We Don't Understand Change
Brief life story moment: at present, I’m replaying both Golden Sun games. We’ve just got to the point where we’ve input the password into Golden Sun: The Lost Age. So, I remember these games *very* well, because the first one was the last game I played.
And in that sense, I’m disappointed in what I’ve seen of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn.
Here’s where the JRPG traditionalists, who want nothing more than turn based combat, the occasional not difficult puzzle, and expect new summon animations to be the height of innovation, will jump on me. “Of course you’re disappointed, you’re a fucker who said the JRPG was dying and it’s not dying and we don’t need to fix it by doing different things developers just need to remake Final Fantasy IV over and over again.”
(They talk very fast, these JRPG Traditionalists. They have many things to say, possibly because all the time they’ve spent in turn based combat systems.)
And I’m here to say that those people are idiots, and that a straight, faithful adaptation of Golden Sun will be a terrible game, unappreciated by modern gamers.
Admittedly, Golden Sun does nearly everything better than Glory of Heracles does. It’s just a better game. But it worries me about Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, because they are games with many mechanical similarities, and Glory of Heracles was nothing if not an abject commercial failure (I bought it for one dollar, ONE DOLLAR!, only three or four months after launch).
From what we’ve seen of Dark Dawn in trailers and what we’ve gotten in previews, this game looks to be a by the numbers sequel to the first two Golden Sun games (which were really one game, but that’s neither here nor there). with the same mechanics, the same stuff making it up.
And this sounds brilliant to people, but, you know what? I don’t quite see it. I like Golden Sun, sure, but I play it exclusively on an emulator (I do, in fact, own both cartridges, though) because it *desperately* needs a speed up button. You get to conversations with Garet in the first game and Kraden in the second, and they ask you so many questions that don’t matter.
Golden Sun, in fact, is the polar opposite of Epic Mickey: a game where you are given the illusion of choice, and these choices are permanently devoid of consequence. It’s a game powered by the desire for loot, and the desire to become overpowered by finding all the Djinni, which let you (finally) build a party that is satisfactory. There’s no other reason to play it. The puzzles are okay, but the battles are absurdly easy (the optional boss of GS1 killed me once, because I refused to heal. It was the only fight where I ever really needed to heal in the whole game) and the story is bogged down by absurd conversations.
And while it scratches a traditional itch, certainly, why would I pay 40$ for another game to do that, when I have multiple Dragon Quests, Earthbound, the original Golden Suns, Lufia and its sequel, and the early Final Fantasies to do that?
Then again, I’m sure the traditionalist JRPG worshipers will buy it, and love it. They’ll buy it, and they’ll love it, like they love Final Fantasy IX, and I will be endlessly confused.