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As Golden Solar turns 21, Nintendo is in a brand new JRPG golden age. It’s time for a reboot


Wish to really feel outdated? As of at this time, August 1st 2022, Golden Solar is sufficiently old to purchase a beer within the US. There may be now extra time between the discharge of Golden Solar and the current day than there’s between the primary Japanese launch of the NES (because the Famicom) and Golden Solar’s launch date. Golden Solar is getting outdated; however it’s deservedly nonetheless beloved.

This Recreation Boy RPG collection is, in a way, descended from role-playing royalty. Developer Camelot Software program Planning started its life as Sonic! Software program Planning, and partnered with Sega to launch a bit of role-playing collection referred to as Shining Power. For years, the studio that’d turn out to be Camelot crafted a number of entries on this collection, taking part in second fiddle to Phantasy Star regardless of its top quality.

Within the late nineties and early 2000s, a newly-renamed Camelot solid a detailed relationship with Nintendo, the place it started to construct what it’s now best-known for: sports activities video games starring everyone’s favourite plumber. However buried amongst a cavalcade of tennis and golf have been two actual RPG gems – 2001’s Golden Solar, and 2002’s Golden Solar: The Misplaced Age.

Every so often Golden Solar comes up in chatter between RPG Web site’s contributors, and each time somebody is fast to level out that the primary recreation isn’t precisely an ideal style basic. However taken as a pair these two titles – launched back-to-back, with one steady story, and even an information switch between video games – are an impressive little slice of RPG style historical past, and positively among the greatest video games on the GBA.

There’s a whole lot of appeal to those video games. I cherished the traversal puzzles, which gave you an opportunity to make use of your character’s powers outdoors of battle – one thing that was surprisingly uncommon on this period of the style. I used to be thrilled to see the 2 video games inform the identical story however from reverse views – providing you with an opportunity to play because the ‘unhealthy’ guys, an idea the studio had tried earlier than with Shining Power III.

I cherished the battle perspective, the place a swirling digicam and intelligent staging not solely made battles really feel dynamic, but additionally made it really feel just like the GBA was pushing out 3D visuals. I really like that despite the fact that the battle visuals have been chic of their dynamism for a GBA title, the underside of the display screen was devoted to thrilling battle textual content within the model of old-school text-based RPGs. “Isaac’s sword lets out a howl! Vorpal Slash!”

A battle in Golden Sun on the Game Boy Advance.

After which there’s the music. Who doesn’t keep in mind that battle theme? Common Camelot collaborator Motoi Sakuraba had type in placing out musical bangers at this level, to be truthful – the Recreation Level music from Mario Tennis is etched into my mind – however Golden Solar is him on the first top of his powers – the second of which got here when he outlined the musical panorama of Darkish Souls a decade later.

However, I digress. The purpose is, Golden Solar and The Misplaced Age are nice. A Nintendo DS sequel titled Golden Solar: Darkish Daybreak, now itself 12 years outdated, was first rate – however struggled to seek out the identical magic or the identical stage of essential acclaim as its predecessors. And with that, the solar appeared to set on the Golden Solar collection.

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The time has by no means been higher for a renaissance, nonetheless. Nintendo is at present within the grip of a brand new role-playing golden age; one which I’d argue is regularly creeping ever nearer to the legendary high quality of RPGs on the SNES. 

A story scene from Golden Sun on Game Boy Advance.

Hearth Emblem out of the blue turned huge because of the sudden recognition of Awakening and successive winners from then on. Monolith Smooth has escaped the destiny of Camelot – drawn in to assist out on different Nintendo IP, together with some sports activities video games – but additionally allowed to develop its personal full-fat RPG franchise, most just lately delivering a uncommon RPG Web site 10/10 within the glorious Xenoblade 3. Greater than this, although, Nintendo appears intent to proceed investing in role-playing titles typically, signing co-development and timed exclusivity offers with the likes of Sq. Enix for video games comparable to Octopath Traveler and Stay A Stay

It feels a far cry from the Nintendo of outdated, who appeared to usually contemplate RPGs too difficult, too lengthy, too hardcore, and even too gradual to obtain full-throated assist. 

Regardless of this, Golden Solar, a singular franchise with equally singular potential, stays untouched for over a decade now. And Camelot, a storied RPG studio of the 90s, hasn’t launched something that isn’t a recreation about Mario taking part in a real-life sport for over a decade, too. 

A huge attack is unleashed in Golden Sun. This was impressive on the GBA, honest.

Actually, Golden Solar makes up three of the 5 video games that’s seen Camelot outdoors of the Mario Sports activities mines over the past 23 years. The opposite two video games are non-Mario sports activities video games. One would possibly argue that the studio has misplaced it, however it nonetheless reveals RPG aspirations, comparable to with an RPG-lite story mode in the newest Mario Golf recreation. The will to make a role-playing recreation is clearly nonetheless there.

So, as Golden Solar turns 21 and as Nintendo enjoys unprecedented success within the style, my ideas return to this collection – and the way it deserves a revival. Maybe a brand new recreation is a bridge too far – however some kind of enhanced remake of the primary two titles, the whole story bundled collectively as one for the primary time, makes a whole lot of sense. Maybe Nintendo may license or companion with Nintendo to make use of the HD-2D know-how? Maybe the video games may characteristic the same model, however rendered in 2D? Truthfully, I’d take something.

Or they might go ahead. Darkish Daybreak ends on a cliffhanger that’s obscure sufficient that it may result in a delicate reboot of the collection.

Regardless of the format, Golden Solar deserves one other probability. It deserves to come back again. Hopefully its continued RPG success on Swap leads Nintendo give Camelot a shot. 

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