Week #9: Golden Sun

The lazyhandheldman’s weekly handheld game recommendation is inspired by subreddit SBCGaming’s “Game of the Month”. Today, my recommendation is Golden Sun.

Golden Sun

Release: 2001

Original console: Game Boy Advance

Developer(s): Camelot

Publisher(s): Nintendo

Genre(s): RPGJRPG

Series: Golden Sun

Recommended handhelds to play: Miyoo Mini Plus, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 2DS

Best for

  • People who want a JRPG jewel with big and deep world

One of the most important reasons people keep playing a JRPG is enjoying the deep story and its complex world. Welcome to Weyard – the continent that hosts the story of Golden Sun, which can be considered as the flat world itself. If you’re living in the GBA era, you will know how big is the open-world of Golden Sun, as it can easily trim the size of any Dragon Quest titles.

The story is also deep, which is far from the common concept of “saving the world from big, big bad guy”. You will find each city in the world of Golden Sun as a reflect of a different culture in the world. They will have different stories and problems, but they all connect in the end.

It is certainly my most favorite JRPG game when I was in my childhood. It is still one that I love playing back with my Game Boy Advance SP.

  • People who want to solve difficult puzzles, catch pets like Pokemon and change classes in a JRPG

The Pokemon style is certainly something that inspires the whole Golden Sun series, and because I love everything about Pokemon, I easily like Golden Sun. If you want to play a JRPG that doesn’t ask you to grind a lot, but to solve puzzles with multiple mechanics, Golden Sun is certainly your game.

Golden Sun features Djinni – a creature that helps our characters change class, alter the moveset and tactically summon a powerful force to strike all foes. Catching them is quite similar to catching Pokemon (I know that it is not as random as Pokemon but hey, you will find the similarity).

  • People who love beautiful artstyle and emotional soundtrack

Perhaps it is subjective, but Golden Sun has great, great artstyle for the GBA hardware. You can think of Golden Sun as the peak in graphics for a JRPG title.

One scene in Golden Sun

Also, if you love the GBA system, you should check this game out.

Worst for

  • People who can’t stand retro turn-based RPGs

JRPG isn’t for everyone, so if you don’t like the genre, you won’t like Golden Sun. It’s that simple.

Even for people who want to try a turn-based RPG for the first time, Golden Sun has a very “dull” mechanic that doesn’t assign your characters to do anything when their targets disappear. Such thing is mentioned in GameSpot article, if I recalled correctly.

Recommended handhelds to play

I always recommend using the native handheld for its own system, unless you want convenient features like save states or fast forwarding. A Game Boy Advance and EZ-Flash Omega combination can give you the convenient save states, and I always consider using them as the top-tier handheld selection for a GBA game.

Otherwise, I recommend to try the Miyoo Mini Plus, because of convenient save states and great display. However, if you happen to own a more expensive retro handheld emulator, you don’t need to replace with the Miyoo Mini Plus. GBA is a fairly easy system to emulate, so you can even spend for a cheaper device. However, the trade off in display and Miyoo custom firmware is usually not worth it.

You can also try Golden Sun on a Nintendo 2DS, but you must get an Ambassador program to convert the game file, then you need homebrew system on your 2DS. A Nintendo 2DS is my favorite handheld experience for GBA, thanks to both its form factor and C-Pad utility. I’m looking forward to play Golden Sun on a Nintendo Switch using NSO, but it seems the game is still out of spotlight.