Play Time 41h 30m
Venus Djinn 16
Mercury Djinn 17
Mars Djinn 15
Jupiter Djinn 16
Play Time 41h 30m
Venus Djinn 16
Mercury Djinn 17
Mars Djinn 15
Jupiter Djinn 16
Play Time 21h 45m
Isaac Level 31
Garet Level 30
Ivan Level 29
Mia Level 30
Djinni collected 25/28
It’s time to look at a fairly legendary RPG from back in the day. While Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest tend to have most of the popularity right now, Golden Sun used to be pretty big back in its day. It’s only got 3 games, but the series still got quite a lot of fans. I’ve had this game on the back burner for an extremely long time so it’s good to finally be able to jump in and experience the story in all its glory. It reminds me why I love the RPG genre. Fighting games will ultimately still reclaim the top spot, but RPGs are always fun to play with. It’s partially because the idea of grinding your stats up is always a good one and the games last long enough for you to really enjoy the characters.
So in this world there exists a few select people who are called Adepts. They are able to harness elemental powers like fire and water to increase their strength or to be used as projectiles. Some already had these abilities while others are triggered once a meteor storm occurs. There is a group of enemies who want to light all 4 of the lighthouses. Isaac and the other heroes don’t exactly know why they want to do this, but they can’t allow the villains to do as they please. They decide to stop them, but along the journey they end up finding out that there is more to their plan than meets the eye. Is stopping them from lighting the lighthouses really the best move?
The game is fairly long and it took me around 22 hours to beat it. This is partially due to how big the map is, but also how difficult the enemies get. Golden Sun’s no joke and the difficulty really spikes towards the second half of the game. Suddenly the enemies are able to take you out in a few hits and that’s just the minions. The bosses basically one turn KO you so you need to level up a lot if you want to beat them. I got everyone up to Level 30 and that made the battle pretty manageable. I think if you want it to be a little calmer getting up to level 32 would probably be a good bet. Also, a big part of the game revolves around the Djinn so you are going to want to grab those guys.
There are 28 of them in the game and they are like power sources that allow you to summon. There are 4 types and 7 per type. The strongest summon of each type is worth 4 orbs so you can summon 4, 4 level summons in one match and then 4 level 3s. I only got 25/28 of the Djinn, but I can guarantee that without them I would not have been able to beat the final boss. Initially I didn’t go after them and even avoided obtaining them unless they were directly in my way. I figured that they weren’t all that important, but they are crucial. Aside from the summoning just owning the Djinn increases all of your stats as if you got multiple level ups. So once you have 25 you’re way stronger than if you didn’t have them. For example one of my characters went from having 200HP to over 500 with them equipped. I can’t stress enough just how useful these guys are.
Golden Sun is definitely an RPG with a pretty intricate gameplay system. The turn based combat is pretty much the same as always, but then you’ve got the element system. This also ties into the Djinn. Depending on which ones you’ve got equipped and your element ratio, your attacks per character will be different as well. Likewise they will also change depending on if you have your Djinn set or on standby. There’s a whole lot to consider as a result and it does make you have to re-think how you want them arranged on the board for each fight. You’ll want to think over every fight very carefully. Even by the end of the game I can’t say that I really understand the system perfectly. It’s also hard to tell which attacks are best to use since the type advantage system isn’t always obvious. By the end of the game using a normal attack is typically better than using almost any of the magical abilities which is pretty interesting.
The game definitely holds up quite well with the visuals. There’s a lot of nice backgrounds here and the game even gets a nice 3D effect during the credits. The attacks are all a lot of fun to look at and in general everything is pretty bright. Then the game also has a dynamite soundtrack. There are a lot of great themes to listen to here that range from being fairly heroic to setting up a moody atmosphere. It’s all exactly what you want to see here. Golden Sun just holds up well in every area. There is almost nothing to dislike about the game.
While the story may not be quite as exciting as some other RPGs, I did like it overall. You can tell that there’s more to this story than your usual heroes vs villains story. The villains definitely have their own reasons for doing things and don’t seem to be inherently evil. Of course there are many villains who believe they are the hero, but since the heroes don’t know what will happen if the lighthouses are activated, it’s possible that it is the right thing to do. Of course, it would be easy to tell the heroes this, but none of the villains ever feel like talking. The heroes also get lucky quite often as the villains could have easily won on a number of occasions. They just prefer to split up rather than fight as a team.
