Golden Sun 2
Nintendo fans who had been starved for RPG adventure at last experienced the grand quest they had been waiting for when Camelot unleashed the original Golden Sun. An enthralling epic with sudden plot twists and a beautiful game world, the sequel has been eagerly anticipated since before the original struck American shores. However, while a media blitz and import frenzy heralded the coming of the original and helped drive attention for its arrival here, the sequel has been a much quieter affair. Except for a muted showing at E3 and some small but energized appearances in Japanese magazines, Golden Sun 2: The Lost Age has hardly made much of a glimmer, and already it's in the hands of Japanese gamers. The newness may have dulled a bit, but now that the import version is out and in our hands, we're getting to finally see the polished gem Camelot and Nintendo have been hiding away for so long now ...
Golden Sun 2: The Lost Age starts off by continuing the cliffhanger ending of the original. The game begins peacefully enough, introducing you to the sequel's new heroes as they go about their lives seconds before the climax of the first game erupts. Sclater is securing a temple with the help of the three main characters -- Garcia (the Earth Psynergist), Jasmine (the Fire Psynergist), and Picard (the Water Psynergist). If you recognize the names, it's because these three (as well as Sheba, the new Wind Psynergist) all were secondary characters in the first game. Garcia has just taken off to make his heroic act in the battle at the Lighthouse, while the rest of your little band makes their way to safety. Along the way, they stop to settle a territorial dispute between a phalanx of soldiers and a mob of thugs by showing some authority by magic force (Picard is apparently a bad-a$$ that shouldn't be told no), then makes headway for their ship. But while the group is arguing over leaving their friends behind, a cataclysmic explosion rips through the land.
Waking up after the blast, your adventuring party finds itself adrift in the sea aboard a shattered piece of land now an island drifting in the sea. On the shore of the floating world, the party discovers and reunites with Garcia and Sheba. When the island washes up on a distant shore of Indra, the adventure begins in a strange new land.
While the story abandons much of the original game, Golden Sun 2 is otherwise very similar to the original. The battle system is fast and beautiful again, but doesn't seem to show a lot more variety beyond what was seen in the first game -- the same spinning angles and some very familiar effects. Graphically, there are no great leaps in design for the main game quest engine either. However, even though Camelot hasn't reinvented the game for the sequel, there was not one thing wrong with the original, and the return of those same dazzling effects and beautiful landscapes means another stunner set in the land of Wayard. With active shores and colorful cities, the game does look even better than the original, and while the super-deformed characters still remind you of the kiddie original quartet, this group is older and are drawn with slightly more edge to them.
We've only cracked the locks on this adventure -- the game's world opens up to reveal a land much bigger than the original Golden Sun, and we're wading through it all as best as possible with only a guess at the Japanese dialog. The impression that we've gotten so far is that The Lost Age is a more a refinement than anything else -- it follows the golden sequel rule of bigger, tougher, more, more, more. The game does pick up with action right away, which we liked -- the original Golden Sun had a notoriously sleepy beginning setting up the characters, so it was a clever move on Camelot's part to introduce you characters for the follow-up early so that you can get going. And while Camelot unfortunately didn't get any four-player components into the multiplayer battles, there should be a lot more variety in the adventure considering the more action-oriented puzzle elements.
The US version won't hit until early 2003, so importers may be enticed to pick up the sequel early to see where the story goes before the translated version hits in almost 6 months. The game's layout is slightly different but very familiar, and if you know elements of the first game's story, you can figure out some of the events that are taking place this time out. Many of the puzzles and gameplay components apparently focus more on the Psynergy powers, and we were able to crack a rudimentary early challenge by figuring out what icon was needed to pass an obstacle. Even so, you'll probably want a Japanese-fluent friend nearby once you get out of the easy fields, and we definitely recommend retaking the quest once you've played through the import (you can get a lot about the characters out of their emoticon thought bubbles, but it's obvious that you'll still be missing a lot. Import stores such as Upstate Games should have copies of the game available now.
source IGN Pocket
Number of Players
1 - 2 (Link up battle)