Part 47: The End.
Alright everyone, take a deep breath and maybe prepare some vodka. Today we're finally going to finish Golden Sun (the DS game doesn't count, shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up).
This sword, the Sol Blade, is the best weapon in the game, less for actual usefulness and more for the sheer Nomura-level audacity with which the developers just throw practicality against the wall.
That happens every time you get a critical hit. It's amazing.
As before, the game is going to end with dragons, and also as before there's going to be a ton of absurdity that doesn't follow anything even resembling actual logic. This fight is "foreshadowing", but that isn't nearly enough quotation marks for what this game is doing. As I mentioned last update, this ending makes the rest of Golden Sun look like Hamlet. Let what happens after this fight act as """""""""""""""""""""""foreshadowing""""""""""""""""""""""", let's say.
That background alone is more interesting than the actual fight, so let's just show off some better dragons: those made out of laser beams shot by a magic knight.
Well, in fairness, it's kind of hard to see past purple sparks. Here's a terrible quality Youtube video, and here's a description: It's a crazy dragon space knight that shoots purple sparks.
Upon killing them, we abruptly discover that the dragons were Karst & Agatio. Yes, we just killed off the """""""""main villains"""""""""" halfway through the dungeon because there was no way to actually work them into the conclusion.
It only gets worse from here.
Why... Why am I lying here? Wait, I think I remember... We were going to light the beacon...
And the cold... Why am I so cold? We of the Fire Clan are meant to be immune to the cold... The eye... I remember now... I felt its gaze pierce me to the core, then all went black...
That's right... And I remember fighting against Felix...
We're in no condition to go on. Light the beacon for us... Please.
When I first played this, I assumed I had run into a glitch. I had a maxed out inventory, but the game didn't seem to check this, making Felix pick up the Mars Star but not actually letting us get it. Only after freeing up a space and retrying did I realize that, in fact, he put the star in the mythril bag - an item that's taken up one of our slots for the whole game solely for that one thing I just mentioned to not have to happen. You do know what a Key Items menu is, right, Camelot?
I'm not going to try unbelievably hard to make this section funny because, let's face it, if you've made it this far you would probably keep reading if I replaced my commentary with the Wikipedia page about elephants. Besides, just describing the actual way Camelot ended their multimillion dollar game ought to be humorous enough. Spontaneously created lava now lets us travel to a new part of the lighthouse, probably because Camelot just wants to get this over with as much as we do. I've been replaying Flower Sun and Rain recently because I hate myself (see also: writing 39 updates about Golden Sun), and I feel I should reiterate something I mentioned before: FSR character Stephen Charbonie literally defines an event flag, offering to trigger one for you if you complete arbitrary brainteasers, and the main character complains about this yet needlessly chooses to accept it due to his character flaw of being unable to ignore anything vaguely like a request. The sequence comes across as substantially less contrived than any of Camelot's attempts at railroading/encouragement.
The final insult of this game's actual gameplay element is that it concludes with a recap chamber, and the recap puzzles are completely indistinguishable from what we've ben doing for the rest of the game.
(When this is done, I need to read through my TLA updates and witness my gradual decline in sanity and writing ability. And I thought it was bad during the thirteenth episode of Boatchat.)
Isaac, since when are you on a first-name basis with the Wise One?
It must have been... Isaac, what happened in Sol Sanctum after we were kidnapped?
Why would you jump to that and not the other month of time when you never saw each other? Do people generally know who the Wise One is? I hope they'll elaborate on who the Wise One is and what people associate with him, hopefully around the time the cartridge starts printing money and I get my own pony.
When Saturos and Menardi stole the Elemental Stars, they also triggered a volcanic eruption. The Wise One prevented Mt. Aleph from erupting so that Garet and I could escape.
But... wait, Mt. Aleph DID erupt! There was a huge explosion! We saw it all the way in Vault!
The Wise One held off the eruption until we could escape... He even halted the lava flow.
Ivan and Isaac have traveled together for two whole games, and they never had the "How are you from the town that exploded?" discussion? I'm not sure what's sadder: that fact, or the fact that it's no longer even noteworthy to point it out.