Isaac doesn’t really have a personality in this game as he is just the player. Garet is a good ally who basically acts as the leader of the team even if he is a bit impulsive. Mia’s a solid medic who joins on later. We don’t get a whole lot of time to develop her personality but she seems nice. Then you’ve got the young mage who seems really nice even if lacking in experience. The childhood friends are all suspect though with how they don’t tell the heroes much. They basically miss the entire game as they just get a few scenes after being kidnapped, but they seem to be taking it in stride. It seems like the villains ultimately start to convert everyone.
The game ends with quite a lot of loose ends for the sequel. While there are probably one or two that you could finish through side quests, there are definitely some that can’t be. There’s a scene after the credits for example which shows that the adventure isn’t quite over yet. It makes sense since there’s a big villain who doesn’t show up in the climax. Also, in general it just doesn’t feel like a conclusive ending because there are more lighthouses left and more villains so the heroes can’t rest easy now. As I already own the sequel you can bet that I’ll be jumping on that one pretty soon.
If there’s anything that’s a bit iffy here, it’s that the game isn’t always clear on where to go next. It actually has a map with town labels on it so that’s a big upgrade from something like Final Fantasy VII, but at the same time there are usually multiple routes to choose so you end up wasting a lot of time looking for the right one. The good news is that it gives you more time to level up though. Once you’ve gotten strong enough then you can also just flee the battles, but it takes quite a while to get to that level. Another thing I do like is that if you die you are taken back to the temple, but don’t lose any data. It costs money to revive your teammates, but that’s a fair price. A lot of little things like that help the game overall because it takes away the irritating nature of a game over. Dying and being forced to restart the area is very fair if you ask me.
Overall, Golden Sun is definitely an excellent RPG and deserves to be known as one of the greats. It’s aged really well and made for a very fun 20+ hour experience. I look forward to seeing how the sequel goes since it should feel pretty similar. I’m also ready for Isaac to talk since that would be awesome, but even if he doesn’t I’m sure the story is going to be really good. If you haven’t played this game yet then I highly recommend changing that. It’s just a great all around title with no real weaknesses. You’ll be engaged from start to finish even if you might end up with a slight headache from how complex the gameplay mechanics are. The important thing is that you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment because this is definitely one of the tougher RPG titles out there.
No stats this time.
It’s time to look at another retro Star Wars game. This one is also for the Game Boy Advance, but do not be alarmed. It is significantly better than the last one and feels like a true Star Wars title. This brings us back to the level of quality that you would expect from such an esteemed franchise. This one can proudly call itself a Star Wars game and nobody would bat an eye. It’s got good gameplay and while the game is admittedly pretty short, it’s at least no a chore to get through. No password save system this time.
The plot follows the original 3 movies. You play as Luke Skywalker in all of the levels as you recount the events. While most of the levels take place on the ground you do get a pair of space levels. These may have been thrown together a little quicker than the ground ones, but they’re pretty reasonable. The constant checkpoints make up for the gameplay not being too refined here. As a result it flows together pretty well and makes for a wholesome experience. The real meat of the game is the ground combat though and I liked it. It’ll remind you of the old school beat em ups like Streets of Rage or the Ninja Turtle games.
For the first half of the levels you fight enemies with your blaster. As the game progresses you eventually switch to a Lightsaber and slash away at everyone. Both styles of combat have their positives of course, but the lightsaber does pack more of a wallop, but you have to get up close which makes it a little more risky. The levels typically end as you make it to the end like a traditional platformer but sometimes you have to find a card key to make it past a door. The levels are fairly short but you will be stopped at times to take down all of the enemies. In that sense this one is definitely part beat em up.
It’s not particularly tough and when you die there is always a checkpoint so you will at most lose like 2 minutes of gameplay. The quickest way to deal with the enemies in my experience is to jump at them and use aerial attacks. They seem to do more damage than the ones on the ground and you can take out quite a few enemies this way. You also have a lot of options on how to take them down so really there is no reason why you would be stuck here. The only one I can think of is if you encounter a glitch. I encountered one glitch where I made it to an area that I wasn’t supposed to. As a result there were enemies under me but I couldn’t get to them to get out of the area. I eventually had to let them just shoot me so I could re-spawn and let them finish the job. At the end of the day that’s a pretty minor glitch though, could have been a lot worse.
