Three Reasons We Need a New Golden Sun
By Mary Rakas
When Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age were released for the Game Boy Advance in 2001 and 2002, respectively, I missed out on them. I remember looking at screenshots and reading gameplay tips about them in Nintendo Power Magazine. My initial reaction was that they looked interesting but complicated to play.
I forgot about them until a few years later. I had a hankering for a new role playing game, but didn’t know what to get, having recently become a fan of the genre. I remembered reading about Golden Sun, found both games for a good deal on eBay, and loved the series ever since. When the third installment, Dark Dawn, came out on the Nintendo DS in 2010, I didn’t hesitate to make the purchase.
The series is exceptional. A strong storyline, vibrant artwork, and lots of content combine to hold players’ interest and create replay value. The only thing missing with the franchise is a console game. It’s great to play on the go, but a console version could really elevate Golden Sun to a new level.
First and foremost, the story for Golden Sun hasn’t really come to a close—yet. The Lost Age ended with the heroes igniting four elemental lighthouses (wind, water, earth, and fire), causing the Golden Sun to rise and restoring Alchemy to the world of Weyard. Alchemy was sealed off from the world to prevent people from abusing its power, but at the same time its removal caused the world to shrink. Its restoration would reverse the affect.
Dark Dawn picked up thirty years later, following the children of the original heroes. In addition to restoring the world, the Golden Sun created Psynergy Vortexes, apparitions that suck the psynergy, the elemental power, from the land and the adepts that can harness it. The antagonists trigger the ‘Grave Eclipse’, a wave of darkness that washes over the world and causes monsters to appear. The heroes dispel the darkness, but find a vast Psynergy Vortex upon returning home.
Clearly, there’s some unfinished business. Alchemy, though essential to the world, is still causing damage to it. The story has yet to come full circle. A console game would provide the perfect opportunity to tie up lose ends and bring the story to a close.
The battle effects of Golden Sun are simply stunning. Even on the Game Boy Advance, the animations and short scenes for Summons and other special abilities blew me away when I first saw them. More powerful systems, such as consoles, could still improve these tremendously. Lightning strikes, meteors, floods, giant swords hurtling toward the earth; I can only imagine how amazing these phenomena would look on a more powerful system.
Improvements could also be made to cut scenes and exploration. The world and the characters have always been colorful and teeming with life. It would be nice to see more life-like characters without the blurry pixel outlines. Gazing out at the frozen tundra or the enormous waterfalls marking the edge of the world would be breathtaking on a console.
Lastly, consoles can provide a greater variety for gameplay. For example, the GamePad technology of the WiiU or the Switch could be used to create new features. In the Lost Age, players obtained a vessel that could fly and sail around the world map. In a console version, the gamepad screen could be used as steering controls for the ship, in flight or otherwise. Perhaps ship battles against other vessels could be added; or, battles that take place on the ship could be set in a first-person view on the gamepad.
None of those gameplay options have yet been seen in the Golden Sun series. All three games have followed the same battle/exploration style without much change. Console system technologies provide an ideal opportunity to offer players new experiences. Specifically, the Nintendo Switch’s unique capacity to function as a console and a portable system is a perfect match for Golden Sun.
As all great cliffhangers do, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn left me wanting more. Can the vortex be stopped? What happens if it continues to spread? Can alchemy at last be used to keep the world in balance? We need answers. Ideally, those answers should be given through a console installment containing enhanced graphics and some new gameplay styles.