If it can do all that, this Wise One seems more like a god than an Adept!
Nobody mentioned he was an adept, you came from a city where adepts used their powers to become immortal, and we've already established that adepts are in many ways more powerful than gods seeing as, you know, we killed one. Even if this were supposed to be noteworthy, I would think stopping a volcano would lose a bit of its novelty for the people who just murdered two dragons via laser dragons summoned with their minds.
I did not just save you. I also tasked you with recovering the four Elemental Stars. Why have you disobeyed my command? Why have you
come to light the beacon?
Because Prox will be destroyed if we don't! We can't let that happen...
Prox? They have brought this disaster upon themselves.
Are you saying we should just abandon them to die? What did they do to deserve that!?
The people of Prox have committed an unforgivable sin. They must pay the price.
I'm not sure what this sin is supposed to have been, and it doesn't seem like the Wise One does either since he never bothers to say. He also doesn't seem to realize that cold wind means death suddenly, so I'm going to fall back on my tried and true method of cop-outs: He killed the real Wise One and is poorly attempting to impersonate him. He just wanted more than an eye for a face.
Wise One! You can't continue to protect the lighthouses! You know what's happening! It is your duty to protect all of Weyard! If Weyard is destroyed, you will have failed us all!
If Alchemy is unleashed, mankind may well destroy all of Weyard itself.
That really isn't a rebuttal. So… is the Wise One evil? I'm not being facetious here, I've beaten this game and reread the ending dialogue three or four times and I honestly haven't a clue.
You know, at least when the Star Wars prequels leave out crucial information you can usually figure it out if you dig through enough officially licensed fanfics about rat monsters with lightsabers for teeth. The Wise One hasn't even appeared in this game yet and there's never going to be any information about him inside this video game series or outside of it (there is no such thing as a DS sequel that exists shut up shut up).
But we can combine our strengths, ensure that Alchemy not be used for evil...
It is inevitable. The Water Adept who climbs toward the peak of Mt. Aleph even as we speak... Is he not a friend of yours? Alex is his name. Surely, you have not forgotten him?
Alex!? What would he be doing on Mt. Aleph?
Time to title drop: a mere 25 hours. You know, Mr. Wise One, if you're concerned about Alex, why not stop Alex? Why not go there, to the sanctum, and kill him? Alternately, since we can teleport and you seem to be good at delaying natural disasters, we could go there and kill him. Or, as another possibility, we could light the lighthouse, then teleport to Mt. Aleph, and then kill him. The point is we can kill him. He is mortal. He can die. Can we light this lighthouse now?
When the four beams merge into one, they form a golden light, bathing Mt. Aleph's peak.
And it's that light that gives shape to the Stone of Sages?
This has been Alex's one true desire from the very start.
The Stone of Sages, if you remember, is the stone than can create gold and grant eternal life. If you don't remember, you're a sane and reasonable individual, since it was mentioned two or three times in GS1 and then never mentioned in this game, even in the opening text crawl. That sure is a way to """""""""""""""""""""""foreshadow""""""""""""""""""""""" the main conflict in your game!
So… Alex's dream is to harness the power of the lighthouses, become immortal, and acquire a ton of wealth. Why doesn't the Wise One hate Lemuria, then? What, if anything, was he doing back before alchemy was sealed away? Why does he care about Alex becoming powerful while he doesn't care about thousands of innocent deaths? Oh right, because he's in a Golden Sun game. Sorry, somehow I still forget these things.
Alex planned all of this? Then he must have been after this power all along!
We've been duped! He used us all! Oh, you'd better believe he's not getting away with this!
The humorous thing about this line, besides the fact that Garet has never aided Alex and is the least appropriate character to lament being "duped", is that Alex is perhaps the least effective villain ever written by man. Alex did, quite literally, nothing of any importance to any of the events of the game. Let's assume that Alex were to have never existed before this scene, which you'll surely agree wouldn't have been out of place in the slightest. Without Alex…
1. Saturos and Menardi still would have attempted to steal the stars. Alex hadn't joined them as of the first attempt at robbing the Sol Sanctum.
