The Let's Play Archive

Golden Sun

by Quovak

Part 22: Intro

Good Heavens, look at the time. I actually went an entire month playing decent games and following through on something I implied once or twice.

Quovak posted:

I will not, however, continue onto Lost Age unless I start being even worse at having good ideas.

Quovak posted:

I would actually really like to see somebody tackle TLA and eventually Dark Dawn as well, I just don't want to be the one to do them. A big part of it is that I don't really want to play TLA, especially since I never even had the nostalgia for it that I had for Golden Sun, but an even bigger part is that I doubt I could make it entertaining.

Quovak posted:

Really, I don't think a TLA LP would be nearly as entertaining for me or for you.

Quovak posted:

I will not be playing The Lost Age.

If Camelot has taught me anything, however, it's that consistency and remotely logical motives are to be avoided at all costs. Welcome back.


This is not the alphabet. Perhaps to prevent confusion, Camelot completely omits o, O, 0, 1, I, and l, while for some reason keeping i and j, not doing something sensible like distinguishing a 0 from an O with a slash through it, ignoring the actually easy to confuse k and K, etc. This probably sounds like I'm starting off this thread revival on a poor note with a bit of especially absurd nitpicking, but you have no idea how much you notice when you put in a 216 260 character password over six screens of this with a d-pad.

Alchemy wrought the base elements of humanity into thriving civilizations, like lead into gold. But in time, man's dreams gave birth to untold strife. Dreams of endless riches, of eternal life, of dominion over all that lived... Dreams of conquest and of war. These dreams would have torn the world apart if not for a few brave and wise men, who sealed away the power of Alchemy deep in Mt. Aleph's Sol Sanctum.

Putting aside the obvious problem with calling anybody involved in this series "wise", I fail to see how this acted as a solution to anything. The pursuit of wealth and long life isn't really a bad thing except inasmuch as it causes others to suffer, and if alchemy is actually a thing that's pretty much everywhere I fail to see why a world of immortal and permanently rich people would need to worry about anything bad coming about from war or dreams of greatness. I imagine that, after sealing away the stuff that gave people wealth and long life and realizing they still had the war and questing for power going on, these "wise men" looked around a bit sheepishly and the whole situation became sort of awkward.

Why are Isaac and Jenna the ones being implicated here? Garet actually touched the stones and Kraden was the one who sent us after them, so why do they get off without having an opening crawl blatantly lie about their family? Oh yeah, spoiler warning, Camelot still doesn't know how to set up a twist without lying to you in a way that's already unclear (did Jenna and Isaac have the same parents? Don't we know full well that Isaac's mom is very much alive? How do you screw up an expository text crawl?)

If these four jewels were used to fire the elemental lighthouses, the seal on Alchemy would be broken. Isaac and Garet set out to stop Saturos, rescue their friends, and return the Elemental Stars to their home in Sol Sanctum. They banded together with a young Wind Adept named Ivan and pursued Saturos and Menardi to Imil, a winter-locked town near Mercury Lighthouse. There, they met the guardian of the lighthouse, a Water Adept named Mia. With her, they pursued Saturos to the aerie high atop Mercury Lighthouse.

What I love about this crawl is that Camelot is not summarizing their previous game; they are directly telling you pretty much everything that happened in it that had any sort of impact at all. The only things they left are out are all the parts that had no bearing on anything, like 80% of the game, probably because the person assigned to write this did so off of memory and honestly couldn't remember what the point of that tree or the chinese mysticism caves even were.

Taking passage on a troubled ship, Isaac crossed the Karagol to Tolbi. He spoke with Tolbi's leader, a strange man named Babi. Babi entered Isaac in Colosso as a test of his powers. Isaac's Psynergy won Colosso and earned him Babi's trust.

Actually, I lost Colosso after being illegally entered and blatantly cheating, thus completely destroying the legitimacy of your town's primary tourist attraction while utterly failing to pass your test (which you actually claimed was a reward for passing an earlier test) in any way. On an unrelated note, the writing style of this opening suggests that one of Camelot's writers had just read a Dick and Jane book for the first time and decided to incorporate its fantastic sentence construction and writing style into his game.

