The game pulls a Non-Standard Game Over if Isaac refuses to take on the quest of saving the world. The screen goes to sepia and the game intones "And so the world drifted towards its fated destruction." Bit of a downer there. But wait, there's a problem with this whole thing...if Isaac refused the call and stayed in his little village...with the Mars Star, which the villains were unable to wrest away from him before Mt. Aleph's eruption forced them to escape...why would the world be headed towards destruction, when the villains were trying to light the lighthouses and thus would have needed the Mars Star? That's when you realize that the designers had always had the entire plot of both games — the first game and The Lost Age — figured out, including the part where lighting the lighthouses and restoring Alchemy to the world would actually save it from destroying itself, and this was a case of extremely subtle Foreshadowing that barely anyone would have picked up on.
The Wise One doing... something to the Mars Star even before that is another great example of that kind of foreshadowing, the kind that doesn't pay off 'til the end of the next game.
The games were split because the developers, in all their ingenuity, wanted to explore the idea of playing one half of the game with the heroes, and then playing with the opposing party in the next game. On top of that, it becomes doubly brilliant when you realise that in doing so, the games basically Deconstructed the traditional concept of Black-and-White Morality, which is so often prevalent in fantasy fiction - not only were Saturos and Menardi trying to save their hometown and by extension, the world, but discussions between Isaac and Felix's groups after Jupiter Lighthouse reveal that the very reason they invaded Sol Sanctum in the first place - setting off the trap which released the boulder - was because the village elders of Vale refused to believe them when they tried to explain the danger Weyard was in! As a result, they partially brought the boulder-day disaster upon themselves due to their stubbornness and mistrust, albeit indirectly. It's quite extraordinary how the game makes such a subtle element of Grey-and-Gray Morality, which serves to anchor it to reality just a little bit more than most fantasy-based stories. And considering the plot of the first Golden Sun was already praised for its complexity before these revelations were made in The Lost Age, it's no wonder so many people deeply appreciate this game's storyline as much as its gameplay (complaints about lack of highly-developed characterisation aside).
Additionally, take into account the perspective shifts. Isaac, Garet, Ivan, and Mia's goal is to stop Saturos and Menardi from lighting the lighthouse. The game only lets you see things from their perspective - and when you see it from their perspective, Saturos and Menardi are the Big Bad if not Co-Dragons to the true Big Bad. The first thing Saturos and Menardi do when the player sees them is discuss how they may have inadvertently caused the Vale disaster... and they beat Isaac and Garet unconscious simply because they overheard them. After that, they threaten people, kidnap people, take hostages, apparently see very little value in the people they do keep around, attempt to kill Isaac&co, beat up dozens for simply getting in their way, and not once attempt to explain why they are doing what they are. Isaac and Garet have plenty good reason to think they want to bring Alchemy back for their own selfish purposes - especially since the Wise One only tells them (and by extension, the player) enough to make them want to see Alchemy's return as a bad thing. When the perspective shifts to Felix, it seems odd that Kraden, Jenna, and Sheba would be willing to follow Felix... except that at some point offscreen, they were brought up to speed. In fact, note the fact that in the first game, the characters never actually go anywhere near Gaia Falls, so they don't know that it is slowly eroding the world. This is actually quite interesting on a meta level - not only were Isaac&Co fooled by a lack of information, but so were the players. They also have a good reason to believe Agatio and Karst are evil - since Agatio even says that the people of Weyard will kneel before them. Of course Isaac's party would think they're evil!
Kraden also touches on this point in The Lost Age when Isaac asks the question everyone likely has been wondering since the start: "Why didn't you tell me?" Kraden sums it up with one point, despite giving a bit of an explanation as he usually does: it would have gone against everything they had been taught in Vale. This actually DOES explain Saturos and Menardi's perspective significantly more. The first game shows most people utterly appalled at the idea of the lighthouses even being relit, simply cause that's what they had been taught. Alchemy is taboo, and so would anyone even DARING to think of trying to unseal it. Saturos and Menardi have only come up against people resistant to it, so they clearly have taken on the mantle of "the bad guys" in order to see their mission completed. By extension, this also explains why Felix, after Saturos and Menardi have been killed at Venus Lighthouse, adopts the exact same mentality and simply tells Isaac "Just wait and see" when it's demanded why he's continuing onward despite their deaths. Since nobody is willing to listen as it would violate everything everyone has ever known, desperation has set in and thus, the ends justifies the means with this group.
Also, to further the above point, the third game reveals that despite being one of the group to save the world, Felix is NOT fondly remembered. Rather, he, along with Saturos and Menardi, are thought of as renegades who tried to destroy the world while Isaac's party are heroes and nobody thinks ill of the Proxians. They were willing to take on the mantle of villains and act accordingly so only they would bear the blame and hatred.
