Let's Make Excellent Decisions in Game Choice: Golden Sun

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What's this? Adam doing something dumb and incredibly ill-advised? Nah, that couldn't be the case. He is very well-known for doing precisely not that sort of thing. So what exactly is all this about, then?



.....oh. That's what this is about. Some game or other published on a Nintendo console made by King Arthur can't be bad though, right? I mean after all, he was a pretty heroic guy (or gal, according to a certain series) and wouldn't put out anything that was truly awful. So what's the hubbub here, what game is it?



.....that one! Published in the long-distant year of 2001 (god damn I feel old; I remember when this was new) on the Game Boy Advance. Yes, it was the 'Game Boy Advance' and not the 'Gameboy Advance' or the 'Gameboy Advanced' or whatever other such nonsense you want to call it or remember it being. There's a reason it was called the GBA. I'm too stubborn to accept any other reasons why it was called that, let's move on.

This game and its sequel (which was actually just the second half of the story and kept most of the juicy plot reveals or important info for itself and, yes, which I will also be playing if my energy and/or sanity holds through long enough) were...in a bit of an awkward spot. At the time of their release they were certainly entertaining and fairly well done. For something released on the GBA at the time, they were remarkable and in some cases compared favorably to (or even stated to be outright better than) some similar games for full home consoles at the time. They received high reviews across the board, and won several awards.

Even today, the games aren't terrible by any means. They're not masterpieces or anywhere near as good as they once were, and haven't aged spectacularly well, but they still remain fun enough in some respects. They're two-decade old RPGs published on a handheld system, though, what else could you expect?

I played the original game many moons ago, when I was still a wee lad working my way through school. I remember being absolutely entranced (though that isn't hard to do, much like a cat with a laser pointer) and spent many, many, many hours playing and looking up guides and help whenever I could get to a computer. I wasn't able to finish it at that time, and it would take many years for me to actually accomplish that and get around to playing it to completion and moving on to its sequel.

The games are...clunky. The design and pacing leave much to be desired. There are virtually no choices or decisions of any real impact. The plot and story are confusing and barely held together, with logic and sense seeming to be suggestions (or completely forgotten) rather than the rule in places. The first game is heavily railroaded, and as my memory serves has little in the way of sidequests or optional things to be done outside of the main locations you're "supposed" to be at any one time; the sequel improved on this aspect, though didn't fix the problem entirely.

But all that said...the game is still a pleasant memory for me. It was a source of much entertainment and amusement, and helped me wile away many weeks and months of boredom playing it in my off time on weekends, after school and when slacking off during gym classes. It has a certain sort of nostalgia to it so that I can't help but look back on it fondly in spite of all its flaws and the frustrations of certain parts caused, and I don't think I'll ever have anything but good memories.


....so naturally, that means it's time to do a Let's Play of it and go for a full 100% completion so I can drive myself into utter insanity and destroy any pleasant childhood memories of the whole thing!


Now, as I said there isn't very much in the way of anything like...choices or that kind of thing in these games. Maybe in the sequel (which I remember much less clearly than the original, but ssshhh), but in the first every choice but one has next to no impact on anything beyond some immediate dialogue, as far as I can tell. (And with a game script on hand, I can tell quite a bit. But shush, again.) No choices, but it does have the fun option to rename all of the major and important characters, including your party. It's a "secret" in how to do so, really. Normally you only get to rename one of them.



That one being our friend Isaac here. He's the main protagonist (or at least the main 'main' character as he's the one you always have control of) of the first game, and is of typical "silent hero" fare; he never has any written dialogue or text in the first game, but still manages to communicate with others just fine. He's an earth-aligned character and has all around good stats (very high attack, good agility, average HP and defense, only offset by somewhat low PP [this game's equivalent of mana[). Being the main protagonist, he's always in your party and under your control regardless of circumstances or situations.

As for the other characters, well... If you do the incredibly intuitive thing of pressing 'Select' three times on the name input screen there, you can name your other three party members, too!