In the town of Lalivero, Isaac learned that Saturos and Menardi had kidnapped a young girl named Sheba, whom they needed within the lighthouse. Isaac fought and defeated them atop the lighthouse, but he was too late--the beacon had been lit.

By this point, even Camelot's own script doesn't know why any of the end parts of Golden Sun happened and basically throws its hand up in the air and decides to just write down something. Incidentally, I'm straight copy-pasting this opening since Golden Sun's plot was not memorable in the least and we've probably already forgotten everything except that there was a lighthouse somewhere. Soon I'll return to my very, very heavy abridging.

Isaac went to Lalivero, where Babi asked him to find Lemuria and the remaining lighthouses. He gave Isaac a Lemurian ship to make the journey for the lost land.

Can you imagine how confusing this would be if you had never played Golden Sun? Not that it's even remotely coherent anyway.

This chapter of our story begins with Jenna, just before the beacon on Venus Lighthouse is lit...

Interestingly enough, this is referred to as "Book" Two, as there are enough words in this game to very easily qualify it as a book. In fact, the two Golden Sun games combined have a word count of about 160,000, making the overall word count of the Golden Sun story fall somewhere between A Tale of Two Cities and The Grapes of Wrath. That means that a man who actually made a living writing serialized stories and was quite literally paid by the word, whose writing style was this:

Charles Dickens wrote rather than posted:

Mr. Stryver having made up his mind to that magnanimous bestowal of good fortune on the Doctor's daughter, resolved to make her happiness known to her before he left town for the Long Vacation. After some mental debating of the point, he came to the conclusion that it would be as well to get all the preliminaries done with, and they could then arrange at their leisure whether he should give her his hand a week or two before Michaelmas Term, or in the little Christmas vacation between it and Hilary.

As to the strength of his case, he had not a doubt about it, but clearly saw his way to the verdict. Argued with the jury on substantial worldly grounds--the only grounds ever worth taking into account--it was a plain case, and had not a weak spot in it. He called himself for the plaintiff, there was no getting over his evidence, the counsel for the defendant threw up his brief, and the jury did not even turn to consider. After trying it, Stryver, C. J., was satisfied that no plainer case could be.

Accordingly, Mr. Stryver inaugurated the Long Vacation with a formal proposal to take Miss Manette to Vauxhall Gardens; that failing, to Ranelagh; that unaccountably failing too, it behoved him to present himself in Soho, and there declare his noble mind.

Towards Soho, therefore, Mr. Stryver shouldered his way from the Temple, while the bloom of the Long Vacation's infancy was still upon it. Anybody who had seen him projecting himself into Soho while he was yet on Saint Dunstan's side of Temple Bar, bursting in his full-blown way along the pavement, to the jostlement of all weaker people, might have seen how safe and strong he was.

had more restraint than the writers of this video game.

Most of TLA is going to focus on Felix, Jenna, and Kraden rather than the previous protagonists, which is an incredibly good decision that Camelot takes no advantage of at all. Instead of abandoning narrative deadweights in favor of starting afresh and actually handling some characterization for once, we get carbon copies of the first game's dynamics and absolutely no explanation for any of the nonsense that was Golden Sun's "plot". In fact, we're not even going to get any consistency. Here's the Quovak LP home game: Keep a running tally of every time these characters contradict themselves or the game.

Once we go down those stairs, we can't get back into the lighthouse. Maybe I should have stopped my brother...

Where's Felix? Why isn't he here with you?
He was worried about Sheba. He went to check on her.
He was supposed to be leading you out of here! I thought you would have been far from this lighthouse by now. Why are you still here?
We tried to stop Felix from going back up to the aerie.

Admittedly, the game can be a bit tricky, largely because all of the dialogue is so forgettable it's already slipped from your mind one line later. We're already at our first contradiction, however, as our characters mention how they tried to stop Felix a few lines after regretting that they didn't try to stop Felix. A Capcom lawyer would have a field day.

How like him. Once Felix gets an idea into his head, he rarely changes his mind.
Alex, what were you talking about just now? What did you mean when you said... "How unlike you"?
I was merely surprised to hear you expressing such concern, Jenna. Nevertheless, I'm impressed Felix went back...
Don't change the subject, Alex! What did you mean!? Are you saying that I'm insensitive!?
If that's what you heard, then I must have misspoken. Accept my apologies.
Who do you think you are, talking to me like that!?

