List of Consoles
This is a list of the various consoles that can be used to play the Golden Sun series.
Game Boy Advance
The Game Boy Advance (often shortened to GBA) is a 32-bit handheld video game console developed, manufactured and marketed by Nintendo and released in 2001. The original design of GBA did not feature backlighting and required batteries. Both Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age were originally released as part of the GBA's library.
Game Boy Advance SP
Two models of the GBA were released in the following years. In 2003 a laptop-like model named the Game Boy Advance SP was released, featuring frontlighting and a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Two years later a near-identical model named the Game Boy Advance SP+ was released, which this time featured backlighting.
Game Boy Micro
In 2005, an additional GBA model named the Game Boy Micro was released. This was also backlighted. This version did not have a large impact on the market because, unlike the other GBA models, it could not play older Game Boy games, and in a mere half-year Nintendo's current handheld, the Nintendo DS, was released.
Game Boy Player
The Game Boy Player is an add-on style device that fits onto the bottom of a Nintendo GameCube. This device, which is essentially comprised of the hardware inside the Game Boy Advance and has a cartridge slot at its front end, enables Game Boy Advance cartridges, as well as Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges, to be played on a television with a GameCube controller. (A GBA system connected into the first controller port via a link cable is also usable as a controller.) It requires the use of an included boot disc to access the hardware and turn on the software.
Golden Sun: The Lost Age was one of the titles the Player's marketing campaign specifically advertised as recommended to play on a full screen with the Player, alongside Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire and Fire Emblem.
The Nintendo DS was Nintendo's next major handheld console, and a direct upgrade and successor to the GBA. The most obvious features of this clamshell-designed device, released in late 2004, are its two equally sized screens, with the bottom screen specially designed as a "touch screen" that works with a provided stylus for screen-pressing gameplay alongside traditional buttons, and also a microphone that can recognize the player's voice. The system has open slots for both a DS game card and a Game Boy Advance cartridge, allowing both libraries of games to be played (although Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges are incompatible), and some DS games respond to the GBA game that's currently inserted into the GBA slot. A GBA game played on the system will display on one of the two screens (which one it is the player can choose). The system also has a backlight that can be toggled on or off and has a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Unlike the GBA models, its connectivity with other DS systems (as well as Nintendo's Wii) is entirely wireless, and supports online connectivity and even web browsing. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn was designed for the Nintendo DS, and released as part of the system's library.
Nintendo DS Lite
Released in early 2006 is the DS' upgraded remodel, the Nintendo DS Lite. A slimmer and more lightweight redesign, the DS Lite is very similar to the original but has four levels of brightness for its LCD display (though the backlight can not be turned off now). The GBA cart also now protrudes out of the bottom of the system by roughly a centimeter.
In 2008 Nintendo released a revised version on the DS called the Nintendo DSi. Although it gained many new features such as a camera, SD card slot, and download capabilities it lost it's backwards compatibility as it has no GBA slot in order to conserve space. Unfortunately the loss of backwards compatibility means Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age will no longer be playable.
Nintendo DSi XL
The Nintendo DSi XL (DSi LL in Japan) is the fourth revision of the Nintendo DS. By large, it has the same featurss as the standard DSi, with the exception of a few distinct alterations. These alterations include a larger body and screen, longer battery life, and pre-installed software. Unlike other Nintendo handhelds, these are to be seen as a group experience rather than only one viewer to one system.
The Nintendo 3DS is set to be the next generation of Nintendo handheld as opposed to a revision of the Nintendo DS. It features a psuedo 3D effect without the need of special glasses. It looks similar to a regular DS, retains a (single) touch screen at the bottom, and a slightly wider screen at the top for 3D. The 3DS has two cameras, enabling it to take pictures in 3D. The system features all of the same buttons from the DS but also adds a "slide stick" (analog stick). The top portion of the system will include a sliding mechanism for adjusting the 3D effect from low to high to completely off. It will retain the cartridge based gaming system as with all Nintendo handhelds as opposed to a disc drive. Notably, Nintendo also announced at E3 2010 that there will also be a range of 3D films that will be viewable on the 3DS in full 3D.
The controversial, albeit widespread, practice of downloading ROM images of games such as Golden Sun and The Lost Age off the Internet for free and emulating them with programs to play these games on a personal computer just as if one was playing them on a physical console. Technically, it counts as piracy and is thus illegal, but the practice of emulating games for cartridge-based platforms at least relatively old, such as Game Boy Advance all the way back to the NES, is widespread nonetheless.
Emulation provides far more power for gamers to manipulate a game than playing something in cartridge form, since it is all performed on a PC. Features such as Save States allow one to essentially "bookmark" any point in time and space in a game which can be loaded and referred to at any time later, which can allow for a very effective form of "cheating" that does not use any form of code-based hacking utility (of course, codes as they would be used with devices like Action Replay and CodeBreaker can be input and made to work also). There are also features such as the ability to take snapshots of whatever is displayed on the "screen" of your program and create them as image files. Many of the in-game screenshots used on this wiki are taken using a snapshot feature of the VisualBoy Advance emulator.
Since emulation on a PC is based on a ROM Image file of a game that is thus composed of data and can be treated as data, a sub-practice known as ROM Hacking has surfaced, which allows one to essentially modify the contents of a game, and then play it. For Golden Sun: The Lost Age, a ROM hacking utility program called the Golden Sun: The Lost Age Editor has been released and is being revised. This allows one to, among other things, see the exact statistics of every single item, ability, class, and monster in the game.