There are actual boss fights here which was definitely nice. The battle against Darth Vader is definitely the highlight. He does a lot of blocking so don’t expect to just walk all over the guy. He’s a Sith Lord for a reason after all. As with the minions I found that the best thing to do here was to throw in aerial attacks. Mix them in with ground moves and eventually you will hit him. I’d also say to throw in some force push moves. They never hurt him, but while he is blocking those he is wide open to a strike. Just throw in all the mix-ups and you’ll be out of that boss fight in no time.
The graphics have definitely aged pretty well if you ask me. It’s the classic sprite look so the character models are on point and all of the effects look nice. It’s always surreal to see these games since it looks like something you could probably make into a sprite video. Once you’ve done that then you’re really set. The soundtrack is pretty forgettable, but we do get another retro remix of the movie intros which was nice to see. By the time this marathon is over I definitely won’t be forgetting the jingle for the opening credits.
There isn’t much, if any replay value here though. After you’ve beaten the levels there really isn’t anything to collect. The main story will only take you around 3 hours so you’ll be out of content in no time. You can get the game for cheap though so I wouldn’t say this is much of an issue. Better to have 3 hours of quality than 10 of a dragged out story right? It’s just the kind of game where you know beforehand that it’s going to be a one time experience.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this game. It’s got that nice Star Wars feel to it and the gameplay is solid. I always did like these retro beat em up games. The only time they can be annoying is when there are no save points and you have to start the whole thing from scratch, but otherwise it works pretty well I’d say. There is now only one more game left on my Star Wars marathon, but that game will have to wait as I work on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. I don’t have much experience in the XCom Gameplay, but I definitely like it on principal. It reminds me of the Fire Emblem style and I always like adding a little strategy into the gameplay. It just spices things up quite a bit. You can expect that review to be coming up soon.
This game doesn’t even save your stats so none of those here!
It’s rare that I play a game that falls under a 5. For the most part there are usually fun things to enjoy in a game so I won’t be giving it a downright negative score. That being said, Flight of The Falcon is definitely one of those. It’s limited by a lot of things including poor level designs and the lack of a continue feature. Mix em all together and you’ve easily got the worst Star Wars games and it ranks as one of the worst titles that I’ve played. I don’t know what this game was thinking.
The game very vaguely follows the plot of the original trilogy. The levels have you flying around in the Falcon as you blast away at enemies or try to make it to the end goal in the time allotted. There are 14 levels but good luck seeing all of them. They are divided into 3 chapters. Once you’ve lost all your lives and continues you’re taken to a game over screen and start back from level 1. You can put in a password so that you can continue but it only takes you to the beginning of a chapter. So for example, if you lose on level 6 then your only options are to start over at level 1 or skip to level 7 which starts chapter 2. There is no way to return to where you started.
Even for password save games this is a bit much. I can’t think of any other game which is so restrictive with the continue feature. If you ask me there wasn’t a whole lot of quality control done on this game. It seems like they really slapped it together. Aside from this, the level designs aren’t any fun either. They all drag on for too long and there are glitches everywhere. The only real way to beat level 2 is to fly straight through the buildings. If you zoom straight ahead and start to turn then it’s like the building won’t exist anymore. You can just go through it and save some seconds. On the other hand, sometimes the building will appear and you’ll end up dying. One hit to the terrain is instant death of course.
You can expect to die a lot of times here. This game is super difficult, but not in a legit way. Throw in some good levels and it would be a pretty reasonable game. The objectives aren’t even clearly defined as you can easily get stuck in a level because you aren’t sure what to do. Some levels have you taking down enemies while others have you rushing towards the goal. Apparently you can determine this by looking at a small indicator near the bottom of the screen. Good luck looking for that one!
The graphics aren’t anything to write home about either. The sprites are very blurry and the camera literally can’t keep up when there are too many objects on the field. As a result you’ll die to invisible things in some of the later levels. A meteorite didn’t properly load so you bump into it and then it appears. Whenever you die like that it definitely does not feel legit. The soundtrack is also pretty bland. There’s nothing to it and I’m sure you’ll forget it within minutes of completing the level. It’s a shame, but the game had no soul to it.
Naturally that also means there isn’t a whole lot of replay value. If you can ace the levels you can beat this game in under 2 hours. Otherwise, you can also be here forever if you don’t conquer all of the levels. I beat the first 5 and then beat levels 7-8, but I’m not about to start from scratch every time I get a game over. I called it a day here, but call me back when the game gets an HD remake with a save feature that works. The password system just hasn’t aged well and this game takes it as low as possible.
