7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Kingdom of Paradise Review


It’s time to look at a pretty obscure RPG. I don’t think a great many people have played this and I dare say that it’s because of the cover. It just isn’t an interesting one and will do nothing to catch your eye. At the most you may just look at this game and shake your head. Still, if you do end up purchasing the game then you’ll have found a keeper. This one has some pretty tight gameplay and the story isn’t bad. The length is also pretty good. There are some issues which keep me from calling this a great game, but at the end of the day there’s a lot to enjoy here.

The plot follows a warrior named Shinbu who was expelled from his clan a while back for breaking the rules. Well, he’s come to terms with this and is now eager to make himself a better man. He runs into a girl named Sui Lin who is heading back to his old clan with some dire news. He decides to follow her for a while before informing her that he is the one she is seeking. It turns out that their entire clan has been murdered and Shinbu’s parents were destroyed by a pair of orcs. With his life in shambles Shinbu agrees to help Sui Lin warn the other 4 clans. It appears that all 5 are in danger as a new kingdom is quickly approaching. Their ruler has tempted the second in command from all 5 clans to help him conquer the world. Will Shinbu be enough to turn the tides?

The gameplay is that of a 3D beat em up. There are a lot of enemies always crawling out of the woodwork and you have to slam them back inside. There is no rest for the weary and you have to stay sharp at all times. While you don’t always have to fight them, you’ll probably want to as you won’t be strong enough to fight off the bosses otherwise. One thing you’ll want to do is find a room where the enemies are close enough for you to enter battle mode but far enough where you can’t hurt them. Then just spam your energy attacks. See, the way your energy attacks level up in this game is to simply keep using them. Whether you hit the opponent or not doesn’t matter so it’s easiest in a situation like that where you won’t have to move. It can be a little dull since you’re literally standing in one place and using the same attack over and over. Still, that’s how you get the attack to improve its potential. Just keep on doing that for at least one element and you’ll have an attack that will still be relevant even against the final boss. It can one shot all minions up until that point as well.

Without the magic abilities you’ll see what a tough fight the climax can be. I brought along 3 revives and 30 max potions and I had to use up almost my full supply at the end. Money doesn’t come easy but once you enter a long tower near the end of the game that is your chance to grind quite a lot. The room with the 5 bat creatures is your best bet since you can take them all down in one shot with no real effort. Rinse and repeat for a lot of exp and money. I got a ton of level ups that way which was really handy. Your skills and magic attacks all have elements and choosing the right one for each battle also helps a lot. You can switch at any time, but it can be hard to know what element your opponent is so I would usually just stick with fire.

The graphics aren’t bad. I am glad that we get full voice acting and cinematics. The faces don’t move much though which can make for interesting cutscenes where the characters are just staring at each other for a while. It can unintentionally be pretty funny. Some scenes just also seem like they end a little sooner than the developers planned. One such scene is when a confession is made and the other characters just stares in silence for a moment before the screen goes white and you walk away. I suppose you can make a lot of different assumptions about what happened there, but my guess is that he got overwhelmed and just walked away.

There are a lot of twists in the story. We meet two girls of cosmic nature who hold the keys and each of the 5 kingdoms have their own issues. At times it could be difficult to keep all of the names straight since there were just so many characters running around. There were multiple traitors and even mind control going on so not everyone who tried to destroy us was actually evil. It raises a lot of questions but by the end of the game I’d say that they’re all answered. It’s definitely not the happiest ending though as a lot of people didn’t get a happy ending once this had all concluded.

One plot that definitely didn’t go over very well was Shinbu’s parents. So, there’s a twist and one of them survived while the other one was murdered. Why? These Ogres don’t seem that tough so I can’t see how they won in the first place. Then there’s the issue of the survivor being generally emotionless and uncaring about the whole thing. The reunion with Shinbu is laughable as the dialogue amounts to a “hey” and then the characters part ways again. I think a sequel could flesh out some of these characters like the mysterious man in red who has a lot of skills, but chooses to hide all the time anyway. Most of these characters are pretty guilty of not doing anything since they definitely could have stopped the villain’s plans earlier. At the very least they could have slowed the villains down. Ultimately Shinbu has to do everything.

