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A pair of beloved early-2000s RPGs is coming to Switch Online

The GBA’s two Golden Sun games arrive on Jan. 17

Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Here’s a great opportunity to catch up on — or revisit — two of the best role-playing games of the early 2000s. Golden Sun and its sequel, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, are coming to the Game Boy Advance collection on Nintendo Switch Online (with the Expansion Pack tier) next week, on Jan. 17.

The Golden Sun games were made by Camelot Software Planning, the Tokyo studio best known for its 25-year stewardship of the Mario Golf and Mario Tennis games (which, incidentally, makes Camelot the studio that originated Waluigi). Early in its relationship with Nintendo, Camelot also created these gorgeous portable RPGs for GBA, recalling the Square and Enix classics of a decade previously.

Golden Sun and The Lost Age, first released in 2001 and 2002 respectively, between them tell a single story about a struggle between magically attuned Adepts to protect the world of Weyard from the power of Alchemy, a powerful but potentially destructive force that has long been sealed away. The twist is that the second game is told from the perspective of the first game’s antagonists, whose goal is to unlock the power of Alchemy.

That’s interesting, but it’s not what people really love about Golden Sun. Rather, the games’ deep systems — which include collectable Djinn creatures that can modify character classes and abilities — and beautiful visuals are the main draw. Despite the GBA’s tiny, low-resolution display, both games feature particularly rich and colorful pixel art, and boast some dazzling effects, including a wheeling pseudo-3D camera during battle scenes.

Added to Nintendo Switch Online’s premium Expansion Pack tier last year, the GBA collection is arguably the star of Nintendo’s subscriber-only retro catalog, boasting such gems as WarioWare, Inc., Metroid Fusion, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, and many more. Golden Sun is another feather in its cap.

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