. However as I mentioned before, I never actually completed this game so what do I know?! I did however make it to the last dungeon (the Venus Lighthouse) with a minimal understanding of the Dijinn, but couldn’t solve it, and had to watch Zipdog12 finish it off. Even though this is cheating, it gave me great piece of mind to know that I could never have accomplished this on my first try. I can’t beat the game because I haven’t acquired all the Dijinn. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind level grinding, heck it got me through Phantasy Star before the internet became public. I remember back in the day when I was stuck playing Zelda: A Link to the Past for the first time. There was nowhere to turn to for help except the store that I bought it from. Man I must have annoyed the crap out of the guy who sold it to me… but he did help me destroy that miserable Ganon for which I will always be eternally grateful. Back to Golden Sun… there was just no way for me to beat the last two bosses with the pathetic Dijinn that I had… I would have said impossible, but Zipdog12 would have proven me wrong. He (I assume he is a he) is my new hero. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was the one who actually created the game and thus was able to figure out all of it’s mysteries. I’ve never before come across an RPG that allows you to make it to the end, but not have the ability to finish it?! Very frustrating.
You know what, forget about it… there is just to much about this game that frustrated me the first time through that listing and explaining it all would just take too darn long. Oh the Sega Dude says he completed the game, but I’m going to call him out on this one and say BS! Very quickly, my other issues with Golden Sun:
4. Poor/lack of explanation on your abilities (perhaps it says what they are in the instruction manual, but that would involve reading and who has time for that?!). If I don’t know what the character can do, then how am I supposed to solve the game’s puzzles? For goodness sake I beat several of the Might and Magic games on my PC without any help… and Golden Sun is the one that beats me?!!! UUUUHHHHGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!
5. Level grinding… as I said before I’m okay with this normally, but unless you have a minimum number of dijinn you won’t be able to complete the game no matter what level you achieve or what equipment you have. The best I was doing was 130 damage which pales in comparison to what Zipdog 12 was getting (1572 damage at some points with the judgment summon… gimme a break!). Near the end I was struggling with random counters… so much so that I would have to save after every two or so battles… where as this guy was going through these hellish beasts like a hot knife through butter! I find this troublesome.
6. And finally… enough with the head nodding, shaking, getting startled. That’s what all the characters would do when ever there was any dialogue. I found it so distracting that my ADHD would kick in and I would forget what the point of the story was. It made me not care about the plot which at it’s basic level was actually not bad. I realize this is a JRPG but come on…this is craziness! The only thing it was missing was the growling that many of the characters do in anime.
Wow that’s a lot of complaints. You might wonder why I would recommend this game. Perhaps all the highlights will be on another blog post… there are tons. It is actually a really great game if you can get past the six things I mentioned above. I look forward to playing the game again… then again when I think how difficult the Venus Lighthouse dungeon was I probably won’t. There’s just too much else out there to play. But… if you haven’t already, you should definitely pick yourself up a copy of Golden Sun. For crying out loud though, do yourself a favour and when you are half way through the game, watch Zipdog12 on youtube. He is the master! Golden Sun Walkthrough Part 55 is my favourite clip… and no i didn’t watch them all… just the last hour or so… yes this is how i’m spending my summer break:(