That's Garet. He's your number two guy, who you'll pick up in your party pretty quickly. He's a fire-aligned character, and as such is pretty hotheaded and impulsive. (And also a bit of a doofus.) His stats aren't quite as good all-around as Isaac (very high HP and defense, average attack, low agility and PP), but he's still solid and can take a heavy beating better than most.



Then there's Ivan, here. He's a wind-aligned character, and has all kings of weird mysterious spooky powers and stuff. He's an odd one, but he tries to be helpful. His stats are...a mixed bag, and he's kind of close to being an opposite of Garet (very high agility and PP, very low HP, attack and defense).



Finally we have Mia here, the last to join your party. She's a water-aligned character, and has natural abilities for healing and control over ice. Her stats are rather interesting (HP, attack and defense higher than Ivan's but still somewhat low; Agility higher than Garet's, but otherwise still fairly slow; her PP is rather high, but below Ivan's) and definitely make her a solid healer, but she's definitely not limited to just that role.

And that's your party. After them, though, there is a somewhat....frustrating and esoteric manner to get to name a few other characters, as well. Once more on the name input screen, you put in a specific code (Up, Down, Up, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Right, Down, Left, Up, Select) and you can name three additional characters, as well!



This here is Jenna. She's a 'guest' character in the first game, before becoming a more major party member in the sequel. She's also a fire-aligned character, and is the childhood friend of Isaac and Garet. She has mostly average stats in every area (save for above average agility), making her fairly useful and with no glaring weaknesses to speak of.



This is Felix. He's Jenna's older brother. He....does things.



And lastly, this is Sheba. She becomes much more important in the sequel when she becomes a party member, but she is still present and around in the first game.

Of course, those are all just the default names for everyone. By all means, anyone and everyone is welcome to comment and offer suggestions for changes. The names will be persistent and carry over to the sequel, as well, due to the magic of file transfers, so even more fun! Just throw your ideas for names in here, if you have any, and slap 'em in bold for quick and easy referencing.


And there you have it, folks. The start to what is sure to be a wonderful and not at all maddening journey through some old classics. If you've played these games before, you may or may not agree with that sentiment (whether sarcastically or honestly). On that note: there's some really wacky and ridiculous stuff that goes on in this game, plot-wise. So that said, feel free to talk about anything and everything you want, but don't go dropping any obvious spoilers or anything (is it spoilers for a 20-year old game? Technically yeah, but....eh) because some of the absurdity in here just needs to be seen completely fresh.

I should also mention these games are very...very...very wordy. (At least twice as long as the original Metal Gear Solid in terms of script length, and we all know just how long-winded Hideo Kojima of all people can be.) There will be very many screenshots to provide insight into things, transcription of text, and (if I can figure out how to do so acceptably) occasionally gifs and videos of particularly important (or amusing) moments.

For various text within this mess, it'll mostly be as follows...
  • Plain, normal text will be used for direct transcriptions of dialogue from the game itself.
  • [Text in brackets will be used to convey actions or things which take place outside of text, but still directly form the game.]
  • Text in italics will represent my personal commentary/input or just attempts at being funny and general shenanigans.
  • Text in bold will be general notes or other things as appropriate.

The regularity of which I will manage to produce updates or posts for this, as well as just how long it will actually last, well...that remains to be seen, now doesn't it? Won't have any way to be certain until I get started! This is mostly a way to provide a kick in the butt for me to play these old games I once loved again, but I certainly hope it will be entertaining enough for anyone who's interested and reads along.

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Mojo Jojo

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I've played this (and the sequel) not too long ago. Honestly, they're decent JRPGs. Sure, it don't really got a lot going for it in terms of choices and what not, but back then that wasn't really a thing yet. The story is pretty decent (especially when combined with the sequel, where... well, no spoilers), and the Djinn system makes for a lot of customization in your team and how they work together mechanically. I'd probably put it on roughly the same level as Final Fantasy V.

That said, I'm looking forward to reading this.
 

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Due to board limitations requiring only 20 images max per message, this update (and future updates!) will be split into several individual posts.



