Golden Sun: an introduction

The good guys are the bad guys and vice versa

Though originally intended as one game, the narrative was split between Golden Sun and the sequel (subtitled The Lost Age). When that happened, Camelot took acue from its masterpiece in three parts, Shining Force III, and decided the second game would finish the story from the opposite side. As we go into more detail, a warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Above: Isaac and friends in Golden Sun

The first game's hero was Isaac, a young man who lived in a village near an inactive volcano, which held the key to the sealing away of the power of Alchemy, a magical pseudo-science from long ago. After his parents are kidnapped, he and three fellow travelers hunt for the kidnappers, who are trying to break Alchemy's seal. The villains also have Isaac's childhood friend Felix, long thought dead, and have forced him into fighting his boyhood chums. Isaac eventually beats the kidnappers, but not before they light two of the four Elemental Lighthouses. Thinking he had freed Felix, Isaac asks him to join them; Felix refuses and decides to continue the quest to unleash Alchemy. The first game ends with Isaac in hot pursuit.

Above: Our two heroes, Isaac (left) and Felix (right)

Once The Lost Age came out, some might have thought you'd continue as Isaac, but instead you take over as Felix and his own party of four. Now you're out to finish lighting the Lighthouses to break the seal, with the former protagonist becoming one of the many obstacles in your way. Midway through, you find out that Isaac's plans were misplaced, and the first villains were accidentally right in their selfish goals: the world of Weyard is dying without Alchemy. Despite the possibility that freeing it could instantly destroy everything, it's a risk Felix wants to take, and eventually he even convinces Isaac to turn on his master, who wants to uphold the seal.

Above: Happy endings all around (images fromGolden Sun Universe)

This kind of change between the two games again shows how grown-up Golden Sun was, despite its kid-friendly looks. After the pretty standard RPG storyline of the first game, the heroes learn to not be afraid of the unknown, and despite the risk involved, it's better to have freedom of choice than to slowly die worrying about the dangers. Ultimately the theme was maturity, developing the ability to embrace possibilities and change rather than keeping the status quo - an idea that Golden Sun played subtly and well.

Fun Fact: The past was the prologue

Interest in a third Golden Sun game has been brewing for a long time among devoted fans, and not just because they love the series. Though there is closure to the tale of Felix, Isaac and their friends by the end of Lost Age, some plot threads were left dangling, seemingly to be picked up in a later game. Additionally, the game makers mentioned in interviews that the first two games were just the beginning of the real story. Our bet is that the main character will be revealed as Isaac's son, who must fight the abuse of Alchemy, and that an old running buddy of his father’s – the opportunistic Alex – will be an enemy. We can’t wait to find out next year.

Above: The kid in the center sure reminds us of Isaac, even down to the color of his clothes

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Henry Gilbert

Henry Gilbert is a former GamesRadar+ Editor, having spent seven years at the site helping to navigate our readers through the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. Henry is now following another passion of his besides video games, working as the producer and podcast cohost of the popular Talking Simpsons and What a Cartoon podcasts.