In other news, our characters are five years old again. I would count as a contradiction Alex rambling to Jenna about nothing in a lighthouse immediately after telling Jenna to quickly leave the lighthouse, but this far into the series I'm too used to Camelot's... unique uses of dialogue. By this point I don't think I'd be surprised if Alex professed his out-of-nowhere undying love for Jenna and then told her 3000 words about how he likes eggs.

Did Isaac follow us to the lighthouse?
It would seem so.
If my brother goes back and finds Isaac, they're going to end up fighting.
Felix is a terribly rash young man, is he not?

Ten seconds ago it was established that Felix rarely changes his mind and is usually very consistent. This is the precise opposite of being rash. Weren't these two hostages? Why are they worried about the well-being of the person keeping them as hostages? Why is the fact that Isaac came to rescue said hostages a surprising occurrence and why did Felix send them away? Abandoning hostages and politely implying they might want to go to a ship seems like a terrible method of keeping hostages. I hate this game's writing so much.

Why are boys such fools?
He may be rash, but Felix is no fool. His good qualities outweigh his bad...
That's why I think Isaac would understand if we just talked to him. Why didn't I think of this before now? Please... Can't we go back up and talk to Isaac?

I think this is an attempt to make a concession to the gigantic elephant in the room at every part of this ordeal, albeit one that fails miserably because of the company that wrote it. You never once thought about talking to your best friend and confidante about what a family member is attempting to accomplish in light of said confidante wanting to stop and/or murder said family member? And you're prone to starting petty arguments over absolutely nothing while whining whenever something doesn't go your way? And you're meant to be a sympathetic protagonist?

I want to dispel one myth some people seem to believe about this game. To quote an anonymous thread poster whose name happens to rhyme with Namikaze Notato,

[Anonymous] posted:

I ended up liking the GS cast more simply because they had no personality; it was easier for me to project what I thought they were thinking and create personalities for them...

I firmly believe that nobody in this game can have a decent personality even projected onto them because of the sheer volume of times they contradict themselves and are forced to be absurdly unlikeable. The characters in this series are far from developed, but they aren't a blank slate either; they're a slate on which a seventh grader drew some penises and System of a Down lyrics.

I'm afraid that's not possible. He is an enemy. Our methods may differ, but you and I ultimately want the same thing...
To light the elemental lighthouses... Isaac and his friends would prevent this from happening. But fear not... They won't be able to defeat Saturos and Menardi.
Alex, why do you want to see the beacon lit so badly?

How do you differ in methods of lighting lighthouses? When did Kraden decide to be a partner rather than a hostage? How is there any information asymmetry here when Kraden and Jenna have been together since Sol Sanctum? How do you feel about reading an LP that's actually a game of Questions Only?

Once, Alchemy was commonplace throughout this world... With its power, mankind worked wonders across the land... I want to see that world restored once again, and... We've spoken long enough already. Let us continue this another time. We should leave the lighthouse now, before the beacon is fired...

I like to think of Alex as obviously bullshitting through every step of this process. He can teleport about a foot and skimmed the Wikipedia article on alchemy at one point, but he's basically "cool" in the same way as a terribly written John Hughes character and silently prays nobody will ever call him on the fact that he's really never accomplished or shown any degree of knowledge about anything at all.

The real reason for the pseudo-time-concern is that the statue that was pushed onto the anti-wall-electricity switch was actually made of cesium and gradually decaying. Either that or Camelot can't effectively work in sawtooths, but I'm going to stick with Occam's Razor for this one.

How unfortunate... It looks like an ambush. What should we do, Jenna?
Allow me to shoulder some of your burden. We regroup along the road leading away from Lalivero. Do you understand? [No]
It's quite simple, Jenna. The meeting place is in the direction opposite Lalivero.
Follow this road west, and take the path down through the canyon to the cave. On the other side of that cave, you will find a small peninsula called Idejima. We meet there.

Let me give you directions to the place you came from to get here so we can split up and meet in the same place having both gone the same direction. I would teleport you but I'm too busy leaning against things ironically and oh god please don't ask me to explain anything ever again.