Alrighty then. As we are greeted by the wonderful title theme to Golden Sun, The First Book, It's time to officially get started with this project. So let's press start as the game says and get underway.



It brings us to this lovely menu here, and presents us with the wonderful 'menu' theme of the game, Page One. We have four options here, as you can see:
The candle to the left is for New Game.
The stairs currently highlighted are for Continuing a game (which I can do here because I had a test file already made.)
The paper and missing texture object is for copying a file.
The paper being scribbled over by...chalk? or an eraser? is for erasing a file.

Naturally, we choose New Game because that's how we start a new game. My test file is already a full handful of minutes into the game, so that wouldn't really help us any here.




Name selection time. I'm just going to stick to the default names for now because it's simpler. So no changing anything here or doing any obtuse codes, let's get into it!

We're greeted by the deeply unsettling and ominous 'there is danger here' sound of a fierce storm, heavy rain with thunder and lightning, along with the background track On that Night, 3 Years Ago...






Isaac is living up to his status as an Earth-aligned character, as he seems capable of sleeping through the end of the world. What a kid.

The woman here is Dora, Isaac's mother. I don't know if the game ever explicitly says it straight out as so many similar JRPGs do that 'hey, this is the protagonist's mom' but it's pretty obvious as we'll soon see.


The Mt. Aleph Boulder is going to fall!
Come on, Isaac. We have to go—now!



Isaac obliges by hopping out of bed with surprising agility for a boy who was sleeping like a rock not ten seconds ago.

Isaac! You forgot something!





It's pouring outside! Don't go out without your tunic!

Dora then proceeds to use her super mom powers to make Isaac briefly flash white and don his tunic upon him instantaneously.

Properly dressed, the family proceed to powerwalk around the room toward the stairs just visible to the left there.




Here we come to the first choice that doesn't matter even in the slightest. Let me demonstrate, by injecting some commentary in Isaac's constantly silent-stead:.

I...I dunno, mom, I think— [No.]
I'm sorry, but we don't have time... You'll have to leave it behind.

Alternatively!

Y-Yeah...I think so. Everything important, at least. [Yes.]
Good for you, Isaac. A lost possession can be replaced; a lost life can't.

They then proceed to go downstairs. Shortly after starting toward the front door, they're stopped as said door flies open and a new character bursts onto the scene with dramatic energy and great haste!

 
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That's Kyle. He's Isaac's father. After his message, he rushes back outside. Isaac and Dora share a brief glance, and agree that yeah that whole 'hurrying' thing sounds like a good idea. They commence the JRPG hustle by accelrating their normal movement animations by at LEAST 50% as they scoot down around the table and head for the door, but—



HOLY FUCKin shit THE LAMP WENT OUT WE'RE FUCKED RUN ruN isAAC RUN GET OUTSIDE AAAAAA




You two go on ahead and take refuge in the plaza.
Aren't you coming?
I need to help evacuate the other villagers.
Let me help you, Kyle!
It's too dangerous, Dora! Please, just take good care of Isaac!
Isaac is old enough to get to the plaza on his own.



Once more, our choice matters not at all. Even less than last time, in fact, as we don't actually GET a real choice.

I, uh...I know the way but it's kind of scary, and everything's shaking... [No.]
You're a big boy now, Isaac. Why don't you go on your own?

And we're given another Yes/No choice. Picking No continues to repeat the exact same dialogue over and over again until you pick Yes.

B-But... Okay. If I have to... [Yes.]
You know the way—just go south to get to the plaza. Be careful!



Isaac's parents then ditch him and take off to the not-south to go and...be helpful to people, I guess. Well, let's get going. The plaza's to the south, so just down these sta—



...irs...




Shit. Well we're not getting anywhere. Let's go back inside, then. Least it's dry in there.



And they have books! YEEEAAAH
 
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There's a book entitled "Legend of Mt. Aleph".
It says the mountain's name refers to the origin of all things...
This book sucks. I'm going back to bed...

