The second half of the Game Boy Advance Golden Sun series, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, was released on June 28, 2002 in Japan and on April 14, 2003 in North America. I consider this installment to be one of the finer examples of being a Surprisingly Improved Sequel or Even Better Sequel (depending on what you thought of the first one) that I’ve personally played.
While the original Golden Sun had some good stuff going for it, it was a rather thin game for a fantasy JRPG: it generally took only eighteen or so hours to 100% complete if you were going slowly and despite there being a sizable world you were restricted to only one section of it that was quite linear to boot. The Lost Age on the other hand greatly expands the world of Weyard, turning the journey from a cross-country trek to a world-spanning one, with much more items and secrets to find, places to visit, more difficult enemies, and trickier puzzles compared to the first game’s Log Rolling Simulator 2001, while still providing some really nice graphics and music for GBA hardware. Also, you finally get to sail on the open seas. The game still shows its age just like the first one, but the nuts and bolts of it are a lot more robust, and it’s still spoken of relatively fondly these days from what I’ve seen, fifteen years later.
While last time the story followed Isaac and his friends’ (not very successful) quest to prevent the four Elemental Lighthouses from being lit, this time we follow former antagonist Felix in his (so far much more successful) attempt to rekindle them. The story still doesn’t hold a candle to the heavyweights of the genre, but it’s still a more involved tale than “the MacGuffin’s been stolen! Go get them back!”
Felix, the one-time Earth Adept lackey of Saturos and Menardi will now be serving as our main character. At the end of the last game he told Isaac’s party that even with his bosses dead he still intended to light the Elemental Lighthouses because of a reason that they couldn’t understand. Will will be learning what this reason was in this game (well, maybe) but not from him: just as Isaac was a Heroic Mime in his game, Felix is now one in this one.
Felix’s younger sister, who was kidnapped from Vale by Saturos and Menardi in the last game. While the Fire Adept had a brief playable stint during the prologue, here she’s promoted to a full-time party member.
You may recall Sheba putting in a brief appearance towards the end of the original game as a mysterious Wind Adept who supposedly feel from the sky and was yet another Saturos and Menardi kidnapping victim. Like Jenna, she too gets promoted to being fully playable for this outing, so we can read ALL the minds!
Surprisingly, this guy is not a kidnapping victim. Shocking I know. The new guy however is encountered under distressed circumstances: he is a sailor, yet his ship has run aground and he’s been falsely accused of being a pirate and imprisoned. It’s up to Felix’s party to prove Piers’s innocence.
This guy was kidnapped though. Rounding out Felix’s party is the scholar Kraden. While he’s not an Adept and an old man, Kraden still manages to travel all over Weyard with the rest of the party and serves as an endless well of exposition as the party encounters one ancient temple and strange phenomenon after another.
Another pair of Fire Clan warriors, now the strongest with the passing of Saturos and Menardi. Agatio and Karst seek both revenge on Isaac’s party and, like their predecessors, the rekindling of the Elemental Lighthouses. Like the previous pair they won’t hesitate to use threats and force to get what they want, though they are less reserved about it.
Saturos and Menardi’s final mysterious Water Adept companion gets a bit more focus this time now that he’s free to operate outside of their shadow. While he too says that he wishes for the lighthouses to be rekindled he shows much reluctance to travel with Felix’s party, and his motives remain murky.