I liked the boss theme. It was pretty atmospheric and let you know that things were getting serious. The rest of the soundtrack wasn’t too memorable though. Now for the parts of the game that weren’t great. For one thing, there is a lot of running around in this game. The hub world is huge and you are expected to traverse it multiple times on your way to the end. A lot of times the hint given in your quest menu is fairly vague and you may end up going to the wrong town a lot. From the 13 hours I was playing this game I dare say that 3-4 were just about running to where I needed to go. The boats don’t show up til near the end of the game and even then they don’t take you everywhere.

Then you’ve got the map which isn’t very helpful. Left in game doesn’t mean left on the map which just doesn’t make any kind of sense. The grinding is not handled quite as well as in other games. It’s very slow and the way that the magic levels up just doesn’t make any kind of sense. There are also parts of the game where you might really be in a jam if you don’t have enough magical abilities. I remember getting trapped in the tower room for a while because I didn’t have one of the elements. Fortunately using the sword worked in its place. Really the main drawbacks here are the map and unclear directions. The gameplay is fun though which is always the important thing.

Overall, Kingdom of Paradise is a fun game and one that I would definitely recommend. It brings you the top notch action that you would expect and then some. It’s definitely not super polished and the plot pales next to other RPGs, but it’s got enough fundamentals to keep you going. You will certainly be entertained and it’s always nostalgic going back to the PSP. The games on this console all had a certain feel about them that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Overall 7/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Neopets Petpet Adventures: The Wand of Wishing Review


It’s time to look at a Neopets game that I’ve had on the back burner for quite a while. It’s been pretty fun diving into these old games and I’m steadily closing out all of the PSP titles I own. This one definitely has its share of issues, but is ultimately a pretty decent game. It does get that RPG feeling across.

The game stars with a girl and her dog being cornered by a group of goblins. They want the legendary Wand of Wishing and unfortunately the heroine grabs it from the secret location and then lets it get taken into a portal. Her dog heads inside to grab it. The mission will be difficult though as the wand is now in a fantasy land filled with dragons and fairies as multiple factions wrestle for control. This pup is going to have to play hard ball.

I do like that the opening and ending cutscenes both have actual voice acting. I feel like the whole game should have had that instead of gibberish being used as the monster language though. The main heroine definitely isn’t ready for this action adventure though as she actually has a wand that can grant any wish and still lets the villains get the upper hand. There are hundreds of wishes she could have quickly made to make the villains stand down. That would have been a good way to play things. I would have actually been curious to see more of the human world since goblins apparently exist here. Is the world under siege and a sequel would look at that or is she simply in the wrong neighborhood? So many questions and so little time.

As for the actual gameplay, this is an overhead open world RPG action title. You walk from area to area fulfilling various quests and saving the king/queen of each realm. Your weapon can be a close quarters one like a sword or you can use a crossbow. I highly recommend the latter as their range is far greater and their power is better. Whoever designed this game must have had a very high opinion of this weapon because to have one that has better range and power is pretty unheard of. You will definitely want to have a high level of power because a lot of the bosses have Cheese abilities that will destroy you very quickly otherwise. One can freeze you as he lands multiple hits and others fire so fast that you can barely see the attack.

I spent around an hour just trying to cross one room at one point because even the minions were taking me down in a single hit. Just equipping weapon and armor simply isn’t enough. You will quickly be taken down. Your only hope is to go to the gym and level up your core strength, speed, and other stats. Make no mistake, these skills are what’s really going to get you through the door. Using the gym costs a lot of money and you only get an upgrade once you beat the boss but it’s worth it. Soon the minions who were beating you in one hit will barely be able to hurt you. At that point you will have a much better chance at winning.

You can also wield magic but I never quite got the hang of that one. My magical abilities weren’t quite high enough to use most of them so I bought a healing spell and left it at that. I highly recommend the health regeneration spell by the way as you can keep it activated almost 24/7 and it doubles your health recovery speed. It’s incredibly handy in all situations.

One issue about all of this is the money. As I mentioned it is all quite expensive and the problem is that the resources are finite. Once you clear a world you cannot go back and enemies surprisingly do not respawn. This means that if you go too fast you may end up burying yourself in an unwinnable situation. Fortunately that didn’t happen to me but if you like speed-running a game just keep this in mind. You don’t want to skip too many enemies. Honestly they should have just left the worlds open. It also means that you can’t clear the side quests either which is no good.