Along the way, though, Isaac remembers there's another bookshelf next to his bed and gets distracted by it before he can return to the sweet embrace of handmade blankets.




"Hone your Psynergy. Do not use it for evil..."
This book kinda sucks too...I already knew that.

Now, you might be asking 'What the fuck is an Adept? What the fuck is a Psynergy?' Both of those are very good questions. Psynergy is like psychic powers, or basically magic with another name. Adepts are people that can use Psynergy. The game probably tells you this somewhere or other, but like many other things it's obtuse and never flat-out stated or explained.

Another loud crash of boulders and thunder scares Isaac and makes him take off though, not feeling like his house is super safe.





He heads over to check on his neighbor, but no sooner does he open the door than he gets slapped so hard he bounces back five feet by someone barging outside.

! Huh? Isaac?
Did you come to get me?
Ow ow ow... Yeah, I was just making sure you got out of here okay.
Oh... Sorry to shove you like that.
Well...we'd better get to the plaze before the Boulder hits.

He then proceeds to rush off down the stairs and scurry away with the speed of cutscene NPCs to the south. Isaac makes to follow him!




Ah...nuts...

Sigh. Of course it can't be that easy. Well, let's go take shelter in his house. Maybe it will feel more secure?




Well his lamp is still on, so that automtically makes it better. But it's also super fuckin boring so we decide to just leave again. What good is safety if it's in such a boring-ass place?

So we head outside and up the stairs, toward the next-nearest house.





...and raid its bookcase for something interesting!
 
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There's a book entitled "Making a Great Village."
Boooooring...

We don't even get to actually 'read' this one, just get its title. What the fuck, game?[/i]



Back outside and moving right along, we soon come across some big dump meathead doing big dumb meathead things. Unsuccessfully.

Now, this presents another non-choice scenario. We can choose to approach him, or just run on past, but the outcome is unchanged. But never fear, for I will present the full set of options for you here!

First, for approaching him:




Ugh... Hrnghhh...
Isaac, what do you want? I'm trying to save my things!
What, you want me to just dump my stuff?
That would probably be smartest, yeah... [Yes.]
You think I should forget these things and save my own life?
You know, you're right. OK! Let's get out of here!
Garet joined your party!

Ugh... Hrnghhh...
Isaac, what do you want? I'm trying to save my things!
What, you want me to just dump my stuff?
I mean...not really. If you can take it with you, then come on! [No.]
Hmm... If a rock hits me now, I'll lose both my chest and my life.
You're right—I should just ditch my stuff. Let's get out of here.
I literally did not say that.
Garet joined your party.

And next, for just running right on past without a care in the world:



 
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I mean...kinda, yeah. There's boulders everywhere, and— [Yes.]
Hmph! It's not like you to be caught umprepared, Isaac.
'Sudden storm of boulders' wasn't part of my scout training regiment. Get off my back!
You came just in time... We can go together.
Everyone's gathering down south, in the town plaza.
Garet joined your party.

Trapped? Not really, just making sure everyone else around here is alright and getting help. [No.]
Oh, you got held up seeing off the elders who went to help the others!
Watch it, those 'elders' are my parents!
You came just in time... We can go together.
Everyone's gathering down south, in the town plaza.
Garet joined your party.

What a truly stunning gamut of choices and opportunity for divergence this game has been so generous as to provide us. Verily, it is the apex of game design for its period.

....alright, alright, I'll stop. Not like almost every other JRPG didn't do the exact same thing with their non-choices. So let's just move on!

It isn't to the south, but what's up those stairs?





Ah, an impassable plot wall, of course.Over the bridge, then!




We accelerate our framecycles and hustle on across the bridge, but get stopped with alarm when everything starts shaking and crashing again! Oh fuckus, what now?!



OH GOD NO NOT YET I'M TOO YOUNG




Ugh... Ughnn... It's too heavy! We can't hold it for long!
If our Psynergy runs out, Vale will be destroyed!
We have to hold on until the villagers are safe!
 
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Hurry, boys! Run!!! It's just a little farther!
Come on, Isaac, run! The Boulder is coming!
Running!