2. S&M still would have captured the relevant hostages. As with #1, Alex hadn't joined the group when they discovered the survivors of the flood.
3. S&M still would have returned to Mt. Aleph and taken the elemental stars. Alex shows up extremely late in these proceedings and does nothing besides take the stars from you, which S&M easily could have done alone (then again, I may be overestimating the competence of these villains). The sanctum still would have erupted and Isaac still would have aimed to stop the lighthouses from lighting.
4. S&M still would have tried lighting the lighthouses, hostages in tow. They aimed to stop the destruction of Prox while Alex had nothing at stake, and they still would have used their hostages as effectively as a fish uses a bass guitar. The encounters would have worked exactly the same, barring, perhaps, Alex not buying time for Saturos to recover. Given that Alex bought a total of ten seconds that Saturos probably would have spent talking anyway, it's hard to really consider this a thing. (Edit: Patter Song points out that Alex did do one thing of importance: Letting S&M get into Mercury Lighthouse at all. Given that S&M had no problems kidnapping somebody to get into later ones, I doubt this is a make-or-break event, but it does elevate the main antagonist to at least the importance of a single psynergy spell)
5. Venus Lighthouse still would have collapsed, with Felix, Jenna, and Kraden still stranded. Remember, Felix was leading Jenna and Kraden away from the aerie; Alex was just along for the ride.
6. Felix and the others still would have pretended they were lighting a lighthouse. The parental hostage situation was still in effect, having been set up before Alex had joined in.
7. Karst and Agatio still would have antagonistically "helped" you; Karst was seeking revenge on Isaac for Menardi's death before Alex ever recruited her. They still would have aimed to light the lighthouses since Prox was on its way to destruction, and they still would have opposed you at the first sign of any Isaac-sympathy.
8. You still would have shown the first sign of Isaac-sympathy. Alex had no role in the proceedings at Jupiter Lighthouse, which solely involved Jenna's thoughts about Isaac, Isaac's drive to light the lighthouses, and Karst's drive for world-saving and revenge. Karst still would have taken matters into her own hands, and, even if she hand't, you would have ended up on the Mars Lighthouse aerie all the same.
Alex's only role (besides opening a door once) was to slightly reinforce already existing motivations, and most of the time he didn't even do that. Alex could have hung around at the base of Mt. Aleph for three years and all of the lighthouses would have been lit exactly as he "planned" it (sorry, exactly as he
"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" planned """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""), and the main antagonist of this two game series had less to do with the actual plot than fucking Kraden.
None of that matters right now. We still have to light the beacon. [No]
Felix! We don't have any choice! The Wise One will have to deal with Alex himself.
You're doing it right now! And if you could stop a volcano for us I'm pretty sure you could find a way to stop Alex from doing something that might be somewhat bad maybe. A sidenote: just like the Stone of Stages, the Wise One has never been mentioned in this game, even in the opening text crawl. If you never played GS1, you would probably be, well, just as absurdly confused as you already are.
I cannot stop you. But... what if some miracle were to occur, one that prevented you from igniting the beacon?
What if a miracle stopped Alex? What are you even trying to get around given that you're a (rock pretending to be a) god? What doesn't allow you to interfere? What are you trying to get done?!?!
…Never mind, I've got nothing.
Just like in Golden Sun 1, we now get to fight a dragon that is in no way interfering in the actions of mankind. This space boss fight that's in space is, believe it or not, the final boss of the game. I want you to reread that sentence.
No, this isn't the final real boss, where the actual final boss fight is an unloseable plot-based fight meant to bookend the unwinnable one at the series' beginning. No, this isn't phase 1 of a final boss sequence that will then include The Wise One, Alex, or any other antagonists who have stepped in.
This is the final boss. When you kill this dragon, who was literally just created out of thin air by a rock monster you last saw 25 hours ago, the gameplay is over except for a minute of walking around a town. This is the climax of Felix, Jenna, Sheba, Piers, Isaac, Garet, Ivan, Mia, and Kraden's roles in the story. This is the result of two games worth of build-up.
