The Let's Play Archive

Golden Sun

by Quovak

Part 43: Jupiter Lighthouse

Welcome to Jupiter Lighthouse. It's a cave.

These absurdly gigantic purple glyph pipe things are the triggers for being able to hover, positively ensuring that the power will never be successfully integrated into normal navigation or used as anything except a needlessly flashy keyring puzzle. Functionally speaking, there is absolutely no difference between the power that lets you fly when you're on the right spots, the power that lets you become sand when you're on the right spots, the power that lets you tie ropes when you're on the right spots, etc. Hell, I don't think there's any difference between psynergy roadblocks in Golden Sun and colored keycards in Doom except that the hellspawn spent less time telling you what doors were.

Once you get past the cave part, the actual lighthouse is by far the best-looking dungeon in the game. I don't understand the laser, statues, random unconnected bits of raised floor, wall textures that don't match up, and what is either a non-continuous Archimedean screw or a rather apathetically completed model of DNA structure, but I'll give some credit to whoever finally refused to use the rock and column tileset in location #519.

The downside of these graphics is that this whole dungeon can be fairly confusing, and I have absolutely no idea what they were going for here. Don't step into the... frozen... tar... gravel... swamp... Felix. Better push some logs again instead.

There's also a fairly important emphasis on Cyclone teleporting. In case you've forgotten, Cyclone teleporting has never been explained and has nothing in common with the other uses of Cyclone, so if you never revisited the Gabomba Statue you get to once again progress through the game by brute force using every power you have available and possibly consulting tea leaves.

Well, that wasn't too bad.

Except somebody corked the lighthouse. As stupid as this is, it might have been worth considering for the other lighthouses the sealers didn't want to be lit no matter what; those wise men did not collaborate very well.

We have to run all over this lighthouse to uncork the top, and step one in getting around is to turn on a bunch of hover-plates by hovering in place long enough. Yeah, I really don't get this dungeon's mechanics at all.

And we can use the newly-formed hover-plates to get...

Camelot, I was joking about the Doom thing earlier. You're not nice.

This lighthouse is actually three lighthouses, as is not even remotely reflected by the reused and recolored lighthouse sprite on the world map. Crossing between them gives us a small platforming challenge as we try to avoid tornadoes. So nice of them to put barriers here, because they care about your safety while you're being pelted with cyclones. Just not when you get to the top of the tower that makes earthquakes.

Oh, and the lighthouse is a maze.

(This is not a very imposing army.)

Up top is a statue that illogically lets us progress if we complete a block pushing puzzle. This dungeon is not pulling its punches.

We could probably slip the Jupiter Star underneath that, you know.

I will give this lighthouse credit for not just sticking to one or two principle gimmicks like most dungeons. It uses at least 8!

It can also get fairly esoteric, which I guess is a good thing...? For example, the game expects you to ride lasers, which I've heard is typically discouraged in most settings.

You also pretty much need to use a guide, since this dungeon is incredibly complex. It is relatively light on bullshit, though. All things considered, it's one of the better dungeons in the game, but that says far more about its competition than it does about good design principles.

Eventually its design seems to be inspired by copious amounts of psylocibin. This room is built on avoiding gusts of wind (again), but this time you're in the air (which is the exact same thing as being on land but without the ability to run). Next on the Camelot Variety Hour: It's Air's Rock again, but this time the backgrounds are green.

Eventually the lighthouse is fully uncorked. So, after a bit of backtracking...

Useless characters! How I haven't missed you in the least!

Is that... It's Isaac and the others!
Isaac? Isn't he a friend of yours, Felix?
They both come from Vale, and regardless of what Isaac believes, they must be allies now!

What, you thought there would be a reason for us to get together? Nope, same town, new game, all as is forgiven. I especially love Kraden outright refusing to consider them as having any autonomy in the matter.

This is one of my biggest disappointments with The Lost Age, because if nothing else I at least thought Camelot would get some mileage out of the perspective flipping. Done well, or at least in a form that actually affected something, this could have been an audacious way of breathing life into a cliche and unmemorable plotline. Instead, it's been a complete repeat of Golden Sun 1 but with any sense of direction and momentum utterly drained. The switch would have been more dynamic if it consisted of Isaac getting a hat.

