Part 7: Tret
Dungeon #4: It's a tree.
It has jumping puzzles built around leaves that are only able to support the weight of three teenagers once before collapsing.
And it's a maze.
Specifically, it's a maze with meaningless gimmicks like being obscured by tree cover (except in a circle a la being in the dark) that would cause the characters absolutely no inconvenience from their perspective and makes no sense due to not being in the dark.
Though, as always, Camelot is unable to competently pull off something as simple as not letting you see, because the entering battle effect overshadows the covered by leaves effect. The painlessness of this maze is inversely proportional to how often you blink.
Ivan gets his first Jupiter djinn here via another pointless fight, just in case the boss wasn't going to be easy enough without it. While the mechanics of battle have been well discussed by this point, I figure I may as well reiterate most of it so people reading this thread in the archive will think I know what I'm talking about.
As I've repeatedly mentioned, spamming djinn causes everything to die. It also causes stats and classes to fluctuate, but there's really no reason to ever pay attention to this (including when fighting the secret harder-than-final boss). While I've referred to it as a "weakness chain", the patterns of shouting louder are actually mutual. Earth and Wind are weak to each other, as are Water and Fire, while all elements are resistant to themselves. Aether sits on the sidelines and worries about how nobody loves it.
As mediocre to terrible as this game's design is, I have to say I actually like the look of the battles. All of the sprites have multiple angles so that the camera can do stylistic pans, and there's a wide range of well-designed backgrounds on display. Of course, this is slightly undermined by the fireworks displays and camera spins that accompany every other attack as though the fights were directed by Michael Bay on several kinds of amphetamines, but it's something.
To quickly go over our djinn, Flint and Gust attack, Forge boosts attack, Breeze boosts defense, and Granite boosts defense but actually well. While Breeze and Fever are as much help as stat boosts in these sorts of games tend to be, Granite cuts the damage that all party members receive in half. If this sounds absurdly overpowered, congratulations: you put more thought into game mechanics than Camelot did. By itself there's at least a tertiary attempt at game balance since the djinn has to be put on standby again (you can spend a turn doing this so you don't have to deal with post-Summon recovery time), but soon Camelot's laziness gets the better of their attempt to make a game and they copy the exact same effect for another djinn. This means that you can have two characters alternate using them and prevent any battle from becoming even a minor challenge. This isn't even an exploit; it's a core mechanic giving you a "win game" option.
One other thing on battles: while every other RPG has your queued attacks go to a different enemy if the one you're targeting dies, Golden Sun will have nothing to do with that entirely logical concept. Instead, if Ivan and Garet choose to attack the same rat and Garet kills it, Ivan will spend his turn having an existential crisis of meaning rather than attacking the still living rat slightly to the left. I imagine many of these characters would die in the wild if they weren't constantly instructed to eat.
In classic Camelot "fuck you" design, the entire point of the dungeon is to climb five floors up so you can go one floor down. The thought of climbing over that tiny mound of dirt to save the trouble was quickly vetoed because Garet's pants would get scuffed. The eighty-foot freefall through a perfectly square spiderweb hole was deemed preferable.
I don't understand why all these magical trapping-souls-in-wood demons feel the need to study things inside of them. I enjoy the face I have now, but I don't feel I would benefit much from a second one monitoring my innards to track the status of any polyps forming.
This evil sentient tree ghost skull heart (?) is absurdly easy. I may as well take the opportunity to show off some of those summons and psynergy spells, or, as I like to call them, instant win options.
Despite the game having 28 djinn, the range of summons is pretty weak. Each element gets four that require 1-4 djinn to be set; nothing new opens up if you've set five or six. The one-djinn summons shoot out some sparks and little else, but the others get amusingly absurd. All of them also have meaningless descriptions that are basically just cool words randomly arranged next to each other.
In this case, we have the guardian of an immortal pharaoh, since apparently immortal things need people to guard... their pride or something, and pharaohs are now guarding other pharaohs by turning into robot ziggurat god-king boxers.
Atalanta shows off how unbelievably proud Camelot was of its particle effects. She's named after a Greek maiden who was almost raped by centaurs and was eventually turned into a lion after being felt up in a temple, but I'm pretty sure she was chosen because somebody skimmed through a book about Greece until they found somebody who had once held a bow, similar to how Ramses was named after the first thing anybody found to associate with Egypt.
As the series goes on, the misuse of allusions becomes even worse. The most hilarious example comes in GS2 with a summon named Ulysses, who, rather than looking like somebody who would kill 108 Irish suitors during the Civil War, looks like this:
I, as always, blame Japan.
This is Psynergy. Little effort went into any of these rather unneeded descriptions; it reminds me of how Ted Woolsey got lazy midway through Chrono Trigger and started giving techs descriptions like "Antipode: Attacks Enemies With Antipode".
Psynergy makes sparks appear and then people die.
Now that I've spent more time talking about the boss than the dungeon, killing him by taking advantage of core game mechanics takes about a minute. Introducing New Tret: Now with 200% more soulless eyes!
And you defeated the evil within me? I thank you.
Again, none of this gets any explanation in the novel of text that follows. Did we defeat a symbolic personification of the evil of
I turned the people of Kolima into trees? I must release them before they die with the forest! I can't do it...My power no longer reaches Kolima...
Alright, so Tret doesn't want to punish the people who tried to cut him down, only the evil part of him did... but the evil part arose from his anger because they cut him down. And now he's weak despite having used his powers on us from a forest length away twenty minutes earlier. And all of this is to railroad us to an objective we were already doing. What's with the offhand reference to the forest dying that fails to elicit any responce from anybody? Why is this section in the game when it makes no sense and has no connection to anything?
Can my next installment of how to fix GS just be "Don't do any of this"?
No! We have to heal him! We can't let the people of Kolima die with the forest! We have to restore Tret and save the people of Kolima!
Alas, as Ivan explains, we need to save the people of Kolima by saving the people of Kolima by going to Imil to get water to revive Tret to save the people of Kolima. Of course, for the dozenth time, we were going to Imil anyway since that's where the Mercury Lighthouse is. And we already had a rather strong motivation what with the whole "saving the world" thing.
But hey, forget rationally weighing options; we have to save the people of Kolima!
Next time, we get the worst party member and climb a lighthouse. I'd say it will be fun but that would be a lie.