Part 45: Bonus Dungeons
Let it never be said that I don't take feedback into account. Time to finish up some Golden Sun.
I'm actually glad about this. The near-daily updates for GS1 and Chzo Mythos made it pretty hard for me to keep up with those LPs, so hopefully I'll be able to keep up to date with this one.
Well, okay, we're not going to be finishing up the game right now, but Mars Lighthouse is, mercifully, TLA's conclusion. Like in GS1, we're forced to interrupt this dungeon crawl if we want to do some unnecessary completionism, and this involves a few bonus dungeons, but for all intents and purposes this dungeon is the end.
And it goes without saying that the game ends with a maze.
Those dragon faces shoot out fire, which knocks you off the edge because we're still reusing old gameplay mechanics with only moderate redesigns. Let's be honest; instead of waiting three months for this, you probably could have reread older updates with the colors inverted, put a Final Fantasy script through a Markov text generator, and ended up with a pretty similar effect. Three screenshots in and you're probably already back on autopilot.
Instructions: Use blaze to shoot some fire because sticks are hard, the result being a cracking of ice. This allows you to use blast to remove the ice. I somehow feel these roles should have been reversed.
Camelot Employee 1: What should we put in this final dungeon?
Camelot Employee 2: Reuse every setpiece. All of them.
Camelot Employee 1: But isn't it somewhat nonsensical to have ice-based puzzles in a dungeon themed around there being fire everywhere? Maybe we should just-
Camelot Employee 2: ALL OF THEM!
No, seriously, no setpiece left underused. My ever-growing picture of the Camelot workplace consists of the type of people who, on sending a memo, would send the same memo eight more times because dammit, they worked hard on that memo.
Consequence #934 of reusing everything is to get a second Teleport power. It claims we can teleport at will, but this is a lie roughly on par with saying I'm good at keeping to update schedules that don't stretch the definition of "schedule" to the Andromeda Galaxy.
Lest we ever have to use our brains in a Golden Sun game, teleport spots are marked by gigantic ornate designs. Lest we ever have to enjoy a five-minute section of dungeon that doesn't consist largely of mazes, teleporting takes us to a section of dungeon that consists largely of mazes. This game has a lot of mazes. Everyone loves mazes! Mazes!
Everyone also loves killing momentum (well, okay, kicking its already-dead corpse after it's already been thrown off a cliff and stabbed with seventeen knives, but killing it in spirit all the same). You know, it's easy to make fun of RPGs for letting you screw around by breeding and racing farm animals while a meteor is racing towards the Earth, but this game actively forces you to quit midway through the big "WIND IS COLD " climax if you want to pretend you had a reason for getting any djinn past #20.
So, because a three-month hard-core zen session has not stopped me from hating myself, time to power through some sidequests. First stop: Treasure Isle.
Which, rather than being a Robert Louis Stevenson novel or the world's largest island in a lake on an island in a lake, is a maze.
One little note is that all of the treasure chests here are empty. The joke is that Briggs already got here, and this was the origin of the gems, meaning that Briggs was considerate enough to always close chests behind him and that his navigational skills somehow lead him to the Northeast corner of the world when going straight. Either that or, as the Golden Sun wiki seems to think, he raided this dungeon prior to Venus Lighthouse exploding and probably got the gems either through magic or beating up orphans. Perhaps both scenarios are wrong and the chests have always been empty, placed there by the island's original inhabitants as a metatextual commentary on the disappointment of seeking a goal and finding nothing but mazes and overly-padded collectathons.
On an unrelated note, we can also collect djinn #68.
At the end we can fight the Star Magician, perhaps the only interesting and dynamic boss in the series. The boss has a number of unique moves and patterns, and you have to carefully plan your attacks in response. Oh man, I almost had you going there; I'm joking, you spam djinn and psynergy.
In truth, this boss is absolute bullshit. Every single turn he summons another ball that takes a full bevy of four attacks to kill, and if he ever gets a Refresh Ball (heals him for 1000 HP almost every turn) or Guardian Ball (blocks literally and exactly 95% of damage against him) you can't touch him. Good thing he only gets the chance to do this any time he wants!
The point of these dungeons is to get loose end summons, none of which are really necessary. The final boss is trivial, and the bonus boss is so unbelievably unfair that there's basically only one strategy to actually use. It's blatantly obvious that they're just copying off of the template Final Fantasy set, and so I feel justified copying off of my own template: Golden Sun is a bad game, let's say nothing else and move on.