But Isaac and the others came all this way just to try and stop us!
But didn't you hear that? It sounded like a cry for help... What if they're in trouble?

The broader expression of that disappointment is that Camelot didn't even bother to address one of the easier things they could have: homogenous characters. For once, we have an actually varied assortment of backstories that have good reason to play a role: Felix and Jenna were both friends with Isaac but have a three-year difference in how they view him, Sheba has exclusively seen him as the enemy, and Piers hasn't seen him at all. This contrast could have been used to bring about interesting interplay, but as before every line of dialogue could easily have been randomly assigned and nobody has anything even resembling a consistent outlook or plan. What Camelot should have done is take advantage of the few inadvertently decent parts of their narrative to patch up the holes from the bad parts. While I'm asking the impossible, they also should have fixed the national deficit and given everyone trips to the moon.

As I said way back in Update 1, Camelot never had any reason for making a silent protagonist except that it had been done by better games. In case you needed any further proof of that, Isaac now has Felix's old vocal cords. No, he is not going to use them to say anything worthwhile.

It's no use! I can't pull you up, Garet! I'm not strong enough! Isaac, please! You've got to save Garet!
This doesn't look good... We have to save Garet, and fast!

(This is Isaac. This is Isaac's role in the game.)

Your friends will have to take care of themselves. You have a little debt to repay. Our town hangs on the brink of extinction. And the seal placed on Alchemy is responsible!
We shall bring Prox back from the edge, and then all the people of Weyard will kneel before us!

Do people even know what Prox is? I mean, good for you trying to save your town, but I think you might be a bit optimistic in your expectations.

And Felix was trying to help you?

How do you know that Felix is here? How do you know that Felix is alive? The last time you saw him he was diving off a tower into the ocean, presumably with the star that you're currently trying to stop the use of (maybe?). As far as you know, the lighthouses are completely safe and you have no reason to be hanging around one. Hell, weren't you trying to go to Lemuria?

You and I both, Agatio. You and I both.

And we don't care, so long as he lights the beacon on Jupiter Lighthouse.
I hope you don't think we're afraid of a fair fight, two on two...
I'm sorry if I misled you, but we have a third... A Water Adept... Alex! Did anyone see where he went?
Forget about him! Honestly, I was planning to do the same to him that I'm about to do to them! My only regret is that I won't be able to wipe that sneering smile off his face.
Felix! Agatio and Karst are attacking Isaac and the others!
I'm disgusted that Karst would set a trap for them. It's dishonorable!

That's a terrible trap. Make them all fall. Or kill them. Or hide one of the keys. Why are either of those groups even here?

Alas, Felix will not be doing a daring Indiana Jones swing across, though he totally could and in fact did so earlier in this dungeon.

And you're sure that's ALL you're going to do? I know that if you leave Isaac behind, you'll regret it. You're not like me. You can't simply discard someone who is no longer of use to you. Well, you'd better hurry if you still hope to save them.

I like what they're going for here, but it really doesn't work. What is Alex trying to do? Seriously; we're almost at the end of this series and I don't know anything about him or even if I'm supposed to want him to succeed. Apparently he isn't going to help the people he specifically hired, but by this point it seems less like a Revolver Ocelot "I'm playing everyone so that they think I'm playing everyone in a slightly different way" and more like a 16-year-old blowing off his chores because Family Guy is on.

There you go! Consider it a gift. You can still make it. Go on...

Before we leave, we can mind read Alex. So far he's pretending to help two of the three groups involved here, so naturally his inner thoughts are just going to make this even more of a mess than it already is.

So why did you trap her? Why did you hire K&A? How about this: Tell Mia that Felix died and the lighthouses are safe. Awesome; you're protecting her. Don't do whatever you're doing now.

Then we get what I think may be Kraden's worst line in the game. We walk out here and then cut to a mock battle sequence.