Nuts!
We can't get around this rock!
We'll have to find another way.

So, naturally, 'another way' means heading to our left. Yet more going not south, courtesy of Camelot's award-winning game design.

Really making me start to question your thought process, King Arthur.







Isaac and Garet are, needless to say, rather surprised, alarmed and generally taken aback by this sudden news. The almighty and impassable Three-Foot High Wooden Fence was smashed in one segment by the unprecedent coming of the Plot Boulder, so now monsters have broken through and run rampant. Truly a tragedy of unexpected proportions.



Yeah...probably. I mean, with the monsters and all... [Yes.]
I knew it... This is it for me. Save yourselves...
 
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No way! You can get through this, we just need to get you to the plaza! [No.]
This is awful. I'm left here for the monsters to...
[The 'injured' man jumps to his feet with a perplexed expression.]
Wait... That's strange... I'm not hurt at all!
But I'm serious about the monsters, so be careful on your way to the plaza!




Right there with you, boys. Right there with you. Well, let's just get going. We can finally head south again, so we do so with all possible haste, accelerating our grames just as much as we can!




We reach stairs and finally aren't progress-blocked by more sudden boulders, but no sooner do we go down than AUGH RANDOM BATTLE




Okay, well. That's a thing.

Now, the battle system of this game is incredibly simple and straightforward. But that said, it looks SUPER nice, especially considering it's not only 20 years old, but a game released for a HANDHELD SYSTEM! The sprites are detailed and vivid, and every one has at least a handful of different poses and angles for it so that the game can properly and dramatically pan and spin around to show off the scene.

Oh, and also, at this point of the game for battle music we get Battle! [Isaac] which is pretty damn nice.





For battle, we have two menus. The first being our party-wide menu, giving us options to Fight, Flee, or adjust Settings.

Selecting to Fight (because why wouldn't we?!), we move on to the characters' menus. From left to right there, we have: Attack, Psynergy, Items, Defend.

Neither Isaac or Garet have any Psynergy right now, and their only items are a handful of Herbs which heal for 50 HP each. Pretty nice, given our current max HP levels.

So naturally we're just going to mash Attack repeatedly for now and get into it.








Nice and simple. Note that because we got the first attack, we got to take a full turn before 'normal' turn order governed by Agility came up, so this was a complete stomping of the poor vermin. Pitiful rewards, but eh. Tutorial enemies, y'know? We move on, getting into another battle before we make it to the next area.




OH BABY A CRITICAL

 
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Fuck yeah. That was spectacular. Let's keep moving!



We come out here. Up those stairs is the boulder that blocked us from coming straight down, forcing us to go through the monster area. So we're back on track, and keep heading on south.





Another fight. They slap Garet a little, but he'll live. We move on south and cross a bridge, ending up just south of our house so we can continue on our original path. Almost there!





Aw, come on!

....sigh. Okay. Heading back to where we came out of monster-zone, we go straight south and down a long staircase so we can—






Oh jeeze. That can't be good. Hang on, little dude!

Hang on, Felix!
That's what I'm—glub—trying to do!
Felix will be all right. We'll find a way to save him...



 
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Now...I'm not trying to undermine the seriousness of the situation here. In a storm like this, especially one which seems supernatural in some fashion, a young kid in a river is definitely in dangerous. Even if it were a calm river, it probably wouldn't be great if he couldn't swim.

But this...seems kind of odd. The bank is RIGHT there. Couldn't he just reach out and grab it to pull himself up? Or is the current too strong for that or something? It's definitely possible, but never mentioned even slightly.

Even assuming, for whatever reason, one of the adults couldn't jump in to go use their fully-grown musculature, endurance and Ability to Swim to save Felix, then I don't get why they couldn't jump from the top right over to the bank and run around down there to save him.

It might be nitpicking, sure, but it just seems....like there's so many other solutions beyond the one they do elect to go with.

Anyway, back to the plot.