In general the game suffers from menus that aren’t very intuitive and long loading screens. Going into any area triggers a long loading screen and the menus are slow. You have to scroll screen by screen to get anywhere instead of a quick click. It can be tough to figure out most of the game’s more advanced features on your own as well.

As far as the graphics are concerned, I’d give the game a thumbs up. It is certainly one of the weaker PSP games in that area without a doubt but it is good enough. You can always tell what is happening and at worst the game just can’t load up much beyond what you see so you’ll notice that your attacks don’t do any damage if they hide just out of view. The soundtrack is decent but has no noteworthy tunes. You’ll likely forget all about them by the time you have wrapped things up here.

The story was fun enough as I mentioned but there is one moment that doesn’t make much sense. There is a twist about who one of the villains is and it is ambitious since it is a character that we will need to stop the end of the world. She’s evil but when another villain shows up this quickly goes 180 as she asks for our help. So much for pride among villains. At the end she makes a half hearted attempt to get in our way again but you don’t feel as though it is a serious attempt. Hopefully the other guardians will give her a stern talking to after her antics.

Overall, The Wand of Wishing is a pretty good game. It may not have the depth or length of a standard RPG, but you can still tell that some effort was put behind this one. There are several areas where it could have improved for sure like the loading times I mentioned earlier. Clearer instructions would be good as well but once you figure everything out then you are sure to have fun. Just be sure to go to the gym and buy the best armor/long ranged weapon and you shall be fine.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Eternal Ring Review


It’s time to take a look at an RPG that I’ve had on the backburner for an extremely long amount of time. It’s been several years since I started this game, maybe even a full 10. Regardless, it was time to finally go through it and it’s a unique experience. I hadn’t played a first person RPG title before. I definitely prefer third person, but I’m always up for trying something new and this was quite the experience. The game has several weak areas though which prevent it from being a truly solid title.

The game starts by showing us a cutscene of someone fighting a dragon a long time ago. We then cut to the present where the king’s advisor sends his son off to a mysterious island to find out what’s going on. There had been something called an Eternal Ring planted in that island a long time ago. The king sent many soldiers to the island, but they never returned. The Hero arrives and things are not looking good for the army. Most of the members have succumbed to monsters and demons lurking on the island. The captain of the guards was personally consumed by the Eternal Ring and now exists as an undead who wants ultimate power. The lead will have to steel himself as he heads through this island to locate the Eternal Ring and complete his mission.

The plot is as vague as can be in the beginning so you get to piece together what is happening along with the others characters as the lead goes on. I tend to like this intrigue style and the more you withhold from me the better. Still, there isn’t a whole lot that happens here til the end. Then we learn about the infinite prison, the child of one of the gods being trapped, and other such things. The lead takes all of this in stride as he doesn’t bat an eye whether he is fighting ordinary lizards or taking down demonic tyrants. It’s all the same to him, he just wants to grab/destroy the ring and head home. It’s really all he is focused on and doesn’t even talk to anyone. Truly a tough man, but he gets the job done.

Eternal Ring is rather tragic with the plot as just about everyone dies though. I especially feel bad for the soldiers who have been trying to uphold the rebellion for years only to be completely left to fend for themselves. They did good to last this long, but when just one of the big villains can solo the whole army you know that things won’t go well. The ring is also too powerful for their mortal minds to just being near is an issue for them as well. There’s really no winning for the army grunts this time. The overall plot concept is still really cool though. There’s a lot you can do with it. It’s pretty simple at the core, a mysterious island exists with monsters protecting a jewel of ultimate power. It’s just all about the execution and the story is the strong part of the game.

As for the gameplay, as I mentioned it is a first person title where you swing a sword and fire magical spells. Think Call of Duty, but without the guns. You go from area to area as you collect keys and slay monsters as you get closer and closer to the heart of the island. Key spells include the recovery spell and the anti-poison one. They will save you much needed gems on potions and antidotes so you can buy the important things like MP crystals instead. When in a fight it is very important to strafe as much as possible to dodge hits. Almost all boss fights can easily be won by strafing while slicing the entire time. The matches will take an eternity if you’re under leveled, but they simply can’t hit you.