We, both players and characters, watch Isaac get killed. Then, about ten seconds after resuming normal animation:

And that's Kraden. That's Kraden's role in the game. (Yes I already used this joke this update. Shut up, it fits)

They're going to kill Isaac!
No, they aren't! I'm not about to let that happen!
None of us are, Jenna!
Felix? What's going on?
Be grateful! We just did you a favor! You haven't lit the beacon yet, have you? And after all we've done to help you!
We're going to light to beacon right now...
But we're not leaving Isaac behind.
Oh, great... Are you going to betray us now? Agatio, if we fight Felix now... we'll be destroyed.

How is this a betrayal? We've talked to you once. We never requested your help. We aren't collaborating. Your goal was basically to be a gun to our head to get us to go to a lighthouse. You succeeded. Good job. Now stop doing things.

Because they had a Jupiter one? On the Jupiter lighthouse? That amplifies Jupiter? Not only is that line of reasoning idiotic, it doesn't even support what happened. They weren't powerful; you just annihilated them ten seconds ago.

Isaac killed your sister! Where is your anger!?
I am filled with rage, but not so much as to be blinded by it. Do with Isaac as you will.
But swear this oath to us: if we leave now, you will light the beacon's fire. [No] We do not have time to wait for you to save Garet!
And be sure to bring with you the Mars Star that Isaac carries on him. Take the Mars Star, or we'll be forced to make you!

Thank you, villains. Thank you.

Go on, Felix. Take it. I don't know why you're doing this, but I trust you... Take the Mars Star.

Why are we hesitating? We clearly want to light the beacons, and this isn't going to hurt Isaac at all.

A question for Isaac during all of this: Why on earth do you trust him? You have talked to him three times in the last three years. He's caused a ton of destruction to innocent people and has your mentor and best friend "hostage". He's going to destroy the world. I don't understand any of the logic here. I mean, what just happened is that we agreed to light the lighthouse in exchange for letting our enemies live, which makes me further think that nobody in this series knows how negotiations ought to work. Everybody in this scene is arguing the opposite of what they should be arguing; if only this were anywhere near the first time.

Ultimately, Piers and Felix go up to the aerie while the others try to help Garet and Mia (by staring at them and shouting encouraging cheers, I suppose). Oh, and the writing is going to get worse.

Well, even with the uncorking business that was relatively simple. There's absolutely no cause for any conflict here at all, but Camelot is a slave to never having an original thought at all so time to force a mid-game an 85%-game boss fight.

We have ignited the beacon... The third lighthouse is lit... Now let us go...
I don't think so...

You just told us to take the Mars Star. Why are you making this needlessly complicated and stupid?

You see, you've betrayed us once already... And now that Jupiter Lighthouse is lit, I'm afraid we have little use for traitors.

By doing what? We did this to prove we didn't betray you. We clearly have no qualms with helping you at all. You are the second-worst villains.

Poor dear... You look puzzled. Mars Lighthouse is in Prox.
We've got the Mars Star! We don't need you anymore!
That means it's time to die, Felix!

Why? Why are you forcing this conflict? You going to Prox is mutually beneficial. We have the exact same goal and no reason to oppose you at all. You have no reason to worry about us stopping you, and even if you did the worst possible way to prevent this would be to intentionally start a conflict. There's absolutely no way you will be better off from having done this. You're even engaging us with a Mercury adept.

But what will happen to Felix's parents?
We keep our promises! Once all four lighthouses have been lit, we shall release them!
We would never do anything as terrible as breaking our word... as you have done so casually.

You might think that we're going to have a two-on-two battle, and that the incredibly contrived (does it count as contrived if they don't even pretend there's a reason?) party separation is a forced way to accomplish this. Not in the slightest, as a battle like that might actually have been interesting. It's just a method for Camelot to put words into boss battles since they realized those were the only places without enough words.

Don't worry, Felix! I'm here to help!

The entry of other party members after a few turns is the only even vaguely interesting thing of note. Like most faux-important bosses, they basically have one attack with five different names, and the winning strategy boils down to is mashing A.

By the time Sheba arrives, the two sides have decided to simplify this "conflict" by reducing it to a stylish pose-off. Sheba, however, will have none of this and instead proposes murder.

Isaac and the others are safe! Now let's take care of these two rats!

Djinnfest is Camelot's attempt at game balance, where the revelations that djinns and summons were stupidly overpowered and that the class system was never worth exploiting are remedied by giving all late-game bosses the ability to mess with your djinn configurations largely at random.