How undignified... and how shameful. Jenna, now is your chance. Go to Idejima and wait for me. You mentioned backup from Lalivero? Let's go meet them together, shall we?

Yes, Alex is going away from Idejema to meet you at Idejema because he has to confront an army that isn't opposing him in any way and in fact actively does not want to fight and is guarding something he has no interest in. To facilitate this he's sending people who are maybe hostages (does Camelot even know at this point?) away with no supervision at all to fend for themselves to retreat back somewhere they don't know how to find despite having been there.

You know what, if you're looking for contradictions, just give yourself 367% of the points. You win the home game. Congratulations. Christ.

Time to backtrack through all the filler areas at the end of last game.

We also get random battles with innocent people and ants pretending to be Cassius Clay. As before, attacks get canceled if the enemy dies and the best strategy is spamming psynergy. The more things don't change in any appreciable way...

Here's something fun to think about. Last update (a month ago) Golden Sun gave us this line of dialogue.

A month ago Camelot posted:

I want you to look at that picture and then back at this one. Camelot wrote this. Camelot hired the people who wrote the first game to write another game. People who read the dialogue in the first game paid Camelot for another game.

I'll say that again: Many people bought the first game, read its dialogue, bought the second game, read its dialogue, and years later bought a copy of Dark Dawn to read its dialogue. If you are reading this thread, it is not unlikely that you have given Camelot more than $100 for the privilege of reading what its writers produced. Somebody made a well-staffed wikia so that they could write essays about this. Somebody paid Syrg so they could read this with a few more swear words attached.

Camelot is the video game version of Damien Hirst.

Jenna, it's over here! At first glance, it seems like a normal ship, but... There's something odd about it... It's missing... The thingie... that makes it go.

The Lost Age introduces a subplot about Kraden's method acting trying to get a lead role in the latest Joss Whedon show. Because it's a Camelot subplot, it will be promptly forgotten about in five seconds.

That Menardi! She tricked us by passing this dud boat off on us!
There's no trick. If this boat is a dud, how did it get here in the first place?
Oh, right.
It must have been the orb... I'm certain he said he could move the ship with it.

I wonder how this ship we know about works. I wonder if it works the way its owners specifically told us it works. I feel this is a useful thing to be concerned about despite the fact that somebody who pretends to know far more about this is meeting up with us within the hour. I am part of a well written series that is competently designed and deserving of its critical and commercial successes.

Jenna, Kraden! There you are. I see you've found the boat. We set sail as soon as the beacon has been fired, correct?

Mercury Lighthouse didn't react this way... What makes Venus different?

Is... is Camelot learning? Is Camelot actually having its characters ask reasonable questions so we as the audience can learn alongside the characters?

(Answer: No, it's Camelot and they wanted to write more words)

They also wanted to change the color of the boat between games for no reason except that the mere thought of consistency sends most of their designers into a seething rage.

Saturos and Menardi are gone... Another group came... They fought Saturos and Menardi and won.
Was it Isaac?
Isaac... Yes, I think that's what they called him... When the beacon was lit, the earthquake knocked me off the lighthouse tower.
Then what's my brother doing here?
He tried to save me from drowning...
Felix, once you'd saved Sheba, you must have swum out here, correct? You must have seen that this island was floating when you were swimming.

You might notice that Felix has very little to say here. For absolutely no reason except "Hey guys, we can be like Chrono Trigger too", Felix has suddenly become mute. Pretend he had a personality so you can pretend to be sad about how he won't have one anymore.

But what do we do now?
I have no idea. Nobody knows what lies beyond the Eastern Sea.
Unfortunately, I am a student of Alchemy, not geography...

Nobody ever took a boat out here? Or looked from a mountaintop? Kraden's never looked at a map? Nobody's ever drawn a map?

Oh, more forced and artificial conflict. This is how you get out of a cliffhanger ending, Camelot?

The earthquake must have caused it!

How does an earthquake make a tidal wave originating from afar and traveling towards the epicenter of the earthquake? I honestly believe I have put far more thought into this update than Camelot did to their game, and I'm the type of person who thinks toxx clauses and reviving threads for no reason are good ways to accomplish something.

