Golden Sun: an introduction

Djinn, the Medieval Pokemon

Where do those graphically badass summons come from? That would be the collectable little monsters, the Djinn. Though their name implies they’re like the mythical Genies, they’re more like a mix between Pokemon and the Espers from Final Fantasy VI.

Above: The four types of Djinn - (clockwise from top left) Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury

It seems pretty obvious that the Djinn owe much to Nintendo's Pokemon, as these monsters are hidden throughout the world. Sometimes they lay tantalizing out of your reach at the end of a dense puzzle, other times they lurk in a patch of forest in the overworld you may never set foot in. After you’ve fought  and beaten them, they join up with you, and wanting to catch them all has driven many a player off the path of the main story for hours.

Above: A Djinn in the wild

Their similarity to Espers and other such Final Fantasy power-up systems becomes evident after you catch one. Each can be given to one of the four party members and are either "set" or put on "standby." If they're set, the character gets a mild stat boost, but on standby they can be used as powerful summons in battle, though the boosts are gone. The choice of what to assign to whom, and how to use it, adds even more depth to the combat.

Fun Fact: The four elements are key

Each Djinn is assigned one of the four elements - Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury - as their alignment, as are all four members of the heroic squad in both GBA games. Though assigning a Djinn to a character of the same alignment gives big benefits, certain mixtures of Djinn yield different results, even opening up whole new classes.

Above: Mia, the Mercury attuned party member from Golden Sun

Magic: not just for battles anymore

As we mentioned, magic spells during fights look pretty awesome, but they're used nearly as much outside of fights. Psynergy, which refers to all magic in GS, is used in dungeon and town exploration, often as a way to get to the next area if you have the right power. Gaining new powers and knowing when to use them is key to completing the tale.

Above: Official art of Ivan using the Whirlwind psynergy

Many of these powers involve moving pillars around so the hero can hop from one spot to the next. Unlike many RPG heroes of old, the protagonists of GS can actually move their feet from the ground, though they can only cover one square of movement per jump. So using the Move psynergy to pull a platform closer, or Freeze to create one out of ice, or even Reveal to see a hidden one, is invaluable to finishing your quest.

Other spells enable you to grow a set of vines to climb up, pound a pillar blocking your way into the ground or find secret doors or hidden treasure. You can Carry or Catch vital items, Cloak yourself in the shadows, or use Whirlwind to clear a path. All these choices added a huge amount of depth to the game, proving that – while it reminded you of RPGs of old – it had improved on the formula.

Fun Fact: Reading minds is a blast

While not the most useful of psynergies, one of the coolest was Mind Read. Mostly it worked as a vague hint system; when a villager's dialogue wasn't helpful enough, reading their minds could give you a clearer idea of what they meant. Or you could amuse yourself with reading the mind of, say, a sheep to find out how much it loves the grass it's eating. Either way, you've got to appreciate the extra care the game takes to give nearly every non-player character a second set of dialogue that may never be read.


  • candyman - July 14, 2009 8:24 p.m.

    And suddenly I remember why I loved it so much.
  • kompressorlogik - July 14, 2009 8:26 p.m.

    Yes. VERY yes.
  • Turkeykilla7 - July 14, 2009 9:18 p.m.

    I had forgotten all about Golden sun. Man that game was awsome. I got to go download the rom right now. SUPER PWNIES!!!! @The_Lurcher Blasphemy is claiming that you are better or have the attributes of God. Dont worry you didnt even touch the subject. Also Golden Sun Wasnt really that well known. Or atleast not as popular as titles like Final Fantasy. It was still super pwnies though. You should get an Emulator and try it out.
  • GamesRadarButtercup - July 14, 2009 10:23 p.m.

    Meh.,. annother game that undereprsnts equines
  • iKOemos - July 14, 2009 10:54 p.m.

    God I loved these games when i discovered them way back in 2004. They took up all my spare time. Since then I have been longing for a sequel but I was worried that it would be a waggle fest on the Wii. Good thing the game is still portable .... oh god I can't wait for this game especially after Bioshock 2 was pushed way back.
  • MechGyver - July 15, 2009 12:54 a.m.

    Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy, Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy, Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy,Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy said the boogy said up jump the boogy...? Kid Rock is a retarded!
  • MechGyver - July 15, 2009 12:57 a.m. ...fukk
  • dweller - July 15, 2009 1:43 a.m.

    Man I love Golden Sun. I've played the two games several times. And I didn't have a link cable so writing codes to keep my stats and stuff took a looooooooooooong time.
  • GaMeRGuY1oh4 - July 15, 2009 1:44 a.m.

    BUTTERCUP!!! Anyways, I'm quite excited for this game. Do any of you know it's release date? The game does look awesome though.
  • idunno - July 15, 2009 1:57 a.m.

    Shining Force was absolutely amazing and now that I know Golden Sun is from them I will definitely try it out.
  • Hydrohs - July 15, 2009 2:03 a.m.

    When you guys Tweeted this at E3 I swear I came. I'm so excited. The other two characters kind of remind me of Garet and Mia. reCaptcha: Slinking commissions
  • winterwolf - July 15, 2009 3:48 a.m.

    I'm glad to see this series getting some attention, because it is DEFINITELY worth playing. I usually don't enjoy older RPG's with random encounters and all that, but Golden Sun rocks. Can't wait for the third!
  • Amnesiac - July 15, 2009 4:12 a.m.

    Golden Sun DS was my favorite announcement at E3. I am SO psyched about this.
  • Xeacons - July 16, 2009 9:03 p.m.

    Cannot wait. I can't. The thing that still amazes me after all these years was how I got to know Golden Sun. I picked it up on a whim. I thought it just looked like a cute RPG to kill time. Little did I know how I would fall in love with it's rich storyline, amazing graphics, and unbelievable gameplay.
  • Thirteenth - July 17, 2009 7:33 p.m.

    Played through the Golden Sun games once more last week, nice article. ^_^
  • Fuhjem - July 17, 2009 7:44 p.m.

    I love Golden Sun, sooo much! It's one of the only two JRPG franchises that I like.
  • SolidSpartan - July 17, 2009 11:19 p.m.

    That game was awesome. The first time I played Golden Sun The Lost Age was on a comp. Freakin bosses are hard! >.< ReCAPTCHA: "twitched standing" I've never twitched while standing.
  • EnigmaticMan - July 19, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    I don't understand, whats so special about Golden Sun. Fallout 1 + 2 which came out six years before were far superioir RPG's and there are a plethora of superior JRPG's on the GBA including Final Fantasy VI. While Golden sun is a typical Dungeon after dungeon JRPG complete with cliched characters and unituitive interfaces. Well, at least it was colourful.
  • Cyberninja - July 14, 2009 8:22 p.m.

    golden sun is awesome thanks for making the article
  • The_Lurcher - July 14, 2009 8:37 p.m.

    Finally I've been wondering why there was so much fuss over this game. I know it's blasphemy to say this, but i have never heard of this game, does anyone know if it was big in the UK? I know of certain games that are more popular in some countries more than others maybe thats why.

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