I considered doing another picture-replacing demonstration of how poorly written this series is, but by this point that just feels like overkill.
As is always the case in a game with bonus bosses, the actual final boss fight is more or less an anticlimax. The one thing remaining to show off is Iris, the ultimate summon described as "Goddess of Rainbows, Guide of souls". Iris actually was a rainbow and acted as a messenger between gods and men, but, due to postal worker layoffs and an incredibly poor choice of lower leggings, she now summons laser explosions which heal your entire party and deal substantial damage to enemies.
Meanwhile, the Doom Dragon gets to shoot sparks.
In fairness, he does have a Rapture attack, but just like the final boss of GS1 he's nothing to write words about. Attack him a lot, heal occasionally, spam djinn, summons, and psynergy, realize that this is the climax of all your hard work, boycott Camelot, the works. The only other thing worth pointing out is how ugly this spritework is; for a game where I can usually at least respect the visuals this looks like they just mashed five enemies together, increased the size by 300%, and called it a day.
While I'm still not exactly clear on the mechanics of people becoming dragons, it doesn't seem to be a very good deal. As far as I can tell you would get longer-lasting results if you climbed inside a dragon costume made of popsicle sticks.
You could have easily stopped at any point during that twenty minute assault. RPG logic is terrible.
It was the Wise One's final trap...
Sheba, let's see who those people are while they try to sort this out.
No, Jenna! Don't look! You mustn't look! It will only bring you pain...
It... can't be... How? How...
Isaac! I... I know that guy! That's your dad!
Then... does that mean... the other two are...
I'll heal Jenna's parents! Quickly, Mia! Tend to Isaac's father!
You did, actually. As of five seconds ago you had figured it out at the earliest possible opportunity. What hasn't been and probably never will be figured out is what actually just happened. Did the Wise One abduct the relevant parents after they had left or did they leave because they were abducted, and if the latter why didn't any of the Proxians mention the giant rock monster taking their hostages back? Did the Wise One just leave during that assault like an impatient Bond villain and does he really think that leaving a Mars Star ten feet away from a Mars Star Slot in a village of hundreds of people who want to put the star in the slot is going to work as a long-term solution to his problem? Why did the Wise One make us kill our parents rather than just summoning an actual monster, especially since we just demonstrated our ability to easily kill dragons? Was he trying to stop us or did he actually want us to kill our parents? If the first one, why not stick around and keep summoning more dragons, or turn us into dragons and make us kill each other? If the latter, just… why? I could kind of see him setting up a no-win situation, but then why would he allow one of the options to be a clear, in his opinion, outcome of the world losing? What does anything that has happened even mean?
As I mention every time something like this happens, I will forgive a myriad of problems if a story can catch me off guard. I can see that this is what Camelot was trying to do, but it doesn't work, because there's no functional difference between this and just having the game end with a rhythm game standoff in modern Tokyo. Even by Golden Sun standards, the leaps of logic you have to make and the things you have to blindly let yourself accept are absurd, and there's no reason for any of this to happen except ~drama~. Every character except Kraden could have suddenly been struck by lightning and you would have had just as effective a conclusion.
It's no use, Ivan... I'm tapped...
I am, too... And even if I weren't, it's just too late...
We have about eight psy stars and you could pace around a bit. You can teleport them to, say, Imil where they have magical water that cures everything or to Lemuria where they have the same. There is no reason at all for this not to work.
What are you saying!? They're not... They can't be...
That's not what I'm saying, Jenna... I...
I finally found them... I was going to be with them again... For the first time in years...
Piers' face, of course, exhibits the maximum amount of emotion one can possibly experience from these events. Last night I was going to make some dessert but realized I didn't have enough eggs, and I honestly think I had a more emotional reaction to that discovery than I did to these characters talking clumsily about death. Alas Poor Yorick this scene is not.
We still have a chance to save Prox.
Perhaps we can't save your parents, but we can save countless others.
Kyle and the others saved them, too... They sacrificed their lives so that we could go on.
"Being forced to kill the people trying to save the world" is an interesting definition of "sacrifice", but yes. You murdering them was an excellent sacrifice on their part. Let us never forget their bravery in being killed.