I ended up beating the game at level 27 which is way under leveled compared to where I should have been. That being said, I had obtained enough gems to get the wind summon which can easily destroy even the final boss in 4-5 hits. The summons in this game are ridiculously broken to the point where once you get one you have effectively conquered the game. It was smart of the title to keep them locked away for so long although if you knew where to look ahead of time you could have gotten the summons quite a bit earlier than I did. I didn’t grab them until right before the final few areas. They’re risky against minions since there isn’t a lot of space to use them so stick to fighting the bosses with them. Why does space matter? Well, summons actually deal friendly fire so they’ll destroy you in one hit if you’re close by when they strike.

Eternal Ring makes your journey a little more tedious than necessary though. For starters, there is only one shop in the entire game. If you want to go buy some supplies to help you out in the final sections then you’re going to have to run all the way back to the army base in the forest. This can take you an insane amount of time since most levels are constructed to be mazes. If you don’t have a map nearby then all I can say is “Good Luck!” because you’re going to need it. Then you’ve got the fact that save points and level ups don’t restore your health or MP so if you don’t have your health ring ready then you’ll be burning a lot of items very quickly.

The game also doesn’t help with finding out how to create the rings you want. You have to put the attribute in the left and the type on the right, but with 6 slots and over 100 possibilities you could potentially go throughout the whole game and not get the cure ring. I would have been sunk without it and that’s just unnecessarily difficulty. Nothing in the game is properly explained so you’re just left to your own devices. The story doesn’t need to be explained, but the same cannot be said for the gameplay. I absolutely need to know how to do the things so I can plunge through and claim victory!

It can be hard to see where you’re going because of how dark the game is as well. I have to attribute some of the blame to my TV since it’s always had a very tough time with PS2 games in general. Still, I could have done with more light levels as opposed to almost all of the stages being inside a very dark cave. It’s not even as enjoyable as being outside because at least in the latter scenario you can always see what is happening no matter what. Caves all look the same after a while.

The soundtrack isn’t bad. There’s a decent blend of tunes here and the themes are more extensive than I would have thought. As I write this review I’m listening to the soundtrack and it all sounds so nostalgic since I just beat the game. It’s not amazing, but it’s better than I would have expected. It helps make up for the game’s sub-par graphics. As for replay value, there really isn’t much at all after beating the game. You could try to grab all of the magic rings and such, but there isn’t really much to do with that newfound power once you’ve beaten the game. At that point it is just time to take a step back and head for the next title.

Overall, Eternal Ring was definitely put on the bench for a reason. It’s a game that the me of 10 years ago would have probably been really confused by. As it stands I still think that the game makes itself overly complicated at times and needlessly grindy in other sections. Leveling up isn’t very convenient and the lack of healing and shops in the game make you have to backtrack and run around a lot. Getting lost is also rough because if you lose then you’ll be sent back a long ways away to the last save point. You just never want to go out that way. If you really like the idea of a close quarters monster brawler then this could be the game for you. Just know that you are going to have a lot of exploring to do so the gameplay may not be as fun by the end of your struggle. First person style may not be my thing, but I’d be down with a sequel to this title if they gave it some more polish.

Overall 6/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Golden Sun: The Lost Age Review


The first Golden Sun was a really great game. Definitely one of those RPGs you probably won’t be forgetting anytime soon. As The Lost Age is the direct continuation (Even called Book II in the opening credits) I expected more of the same. Unfortunately, it does suffer from it’s unclear directions and a slow first half for the plot. The second half picks up quite a bit, perhaps not enough for me to call it a great title like the first, but certainly good enough that it’s still worth getting to complete the saga.

Last time we followed Isaac as he and the gang were sent to stop the villains from lighting the lighthouses. A cosmic being told them that if this happens the world could be plunged into darkness. Unfortunately the villains lit up 2/4 of them and so the game ends with a whole new level of urgency for the heroes. This one picks up with the villains on their quest to light the final 2 houses. The game keeps their reasoning hidden until we get near the end of the game but you’ll probably suspect that something is up. These guys used to be friends with Isaac and the others so how could they defect so completely? Then you’ve also got the more supernatural villains who seem a lot meaner than the humans. It’s definitely a game where some communication would have gone a long way. Can you help these guys light the final 2 lighthouses or will you ultimately throw the fights and lose on purpose to protect the world?

The plot is definitely more expansive than that but the rest is pretty heavy with spoilers so you need to experience it for yourself to really appreciate it. I will say that the game does give you a lot to think about on which side to root for. Also make sure you stick around past the credits as there are quite a few scenes and they are all massively important. The third game definitely looks like it’ll be starting a completely new story in the saga.

The best moment in the story is definitely when Isaac and the gang return though. In the first game since you played as Isaac you didn’t really get to see his character so now that he talks you really get into it. Seeing his team take on the villains is definitely hype and I dare say that Isaac would have won if he didn’t get distracted. The game’s best theme popped up for the scene as well. There aren’t a lot of plot heavy moments until the end of the game so this was definitely one of the best scenes. I also like how Isaac’s group made it before ours, showing that they are still the best adventurer group in the biz. The other best scenes all involve the big villains as well.

The game took me a little over 40 hours to complete but from that time the villains only show up for around an hour or two. Surprisingly most of the game is pretty laid back. It’s not filler as we explore the world and light up the lighthouses, but the main plot surprisingly doesn’t come into play for quite a while. As a result the stakes feel a lot lower than the first game even if that isn’t actually correct. It’s just the way that it goes. I have no qualms with the story though. The main issue I have with this game is that it can be very hard to know what to do next.

Part of why this is the case is because The Lost Age is supposed to be more of an open world RPG. You can actually tackle most of the islands in any order you want as either way you’ll need to do a lot of backtracking once you get more abilities. You do have a map, but the issue is just that you don’t know what direction to go. Of course you will eventually go the right way, but that can feel like a small consolation when you are wandering aimlessly. Even when you do go the right way you can go for hours without a single cutscene. We do get more cutscenes once the second half starts though.

Without an online guide I probably still would have not beaten the game. There’s also the matter of the data transfer. The game has a cool set up where if you played the first game then you could transfer your data into the sequel. Since Isaac and the crew don’t show up til near the end it wouldn’t make a difference until then but it’s pretty neat since you keep your abilities. Of course, that does mean you get heavily penalized if you didn’t play the first game. There are whole areas that you cannot explore and multiple Djinn and weapons that you can’t obtain. It’s a little harsh, but I do like that the developers really wanted you to play both games. It did make this feel like a true saga and seeing the characters you were playing as from the outside is cool. It’s a missed opportunity that the two groups didn’t get to fight though.

The graphics definitely still look good like in the first game. I also enjoyed the soundtrack. In particular the villain theme was downright amazing and I listened to it on loop for over an hour. It really ramps up the tension for whenever they appear. This game definitely didn’t pull any punches on a technical level. Make sure you stick around after the credits as there are quite a few extra scenes and bonus content to absorb. It changes the ending entirely and makes it so that a sequel wasn’t really needed. There are some plotlines that could become loose ends, but if they never continued you could also interpret them as a full ending.

I didn’t really mention the gameplay but it is as solid as ever. The turn based system works really well here and I like the added dynamic of choosing to get your summons ready or just making the base character stronger. In the first game I went with the latter while in this one I did the former with the exception of the final boss. Both strategies definitely have their merits and there are so many different ways that you can approach a single fight. The gameplay is really advanced and while I did have to spend a lot of time leveling my characters up for that sudden spike in difficulty with the final boss, you get the level ups pretty quickly at the turtle cavern. Whenever you spend 40+ hours on a game you know that the length was quite good.

Overall, Golden Sun: The Lost Age is a solid game. It’s a big drop down from the first game thanks mainly to having a weaker main cast and less of a focused plot compared to the first. (The Ancient One’s final test still makes no sense even after you think about it) I think making an RPG non-linear isn’t a bad idea in theory, but it should still be a little easier to know where you’ve got to go. One of the big benefits of being a long game though is that your good memories quickly overwrite the rocky start that the game has gotten. Even if the first 10 hours are pretty rough, if you get a great 30 hours after that then it’s easy to let bygones be bygones. It still does hurt the score compared to the first one, but at the end of the day I’ll still give this game a thumbs up. I’d recommend checking it out, but you should definitely get the first game before this one so you can take advantage of the data transfer.

