Part 38: Trident Piece #3Bad news, this page is now ridiculously overloaded with images. Good news, things actually happen this update!
This update is going to introduce a new mechanic to the LP: Praise. For example, this dialogue is actually a clever way of poking fun at the game's meaningless yes/no options while not jumping up and down and calling attention to itself.
Then there are cave ruins and my praise is gone.
This update contains the best part of the series so far, but it also hosts the worst / second-worst dungeon and is still Golden Sun. Don't expect miracles.
The ruins that are caves are a maze. Odds on the next cave also being a maze are currently 863,490 : 1
Alas, I already used my Ulysses joke 27 updates ago. If only I had the foresight to not play this game.
Next destination: the white dot (above the blue dot) up top. Just to the West, on the other, larger beach, is Champa, though you wouldn't know because dots don't appear on your map until you've already stumbled across them. Have I mentioned yet that navigation in this game isn't fun?
Fuck this dungeon.
Ankohl Ruins is either the worst or second-worst dungeon in the game, depending on how you're counting Air's Rock (if you include all the backtracking to get weapons and the summon, Air's Rock is worse. In terms of just playing what you have to, Ankhol "wins"). Having played through both games by this point, I can safely say that playing through this dungeon was the least fun I had with either Golden Sun, and I can't help but theorize that, because of its tedium and appalling design, this was supposed to be the actual Gaia Rock but there was some mistake over where the entrances led.
First in reused tileset land, there's a jumping maze dotted with dozens of ivy walls. Most of them don't cover doorways at all, and most of the ones that do lead to empty rooms with empty chests. Making people blindly waste time is not a puzzle.
What did I just say?
It's worth reiterating that there's absolutely nothing in-game alluding to the order in which to tackle all of these dungeons. Also, Camelot, that isn't how graphics work.
Restore a little bit of hunger
Is this dungeon a maze? Let's ask the people who actually like this game.
GS Wiki posted:
This dungeon-style location is definitely one of the larger, more complex, and easy-to-get-lost-in dungeons in the game because of the intertwining nature of the dungeon's layout, which often encourages the player to cast the Retreat Psynergy once they solve a puzzle in a specific room so that they may then reenter the room from a different entrance and go into the newly opened exit. There are also many rooms with multiple entrances and exits.
Yep, it's a maze. Good to know. (This is a dead end)
This dungeon takes forever, is only difficult because there are no landmarks and it's absurdly easy to get lost, is completely unmemorable except for that fact, and is part of an already overlong sidequest that serves no purpose in the game. There's no video because I'm done.
Attempt at Praise: I actually really like these sweeping views some of the dungeons give you at the end. It gives you a nice actual sense of accomplishment and it's a cool way for the game to show off its visuals.
Attempt at Balanced Portrayal: Ankohl Ruins is not very good.
Praise #3: Champa has beautiful sunbeams. It doesn't make any sense to put this graphical effect here because it gives a sense of a beautiful and pristine paradise while we're repeatedly told that everyone here is starving to death and poor, and a minor graphical touch is probably the least legitimate thing possible to praise in a game, but those are some beautiful sunbeams. I'll stop now.
What modern city would be complete without a network of caves? Amazingly, these caves are not a maze; they are in fact laid out in a decently navigable if ridiculous multi-story fashion. Despite making me lose my Golden Sun betting game, Champa is already turning out to be my favorite city thus far.
Talking around reveals that this old woman can forge our trident (I would think that would be done via Sunshine, the actual blacksmith, who lives alone in an otherwise useless town that connects with the other key component of entering Lemuria and is relevant to the game solely due to his ability to forge things, but Camelot). She won't talk to anybody until Briggs is back, so we get to continue the proud tradition of this pirate subplot being given more focus than any of our characters or our actual goal.
Here, I found this rough draft of TLA's design document:
Right then, leaving Sunbeam-land...
We meet Alex, and we get to watch the most amazing cutscene Camelot has ever created. Right now, we're about to see something extraordinary. We're going to see a plot in TLA.
Alex? Who is Alex?
Alex is a Water Adept. We had been traveling together, but he left us when we landed on Indra.
Ah, and I see you've made a new friend! You have been busy, haven't you? I expect you thought you'd never see me again!
What do you want with us now, Alex? Or did you forget you were the one who abandoned US?
My, aren't we a bitter bunch? And I was just trying to help you with your little task.
We have no need of your help. We can light the lighthouses without you.