I never imagined that my actions would help to save the world...
Even though lighting the beacon may create wars and strife, I regret none of this.
There's little time left, Felix... Use the mars Star and light the beacon.
In case you haven't noticed, we're back in "Fuck it, just do anything" territory. Now Mia receives a telepathic communication from Imil; I don't even know.
How is it that we can hear you?
I don't know, but he told us we'd be able to talk to you if we came here now. We were sleeping, and he came to us in a dream... He said, "Go to the lighthouse!"
The lighthouse? Why?
He said that we have to deliver a message... He was too busy to do it himself...
We have to warn everyone to stay clear of the lighthouses!
He warned you to go to a lighthouse so you could tell people to get away from the lighthouses? And he told you to help us after he just tried to kill us but he didn't help us himself because he's too busy having tried killing us?
You know those stupid Advice Whoever macros for God and other authority figures that describe them doing cruel and self-contradictory actions (answer: yes, you're on the internet). I want someone to make a series for the Wise One, and use for fodder everything the Wise One has ever said.
What's going to happen?
I don't know, but he told us to warn people away from Mt. Aleph as well!
Can you tell me who spoke to you?
He looked like a big rock... with a big, rocky eye!
Yes, the lighthouse is back together now. I'm pretty sure there's more narrative cohesion in Un Chien Andalou.
Master Hamma! Did you receive a message, too?
Yes. I was called to Jupiter Lighthouse in a dream. You have completed your quest, but I see it comes with great loss... Your suffering has been almost unbearable. But do not give up hope for them just yet... Appearances can be an illusion... The Wise One has a caring heart.
He forced us to fight Isaac's and Jenna's parents! What's so "caring" about that!?
If the Wise One were truly evil, he would not be warning me of danger in my dreams.
She's right. If the Wise One said it's not safe to be near the lighthouses, then I think we should listen.
I am heading for safety, too. All of you must get away from the lighthouse now.
This is not writing. This is an incredibly cruel joke.
This is Camelot, looking at how the terrible mess they threw together and called Golden Sun 1 somehow attained a following, and wanting to punish the people who made the series what it is. This is Camelot employees getting back at the people who wrote a Wiki and compiled everybody's thoughts about rocks - a personal challenge to the people who write game scripts and read through encyclopedias of Gnostic mythology so they can understand the finer parts of Evangelion.
This is a company embracing the spirit of the Wise One and tormenting the fanbase for which they have nothing but disdain. Weyard once commanded alchemy? You once had standards for your JRPGs. The Wise One summons people to lighthouses to warn them to flee the lighthouses? Camelot jerks characters between motives and alliances fast enough to give a player whiplash. The Wise One sends Isaac off with an unexplained motive and sacrifices pawns just to sacrifice them, and Camelot throws you out into an ocean of vignettes and headlong into conflicts you have no reason to fight. Felix loses his parents, and you lose your money and your time. Yet Kraden takes all of five seconds to continue trusting the Wise One, as the fanbase takes all of a minute to jump onto the Golden Sun wiki and start contorting the absurdity into something they can convince themselves makes sense.
This is a psychological experiment in video game form. This is a company that, faced with inexplicable success, enacted the ultimate revenge fantasy on the people who bought it and laughed all the way to the bank. And I'm going to accept this explanation, because it's still far less discouraging than the alternative: A company looking at this, calling it a finished project, and heralding it as the flagship representation of modern-day handheld JRPGs.
The power of Alchemy will be unleashed upon the world!
We must take Isaac's father and Jenna's parents and flee!
You're probably thinking I missed an image. I didn't. The party fled the lighthouse by going to the town five feet away from the lighthouse, and Camelot is back to simply telling us how their games end. Pacing is a thing, you know.
That's the direction in which Vale lies, is it not? Was the light headed to your hometown?
Indeed it was. The Wise One said the beams were going to merge into one above Mt. Aleph.
The orb of golden light we saw... That was shining directly over Vale?
Yes. That was the Golden Sun forming over Mt. Aleph.
If I remember the tales correctly... The Golden Sun is the blast of light emitted at the very moment the Stone of Sages forms...
