The Golden Sun series may have been dormant since the release of Dark Dawn on the Nintendo DS, but it's a franchise which nonetheless has a passionate fanbase – and one man's love of the original GBA game has resulted in a very special tribute.
Bryson Elam – known online as Wing Adept – is the guiding light behind the ambitious 'Golden Sun Broken Seal Director's Cut' project, which he describes as "a retelling of the first game, featuring voice acting, rescored music, as well as custom illustrations and animations, to help expand on the game."
Over the past few years, Elam has assembled a team of talented artists and voice actors (including Mike Pollock, who voiced Dr. Eggman in the Sonic animated series, and Brandy Kopp, the voice of Lady Palutena in Smash Bros.) to embellish the storyline of the 2001 JRPG epic – which, incidentally, turned 20 at the start of this month.
However, his desire to get the project off the ground was inspired by more than just simple affection for the game itself; to Elam, Golden Sun has a much deeper and more meaningful connection – it's his way of connecting with the memory of his late friend, Fabian Gonzalez.
At this point, we'll allow Elam to explain:
Fabian and I had known each other since a young age, both of our mothers were single parents and, at the time, working for the US military. Our friendship would form into an unbreakable bond over the years, jokingly dubbing ourselves the Mario Bros. In regards to Golden Sun, I got the game for Christmas that year but was initially disappointed, hoping for another game. However, Fabian advised me to at least try the game out. From there, Golden Sun became my gateway RPG, not only becoming my first, but also my favorite. Its significance evolved over the years it signified the bond I had with him. As we grew older, the two of us went our separate ways; he would join the Air Force, while I went to college, but the two of us both promised to work on special voice over project pertaining the series once we met again. Sadly, before we ever had the chance to start, he was murdered while visiting his family. He was 21-years-old.
Being someone who's had to move from one place to another, I never really had the opportunity to make a lot of friends. And Fabian’s death left me completely devastated as he was the one person in the world that knew me the best. However, I decided to honour his memory by keeping our promise alive. Going into this, I wanted to make this project special. But I faced a daunting task, with factors such as: similar projects being done by more established groups, along with my limited skillset, experience and resources. I knew this was too big for one person to handle alone.
Fortunately, I would join forces with another passionate fan of the series by the name of Jazz, who had previously contributed to a major project pertaining the series via the Golden Sun Abridged Series. Together, we were able to assemble a small group of voice actors and artists, and, with their help, we would have platform to showcase our work through Memoir Productions (a most fitting name, all things considered).
What started off around with seven voice actors suddenly grew to ten. Then 20; now, the Project features over 50 voice talents (including high profile, professional actors) along with various musicians and a team of artists and animators. However, with this increase of support, I felt an internal pressure to outdo myself, not for me primarily but for the simple fact that I wanted this project to be something people could look back at years later and have a sense of pride being a part of something so grand.
There's no doubt that Elam has created something which serves as an incredible tribute to Gonzalez; The project is of an insanely high standard considering it is, at its heart, a fan-made, non-profit effort. The first episode (which carries a tribute to Gonzalez at the beginning) was published on YouTube back in 2018, with the most recent instalment launching just a few weeks ago.
While there's clearly a lot more work to be done before this project can be considered complete, Elam acknowledges the incredible impact the venture has already had on his life:
For as much success I've gained over the years, I've endured many losses; the most noteworthy and most painful were the loss of my inner circle. These people helped raise and shaped me into the person I am today and have been my biggest supporters; the biggest one being my mother. The fact that I'll never be able to see them again, let alone share my success with them pains me. There isn't a moment where I don't think about them. Nevertheless, although these personal losses have gravely affected me, they helped motivate me at the same time. When I look back, I owe a lot to this project. It has not only prevented me from going down a dark path, but also gave me focus, and a way for me to grieve. There have been many instances where this project has encountered setbacks, from personal heartaches to broken promises. In spite it all, I've convinced myself that everything that I've had to endure up to this point throughout this past decade wasn't for nothing. All the time, all the preparation, the sacrifices, it was all worth it, and I owe it largely thanks to my team; without them I am nothing. From the voice actors, the artists, the animators, the members of the production team, to the fans themselves. I owe it to each of them as well as myself to see this through to the very end, for better or for worse, and I can't thank them enough for their help.
Sadly, Golden Sun artist Hiroshi Kajiyama is no longer with us, but we're sure that seeing the game he worked on get a new lease of life would have been incredibly satisfying – even if it's not via a new video game, which is what so many fans want.
Be sure to check out the currently-available episodes by visiting the Memoir Productions YouTube page.