The rope won't reach... We should use Psynergy. Do you have any left?
I've used all mind up. What about you, Kyle?
I'm drained from helping the other villagers...
...
[Insert light bulb emoji here.]
We have to get help.
Can Felix hang on long enough for us to find help?
There's nothing else we can do for him here, is there?

THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS YOU COULD DO

YOU ARE JusT AFRAID OF GETTinG WET OR THINKing OF ANYTHING THAT DOESN'T INVOLVE PSYNERGY




See? Everyone else here agrees with me, but they just can't muster up the energy to say so.

Then go get help, but be as quick as possible!
Jenna, can you go too?
You'll go find help, right?
Your brother's counting on you, Jenna.
All right, let's get going!

[The two girls head inside the house and come out front.]

I'll go look up north... You head for the plaza, all right?
Yes, ma'am. We're looking for anyone with any Psynergy left, right?

[And they part ways. Jenna hurries off to the south, while Dora runs around the house up north towards us.]

 
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Isaac!
You saw what happened?
Y-Yeah, mom. This looks really bad!
I have to go get help before Felix drowns!
I don't suppose... Could the two of you help me?
Yeah!
Jenna has gone to the plaza to get help. Go join her.

And then she rushes off up the stairs. Naturally, Isaac and Garet scoot on with accelerated frames and head inside the house, and then out onto the...pier? Onto the pier to chat with the others.

Oh, Isaac...
You two don't have enough Psynergy to save Felix. Go find help.

Wow, dad. Rude.

Hang on, Felix! Help is on the way!
Don't let go, Felix!

What remarkable and caring advice. And also putting a lot of trust and faith in these kids. Ah, well... Let's get going!




We get into another fight on the way. It's a simple one; we get a little slapped around, but no big deal.

It does illustrate one of the flaws in the Golden Sun battle system which irks me, though.





....Isaac took out the Vermin on his turn, since he goes before Garet. Garet, with his target being set to the now-dead Vermin, just defaults to Defend instead of selecting the next (or any other) target. This is a minor frustration, and mostly serves to drag out battles agianst multiple enemies, but can also cause some problems later on. Or force you to carefully divy up attacks on multiple monsters.

It's not a HUGE issue, but it is a constant one and a soruce of much frustration and annoyance.




BOULDERS

We move on to the next area, which is finally the plaza. It has several houses, as well as the (currently inaccessible) inn and the (currently unavailable) shops. Let's explore them!




"Get permission to leave the village.
Never show Psynergy to outsiders..."
 
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"The power beyond human understanding can be seen in volcanic eruptions
and great floods..."



"Psynergy is replenished by touching a Psynergy Stone..."

This is actually true! Psynergy stones are items we can occasionally find, which will be a party-wide full PP restore. They only seem to work that way for us, and not for NPCS, though.

We move on to the plaza itself, where there are many people to talk to. Let's get our one-sided conversation on.!















Go aid the elders! The Boulder is too heavy for them to hold much longer.
We can't let the Mt. Aleph Boulder destroy our village.
Let's go help the elders.
 
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We're counting on you.

[The two muscled gentleman hustle off north-ward. Isaac and Garet approach and make their presence known.]

Grandpa! Jenna!
Garet, Isaac... You came to help me?
Jenna told me about Felix. Is that why you're here?
Yeah. Everyone else is out of ideas, so we're looking for help down here!
Good boys! Jenna could use a hand.

This entire bit confuses me. Why Jenna needs help to run to the plaza and look for help, which she had already accomplished long before we even got here, is beoynd me.

Great! I'm all charged up!




An unnecessarily dramatic and high-flying leap, with his posture remaining unchanged from a normal arm-swinging swagger-walk. What a magnificent specimen.

How are you? Have you recovered your Psyngergy?
Enough to save Felix, thanks to the Psynergy Stone.
OK, Jenna, you heard him. Now hurry back!
The path may be blocked by fallen rocks. You two can show them the way!
...Thank you, Isaac.
...what about me?
What ABOUT you?

[Jenna and mister muscles join our party. We book it back to the river.]



