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Golden Sun: an introduction

Nintendo's E3 press conference had its ups and downs this year. But midway through, it had a big positive for a small part of the audience: Golden Sun DS. Though not as shocking an announcement as Metroid: Other M or as flashy as Mario Galaxy 2, it was easily the most important news for the DS, though that isn't saying a lot. But why did the third game in a cult GBA series last seen in 2003 garner such applause at the conference? This primer will clue you in on why Golden Sun is worthy of your attention.


It's real purty

They might not look too badass now, but the Golden Sun games were perhaps the two best-looking titles the GBA ever saw. Maybe that’s because Golden Sun was originally planned as an N64 game, and the developers wanted to keep the graphics bar as high as they could. Or maybe it’s because they just knew the system better than anybody else. Either way, it looked fantastic then and still holds up now.

All the people inhabiting the world of Weyard are pseudo-3D piles of pixels, ably giving the game a three-dimensional look . The overworld and each town take advantage of the GBA’s wide color palette, giving the game a depth that hides its flat actuality. But the real graphical showcases are the battles. Not only would the camera pan around between the heroes and enemies, but the magical spells, and especially the summons, were spellbinding.


Above: A collection of the summons from the second game

That was as good as it got on the GBA way back in 2003. And after seeing how much Camelot could squeeze out of what was basically a portable SNES, it makes us eager beavers to see what they can do with a DS.


Fun Fact: The world is flat!

Yes, the land of Weyard, with its many shifting continents, is a flat world. Like a disk, all the water on it just falls off the sides as it coasts through space. This revelation halfway through the second game made our heads spin, as we had foolishly assumed the world was round. Somewhere, those who doubted Columbus were laughing.


Above: The map from the Japanese version


A fine pedigree

For Nintendo fans, developer Camelot is mostly associated with Mario Golf and Tennis, while older Sony fans may remember it perfected its swing with the first Hot Shots Golf. Seeing its name on an RPG seems a poor fit, but long before it became a maker of addictive and arcade-y sports games, Camelot was the top RPG development house for Sega.


Above: Humble beginnings

Though Phantasy Star has a deserved place as the premier Sega RPG series, the Shining series wasn't far behind. Whether it was the series’ first, traditional RPG Shining in the Darkness, the Zelda-eque Shining Wisdom or the amazing strategy sub-series Shining Force, they were all big for their time. And they were all made for Sega systems, up until the last days of Saturn, by Sonic! Software Planning, which later became Camelot Software Planning.


Above: One of the most criminally underplayed games ever

Even after splitting from Sega, the development house focused on the Shining games until Sega pulled the plug on the Saturn right as Camelot was wrapping up its masterpiece in three parts, Shining Force III. America and Europe only got part one, though Japan did get the full story. After that, Camelot sided with Nintendo to make some fantastic Mario sports games, but after a couple years it returned to RPGs, and Golden Sun in particular. And now, after a six-year break, it's at last returning to the genre it knows so well.


Fun Fact: Camelot still functions

When Golden Sun DS was announced, we were immediately curious to know if Camelot was going to develop it. We had our doubts, because the developer released only one game in the last four years: We Love Golf! on Wii. Most troubling for Camelot's future with Nintendo was that We Love Golf! had Capcom as its publisher, and played like a lesser, reskinned version of Mario Golf. But confirmation quickly came through that Camelot was at the reins of Golden Sun once again, so we're pleasantly surprised to see the company back on track with Nintendo.


Above: Perhaps Camelot's darkest hour 

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41 comments

  • Kytl - January 15, 2010 2:57 a.m.

    i wonder how many games this series will get, if the first 2 are really a prologue, DAMN I CAN'T WAIT
  • secretsearcher - October 16, 2009 10:31 p.m.

    OK. These are totally EPIC games. I just finished Lost Age. It knocked my socks off :D @EnigmaticMan You really have to play through both games in order to appreciate the series. In my opinion, the second one is far superior.
  • Charon - August 3, 2009 4:36 p.m.

    Best games I ever played, even for the 10th time xD. Genius. Anyone who never heard of those, go get them somewhere!
  • dreamgor - July 16, 2009 9:18 p.m.

    what can i say that hasn't been said already: awesome article, golden sun pwns, the biggest announcement was GS DS (look at the trailer feature for a detailed description of my reaction the trailer the first time i saw it)
  • AgentLym - July 16, 2009 12:22 a.m.

    Can't wait can't wait can't wait!! I recently just bought both games for GBA, so... No DSi for me until I transfer my data over! lol
  • Firebaby - July 16, 2009 12:10 a.m.

    Ok i made an account here just so i could comment on this because i freakin love golden sun so much i just finished the playing the first one the other day for like the 1000th time i was so lucky that i pretty much stumbled on these games by accident when i was like 10 or 11!I cannot wait for GSDS Ps golden sun saved my baby she was on fire but i was just able to cast "Douse" and it worked out fine...
  • shelcobsohn - July 15, 2009 9:03 p.m.

    i was addicted to golden sun for like 3 months when it came out. finally i can have another rpg worthy of my precious time. send me things. 8==D rofl
  • RandomIdoit - July 15, 2009 7:43 p.m.

    I've never actually played this series, but it does look very promising. Just another Ds game I'm looking forward to.
  • darkwolf908 - July 15, 2009 5:40 p.m.

    Golden Sun is one of the best games ever...thanks for makin the article=]
  • iluvmyDS - July 15, 2009 3:31 p.m.

    I agree with Amnesiac, best damn thing announced.
  • AssassinRoxas - July 15, 2009 3:16 p.m.

    ive played the original two and it was preety good, now im waiting to see whats in store for the ds version of golden sun!=) golden sun rules
  • Fizzmonkey - July 15, 2009 2:05 p.m.

    i loved the first 2 games (couldnt beat the final bosses tho...) but i forgot how awesome the games were until i saw this.
  • The_Lurcher - July 15, 2009 8:57 a.m.

    @ Turkeykilla7: Thankyou I am Enlightened. ReCAPTCHA: Party Bedtimes (New game for the wii)
  • super0sonic - July 15, 2009 5:44 a.m.

    I enjoyed playing GS until the random battles threw me off. I never got to the second one. But i am looking foreword to this game.
  • AHolyMonk - July 15, 2009 4:39 a.m.

    This looks awesome! I played the original, and its one of my favorite games of all time. Old GBA games that are being revived like this and Advance Wars really make me embarrased to consider myself a gamer since I dont have a DS. Somethig on the to-do list now...
  • Defguru7777 - July 15, 2009 4:26 a.m.

    Golden Sun 1 and 2 were some of my favorite games of all time. I can't wait for GS DS.
  • secretsearcher - July 15, 2009 1:59 a.m.

    Ok wow. I can't believe I never gave this series a try. It looks awesome. I guess I'll have to get the first two and play those before I play the DS one. Thanks for the article, GR. I wasn't sure whether to give these games a try or not. P.S. Those summoning scenes were impressive.
  • GoldenMe - July 15, 2009 1:40 a.m.

    Thanks for making an article about this series. Camelot did a great job making such a excellent story and amazing gameplay. It was one of the only game on the GBA that looked so great. I played both, beat both, wanted to have a threesome with both, and I can't wait till it comes out.
  • MechGyver - July 15, 2009 12:56 a.m.

    Satch Boogie is good though
  • c03n3nj0 - July 15, 2009 12:10 a.m.

    Man I really need to get the original two.

Showing 1-20 of 41 comments

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