I’ve talked about Golden Sun for the Game Boy Advance before. It was the last game spotlighted in my feature, Games You Should Have Played. Since then I’ve had a chance to play through and complete the sequel, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, a direct continuation of the first game picking up exactly where the story leaves off. In doing so I’m now able to come to a shocking conclusion: The Lost Age is one of the greatest sequels to one of the greatest underrated games ever. And that’s why Golden Sun: The Lost Age is a Game You Should Have Played.
When we last left off, I was talking about the adventure of Isaac, Garet, Mia, and Ivan to stop the four lighthouses of the world from being lit. By the time the first Golden Sun wraps up, two of the four lighthouses have beacons atop them, shining brightly as glorious failures. Then, right before the credits roll, the four hop on a ship and set off for the next stage of their journey.
This is where The Lost Age picks up, except you aren’t playing as the four from the first game. Rather, you start as Felix, Jenna, and Sheba, characters that appeared sparingly in the first game. Felix is Jenna’s brother, back from the dead and apparently set on a course to light the lighthouses despite being warned not to, whereas Jenna and Sheba were taken against their wills and forced into the conflict. The three set out to finish their task, but to do that they’re going to need a ton of new Psynergy to accomplish this goal. Eventually they meet Piers, a new character, to round out the group of four.
The game is immediately familiar for those who played the first title. None of the mechanics have changed in the slightest. Each character has a limited number of inventory slots, meaning that they can only carry a select few items like weapons or armor or healing potions, forcing you to be a bit choosier as to who has what in their possession and what Djinn they have equipped as this will affect what Psynergy they have access to and how effective they’ll be in battles and so on and so forth. None of the core mechanics change at all, even down to the littlest thing, like setting shortcuts to the L and R buttons for Psynergy outside of battles or the method of dealing with curses and downed party members. The Lost Age doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but rather gives it a long stretch of land to really show what it can do when it has some space to get rolling.
I don’t have exact numbers, but I’d say The Lost Age is a little less than twice as long as the original Golden Sun. I felt a much greater sense of freedom to explore the world since relatively early on you acquire a boat that lets you get to half of the world via the vast ocean. Sadly, there were a huge number of times where I had absolutely no clue where I was supposed to go, forcing me to check online to make sure I wasn’t just going around in circles. I still don’t see that as a bad thing though as I much prefer an RPG that’s so large it’ll take a while to figure out where you need to go next. Then again, I’m the sort of gamer who enjoys finding something new around every corner, seemingly of my own accord and curiosity.
As is standard with the Golden Sun games, these diversions certainly pay off with major dividends. Going off the beaten path down a side passageway usually leads you to an incredibly powerful weapon or a new Djinn, making the rest of the game feel easier, or at the very least like you’ve been playing smarter. Plus, each special weapon has its own Unleash Attack completely unique to that weapon, and while the first game had a handful of awesome Unleash Attacks, The Lost Age has some that look and act even better. I’m particularly a fan of Megiddo, an Unleash Attack that sends the character into the air to slam a giant fireball down to earth onto your opponent. The sense of power the game accomplishes is amazing.
Something I didn’t really mention in my discussion of the first game but that becomes abundant here is the lack of grinding you tend to put yourself through. As the world opens up to you, just searching around will send you into a handful of encounters, enough so that you’ll be gaining experience and money at an alarming rate, meaning that very few boss battles are a real problem in terms of needing to grind. Rather, a lost battle typically means you need to rethink your strategy of Djinn usage or Psynergy selection. The only real exception is the final battle. That boss pulls so many shenanigans it’s not even fair, but then again that’s what a good final boss does, am I right?
Everything here just feels better. The music is even better than the first, offering some tracks that I’d find myself going out of my way to listen to. I’m partial to the ocean battle track, or even the standard battle track. But as I said, everything just feels better here with more to do by far. I kept getting new Psynergy powers that allowed me to access even more areas and still I was never entirely sure what I’d learn next.
Probably the point where the game takes a drastic change is relatively late in the game where I will certainly be giving spoilers away by telling you. You ready? Here come the spoilers!
Eventually your new party runs into your old party from the first Golden Sun, a reunion that does two very cool things. The first is incorporate your old party into your new party, effectively making your new team consist of eight members instead of just four, though there can still only be four out at one time. The second thing that happens is Isaac talks, and pretty casually at that. I was jarred just a bit when he first spoke because this was the main character from the first game, a typical silent protagonist, a role that Felix takes up here as odd as it feels since he spoke so freely in the previous game. However, allowing Isaac to speak pleased me on a level I didn’t expect, mostly because his dialogue didn’t feel stereotypical of the “hero” character. Instead, he sounds like he gets it, making him one of the few characters in a dialogue scene not asking “What’s going on?” I loved that.
Overall, it’s tough to recommend just The Lost Age. Don’t play this one first. Just don’t. You’ll get vastly more if you play Golden Sun first, then follow this right up. Between the two you can easily manage over 60 hours of gameplay, assuming you aren’t going for full completionist work, and that comes at a price of probably under $30 for the pair of games. You really can’t go wrong here.
So who out there has already played The Lost Age? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the series. You know, go ahead and do it even if you haven’t played either game. Does this sound like the type of game you’d be interested in? I want to know. And with that I’m off to let Pokemon absorb my life for a little while now that Golden Sun isn’t soaking up all my DS’ playing time.
Want to know more of some Games You Should Have Played? Check these out: