Retro Review: Golden Sun: The Lost Age (GBA)
Almost a year ago I had the pleasure of playing Golden Sun. An RPG from the Game Boy Advance days which followed the oldschool JRPG formula with a few unique differences and one hell of a story. If you read that review HERE, you will see that one of my disappointments was that the game ended without a conclusion and that I would have to wait to play the second part of the story when it eventually came to the Wii U.
The game is now available on the Wii U and it’s every bit as excellent as I hoped. Without spoiling anything for those that haven’t played the first game, The Lost Age picks up exactly where Golden Sun finished. The future of the world hangs in the balance, there have been twists and turns and your whole perspective changes. Once again you follow a quartet of characters as they try to save the world, but this time you start with the characters you were chasing around in the first game… okay, no more because it will spoil the game.
Golden Sun: The Lost Age is very definitely a second part or episode of the first game. At no point at all did I find myself picking up something overly new or different. There are the same puzzles, the same battles, similar powers and actions and even the same music. In so many games I would consider this a bad thing, but if you think of the game as a continuation rather than a sequel you will understand why it’s just completely a non-issue. In fact it’s a positive. You end off on Golden Sun wanting more of the same, but with the game continuing and concluding the story. In The Lost Age that’s exactly what you get.
It did feel as though a lot of the puzzles and events throughout the game became quite a bit more complex and testing, but it felt in line with the increasing difficulty of the situation your characters find themselves in. Most of all, it felt in line with the story. Oh, and what a story it is, with rich lore in every crevice. With twists, turns and even more twists as you discover and rediscover the good and bad of the world. It’s incredible how such dated graphics can still immerse you so greatly into a fantastical world. The narrative is special and while I say that not much changes, one thing that certainly progresses is the story and the characters in the story. It all feels so real that you can’t help but identify with it all, sometimes in odd ways you never expected.
The battle system remains identical as you take control of Felix and his crew, each with their own powers. Throughout the game you can collect little creatures called Djinn, which add to your armoury and at the same time change your class. Collecting the Djinn is key to creating the most effective team, and while in the first game finding and capturing Djinn was relatively easy, The Lost Age makes it far more challenging, but at the same time more rewarding.
One aspect that really impressed me with was the ability to carry over my data from the first game into the second. Later on you meet up with the characters from the first game (Isaac) and, if you played through the first, your stats carry through too. It meant I was armed with all the skills I had previously, which made things a bit easier. I am not quite sure what happens if you don’t play the first game but I imagine you get some kind of default stats.
I find it difficult to recommend playing this without having played Golden Sun. So much of the story feeds straight out of it and the practice in battles and puzzles serves you well in the second game. The Lost Age does start with a little catch-up of the previous game but it felt a bit confusing making me glad I had played the first game.
Golden Sun: The Lost Age was a fitting second episode in the series. It was a wait that was well worth it because even today it is such a completely solid game in so many different areas. It may not reinvent anything from the first game, that simply isn’t its purpose, but it does elaborate on the story, it emphasizes the main points and will have you drawn in from the word go. Having great battles, bosses, powers, puzzles and some intense dungeon areas makes Golden Sun: The Lost Age a marvel worth playing if you never have. I am glad I got to play both games, it’s a Sun I will remember forever.