The Let's Play Archive

Golden Sun

by Quovak

Part 40: Lemuria

Lemuria, all things considered, is pretty uninteresting. Basically, everybody is immortal and wealthy but they whine about urban decay and the loss of an age of glory because some of their columns are getting a little grimy. Somebody could probably extrapolate some pseudo-Marxist undertone about gated communities here, but as always it's completely unclear if we're supposed to sympathize with anybody or otherwise pretend we're feeling and thinking human beings during any of this.

Speaking of Camelot's lack of clarity, the exact same fountain that was in Tolbi gets me a new summon when I hit nothing. When this happened I realized I had been playing this game completely wrong, thinking that the goal was to hit as many animals as possible when in fact the goal is to get it into the center ring. This might have been avoided by actually reading some of those human-sized signs right next to me, but hell if I'm going to actively seek out more of Camelot's writing. I'm mad, but not
that mad.

Didn't we just promise that we weren't going to see the king? Also, I think I get what they were going for with that river, but it really doesn't work very well at all.

Word was sent, but I do not know if it has reached the king.

Five minutes ago, some guards posted:

King Hydros might be willing to reverse his order if we confer with him, wouldn't he? King Hydros has been seeking news from beyond the Sea of Time. He will want to see you. Wait here.
Enter freely and peaceably, but you are not permitted to enter the palace. If the king were to find out about this, we'd be in big trouble.

Ah, so they sent a message to the king about how they bypassed the king's orders because the king wanted to see people he wasn't supposed to know he was going to be allowed to see because he wouldn't want to see the people who were let in on the condition that they don't see the king so that they can see the king. Got it.

In ages past, Lemuria was a far lovelier, more grand, and more lively city. Over the countless years, our people have lost vigor, enthusiasm, creativity... Lemuria has fallen into slow collapse, a city that has lost its spark... Lemuria as you see it is only a shadow of the city of legend. King Hydros believes that our decay is related in some way to Alchemy.
But the senators are unwilling to take action! They're stubborn, and they fear any change... The senate usually opposes any new ideas or proposals introduced before it...

As always, the game basically talks around this point as a way of introducing artificial tension and then drops it when it would threaten to make things actually tense. I have no idea how the king fits into this process or how this government works at all, but it's not like that's an important element of writing about political gridlock, right?

Other things that are brought up and then immediately ignored include a law preventing anyone from leaving the city, because... sure. I would think they could save a bit of money on terrible guards by just erecting a wall around the city, and I would also think this would mean Piers should be treated as a fugitive rather than welcomed back with open arms, and I would further think that this continues to undermine the point of Lemuria having a fleet of ships, but I've already put more thought into this line than Camelot put into this game so I'll stop.

Why does a city of immortals with no disease have a graveyard No, I said I'll stop. Stopping commences now.

Are you the travelers that came here with Piers?

This is some dialogue.

I am sorry it has taken me so long to visit, Uncle. Where is my mother? We've been so busy since we arrived that I haven't had a chance to see her.
Piers... I'm sorry... Your return comes too late... After the tidal wave washed you to sea, your mother suddenly fell ill... The shock of losing you was too great for her poor heart. She held out hope for your safe return until the very end. Perhaps your mother gave herself up to ensure your survival...

That's one theory, yes. I prefer the theory that she died. Which also raises all sorts of questions not to be touched upon at all. This is just a way of forcing Piers to run off so that other characters can tell us things he should have told us, which itself raises questions we all know the answer to; that answer being "Camelot".

You came to Lemuria to learn more of Alchemy, did you not? Piers was right to bring you here. Piers told me his secret... The mission he was given by His Highness. Even had the tidal wave not carried Piers off, he would have left... Such was his fate. You look confused... Piers told you about this, did he not?

I know it's basically impossible to remember anything that happened as far back as Kibombo, but Piers told us in great detail all sorts of things about the mysterious powers he controlled, his short term goals, his magical hidden city, and probably his mother's maiden name and social security number just because it made for good banter. Piers was very obviously not trying to hide anything, which means he was either acting under the most uselessly specific non-disclosure agreement imaginable or Camelot is bad at writing scripts.

While Piers confronts his sorrow over the loss of his mother, you have some time... I shall write you a letter so that you can see Lunpa... Lunpa has locked himself in his tower and rarely comes out, but if I send him this, he will see you.

