The Let's Play Archive

Golden Sun

by Quovak

Part 29: The Best Dungeon In The Game

In true Golden Sun fashion, your choices have ended up not actually mattering, I found a good set of songs that I feel really contextualize how I feel about this dungeon. The lyrical appropriateness works well in place of commentary, and I feel the sheer intensity and passion of the second really reflect how I feel about Golden Sun.

You might be wondering about that "In place of commentary" bit. The fact is, Air's Rock needs no commentary. Air's Rock needs to simply exist. Furthermore, last night I received a challenge.

Cymbal Monkey posted:


It has come to my attention that you are still loudly yelling about games while having terrible ideas about LPing them. It has also come to my attention that, despite having said you would stop relying on poor gimmicks to supplement your poor ideas, you have been entertaining thoughts of pretending that you're subject to some arbitrary challenge forced on you by a third party. On an unrelated note, I must emphasize that I, Cymbal Monkey, am currently and without any prior warning/communication sending you this PM.

Well, all that's about to change. You've insulted my own terrible ideas and enjoyment of Belgian game companies long enough, and I'm going to continue standing for it while issuing a completely unrelated challenge: I bet you couldn't even go a whole update without criticizing the game you're LPing!

You're a one-trick pony. Your style is unversatile. You have no friends and never will. You're probably ugly.

Sincerely, your bestest friend in the whole wide world,
-Cymbal Monkey

Keeping that in mind, and in the interest of keeping things fresh, here are some of my favorite things about The Lost Age:

1. Nonlinearity. I've complained about this a few times, but in all honesty I think it's a vast improvement over the hyperlinearity of GS1. Really, if you had more direction about your goals, the open nature of the world would be fantastic. It's much more interesting than just running along a straight line, and having to keep tabs on the world and know when to return to different areas makes the game much more engaging.

2. Gameplay/Story Fusion. Most RPGs have overworld interaction, combat, and cutscenes bear pretty much no relation to each other. Golden Sun, however, actually integrates its psynergy mechanics in such a way that exploring a town uses the same mechanics as exploring a dungeon or fighting a boss. GS allows you to interact with the environment much more than most RPGs do, and the way you do this is reflected in cutscenes and related to the broader story.

3. Djinn Collecting. The basic idea of djinn is that, if you slow down and explore the nooks and crannies of the world, you can grow much stronger than you would by just speeding through. This is far from revolutionary, but you're encouraged to really explore every town you go to and play further in dungeons than you normally would. The constant incentive to always explore places you otherwise wouldn't, like inconsequential sections of the world map, is another very cool way of connecting with the world and getting rewarded for learning your way around the game.

4. Visuals. Golden Sun had some absolutely amazing sprite work, and TLA polishes the visuals even further with a lot of neat effects like having the sprites shrink down while descending ladders or falling through holes. Movements are incredibly fluid, environments and backgrounds are well-detailed, and the few visual problems that do stick out only do because the rest of the game is so much better than most of the SNES-era aesthetic it plays with. Camelot isn't afraid to stretch the limits of its sprite-based graphics.

5. Unpredictability. It's almost impossible to tell where the story will go next, and character interactions are constantly unique and surprising. Rather than resorting to safe and cliche ideas or mindlessly copying classics such as FF6 and 7, Golden Sun constantly subverts expectations and leaves you wondering what on earth will possibly happen next.

6. This Dungeon. Air's Rock is a fantastic dungeon that does just about everything right. The long, seemingly endless hallways and exhaustive climbing segments build a tremendous atmosphere, fully giving the player the sense that the characters are being forced to endure a long and arduous journey. The maze-like design, which encourages you to revisit similar areas several times over in order to collect the treasures within, refuses to allow mindless wandering and instead makes it vital to keep your wits about you. The dungeon is positively brimming with content, with my optimized runthrough having taken an extraordinary 37 minutes to complete. Air's Rock is one of the most memorable parts of this entire series, and as such I feel that to comment on it would simply detract from the experience. Instead, I will present the experience entirely unedited, except for the edits I did to make it run at four times the normal speed with different background music. Once again, there will not be a single piece of criticism during the runthrough of this monument to Camelot's level design and creativity; it will simply be presented, and you can draw your own conclusions about its glory. Air's Rock, I feel, deserves to be seen in full.

I even broke out my WACOM tablet and my copy of Adobe Photoshop CS5 so that I could make one of those professional looking mirror-selection images all the popular LPers use.

And don't worry, this is not the last you'll see of Air's Rock; I feel I would be remiss if I only dedicated one update to something this defining.