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Golden Sun: The Lost Age

by Lasse Pallesen - August 24, 2003, 8:53 am EDT
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Get ready for another epic adventure in the world of Adepts, Djinn summons, and Psynergy.

Like its predecessor, Golden Sun: The lost Age is best described as a very traditional RPG. You control a group of characters that gradually level up, becoming stronger and learning more battle moves and spells in the process. You have a huge world map to traverse, sprawling with random monster encounters and turn-based battles. There are towns, where you can rest and buy new weapons and armor, and of course, dungeons, in which plenty of puzzle-solving and giant boss battles await. It’s a very familar game structure that we have seen a hundred times before, but rarely with the same sense of thought and attention to detail offered in this game. In fact, the only GBA RPG that comes close to matching The Lost Age in terms of sounds, graphics and gameplay mechanics is its predecessor.

The Lost Age does have a lot in common with that game -- so much that it barely feels like a new game. Even the plot is a direct continuation of the original’s. This doesn’t mean that the game is unplayable for Golden Sun virgins. The intro sequence explicitly sums up all the important plot developments of the original. What’s more, there’s a rather friendly learning curve and the battle system and the magic system are quickly explained. Still, it is a considerable advantage having played through the first game. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on plenty of small references throughout the adventure. Furthermore, the game allows you to transfer character data from the last game, using either a password or a link cable. Doing so will reduce the difficulty level considerably, but it’s nonetheless an interesting and unique feature, and its implementation feels very natural, considering the close connection these two games share.

The graphic style is identical as well. The Lost Age is definitely one of the prettiest games on the system so far -- easily on par with many PSX RPG’s. The attention to detail is impressive. Trees cast beautiful shadows, while water splashes up when running through it. Other examples include the reflection of the moon in a small pond and the stylish dust effects that occur when digging for treasures in the desert. The game is filled with small graphical touches like these. The battle scenes in particular are stunning. Special attacks and psynergy attacks come equipped with beautiful color and lighting effects. Likewise, the animations on the characters look fantastic. The background settings appear in 2D, but, as the camera rotates around the battle field, a nice scaling effect is used to create an effective illusion of a 3D environment. The only minor complaint is that some of these backgrounds appear a little blurry. Otherwise, the graphics are bright and vibrant and make use of a highly varied color scheme as well.

The characters are very expressive. They manage to convey a real sense of emotion. Some will jump out of excitement or run around like crazy if they are scared. These reactions are complemented by small thought ballons showing what kind of mood a person is in. As a result, you get the impression that every one of the main characters has a distinct personality that becomes even more pronounced as you play. Naturally, the expressive detail is not in the same league as a game like Zelda, but considering that this is a GBA title, it’s a remarkable achievement.

The music is also very pleasing. There are a lot of different tracks, and they suit the environments well. In dark caves the melodies are intense and eerie, while in most towns they are light-hearted and relaxing. They set the mood perfectly. The high-pitched noises that are used when characters speak can get a little annoying, though -- a flaw retained from the original. Fortunately, they can be turned off.

The story is interesting enough to make you curious as to what happens next. Centered around saving the world from falling apart, it’s hardly deep and intelligent, but a few plot twists have been thrown in for good measure. In order to move the story along, you need to talk to a lot of characters. Some of them have interesting things to say, giving hints on where to go next or how to solve a certain situation. The majority, though, have pretty useless comments that have nothing to do with the story. As a result, some people might lose their patience when talking to a whole town population. On the other hand, all these insignificant side characters provide a nice break from all the battle action. What’s more, they make the game world feel a bit more alive and realistic. All in all, the game is arguably a little too text-heavy, but the script is well-written and often quite humorous.

The puzzles are both challenging and well thought out. Most of them involve using psynergy (psychic powers augmented by special stones). With them, you can move pillars to connect passageways, unleash a whirlwind to remove leaves that cover a hidden door, or even read the mind of any particular character. Later on, the puzzles become more complex, and there’s a good chance of getting stuck, since it’s very easy to overlook a small movable stone or a crack in the ground. But there’s a great feeling of satisfaction gained from solving a difficult puzzle.

Fortunately, The Lost Age is filled with several hidden areas, waiting to be explored, and the game is very keen on rewarding you for your hard work. These rewards often come in the shape of special weapons or armor. Not only do these rewards make exploration more satisfying, they also provide further incentive to keep playing. Sometimes you even get a new Djinni.