This naturally follows from the earlier parts of this conversation and is in no way a contrivance at all.

Also, Lunpa lives pretty much next door, so writing him that letter was probably somewhat unnecessary when they could have easily, say, knocked on his door.

If Piers brought you, you must be working to break the seal on Alchemy, right? [No] That doesn't make sense... He wouldn't have brought you to Lemuria if you weren't helping.

This might be a bit optimistic of a theory, but I think what they were going for with this Lemuria chapter is the same type of interconnectedness, majesty, and "Everything you've seen is part of something bigger" feel that Zeal offered in Chrono Trigger. They're failing.

What? Piers has told you nothing of his mission?
Our parents were kidnapped by the Fire Clan, far to the north. We are only firing the lighthouse beacons to gain their freedom...

Wow, good thing you waited to bring this up until such a relevant and opportune time. So much for that storm, I suppose. Given that this is actually a major plot point, I'm going to go back to asking incredibly basic questions:

When was this kidnapping done; right after the storm? Did S&M specifically plan to capture the parents of specifically these kids just so that three years later they could come back and coerce these kids into being hostages just so that they could take over the quest if S&M were to die? Wouldn't there have been a thousand easier ways of doing this (like recruiting people from the Fire clan, or coercing the people they actually kidnapped?) Why wasn't this their bargaining chip for getting Jenna to follow them way back here rather than revealing the existence of Felix? Why was this never revealed in the conversations between Jenna/Felix and Isaac? Wouldn't this encourage Jenna/Felix to be insubordinate? Why would they believe their parents were safe? How will they get their parents back now that S&M are dead? Why didn't they feel any sense of urgency with this?

Alternate thread title: Let's Make Hideo Kojima Look Like A Master Of Tight Plotting and Reasonable Motives. This is like MGS4 on bleach.

But that doesn't explain you, sir. You're clearly not related to these two. What are your goals?
Kraden joined us on this quest on behalf of Lord Babi of Tolbi.
Master Lunpa, the Babi we speak of is the same man you knew. I have discussed this with none but Felix, but... I have my own reasons for this quest. I thought it odd that Lord Babi should order me to research Alchemy. Long ago, before Alchemy's power was sealed... There were many civilizations as advanced and cultivated as Lemuria. At the moment that Alchemy was sealed away, most of those civilizations began to wane... Until eventually, they vanished. I have formed certain theories now, suggesting that this may be related to the seal on Alchemy.

Last game you didn't know about the elemental stars or how many elements there were. Also, I know this is tiring by this point, but how did you never have this conversation? How did you never at any point in lighting lighthouses with people who were lighting lighthouses discuss why you wanted to light them? How did you never tell Felix that he should hurry it up a bit?

And you only wanted to come to Lemuria to test your theories and see if they were true...

In order to test your theory that cities were great until we sealed alchemy, you went to a city that used to be great. Alright, that's a good start, but I think there's a vital step missing in your scientific analysis of this phenomenon.

If your theories are correct, the world itself will wane and vanish... Won't it, Kraden?

Not really; you could always build more cities or try actually maintaining the ones you have.

King Hydros and I, as well as others in Lemuria, hold the same beliefs that you do, Kraden. I think it best that you hear the rest directly from His Majesty, King Hydros.

Way back in update 1, when I was a younger and far saner man, I mentioned that these games are extremely redundant when they try giving you incentives to do things. By the time we head out from Lemuria our incentives for lighting the lighthouses will be:

1. To save our parents and loved ones who are being held hostage.
2. Because Alex, Karst, and Agatio are forcing us to.
3. To save the world, as relayed by S&M.
4. To replenish civilization, as relayed by Kraden.
5. By imperial mandate of the King of Lemuria.

I think by this point we are officially the most motivated people in Weyard by several orders of magnitude. So when are we going to actually see one of these lighthouses? I'll give you a hint: The answer is (still) not "next update".

Now we can enter the palace. Thread challenge: Try to actually chart the cause-and-effect of what we've done in Lemuria so far. I would change Lemuria to TLA but I want my challenges to at least be theoretically possible.

Evidence for the "Nobody cared what employees were writing" theory grows ever stronger.