It's still not enough to add difficulty to Golden Sun.

But think: what happens to your parents if neither we nor Saturos and Menardi return?

If Karst is not bluffing... If you kill them, all your efforts will have been for naught. Do you understand, Felix? If that happens, Isaac will suffer the same fate you do...

I have revived them.
Why!? Are you going to make us fight them again?
Don't worry, Jenna. Look at them... They can barely walk right now. Do not worry about us... We'll just take the elevator.

I just want to recap what Alex is doing here.

Alex recruited us to help him light lighthouses, then refused to help us light lighthouses, then hired people to force us to light lighthouses, then abandoned the people that he hired in favor of helping us defeat them, then regretted not helping a different group of people that he trapped, then helped the original people he hired after his interaction with us was too helpful, and is now breaking up a conflict he directly caused in such a way that none of the three sides were ultimately helped.

It's not as though writing Alex like this is easy. In fact, it seems like this is substantially harder than just rewriting Kefka and having Alex poison water systems and kill his allies when it becomes convenient, and that Alex would have actually worked as a villain we could reasonably understand. Hell, copy/paste all of the least comprehensible parts of Metal Gear Solid and create an Alex who pretends to have a hatred of satellites because of his recessive genes and you'd still end up with a more convincing villain for less effort.

At least Karst and Agatio are taking this so well. "Sorry I hired you then didn't help you while you got killed by people who betrayed you. Let's just ignore them. Care to join me on the lift?"

We want to know what's going on!
It's all quite complicated, Isaac.
Look, I don't think any of us are in any shape for another fight right now. We should get ourselves back to Contigo and sort things out there.

So, Contigo. I take it we'll still never get an explanation for why it was a better idea to walk a few miles rather than just having the conversation where we already were, or why Mercury didn't cause an earthquake besides "Camelot's making this up as they go along".

What can we say, Isaac? Has Felix ever harmed you? Have we ever fought against you?
Felix's been avoiding you, but he never had any intention of fighting you or anything...

Last Game posted:

We may not have the strength to protect Sheba after this. You must take Sheba to the ship without fail!
No. I cannot leave you to fight them alone.

Felix betrayed his hometown, Vale... That's why he hasn't been able to face Isaac. Felix had hoped to play the villain alone, without getting Jenna or me involved... He conspired to steal the Elemental Stars and fire the beacons of the four lighthouses.

I'm pretty sure you did that. Glass houses, just saying.

Why were you helping them?
Our parents' lives were at stake! We had to help!

Remember how I've frequently complained that these characters would undoubtedly have at least attempted to bring this up? I'm almost positive none of this was planned when they wrote GS1's conclusion.

Last Game again posted:

They're gone, Felix! You don't have to light the beacons anymore...
Yes, I do. If I don't light the beacons... It's no use talking about it...Just wait and see!

That's how our protagonist handles a multiple hostage situation when addressing the hostages' kids. I'm pretty sure almost all of this is entirely his fault.

Parents? But... your parents died three years ago, in that storm...
In fact, nobody was killed by the boulder that day!

But what about Isaac's dad? And Jenna and Felix's parents? I thought they'd died that day!
I'm not so sure now...
Yes! If Felix survived, Kyle and the others may have as well...

You just said that everyone survived! Now you're saying that one person survived so other people might have survived. As usual, how is there information asymmetry within your group when you've been traveling with Felix since Sol Sanctum? Does nobody in this universe ever make non-psynergy related smalltalk?

There's more to it than that. He had another reason to light the lighthouse beacons. Unless the lighthouse beacons are all lit, Weyard will eventually be destroyed.

We need to save these three people! It's vital! I'll do anything to save them! Also the world will end. But there's three of them!

How much of this did Felix actually know? They're using the past tense to show that this was a reason back in GS1, but if that's the case then Lemuria told us nothing. Did Saturos and Menardi know? Why didn't we have this conversation sooner and why are we now having it poorly?

But... once the lighthouses are all lit, you said the world would end anyway!
That... might be true, too... But if we do nothing, the world will definitely end. Nothing is certain. There is no way to prevent the world from reaching its natural end. However, we can fight to save the world from withering away due to the actions of men.