Mom! Dad! We're back!
Is that you, Jenna?

 
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I couldn't find anyone who could help...
How did you do?

[The party turns to look at mister muscles, who walks out into view to present his assistance-capable presence.]

You're just in time.
Then my brother is still...

You can literally see him from where you're standing, Jenna.

Felix is all right. He's hanging in there.
Come down here, so we can save Felix!

[The party obliges and hustles over to the stairs and heads down to join the others.]



But everything suddenly goes crazy. The ground starts shaking, loud crashing is heard getting steadily louder.







oh jeeze oh fuck oh god



what do we do WHAT DO WE DO









That...that didn't turn out well...

Oh man this is bad. How's everyone else holding up?





 
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[He tries to get up, but immediately collapses again.]





[Isaac takes off back toward the plaza to try and go find help.]





[Garet runs off after Isaac.]

This doesn't really seem like it could get much worse at this point... Maybe if we're quick, we can find someone else to help and we can—



OH WhO THE FUCK




We get introduced to some newcomers here, who have their own special theme, Saturos and Menardi.
How could we have anticipated Sol Sanctum would unleash such fury?
It's a miracle that even the two of us were spared...

Anybody else getting some serious like....major 'bad guy' vibes from these two? It might be hard to detect over the concentrated aura of smug from mister blue-punk and the concentrated mass of disapproval at everything from his partner, but...yikes. They just LOOK like bad news, don't they? Especially with their theme. Yikes/10

That switch... It must have been a trap...
But to think it could conjure up a storm this powerful!
...Another demonstration of the awesome powers of Alchemy.
Regardless, we must not fail the next time we challenge Sol Sanctum.
Next time, we shall certainly...



DAMMIT GARET



Uh, who, m-me? Hahaha, nope! Definitely not! Didn't even know you guys were there!
Isaac...
 
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isaac, they look scary...
Are you sure you should be talking to them?
You must forget everything you heard.



oh shit oh fuck oh god oh damn

....as an aside, I really like how I got this shot while everything was lit up by lightning. Really helped to set the mood and make it properly chilling, in spite of how cheesy that line is.






[Isaac and Garet freak the fuck out while the two newcomers Super Mario their way down from the cliff and right into a battle!]



This fight has a special battle them and everything, namely Battle! [Saturos]

It's pretty great.

So, let's lay into these chumps! They might be scary and unsettling, but we have the power of YOUTH!




YEAH FUCK 'EM UP




OH FUCK



OH DOUBLE FUCK



no no no no fuck we're doomed, we're dead






....oh, oh dear...we really are doomed...

See you next time, folks...
 
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.....well. After the unpleasant beginning to our adventure last time, we pick up almost immediately where we left off.



At least from our perspective, of course. For those stuck in the world of this game it was quite a bit longer. I wonder how everything is doing after that horrible night...?



We get to see Jenna is doing quite well. Walking through town, stopping to talk to this woman here, before heading on her way.

The music is also much more pleasant and peaceful now. The background track here in Vale is, appropriately enough, entitled An Adept's Home.






[Jenna briefly stops to watch Isaac hard at work repairing damage to his home's roof, before nodding inapproval of such actions and continuing to mosey her way along further up.]







Looks like Garet's been hard at work practicing and honing his skills. He's managed to master the 'make kung-fu shouts to conjue giant hands to move things for you' skill. You think this is only a mildly useful ability, but just wait; it's by far our most-used out of battle Psynergy ability.

Spiler Alert: there's a reason that both Isaac and Garet have it. And some other characters in the sequel, too. It gets used A LOT.




[Jenna appears on the scene to mock Garet for his hard work.]

Oh, I'm just finishing up.
That's good. It's time to go, and I was going to leave you behind.

[Garet puts on his sad face to this news. It's kind of a bummer to hear something like that. Jenna just shakes her head and forges on, clueless to her poorly-received jest.]

Say, what exactly happened to you two?
The accident three years ago... Is that why you've been studying Psynergy?

[Garet again looks bummed and saddened by the reminder of that awful night.]