Allow me to introduce my companions. This is Sheba... Jenna... Felix... And Kraden.
Kraden, your theories are correct. Our world is now on a path to destruction.

How did Piers get here before us? We went right here with Lunpa; Piers had no opportunity to learn that this meeting was going to happen and Hydros is apparently clairvoyant enough to discern a theory that was just revealed half a town away.

And who has decided this? You, Hydros? Some civilizations have vanished, surely, but that is the way of the outside world. Look around you: Lemuria remains unchanged!
Don't delude yourself. My most trusted scholars have reached this conclusion after extensive research. I sent Piers to confirm this for me...
So you admit it, Hydros! You violated the directive of the senate! You used the tidal wave as your chance to send Piers away, despite our commands!
You are incorrect. The tidal wave carried me away by chance alone.

I don't think that undermines the man's point. Still, it sure is a good thing this city wasn't harmed by the tidal wave that tore off and flooded a continent, and that Piers' boat completely survived a tidal wave that destroyed every single other boat. Imagine if this never would have happened and instead we had to do stupid things, like going to lighthouses. That would have been terrible.

Why and how do you have a holo-floor?

Unless my eyes deceive me, the continents have shrunk since the golden age...

I think (emphasis: think) this is the "Lost Age" referred to in the title. The game isn't really clear on that, and in all honesty I think "Lost Age" was just the result of throwing words together until you got something mystical-sounding and that described the result of playing through this game.

What do you hope to gain from foisting these lies upon our people?
Tell me, Piers... You were able to investigate this matter, were you not?
Thanks to Felix and my companions, I was able to travel much of the Eastern Sea. I found, in truth, that Lunpa's map is the more accurate of the two.
Time itself has stopped... Think of Weyard as a living, breathing being, possessing its own life force... The four elements are the nourishment needed to sustain this being.
Ever since Alchemy was sealed away, the world has been cut off from its nourishment. It has gone into a state akin to hibernation.

Or the first map could be wrong. Oh, there would be so much egg on my face.

When a bear sleeps through the winter, it needs only wait for spring to come...When it awakens, it can nourish its weakened body again...
But if spring never comes, the bear will eventually die...

You know, just once I would love for these characters to be wrong. Not wrong in the wishy-washy "Sorry there was only a bit of overlap with your new excuse" way, but wrong like "Shit, maybe we should have actually confirmed any of this instead of hastily jumping to unfounded conclusions. Pity about that world we just destroyed based on a cursory glance at an outdated map." Kraden's analogy isn't even right.

Last game posted:

When the four beacons are fired, Alchemy will be released, and our world, destroyed. My lord, you cannot possibly intend for these people to light the remaining beacons!?

Why does Conservato believe this? This would be a great avenue of questioning to explore, since from Felix's perspective there's absolutely no risk involved at any step of this process. Even from an omniscient vantage point, the only counter-argument raised by this point has been "A rock was somewhat misleading". Conservato's line should theoretically be a very big deal, and ideally we would actually give any weight to his argument or at least let he and Hydros settle the issue with a ceremonial beard-off.

I cannot stand by, knowing as I do that the world will wither and die if we do not act!
Would you put the world in even greater danger to satisfy your theories!? Then go, Piers... But if you do, say farewell... for you will never be able to return. You will be banished from Lemuria forever.

Should he already be banished from Lemuria forever?

All told, Conservato is actually fairly reasonable, since risking the world's destruction based on the evidence of some maps and a completely unprovable theory isn't the best plan, and Hydros did clearly break a ton of laws. Though it's also unreasonable since they seem to have records of when there was alchemy and the world was probably not dead. Never mind, nobody's reasonable; it's Golden Sun.

I'm not sure what is it, but it seems to contain some powerful Psynergy. It is a Psynergy that we Lemurians are unable to use. At least one of you should be able to use the Psynergy that this contains. If I am not mistaken, it is a powerful Psynergy we call Grind.

How do you know what it does and how well it does that if you can't use it? Damn, kicking these rhetorical questions is harder than I thought.

I like the alternate possibility that this is just a normal rock and Felix is going to vigorously rub it against the upcoming obstacles.

Using Grind, we can get a djinn in this other part of town that's mostly underwater. Parch won't work here, which is primarily noticeable because when NPCs talk about this part of the city they do so by whining about it shouldn't be the victim of a flood. Whatever, I'm terribly sorry that your city is ruined now that you aren't quite wealthy and immortal enough.