Well, I suppose we should be departing for Vale soon.
At least some of your cares have been remedied...
You know, I've always felt that the best way to do audacity in video games is to negate and undermine the audacity as soon as humanly possible. I'm glad I've found a company that agrees.
The storm has stopped, but there's nothing to do in Prox so it's best to just leave as soon as we can. Come to think of it, that describes every single location in Golden Sun. Funny, huh?
Can't you make a guess, Kraden? Will Vale still be standing when we arrive!
The Wise One instructed everyone to seek refuge. Even if Vale was destroyed, I'd expect that the villagers have all escaped to safety.
Kraden... Why did the Wise One change our parents into a dragon? Why did he make us fight them? I mean, we almost killed them... He tried to make us kill our own parents. Why?
I cannot speak for him, but I think he knew that they would be revived by the beacon's light.
You think he made us kill our parents specifically because it wouldn't involve killing our parents, since he knew they would be revived if we did the opposite of what he wanted us to do, which is why he sent out our parents.
This has been, as always, Kraden. This has been Kraden's role in the game.
So Camelot openly admits they have no idea what their own story is about. None of the antagonists were actually necessary to this series at all and there has never been any conflict, just people pretending there is. Nothing has been resolved that wouldn't have been if everybody except S&M just stayed home, and none of the questions we've had throughout the game have been answered.
But surely that can't be all. After all, there sure does seem to be a lot left unresolved; I'm sure they'll find a way to-
You guys are still really, really terrible at all of your jobs.
Of course, there is a post-credits stinger - the most appropriate possible place to resolve the issue of the primary antagonist in your game. Alex still seems to be kind of rough with the whole "can fly" thing.
For what it's worth, I feel I should mention that this exact scene happened in a freeware adventure game and was thousands of times more effective. As always, just saying, as always.
You are not all-powerful, Alex. Your power has its limits, as does your life. I, the Wise One, imbued the Mars Star with some of the power of the forming Golden Sun. If you are swallowed by the earth, you may not survive. If you survive, perhaps we shall meet again someday...
Said imbuing happened way back in Update 3, and it's the one piece of foreshadowing I'll give Camelot even an iota of credit for. Everything else, however, continues to make absolutely no amount of sense at all (So the Wise One made us kill our parents because we wouldn't kill our parents so that we could stop Alex from doing something he couldn't do because the Wise One had stopped him but couldn't interfere in the lives of men but had never mind fuck this and fuck Golden Sun). You know what would make this even better, thought Camelot directors? Picture Books!
Silent protagonists are too hard, just ignore them when not convenient.
Okay, that's still a pretty terrible ending, but I'm sure there's another stinger or something, right?
Nope! We never fought the main villain of this series; he was killed off-screen by a complete bit role. We still have no idea if unleashing alchemy was good or even what it did (though nobody seems to even entertain the notion that it was terrible and it did at least have a tangible effect on the storm, so…). Sheba still doesn't know where she came from. Isaac and others failed miserably in their quest to save Babi. Dora is still sick. We know nothing about the Wise One. The Stone of Sages has no payoff at all. The Golden Sun is completely unexplained (was it just a signifier of the SoS? How did the Wise One manipulate its power with one stone?). Alex's motives are still completely unclear (yes, his goal was to become powerful, but why? He already was.) There's been a ton of damage to major settlements around the world. No characters have experienced any form of development or growth at all. The lighthouses' backstory is a mystery. The chronology of alchemy is a mystery. The process behind how it was sealed is a mystery. The very question of who in this game is meant to be sympathetic is, like everything else, a mystery. The greatest mystery of all is how this game has a Metacritic user score of 9.3.
This save file takes up a space and I can't load or do anything with it. It signifies, however, that I can restart the game and do the exact same thing again with no change except how many times I have to mash A.
I think this sums up Camelot's design philosophy pretty well, and it's probably as good a note as any to end on. It's been fun, I'm probably not LPing Dark Dawn and if I do it certainly won't be within the next few months, and I hope to see you in future threads of mine.
Now go read a better LP of a much better game.