I appreciate your concern, but...my family's never coming back,
and neither is Isaac's father...
I just want to forget that day. I wish everyone would...

Now...Jenna's line of thinking is pretty reasonable. It was a horribly traumatic experience, especially for her — she lost her little brother, her dad, and her mom all at once after all. But at the same time, what Jenna has said here implies that other people haven't really been forgetting it. It's spurred Garet's butt into practicing that much harder, after all, so he at least has really taken it to heart.

Getting nearly murdered by a mysterious fire-spewing couple will do that to you, I guess. Poor kid.




[As soon as the attempt at conversation started, it ends. Garet clams up, while Jenna looks confused.]
 
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What, Garet?
[Garet just looks distressed and can't think of anything to say.]
Huh? You were about to say something, weren't you?
[Garet's distress continues, and he shakes his head frantically in the negative.]
Don't be weird, Garet!
[Garet looks dejected, but relieved, as Jenna turns to start walking off.]
Whatever...
Jenna, are you mad at me?
I don't want to talk about it.
[Jenna gets impatient and starts off again.]
Come on!!!
Huh?
Isaac's waiting for us.
But, Jenna...!
I'll leave you behind if you're too slow.
Jenna...

[Jenna and (eventually) Garet head back down the stairs to Isaac's house, where he's still hard at work with the whole 'roof' situation.]




Looks like Isaac's been hard at work with his training the past few years, too. Managed to get his Psynergy up to a level where he can point at bundles of straw and lift them up to travel a few feet.

This power sounds useless, but, as the kid in the prologue showed us the same power can also be used on rocks. And maybe other things!

Isaac conveniently forgets all about this power the moment we actually start playing again, though.





All right. You're all done.
You're very reliable, Isaac...just like your father was.
[Isaac seems disheartened and saddened at the mention of his father.]
What is it, Isaac? Do you still think about the accident?
Well...yeah, mom. It's kind of hard not to, with the way everything happened that night.
 
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I thought so... Isaac...
You and Garet have been working yourselves to the bone studying Psynergy.
Do you think things would be any different if you'd had stronger abilities?
I...don't really think so... What happened that night was unreal...
Hmmm... I wonder...
I was devastated when Kyle died...
I felt all alone...
It's taken some time, but I'm better now.
I still have you, Isaac.
You're almost seventeen. You're so much like Kyle was when he was young.
I'm looking forward to seeing where like takes you.

Jeeze... This is kind of some heavy discussion for just your regular everyday rooftop conversation, ain't it?

But it does nicely set up some things. Isaac and Garet have been working themselves hard as they can to learn Psynergy. No matter how much stronger they might have been, against the power those two mysterious intruders had it probably wound't have made any real difference, but that hasn't stopped them from training and practicing anyway.

Jenna definitely suffered the worst, as we can tell, but Isaac and Dora didn't get off unscathed either. Kyle's gone too; it's been hard on both of them, even if they seem to be managing.

Maybe it's trying to live up to his dad that's spurred Isaac in particular to work so hard? Might explain why (aside from Protagonist Privilege) he's got generally the highest overall stats!





This kills me. A deep, heartfelt conversation...and suddenly Jenna just scrambles up the ladder, jumps right into the middle of things screaming like a seagull caught in a barnacle net to announce her presence, and Isaac's mom is completely unfazed.

Does she have some crazy Psynergy powers to predict such shenanigans? Is it more of her secret Mom Powers? Or just being so utterly unshakeable that she is impossible to rattle by such volume of introductory screeching?

The answer is probably "GBA-era spritework". But I prefer to think that Dora is just too stoic for these shenanigans.


Good morning,
Yes, yes... Good morning.

Or that could explain it. She's just grumpy and fed up that her moment was suddenly interrupted.

[Garet climbs up to join the rooftop party as well.]

Well, if it isn't Garet, too!
Where do you all plan to go today?
Huh? uh, w-well...
We're going to Mt. Aleph with Kraden.
Mountain climbing with Kraden, eh?
 
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