I tried to think about any positive aspects of the game, but I’m running on empty here. I suppose the loading screens are pretty quick. You don’t have to worry about getting bored there because the levels do come up fast. Maybe that’s because the game doesn’t have to bother loading much since the game isn’t saving anything anyway, if so that’s a silver lining I suppose. Most of the cutscenes start out with 10-20 seconds of nothing happening though so I think the budget for the animations was probably pretty slim. There’s nothing exciting about seeing a ship move in slow motion for ages until the cutscene ends.
Overall, Flight of the Falcon is a game I’d recommend avoiding. Unfortunately it snaps Star Wars’ streak of solid games all around. I suppose when you get enough games you’re bound to run into a bad one at some point. The concept isn’t bad and at least it’s a unique style, but the execution was just really weak. I can’t say that I’ll be missing this game and hopefully the next GBA title in the series is a lot better. I can’t see how it would be worse to be honest so it should be uphill from here on out.
Play Time 4h 24m
Music Notes 557/600
Round Gold Pieces 9/12
I’m not too familiar with Banjo-Kazooie despite hearing the name a whole lot. The problem is that most of the games never came out for a console that I’ve owned. This is the first installment that I get to play. The lead duo seem fun enough and I’m always up for more platformers. I may have joined this franchise late, but better late than never right? It’s a fun title and one that you won’t want to miss on for the GBA. You don’t have to worry about playing previous games to understand what is going on here.
The plot starts with Gruntilda escaping her rocky grave to enact her revenge on Banjo and Kazooie. She succeeds in kidnapping Kazooie so now Banjo must do whatever he can to get his pal back. Fortunately his friends are around to give him useful tips and transformation techniques so he can succeed at this goal. Once the duo is together again, they vow to put an end to Gruntilda’s plans once and for all. Let the villains try to stop them, nobody can mess with their teamwork!!
The plot is fairly direct as you’d expect. There are 6 worlds and each one has a certain amount of objects to obtain. Grab enough and you can head to the next world. You’ll need 50/60 of them in order to fight the final boss so you can effectively skip a world if you collected them all. I don’t think it is possible to skip the entire world since some orbs can’t be obtained until after you get some other power ups but you can skip a reasonable chunk of them. Each world is connected through a door so by the end of the game the hub world is quite huge. You’ll probably get lost a few times, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it and then it’ll all be cake for you.
The levels use an overhead camera and you move as you would expect. You start the game only being able to jump and roll but by the end you can glide, use super jumps, and have an array of other abilities at your disposal. You better make sure your L and R buttons work well because if they’re damaged like mine then the latter levels could be a little tougher than you might expect. Always keep your guard up. None of the levels feel cheesy and there aren’t any bugs that I came across so the game is designed well.
Graphically the game has aged quite well. The character models are on point and the level layouts are nice. There isn’t much to say about the soundtrack, but the themes aren’t bad. On a technical level the game succeeds. I also naturally have to mention that the sound effects used for whenever a character would talk are naturally a blast as well. It reminds me of Yooka Laylee which is likely a homage to this title. Everyone sounds like they’re gargling under water and over the top effects like that are always fun. The only area where the game does get a bit iffy with the replay value though. You’ll be able to easily 100% the game in under 10 hours. At that point there won’t be anything more to do. Still, it’s a fun play through and if anyone ever asks you what a platformer is you can redirect them to this game. It contains everything you would expect to be in a title of this genre. It’s a solid all around title.
I also appreciate how Banjo and Kazzoie both have unique personalities. It feels like some platforming protagonists don’t have a whole lot to say or express during the game. These guys are not like that. Kazooie is the kind of guy who is constantly throwing insults around and he keeps everyone on edge. While getting kidnapped may prevent you from taking his tough talk seriously, it’s always good to have a character like that. Without him the villains would probably walk all over Banjo. In comparison, Banjo’s a very nice guy who is always doing his best. He stays polite through it all and I suppose that this is admirable although he isn’t nearly as much fun as Kazooie.
Aside from the main platforming levels you also have a few minigames which are always fun. One of them is a fishing game where you have to reel in some fish. The timing of it can definitely get tricky and you’ll need to grab a lot of them but it’s a satisfying side mission to grab your attention. Then you also have the slides, there seems to be 1 per world. These are easy but also a nice detour as you try to grab a lot of energy pieces. I’d be game for more little side events like that.