Bonus dungeon #2: Something in the desert.
No, I have no idea what "mythril sliver" is, though judging by the spritework it seems to be a pair of socks thrown hastily onto some bread.
Remember when the first game teased us with the possibility of terraced puzzle-solving and when we spent two games gathering up 30+ ways of representing three puzzle-solving mechanics? This is seriously where the level design is at after dozens of hours of build-up. I guess they figured that if you've made it this far you'd be satisfied with a black screen that kills you if you don't press A fast enough.
Inexplicable master of a sand-based "Crucible of flame" guarding a fire element in a sand dungeon in a desert built around Earth powers? Yawn.
Absurd summons? Also yawn, but at least this is something worth talking about. Azul, which we got for defeating the Pray-The-RNG-Likes-You Magican, is a snake that shoots bubbles. Rather than being based on mythology, Azul is based on the creative bankruptcy of a team that stopped trying before they even drove in to work and then proceeded to try even less.
Seriously, does Daedalus even qualify as a mythological reference anymore? That's worse than trying to be clever by citing Pandora.
Rather than continuing to show off that this game can render pixels on a screen, I prefer the strategy called Let's Abridge Everything! The one saving grace of this end-game section is that, despite the game never telling you anything about this, Teleport acts as a fast travel system. It even magically teleports the boat even if you aren't on the boat. How does that work? Nobody cares! We're going to fight Air Man now, complete with awful references to an eggplant-like golem Icarus.
I will, in fairness, give Camelot credit for what they did with Achilles. When first summoned, Theseus shoots a minor attack, and the next turn shoots its main and far more powerful attack. This never ends up making any difference versus having Medusa just be a straight summon, but it's a better way of pretending you're playing with a formula than doing nothing and charging $40 for it.
I don't understand why they worded these Summon tablets in as clunky a way as possible. "X djinn are required to summon X summon" wasn't wordy enough for them?
Oh, and I forgot to get this djinn in the edge of the world town forever ago; you can get here through a subterranean cave network that you enter by using Sand. I'm trying to cut down on useless images, so if you want to see what I'm talking about just look at any other update since we acquired the use of Sand.
Now I'm going to do some cheating. In order to access the final final dungeon, I need all of the djinn. Because planning is not exactly my specialty (three months between updates isn't bad!) I forgot to collect this guy from deeper in the lighthouse, which I'll be showing off later. Regardless, that means…
As far as I'm convinced, I've 100%-ed these games, unless you're defining that by the standard of forging every item and learning every NPC's favorite hair color. I expect some sort of party for this.
So, final non-final dungeon: In the middle of birdbath city we can teleport to this shrine, which lets us through provided that we have every djinn across both games.
In addition to more useless summons, this dungeon has perhaps the only original puzzle idea in this entire game (original to the series, that is; I wouldn't want to set the bar too high). That stone tablet mirrors your movement, and there are a number of puzzles based on maneuvering it onto a switch (that number is four). This dungeon is thus endlessly better than the actual dungeon they use to finish off the game.
It even has collision errors! Funny that being able to pass through a black void is more interesting than anything they actually designed.
As if to prove my point, the dungeon ends with a block pushing "do you recognize shapes" puzzle. This takes you to…
No, seriously, you're just throwing words together and trying to sound intense.
Alright, Dullahan is basically impossible, and not because of anything silly like being well designed. Dullahan has an attack called Djinnstorm, which randomly screws up your djinn configuration, and being able to survive this battle depends entirely on how generous the RNG is feeling (what is this, a level 1 run?).
Otherwise, he just uses summons, which are just as wrong as and in fact identical to ours. Charon was the ferryman of Hades, and is now some sort of spider skeleton with baggy sleeves and either giant eyebrows or two ridiculous hats. He does, however, retain his power to cast flat shadows irrespective of terrain - a chilling power that petrified the souls of the damned.
So how did I kill him? Simple, the only way anybody kills him: a very specific way of spamming djinn and psynergy: summons.
(That exact sequence is the only thing anybody uses on this boss, excepting the crazy people who do Mia-only runs or play the game entirely with toothpicks.)
And our reward is Iris. With that, we're finally done. It's taken dramatically longer than it needed to, but I've survived everything TLA could throw at me and lived to tell the tale. Now that the adventure's done, I can move on to devoting all of my effort to better LPs, hopefully with-
We still have a lot of pain to go.