Wouldn't the better gamble be to let the landmasses shrink, since that clearly isn't happening on an apocalyptic timeframe and could be reversed very easily? Why didn't we tell Hydros about the possibility of lighthouses killing everything? Don't we still know this wouldn't happen since alchemy used to exist and people were alive during it?

And, Felix, you knew this? You were helping them because you knew what was happening? [No] You just figured it out along the way, huh? That's still pretty darned smart.
Why did you wait so long to tell me? I would have helped you...
You wouldn't have done it before, Isaac... It would have meant violating the sacred teachings of Vale.

Yeah, Isaac would never do something that violated Vale, like, say, breaking into a sanctum and stealing priceless alchemical artifacts for people. But now of course he would, which Kraden definitely realizes given the whole one time they've talked in the interrum. Can we just agree that Kraden knows absolutely nothing?


Now with more M's and more dramatic entrances! There's a pulp law that says to have a character burst through the door whenever you've written yourself into a corner; GS takes this advice as gospel.

I'm Hamma, descendant of the Anemos. I was born in Contigo, and I inherited the power of the Anemos.
Hey... We just got into Contigo, and we found out this is where Ivan was born!

This is a great way for introductions to work. From now on, every time I enter a room full of my friends I'll be sure to give them a point-by-point genealogical timeline.

The elements have been thrown out of balance. Jupiter is growing stronger, and the north grows colder with every passing moment. You must hurry to Mars Lighthouse. Ignite its beacon, before all of Weyard freezes... There is a powerful force that does not want to see Mars rekindled. You will fail as well... unless you pool your strengths together and fight as one. I've prepared a gift for you, to aid you on your way to Mars Lighthouse. I must leave you now, but we will meet at the inlet.

Why has this never been a problem before? How did you get here? What's the point of this plot twist? Why are you an authority on this and how do you have access to weather patterns? How do these games manage to keep one-upping their bad writing as they get closer to the parts that actually matter?

I'm sorry we left Venus Lighthouse without seeing you... I'm sorry for making you worry... Maybe when this is all over, we can all go on a trip together.

I have absolutely no idea who Jenna is saying this to. Is she talking to Hamma, who she... apparently knows somehow? Isaac, to whom she has no reason to apologize given that a tidal wave slightly removed her autonomy in the matter? Herself? Mia?

I'm just relieved that we've sorted our differences...
Me too, Mia... We could not have stood divided against a common foe.

That common foe being...?

Seriously, what is our conflict? We want Mars Lighthouse to be lit. Mars Lighthouse is going to be lit. Nobody stands to oppose the people who are going to light it, and we have their word that our parents will be released when it's done. We could take a pleasure cruise right now and everything would be resolved perfectly fine. There is not anything with any close relationship to a plot.

Anyway, now our party size doubles, and I'm not going to bother using the other four characters at all. While their djinn are nice, especially the damage absorbing Flash and Granite, the characters are actually at a lower level than had I not bothered to put in any transfer data. Interpret that how you will.

The one fantastic benefit to getting more characters is getting 60 more inventory spaces, which is nice because they come with a ton of pointless items. Using some of them, like the Force Orb, can get us a few djinn.

The djinn collecting is basically the only reason my data transferring accomplished anything, since for the most part I missed out on the impossible to discern triggers. The transfer mechanic is basically a drawn-out check to see if you paid enough money to deserve access to some bonus dungeons caves, so if anything this extra djinn collecting is more or less the GBA version of horse armor.

Take a look at your ship. Now that you have been given wings, all obstacles in your path will vanish forever... Psynergy if the force that powers the Wings of Anemos. If the ship is to fly, you will need to focus the power of your minds...

Good thing there just happened to be a magic prophecy that we should get a birdboat! God I hate this game.

We also get this for having done the Hammet sidequest last game. It shows us that Camelot didn't check their Orichalcum reference and can be refined into some decent equipment that's as always completely unnecessary. Moving on.