And that's Lemuria. The point of everything since Piers joined our party has been to set up a conversation between Piers and Kraden that they both ardently refused to have if not in Ancient Greece.

If you were playing through this game normally, that's the first time you would have heard anything about lighting the lighthouses being good. Don't think that means we actually learned anything though, since Karst and Agatio will make it clear that even under S&M we knew what lighting the lighthouses was trying to accomplish. Really, even the fact that this visit told us what little it did is incedibly forced, since Piers was apparently trying to confirm the theory that the Earth is a bear that has stopped time (which I hear is supposed to be the concept of the next game by Jonathan Blow). Had Piers actually succeeded in his goal (that is, had we not met him near a god clock statue), he would have presumably returned home, told the king, and then promptly done nothing about it at all.


Patter Song posted:

I'm not going to defend most of this (and I'm amazed you didn't mention the ungodly sound effect used when Hydros' holofloor starts showing the maps), but I will say that they specifically said that Lemurians are not immortal, just that they live for centuries and centuries before succumbing to old age (like Piers' mother did). Hydros is supposed to be the oldest Lemurian, and is ~1000, so...a lifespan of 800-900 years might be the expected?

Whoops; this is indeed my mistake. I think what threw me off is the fact that so many people refer to the Lemurian draught as making it so you "never grow old", but Babi actually explicitly says this last game:

There is death in Lemuria...But it only comes to those whose senses have failed from centuries of use.

Patter Song posted:

Also, Conservato does have an argument behind him that is given, the whole "when Alchemy was unleashed people warred and abused its power and brought Weyard to the brink of destruction, which is why we sealed Alchemy in the first place." Hydros' point is merely that humanity may be destroyed by lighting the lighthouses and setting the power loose again, but it will be destroyed for sure if Alchemy is left sealed and all of Weyard erodes off the edges of Gaia Falls.

This, however, is wrong. Here's every single line Conservato says in the entire game:

Hydros! Would you see me dishonored thus? They ought to present themselves to us!
Regardless of your reasons, sire, I will not go to them!
And who has decided this? You, Hydros? Some civilizations have vanished, surely, but that is the way of the outside world. Look around you: Lemuria remains unchanged!
So you admit it, Hydros! You violated the directive of the senate! You used the tidal wave as your chance to send Piers away, despite our commands!
It was a great age... A time when the world shined brightly.
Lies! Nothing but lies!
And who do you expect will believe such nonsense?
What are you saying?
Hydros, how can you make such outrageous claims? The world is not alive...
Do you have the answer, Hydros?
What!? Have you any idea what will happen if you set that evil loose upon the world again?
You know that it could bring about the destruction of the world, and yet you did it anyway?
When the four beacons are fired, Alchemy will be released, and our world, destroyed.

This is madness, Hydros! Does the threat of Alchemy mean so little to you? Would you put the world in even greater danger to satisfy your theories!? With only two of the beacons lit, I assume you intend to send Piers out again?
Then go, Piers... But if you do, say farewell... for you will never be able to return. You will be banished from Lemuria forever. You know our laws. Are you prepared for the outcome? I myself am disgusted by the whole matter. I take my leave of you, Hydros. But I warn you... I will NOT permit you to go through with this madness!

So no, Conservato seems to think that lighting the beacons will destroy the world directly, which is nonsense because he either lived or has access to records from people who lived when alchemy was released and not everyone died. It's also nonsense, however, to just completely ignore the chance to ask him questions about why he feels this way.


It's supposed to be some paradise but since Alchemy was lost, it's just existing, not really doing anything, and wholly boring.

Game has a lot of faults but [That Lemuria was underwhelming] was intentional.

I agree with this, but I think they needed to do two things to make it work: First, give us a point of reference that shows us the city was great rather than just telling us it was great, and second, actually connect the city's decline with the fall of alchemy. As it stands Lemuria doesn't seem to have anything to do with that; it's in disrepair because nobody bothers maintaining their columns or putting a new coat of paint anywhere. It's also strange because it seems like they're trying to convey both majesty and decay at the same time, and they aren't talented enough to present that nuanced portrayal without just doing a mediocre display of both.