Even more of a difference in perspective shows up with the kind of areas you visit in each game. In the first Golden Sun not only are you chasing down Saturos and Menardi, witnessing the damage they do, but you also end up seeing many areas effected NEGATIVELY by psynergy and the eruption of Mt. Aleph. Everyone is talking about the monsters showing up from psynergy, Tret ends up going berserk and turning the people of Kolima into trees because of being hit by a psynergy stone, and a lot of what you have to do to progress involves taking out a lot of the bigger monsters that have shown up and caused damage to the area. In the Lost Age, the places you visit are all going through their own issues, but you run into a lot of civilizations that use alchemy or psynergy positively. Up until Lemuria a lot of what you need to do is just solve the problem of how to move forward, with no major conflicts to get in your way. Getting to that point and seeing cultures using psynergy lets you know it's not all negative, and learning that the world is decaying only strengthens your motivations to continue.
Even with all the trouble caused by psynergy in the first game, there were still some early hints about how important it could be for the world's well-being. Things certainly got much better for Imil after Mercury Lighthouse was lit and the Fountain of Hermes started flowing again...
At the same time, assuming Jenna&Kraden were filled in on the true motives of Saturos and Menardi offscreen (And they knew by the Mercury Lighthouse), there was only one part wherein they are onscreen at the same time as Isaac, Garet, Ivan, and Mia... and look at Jenna's dialogue. A player who had played "The Lost Age" may notice that Jenna seems to really really want to tell Isaac&Co something, but Menardi is intimidating her, and she is quickly taken away before she can spill the beans. Stockholm Syndrome? No - she's trying to tell Isaac&Co what's going on!
The Kimbombo Mountains region have a few water puddles at important locations—characters can use the Frost psynergy to freeze these into pillars of ice in order to solve puzzles. For the purpose of the Stealth-Based Mission the first time the player comes through, these puddles don't have a point—the party doesn't have a Frost user at the time. On the way back with Piers (who can use Frost) in the party, exactly one of these puddles is useful (to get a djinn), but the others don't matter because all of the guards are gone. For the one pillar that the player can make, well, it leads to the djinn, a shortcut back, and...a route back down to the puddle. Most players didn't even notice the uselessness the first time through the game, but it can be annoying the second time because while there may be times in the game when using a particular psy power is pointless or even detrimental to solving a puzzle, it's always part of a puzzle where using that power in the right way is part of the solution. However, there's a reason for it: The level designers did need to make a way through that relied on Piers since he was supposed to have snuck by ahead of the player's party. Since he lacks the Move and Whirlwind psynergies that the party needed for its route, there'd have to be another way—one that used only Mercury powers. It also explains the pointless route back to the useful puddle—though the party would have easy access to the puddle coming back from Kibombo, Piers wouldn't unless there were some vines to climb down the the puddle so that he could freeze it from his side.
By the same token, there's the Gondowan Cliffs. Felix's party needed to make use of Move, Lash, and Scoop to open a path across, but upon entering from the Indra side, most likely the first thing you'd notice is the puddle conveniently located between two ledges. You have no use for it at the time, but it, too, was put there to give Piers a route through the cliffs. If you come back after he joins you and try taking that route, you'll find that it's indeed possible to get through with no Psynergy other than Frost (incidentally, just like the other route, you need to use Frost at one point along this route to get a Djinni later).
If, during the part of the game where you sneak through the Kibombo Mountains, you try to approach the first puddle, you'll get spotted by the guard. This seems like it'd be impossible for Piers to get through, then... However, when the two guards are talking before this, one mentions that guards had been found knocked out around the entrance before. If the guard in that spot was knocked out, then Piers could definitely reach the puddle unnoticed, and it also explains why the Kibombo know that someone else had already tried to sneak through. They really did think of everything!
There is a river in Russia labeled Kolyma. Kolima is a town in the game. Then a city called Bilibino - Bilibin is another town in the game. In the second game, there is the Arafura Sea - the town called Alhafra would be arafura in the original katakana - and Izumo,probably others. The continent of Angara kind of looks like Eurasia, and the locations of Kolima and Bilibin fit that assumption... but Gondwana was a place in India, and the continent of Gondowan looks like South America and is south of Angara. Furthermore, "Gondwana" is also the name of one of the supercontinents from way back and just look where South America used to be. The world of Golden Sun is ours in the past! ... and also flat. So, about that problem they have in Prox, in The Lost Age... is it really that the Falls are eroding the edges of the world, or is it the land that's moving out towards the falls ?
A lot of players were wondering about how Felix, Felix's parents, and Kyle could all have survived getting a damn boulder dropped on them, exactly. Watch the scene in Kolima again: Remember how apparently Adepts have a defence mechanism built in in the form of those Psynergy shields that kept them from being affected by Tret's glamour? If all Adepts have that, then there's no reason it couldn't have saved Felix et al. from a boulder. Incidentally, this could also account for Alex surviving the end of The Lost Age.