The whole point of that tidal wave was to take away your boat. This whole thing is basically the pre-Tret sequence last game only the defense mechanism in question is deus ex machinas saving Camelot from having to construct logical obstacles and successes.

Where has Alex gone? He doesn't seem to be anywhere on the island. He might have gone to look for a ship. He wants to return Alchemy to its former place in the world. The remaining two lighthouses are unreachable by land. None remain to be lit across the Eastern Sea. We must go to the Great Western Sea...

Nice job suddenly knowing about what is and is not across the Eastern Sea despite what you said immediately before this. The inconsistency score is around eight thousand by this point, I think.

That's right! Our parents' lives depend on it!

Really? The parents who the intro told us died in the flood? This seems like it would be an important element to explain in some degree of depth. Feel free to elaborate on this in any way.

No? Alright then, never mind, continue devoting your word count to talking about nothing some more.

What about you, Sheba?
I have a reason to be traveling with you... It's my destiny...
But how can we trust you when we don't know why you're with us?
I'm sorry... But please, you have to take me! You must! You need me!I can control the wind, as Felix already knows... They kidnapped me for my powers... They needed them on their journey.

Why does Sheba want to come with us? Wasn't she kidnapped all of two days ago from somebody else who had kidnapped her? Wouldn't her absence have all sorts of ramifications for the Babi Lighthouse project, especially since the workers had just gotten the chance to see her at last and the purpose of Babi Lighthouse had been fulfilled (completely inadvertently by Isaac climbing a different lighthouse, but fulfilled nonetheless)? Does Camelot have any idea what happened in their last game?

I think, for now, that we should simply trust Sheba. Now, I am quite famished. Shall we get moving?

Thus begins the actual game as our island crashes into another island for no reason. In case you haven't been able to tell by now, this is not going to be a major improvement over the previous installment, and if anything it's quite a bit worse.

TLA offers a much greater freedom of movement, but there's still a very definitive correct sequence of events to be able to make any progress whatsoever. All this freedom does is offer more opportunities to become lost and run into a number of arbitrary dead-ends. In other words, TLA succeeds where its predecessor could only dream; Camelot has found a way to make an entire game into a maze.

That's the gameplay problem. The story problem is that there is absolutely no sense of direction, momentum, or anything to carry us through this early game at all. For as terribly as it botched the execution, Golden Sun at least had something going on: a group of villains, a goal (lighthouses), and a completely falsified and never elaborated upon hint of something that kind of might be at stake to some degree I guess. While TLA at least wastes about two fewer hours than its predecessor in getting started, no hint is given as to who any of these characters are or what they're doing, regardless of whether or not you played the first one. There are all sorts of things that would be really helpful to know. For example:

-How do these characters feel about Saturos and Menardi having died recently? What type of relationship did Felix have with them?
-With S&M dead, does Felix still want to light the lighthouses? What would he hope to accomplish in doing so and does he feel as though the quest is an urgent one? Is he confident in his ability to complete this task?
-Now that Felix has saved Sheba, what does he want to do with her? Return her home, use her to light the lighthouses in direct contradiction of what he was arguing at the end of the last game, inquire as to who she is and why he cared about her the other day, etc?
-What does Sheba herself wish to have happen and how does she feel about the current situation?
-What do Jenna and Kraden wish to accomplish? Do their interests align with Felix's? How about Alex's?
-If what they wish to accomplish is different from simply returning to Vale/finding Isaac, why do they wish to accomplish this new goal?
-What does Kraden know about the lighthouses and how does he feel about the current trend of lighting them?
-What type of interaction can be expected between Felix and his sister? Are they emotionally close or is it still a master-hostage dynamic?
-On a similar note, is the plan of using Jenna and Kraden as hostages to get the Mars Star still in effect? If not, what is the new plan and what role do Jenna and Kraden play in it? How much, if any, autonomy do they currently have?
-What role is Alex to play in whatever goal these characters are chasing after?
-If I talk to this NPC and he mentions that there are rocks, can I mind read him to find out what he's thinking about the rocks?

As is par for the course by this point, Camelot is going to answer exactly one of those questions.