Spurred by the strong praise behind Golden Sun‘s debut, Camelot immediately turned their attention to crafting a worthy sequel to Game Boy Advance’s acclaimed role-playing adventure.
Once again finding ourselves cast into the world of Weyard, the narrative in Golden Sun: The Lost Age picks up immediately where the first quest left off. Natural progression means that it’s best to complete Golden Sun first, then. But even so, we begin after Isaac’s Adept party have felled Saturos and Menardi, putting an end to their ambitions to use the four Elemental Stars to relight Elemental Lighthouses across the lands and restore the powerful Alchemy to the world.
Fans were surprised to discover that Golden Sun: The Lost Age placed you in control of Golden Sun‘s anti-hero Felix, whose life had been saved by the villainous duo when he was swept away by a flood early on. Now he pursues their desire to ignite the two remaining lighthouses, the player steering him toward such goal. This dramatic role reversal is an inspired choice, casting doubt over your newfound adventure as Felix disregards the potential risk of unleashing destruction upon Weyard.
Everything else treads familiar ground for those that enjoyed Golden Sun‘s jaunt, with Camelot choosing not to muddle with their proven formula. Although the developer did accept criticism that the original took far too long to get going, therefore thrusting players into the action more quickly in response.
With a party of four Adepts to command – Felix, Jenna, Sheba and Piers – that carry the bloodline of the ancients, they can each use Psychic Energy, or Psynergy as it is known. This potent magic doesn’t remain confined to random battle encounters, and can be used when wandering through dungeons and surrounding environments to shift rocks or freeze puzzles to form paths. There are four elements to content with in Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury, with more spells becoming available to you as you progress more deeply into the game.
You’ll expectedly use them more in battle, the camera swooping behind your party as you look on at whichever foe you face. These turn-based instances work in much the same way as other games that populate the genre, with players attacking with equipped weaponry and Psynergy, and using items or choosing to defend when necessary.
If battles don’t appear to be going in your favour, you can also summon Djinn. These elemental spirits are hidden throughout your adventure, and can easily turn the tide of battle. Separately allocated to your party characters, they will boost their base statistics and lend powerful abilities to you in battle scenarios whether that be offensive, defensive or healing. They can only be used sparingly however, as, once summoned, they will be placed on Standby whilst they recover before they may be used again.
Outside of your main quest, a Battle Arena allows you to freely pit yourself against monstrous enemies at will. Only those that you’ve seen will appear, and you can choose to carry on in successive battles until your party are downed. That no coins or experience are earned diminishes the enjoyment here, although it was more geared for linking up by cable with another player to square off against them. That’s understandably not available here, but it makes this mode more redundant.
As with Golden Sun, the pixellated goodness in Golden Sun: The Lost Age isn’t improved by the Wii U Virtual Console’s screen smoothing option although still has enough artistic flair to impress as a Game Boy Advance release. The spectacle’s enhanced by composer Motoi Sakuraba’s energetic scoring, riotous battle themes now joyously blaring from your TV speakers.
It took another seven years until Golden Sun: Dark Dawn arose on Nintendo DS, but Camelot delivered a grandiose successor in Golden Sun: The Lost Age. Staying the course rather than adding anything new, the two adventures together are certainly worth taking.