Ivan's theme, "A Little Friendship", plays in the scene where you meet Hama and she teaches Reveal to Ivan, along with a little about Jupiter Adepts. The cutscene's focused on Ivan, so it's only natural that his Leitmotif plays, right? Except that it also foreshadows that Hama's his sister.
Near Champa is Treasure Island, the resources of which are being used by the people of Champa to restore their economy so they don't have to depend on piracy any more. Felix & Co. can find and loot the place, and are even encouraged to do so by the presence of a Bonus Boss and summon tablet there, which seems like you just indirectly robbed Champa. However, the point where you stop finding empty chests and start finding the ones that have stuff in them is the point where you actually start to use Psynergy to reach the latter ones. Felix and co. weren't robbing Champa since they wouldn't have been able to reach those chests in the first place.
Briggs, when you fight him, has a weakness to all four elements. Mostly unnoticeable, since it's only hinted at by punctuation. But when thinking about it, it's totally understandable that he is weak against any form of Psynergy, since he actually can't see it, being a non-Adept.
All fights against non-adept humans in the first two games (the thieves, gladiators and pirates)range from pushovers to low threats, since they have almost no defenses against Psynergy and Djinn. In Dark Dawn, not only do enemies such as the Assassins or the Generals carry items that can deplete PP and Djinni, but also generally fight more defensively and make a more extensive use of healing items. Since in Dark Dawn the existence of Adepts is not a secret anymore, not only have many non-Adept fighters learned ways to counter them, but also to never take anyone who could be an Adept lightly in a fight.
Sun and the Moon:
When you first encounter the heart of Sol Sanctum in the first game, there is a puzzle that depicts harmony or duality between the Sun and the Moon. Mt. Aleph is regarded as the heart of where Alchemy is sealed, and is the epicenter for the Golden Sun event. However, considering that the puzzle involved working with the Moon as well has led to this troper realizing that the entire Sanctum, including the puzzle, was a small foreshadowing to the existence and emergence of Dark Psynergy and Dark Psynergy users in Dark Dawn. Sol Sanctum, being the seal of Alchemy for who-knows-how-long, directly showed the player a hidden element of just what it was hiding!
For extra, when you're in the Elemental Star room, the elemental stars in the corners of the room portray the locations of the lighthouses of the same alignment on Weyard. The Mercury star is in the upper-right corner, Venus in the bottom-right, Mars in the top left, and Jupiter in the bottom left.
Rule of Symbolism can also argue that before having Isaac, Garet, and Jenna collect the stars, Kraden hops onto a platform, only to be visibly shaken before returning back to the main bit of land. The platform he jumped towards was for the Jupiter Star. This could allude to him being with your party from the beginning of the game in The Lost Age where he's actively with your party attempting to light the Jupiter Lighthouse.
Why is the Earth element represented by Venus? Venus has been called "Earth's Evil Twin" by astronomers.
Venus has a small side of necromancy along with its usual fare because one of the most common ways to treat the dead is by burying them. Mars also gets in a bit on this (with the djinn Fury, which unleashes haunting spirits to attack) because of funeral pyres.
Why can the Sand Psyenergy also allow the party to pass through glass panels? Because the most common and historically prevalent form of glass is made from silica, the primary component of sand. Chemically speaking, they're just different forms of the same substance. (Although this explanation kind of breaks down if you think about it too hard; applying the Sand Is Water trope would make this the equivalent of swimming through the side of a glacier.)
When Saturos faces Isaac's party on the Mercury Lighthouse, he is weakened by the Lighthouse's power because he is a Mars Adept, and Mercury opposes Mars. Why isn't Garet the Mars Adept affected? Any character can equip any Djinn without issue; Garet is already acclimated to Mercury.
Saturos and Menardi, the Mars villains from the first Golden Sun are thoroughly hated by players of the first game, even after learning about their true motives on the sequel. But still, that hardly justifies their ruthlessness and their smug attitude. So what justifies Saturos's group attitude, resorting to even terrorism and kidnapping - something that their successors, Agatio and Karst, were against, despite briefly crossing the Moral Event Horizon by triggering a trap on Isaac's group, something that even they lampshade as being dishonorable, but necessary - in order to ultimately save the world? The fact that Alex could have gained their collaboration by filling in full detail what bounty awaited for those who awakened the Golden Sun event. So, to them, saving the world was merely a consequence for acquiring a greater power. Why were Agatio and Karst acting somewhat more chivalrous? Simple, the Proxians had already helped Alex in where he alone could fail, and with Menardi's death as a token to motivate Karst's help, he could seize the whole Golden Sun for himself, instead of splitting it with two others, and so no word about that event was said. While this is all conjecture, it sure as heck seems to corroborate a few character quirks from these four misunderstood villains.
Alternative Title(s):Golden Sun The Lost Age, Golden Sun The Broken Seal