We did it! The ship took off without a hitch!
Sheba, what's wrong? You don't look happy...
Do you remember on Idejima, when I told you I had my own reasons for joining your quest? I thought that if I went to Jupiter Lighthouse, I would learn who I was...
I remember the people of Lalivero talking about how Sheba fell from the sky...
All my life, I've been looking for the answer... Where was I born, and why was I abandoned?
I'm sorry, Sheba... I was so excited to find Contigo that I didn't consider your feelings.

You don't know her at all and you've been with her for a grand total of about two minutes. When would you even have had a rational opportunity to consider her feelings? I did not consider my 8th grade Math teacher's feelings upon posting this Golden Sun update; somehow I think I'll be able to sleep tonight without being overwhelmed by the guilt.

Sheba, you may not know this, but you and I are very similar... I was born in a poor village. My memories are hazy, but I still remember it. I was only four when Babi took me under his wing. You see, even though I was young, I was quite intelligent. Babi had heard about me... I was separated from my parents so early in life... I've never known the comforts of a true home.
Faran has always been like a father to me... I must have been very lucky. Thank you, Kraden... I feel better now...

Phew, I'm sure glad that a decade of abandonment and identity issues were completely solved upon realizing that at least one other person has been an orphan. Man, psychotherapy is a breeze.

If, instead of going to the lighthouse for no reason, we turn around and go back to Ham(m)a, we can see this conversation. I missed it when playing, but having read it in a game script I feel a need to show off for its absurdity:

Hamma... You're my sister... Why didn't you tell me sooner? Why didn't you tell me when we first met?
You play an important role in all of this. If I'd told you, you would have come here too soon. Do not think of me as your sister until you have fulfilled your destiny.

The primary reason I love this exchange is because Camelot tries to explain themselves, and oh god is it amazing to behold. So we would have come here, to Contigo, had Hamma told us about being siblngs back in Lama? Is this destiny still the "follow people from Vale" one that hasn't actually helped anything? Man, thanks a ton for not letting us know about that; you really dodged a bullet there.

Our world is falling into ruin... Our world requires a delicate balance of elemental forces. That balance has been disturbed. Without that balance, one element might be lost beneath the others, straining Weyard.
Isn't Agatio taking care of Mars Lighthouse? Everything should be fine soon.
Agatio will not light Mars Lighthouse. A great power stands ready to oppose them. They lack the power to resist that force, and they will fall before it. Our world will be plunged into ice.

Hamma is an incredibly negative person. "Oh, I might fail; I shouldn't bother trying to give you Reveal". "Oh, they might have some difficulties; the world is probably doomed". Would it kill you to wear a smile for once?

But what would make that happen?
Even I do not know the answer to that question.

Then why are we trusting you? "Yeah, there might be some problem. Something to do with ice. I'm pretty sure, at least. Just take my word for it". I'm surprised Hamma hasn't been off predicting the rapture.

The earth is nurturing and warm. Many creatures are reared in this warmth, you see? Now, think about the ocean. It is a cold place, is it not? Both lighthouses were lit, and a balance was reached. But with only the lighthouse of wind lit, the balance has been disturbed. When you burn your hand on something hot, you blow on it to cool it off, don't you?
When Mercury Lighthouse was lit, this didn't happen, though. I wonder why...
Water cannot cool things as swiftly as wind, perhaps.

I'm positive that you skimmed that exchange above (you wouldn't have made it to Chapter 36 of a Golden Sun LP without adopting that as your primary defense mechanism) so go back and read it again. Just keep reading it. That is Camelot's argument for why we suddenly have a conflict. That is how Camelot tries to add urgency: A mysterious force will somehow stop the villains who are our allies and so the Earth will probably die according to people who know nothing about it because wind is cold. This is the story that you're reading. This is a game.

If what Hamma's saying is true, we'd better get moving again, Felix.
I got too worked up about seeing my sister... Sorry.

Holy shit, Ivan, stop apologizing for everything. Are you sorry for not breathing properly? For not considering Isaac's mom's feelings when you went to have dinner last night?

All right, Felix! Let's head to Mars Lighthouse!

As I said, the writing is now in definite "Oh shit, our deadline's tomorrow" mode. On the positive side, this means that in three or four more updates we should be done with this series forever. You have no idea how happy this makes me; I'm thinking of throwing a party, perhaps with some mysterious, exposition-laden cake.