As always, we're arguing the opposite of what we argued last time we talked to Alex, when the entire reason we became angry with each other was that we wanted him to help and he didn't. How did Alex even get here given the whole "one boat" thing?
What is this, Alex? What's going on?
What's going on is Alex is demonstrating his remarkable foresight once again!
Oh, have you not have the pleasure of an introduction?
I am Agatio. Let's see... That guy's Felix, and the girls are Jenna and Sheba, which makes him... Kraden. They look like an unreliable bunch of ragamuffins.
You are Piers? We met you before, when you were being... detained.
Ah! You saw that!
(Kraden's role in the game, etc.)
In fact, I was even thinking of borrowing his ship at one point.
You would steal someone's boat? That's so typical, Alex!
Jenna, you're currently in a town of pirates. Stop pretending you have worthwhile things to say.
Yes! Our patience is beginning to wear thin!
If you waste much more of our time, we'll take those Elemental Stars and do it ourselves!
Okay, Karst and Agatio are obviously shoehorned-in villains who serve absolutely no purpose and accomplish nothing, but this exchange right here already makes them thousands of times better at this than Saturos and Menardi ever were. Karst even has a personality, albeit a one-dimensional one, and I can empathize with her feelings towards our progression so much!
I am, of course, opposed to their line of thinking. My experience with Saturos and Menardi suggests that, while they were fierce warriors... They were somewhat lacking when it comes to solving the mysteries of the lighthouses.
You might notice that this is actually good writing. To directly quote the notes I took while playing this chapter, not expecting anything except more wastes of time: "Holy shit. When did Camelot learn how to write clever things? This is fucking amazing."
Are you suggesting they were simply brutes, incapable of logic and intelligence? And are you saying the same of us!?
I'm afraid so...
Then why have we come all this way looking for Felix?
I merely wanted to confirm that he and his companions had not forgotten their quest. I also wanted to introduce Felix to the two of you.
Why would you want to do that?
With Saturos and Menardi gone, you probably felt very little pressure to complete your task. I cannot have that. I felt another pair might... How shall I put this... Provide you with the proper incentive.
Stop being well written! It's too uncharacteristic! It will only lead me to further disappointment when other writers take over again.
Okay, maybe this isn't as good as I think it is. Like... why didn't you tell us this the last few times we met up? What were you trying to accomplish in working alone if you can't light the beacons and don't want to? Why didn't you ever talk to your partners about any of this?
(Alright, this story still makes no sense, phew. I was getting worried there).
But we actually have a legitimate sense of what's going on and an impetus to complete a clearly-defined goal; just imagine if this scene wasn't a dozen hours into the game!
Is that some kind of threat?
Take it as you wish. I just wanted to provide you with the proper encouragement.
Spoilers: In a plot twist of Shyamalanic proportions, Alex turns out to be Piers with his hair down.
I suppose we will let you go today...
But we will always be nearby... pushing you to make your way to Jupiter Lighthouse swiftly.
I look forward to seeing you soon, Felix, somewhere very near Jupiter Lighthouse.
Ah, what a pity. Your Lord Babi has at last succumbed to the ravages of time.
Well, that was fun, but back to terrible writing. Let's kill off a major character offscreen to spontaneously abort the first game's entire plot hook; that's how good stories work.
Do not mistake me! We had no hand in Babi's passing. However, the people of Tolbi may be under the impression that our presence led to his death. May we meet again.
There's no point to this revelation other than to show that, over the course of the first game, we accomplished absolutely nothing and completely failed at the two tasks we had. Hey, now it's just like this game!
So the only reason Alex came here was to threaten us?
And to bring us news of Babi's death, despite the fact that we asked for no such news!
Why are you upset about this? Babi kidnapped you and enslaved everyone you knew and cared for so he could become immortal; you should be relieved or at worst indifferent about this news, not mad at Alex for politely informing you.
If Kraden undertook this quest on behalf of Babi, then he no longer has any need--
Oh. Of course! Your orders were to find Lemuria, right, Kraden?
That's right. But if Babi really has died, you're free to go where you will, Kraden.
That's not true, Sheba. Certainly, my original reason for researching Alchemy was for Lord Babi, but this is no longer solely for research... Now is not the time to tell you about it all... It's... far too complicated.
Ah, good old narrative cheating again. This game scared me for a minute.
Next time, we ignore the plot and continue trying to go to Lemuria instead. When I said there was a plot you didn't actually get your hopes up, did you? You should know this by now; that's one of the worst mistakes you can make when playing a Camelot game.