Like in the original, the Djinn play an integral role in upgrading your characters’ attributes. There are four types, each of which corresponds to one of the four elements: water, earth, wind, and fire. This time around, there’s a greater emphasis on catching these creatures. When you first see a Djinni, it usually tries to run away. You need to chase him around a lot before getting the opportunity to set up a trap for him. Then you need to overpower him in battle, after which he surrenders and becomes yours. Attaching a Djinni to a character enhances his abilities and attributes, sometimes even changing his class. You can opt to attack with a Djinni too, but it then becomes unattached for a while. Unleashing a Djinni in battle is therefore not always a good idea. It’s a tactical decision you have to make. After a Djinni has attacked, you can use it to summon a spirit to perform a devastating effect. Later, you can combine these Djinn summons for an even more deadly attack. Experimenting with these summons is one of the more fun and rewarding aspects of the battle system.

Apart from these Djinn attacks, there are regular attacks and, of course, Psynergy attacks, some of which enable you to target multiple enemies. These deplete your psynergy points, though, so you can’t use them all the time. Other options include using an item or defending. A small flaw that also characterized the original is the fact that if an enemy that you’ve set to attack dies or flees before the attack is carried out, your character will simply defend himself instead of just attacking another enemy.

A far more serious flaw has to do with most enemies being far too easy -- something that characterises many RPG’s. Most of the enemies can only withstand a couple of blows, which practically eliminates the need to use your Psynergy Points or Djinn attacks. Whenever a battle is about to begin, you often find yourself simply hammering the A-button for regular attacks. In this way, the game rarely forces you to really think and plan your attacks, and that’s a shame, considering how balanced the fighting system actually is. Furthermore, it makes confronting enemies every 10 or 20 seconds a little frustrating and tedious. Fortunately, you’ll acquire a spell that reduces monster encounters relatively early on. The bosses are obviously more challenging, requiring more thought to overcome. Still, as long as you just have a healthy supply of herbs, the game can be beaten without a single "Game Over" message hitting the screen. This lack of challenge is the biggest problem in the game.

As for game controls, Camelot has obviously looked at Zelda for inspiration, so many of control elements are borrowed directly from Miyamoto’s famous adventure series. Apart from the auto-jump feature and the fact that you can set psynergy shortcuts to the L and R buttons, you have the A-button working as the standard action button, used for examining objects, speaking, confirming selections, and so forth. Finally, holding B allows you to run. There’s nothing original about this button configuration, but it seems to work well and feels very natural.

The quest easily takes more than 20 hours to complete, and if you want to find everything, it will obviously take considerably longer. There is also a neat little multiplayer option included that allows you and friend to battle against each other. It’s really more of a fun gimmick than a substantial feature, however, being an RPG it’s only natural to focus on the one-player mode.

In conclusion, The Lost Age is a surpremely playable RPG. It has an interesting plot, a refined fighting system, beautiful graphics, a superb soundtrack, and intuitive controls. What’s more, it’s a long game. It cannot be regarded as a truly unique and groundbreaking game. Since it’s a direct follow-up to the original, it offers few new ideas, but ultimately, that doesn’t matter much, considering how brilliantly everything blends together. Now, the only thing we need is a GameCube incarnation.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
10 9.5 9.5 8.5 9.5 9

The most impressive aspect of the game, the graphics are colorful and vibrant, and boast some of the most spectacular scaling and rotation effects seen on the system. The attention to detail is equally stunning.


The music is varied, accompanying the environment you’re in beautifully. The sound effects in battle are sufficiently brutal and accentuate the power of an attack very well. Character noises can get annoying.


Resembling those found in Zelda, the controls are spot-on. They feel simple and intuitive and never sluggish.


An interesting plot, balanced fighting system, satisfying puzzles, and plenty of items and Djinn to collect make for a varied and enjoyable gameplay experience. The only noteworthy problem is the low difficulty level when dealing with standard monsters.


The world map is absolutely huge and full of secrets. Finding everything will take ages. The multiplayer option, offering head-to-head battles, is a nice addition.


The Lost Age is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished RPG’s for GBA. If you liked the original, this one is a definite must-have. Don’t expect anything truly groundbreaking, though. If you’re not familar with Golden Sun, I’ll recommend trying out the original first, so you don’t miss out on the story. Both games are true masterpieces, not to be missed.


  • Balanced fighting system
  • Beautiful music
  • Challenging and rewarding puzzle elements
  • Djinn summons
  • More than 20 hours of gameplay
  • Stunning attention to detail
  • Irritating character noises
  • Lack of originality
  • Regular battles are too easy
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre RPG
Developer Camelot Software Planning

Worldwide Releases

na: Golden Sun: The Lost Age
Release Apr 14, 2003
jpn: Ōgon no Taiyō: Ushinawareshi Toki
Release Jun 28, 2002
RatingAll Ages
eu: Golden Sun: The Lost Age
Release Sep 19, 2003
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