Overall 7/10

7 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story: Magia Record Review


It’s time to look at an app game I downloaded a while back. I remember seeing this one as a twitter ad and figured that I may as well check it out. The posters looked nice and the Madoka series has always been excellent so I was down with seeing what the side story would be like. It’s a fun game that I would probably stick with if there was less to do, but from what I played it is a very complete title.

The game’s story follows a girl named Iroha on her own magical girl adventure. There are a lot of parallels to the show as she meets up with a very aloof magical girl who’s like Homura, a happy one dressed in yellow like Mami, a tough red colored one like Kyoka, etc. So…the story isn’t very original I’ll admit. Iroha’s memories are all in disarray as she doesn’t remember her childhood friends and this seems to directly be related to whatever wish she made with Kyubey to become a magical girl. Iroha wants to find out the secrets of her past, but she doesn’t have any idea how to do that. It may be related to a mystical law of forsaken friendships. As Iroha tries to find out about her past she also helps other magical girls learn to get along and beats up witches in the process.

With these gatcha games you never want to get too invested in the plot because it’s just never going to finish. These games are made to basically never end or if they do end it won’t be for many years. America actually got this game real late so in Japan there are a bunch of sagas out but even there the story isn’t over yet. You just gotta roll with the premise and then get ready for a bunch of inevitable filler. Still, if the adventures are fun then that’s not a problem. I thought the story was pretty reasonable. By default it’s the weakest RPG plot I’ve experienced in the mobile, but the filler isn’t quite as tedious as in Integral Factor. At the very least you always feel like things are happening.

We also do get a true opening that is fully animated which was really cool. The visuals are definitely on point and the soundtrack is awesome even if a little limited. You’ll be hearing the witch theme endlessly but it’s just so catchy and epic that it’ll rope you in. It makes every fight feel epic even if you’re just fighting the same old guys over and over again. The chapters follow a classic formula of fighting 3-5 waves of minions before you get the next round of cutscenes. On a technical level this game definitely shines through.

The gameplay is also very easy to use. You pick one of 3 attack types for each of your 3 characters and then take down the opposing forces. Using the same kind of attack more than once can give you a bonus and naturally there are also elements to keep in mind. You won’t really have to worry about tactics in story mode as at least where I was up to it was very easy. I imagine in PVP or other online modes that it would be a lot more important. The gameplay is very intricate if you are trying to master it though. There are a ton of mechanics which I barely even scratched the surface on. I recommend a lot of studying when you’re first starting up the game.

That’s the only tough part about the mobile RPGs. There are so many things to remember and keep track of. I managed to learn it all for Dragon Ball Legends and Fire Emblem, but I’m sure if I went back I probably wouldn’t remember it as well. The main menu screens are downright confusing here as there are over a dozen different kinds of things to collect and they all have different purposes. You can get lost trying to find things here and since the game barely explains anything you’ll want to run to Reddit right away. Reddit’s always a great database for these mobile games if there is something that you need to know. My main advice is if you do plan on playing this for the long haul, don’t spend or buy anything for the first month or 2. That’ll give you time to really understand the game rather than spending collectibles on things you’ll never actually use. Make sense? It’s definitely something I do with all my mobile games now even though I don’t tend to keep any of them for the long haul except for Pokemon Go.

Overall, Magia Record is definitely a fun RPG for fans of Madoka or people who just like this style. As with most mobile games like this one there is almost endless replay value. New events happen every week and the story is extremely long as well. There’s a lot to like here and the game was developed with a lot of care so there are no areas that feel slapped together. It would take a lot to keep me in a mobile game for very long though and while I love the franchise, I am overall still a bigger fan of FE and Dragon Ball. If you’re a big fan of Madoka though this is really a solid one for you to stick with for a while. One big thing here is that it’s a free to play with an energy meter that is almost nonexistent. Unless you are playing this for many hours at a time you won’t have a problem with being told by the game to take a break for a while. This is the kind of Free to Play game that does the industry proud.

Overall 7/10

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Golden Sun Review


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.

Overall 8/10