As for the villains, we have two of them in this title. The main villain is Gruntilda who is a witch with a lot of hype. She seems reasonably tough and I do like her confidence. She is a lot better than her sidekick who is a very smart King K Rool type foe, but one who doesn’t command her level of respect. I can see them returning for most if not all of the games in the series.
Overall, Banjo-Kazooie is a fun game. I can see why the series was well liked in the past. The levels are well designed and the gameplay is pretty smooth. It has some unique gimmicks to complement the adventure and you’ll get to use all of your skills as the game goes on. It’s a little on the short side, but I imagine that the main games would have had a lot more content to wrap things up. If you get this game for a good price then it’s certainly worth it. I don’t think this series will be ready for the big hitters quite yet, but I look forward to a modern remake some day.
It’s time to take a quick look at the Rayman collection I recently beat for the GBA. This one made the interesting decision of merging the first and third games in the series. I don’t really understand why they would skip the 2nd game. Maybe it just wasn’t formatted in a way that would be easy to port to the GBA the way that the others were. Either way, it’s no big loss since I’m guessing it should be rather similar to the others. This is my first real venture into the Rayman series so that was neat. I’d say that it holds up pretty well though the third game definitely more so than the first. If you are a sidescroller fan then you need to check Rayman out.
The first game is pretty intense with how difficult it is. You get 10 continues and you have to be sure to not lse a life too easily. If you died too much on a level consider restarting your system right away so you can win without that hapening. I just barely made it as I finished the game with no continues left. Of course, if I was going for the secret ending by finding all cages then that would have been another matter entirely. The controls are good, but I can’t say as much for the level designs. There are a lot of blind jumps and cheesy sections where the game just stacks the deck against you. That’s fine, but then we should get unlimited continues like in most games. I never like when the game has a limit and then you just have to start over. That doesn’t seem very fair and will just become tedious after a while.
The plot of the game is a little weak though and that’s one thing that seems true for both titles so far. It’s just that Rayman himself isn’t nearly as interesting as most of the other colorful protagonists in these kind of games. I’m assuming he will get more personality soon but right now the cast doesn’t really jump off the page so to speak. They’re all just going through the motions so to speak. Since you don’t even get to see the ending without getting the 100+ cages then it’s not even much of a satisfying end. This game is fortunately supported by the next one.
Rayman 3 is a noticeable improvement in just about every way. For starters the gameplay is a lot faster and smoother. You really feel like you are in control this time around. None of the enemies scare you and if they ever start to get a little rowdy you can quickly take them out. Your lives are quite abundant and there is no limit on retries so no worries there. There is also more of an actual story this time as we get text boxes and the villains have more of a goal. The story still isn’t at the point where it could actually be considered as a selling point, but it’s getting closer which is the important thing. Just a few more steps and it will be ready for the big leagues. Regardless, this is a title that I could recommend a lot sooner than the other one. It’s just a solid side scroller and one that holds up well as it isn’t clunky.
The graphics for both games look pretty good. Naturally the 3rd game is a little brighter and more detailed, but it’s not a huge difference. Both games are quite clear and you can tell that effort was put behind them. Likewise the soundtracks for both games are pretty similar. There are some memorable tunes in there, but nothing super intense. Either way you’ll probably be too absorbed into the levels to notice much. The levels require a lot of concentration or you will be doomed to lose quite a lot.
As far as replay value goes I’d say there is quite a bit here. In the third game I was able to get most of the collectibles naturally so the bulk of your play time will be in the first game. The third one is also shorter in general, but every bit helps. It should last you a few hours. Then the first game will definitely last a few hours and obtaining everything will extend the time even more. Just keep a look out for those lives and continues since they are very previous. Once lost they will not be returned. That’s why the stakes are so high in the first Rayman.
Overall, The Rayman 10th Anniversary game is pretty solid. Since it brings 2 games for the price of one it is already a pretty good bargain. If you haven’t played the series before then it’s the perfect way to start I’d say. It may be tough goings for a little while but you’ll certainly get a lot of experience in how to handle a platformer by the end of this. It’s why I would be a little hesitant to recommend this to a kid but given enough time I’m sure anyone would be able to clear these levels. It’s just all about repetition and trying to learn some strategies. Now I can finally go and play some of the newer Rayman games. I’ll definitely snag them at some point and we’ll see if they can possibly match these two or if they are doomed from the start. No guarantees on just how soon “at some point” means though.