- When used in battle, Djinn are also described as being "unleashed." This article, however, is only about weapon unleashes.
- For a sortable list of unleashes and their effects, please see Unleash/List of Unleashes.
An Unleash is a special attack randomly used in battle when selecting the Attack command. Unleashes are weapon-specific, meaning that equipping a different weapon will change the Unleash(es) available to the character. When an Unleash is triggered, the message "[Character]'s [weapon] lets out a howl! [Unleash name]!" will appear.
Across all games in the Golden Sun series, Unleashes have certain characteristics associated with them. Most unleashes are both a physical attack and connected to an element; the damage done is calculated by comparing the Adept's Attack rating to the target's Defense rating, just like a normal physical attack, then the Adept's Power with the element in question is compared against the target's Resistance to that element to determine how much the resultant damage is modified for better or worse.
Additionally, many Unleashes have an associated power rating. Besides the standard damage calculation describes above, some Unleashes add a set amount of base damage to the Adept's basic Attack, while others may multiply the attack's damage potential by a numerical factor. Some unleashes have an additional special effect, such as instantly downing the target, afflicting enemies with status conditions, replenishing HP or PP, or multiplying base damage two or three times.
When an unleash occurs, a new attack animation sequence is triggered, instead of the usual jump/slash enemy. Each unleash has a different animation sequence. The complexity of the sequence can sometimes vary, depending on the effects of the unleash. For example, the Tisiphone Edge's Unleash, Vengeance, changes slightly to reflect when its additional effect occurs. Normally, Vengeance shows three arrows being hitting the target. However, this number increases to five or seven when its damage multiplying effects kick in.
Under normal circumstances, an Unleash is an uncontrollable effect, activating at random when an Attack is selected. To this extent, Unleashes have a certain percentage attached which determines the rate of activation. This activation rate can be altered by equipping special equipment that increases this rate, and referred to in the equipment description as Increasing Criticals. Increasing the Unleash activation rate to its highest possible level is a common strategy for high-Attack Adepts using damage-multiplying Unleashes, as it allows for high amounts of damage.
Mechanics of the Unleash System
Between the first two games, Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age, and the most recent entry in the series, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, certain aspects of the Unleash system were revamped. The Mechanics can be grouped into two basic systems, with the rules of each being detailed below.
In Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age, Unleashes are limited to Artifact-class weapons, weapons that are unique or limited in availability. Another weapons category, Useable Weapons lack unleashes, but instead have a side-effect that can be utilized during battle similarly to items. Common weapons, which can be bought in multiples at vendors, lack both unleashes and usable side-effects. Instead, they share with Artifact weapons the ability to score a "critical hit", which is essentially an empowered version of the user's standard Attack.
Unleashes are not shared between weapons; different weapons will always possess different Unleashes. A weapon's Unleash can potentially be accessed as soon as the weapon has been equipped, with most Unleashes have a standard rate of activation of 35%, though certain Unleashes have higher activation rates. When a weapon's unleash is triggered, the Unleash and its related side effects are limited to the originally targeted enemy.
Dark Dawn Revisions
In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, all weapons, including common and usable weapons, have an unleash. For common weapons, the Unleash will generally be a non-elemental Unleash with a weak to moderately strong damage multiplier, but few added effects. Artifact weapons may include these Unleashes as secondary attacks, but the signature Unleashes will usually be stronger, element-based Unleashes that can have a variety of effects. However, if a pure-element weapon has one of these non-elemental Unleashes in its arsenal, that unleash will be converted into an elemental attack, with the element-alignment matching that of the weapon. The addition of non-elemental Unleashes, and their availability to common and usable weapons effectively incorporates the prior "Critical Hit" mechanic. This has the effect of removing the potential for critical hits from enemy attacks, as enemies do not possess weapons capable of Unleashes.
Weapons in Dark Dawn can have anywhere from one to four unleashes, some of which are shared with other weapons, in addition to whatever other effects the weapon may have. Generally, the number of unleashes increases with the overall strength of a weapon, though this is not always the case. For weapons that were introduced in a previous game, the final unleash learned is normally the weapon's signature Unleash from its past appearances. However, the same Unleash may also be a secondary unleash for a stronger weapon. A good example is the Unleash Stone Justice; it is the signature unleash of the Themis' Axe, but at the same time, Stone Justice is a secondary Unleash for the stronger Giant Axe and Herculean Axe.
While past Unleashes were always single target attacks, certain Unleashes are now ranged Attacks, such as the Masamune's Rising Dragon, which not only affects the targeted character, but the enemies directly adjacent to the original target. The Star Dust unleash, belonging to the Silver Longbow and the Sagittarius Bow, has a wider range, extending up to two enemies on either side of the original target. Unlike Psynergy, where the player can freely choose which enemies to target, choosing the targets of an Unleash is more restricted. Standard weapon attacks always affect a single target, which is chosen when the player is selecting moves for their party. If an unleash is triggered during an Adept's attack, the originally selected target will always receive the most damage. Enemies immediately adjacent will take lesser amounts of damage.
The ability to use an unleash is determined by the mastery a character has over a specific weapon. When the weapon is selected in the items menu, they can view a gauge that shows the level of mastery the player has over that weapon. The screen will also show which Unleashes the character can use; Mastered Unleashes will have a green background while unmastered Unleashes will have a grey background. When a character first equips a new weapon, that character may be unable to use any unleashes. However, as the character attacks with the weapon, their mastery will increase, and the character will be able to progressively learn more advanced Unleashes.
In most cases, all unleashes can be learned before the weapon is fully mastered. However, weapon mastery also affects the attack increase. An adept equipping an unmastered weapon will only receive a portion of the total attack increase the weapon grants. However, the initial attack bonus will increase as the weapon is mastered, and the full benefit will be granted at 100% mastery. The attack bonus effect often goes unnoticed, due to steady increases in weapon strength over the course of the game. The length of time it takes to completely master a weapon appears to increase with the strength of the weapon. A weaker weapon, like a Long Sword, can be mastered in a few attacks, while the Sol Blade, the strongest weapon in the game, requires many, many battles to be fully mastered.
Each class of weapon has its own experience gauge. Mastering a weapon will grant some level of mastery to a stronger weapon of the same class, though the amount varies depending on how much the two weapons differ in strength. The closer in strength a weaker weapon is to a stronger weapon, the more experience is carried over. Mastering a stronger weapon of a certain class, will give the character mastery over all weaker weapons in that class, regardless of whether the character in question has used them or not.
As in past games, Unleashes have an activation rate which determines when an Unleash is triggered. Due to the existence of multiple Unleashes, however, the mechanic is distinctly altered. The activation rate appears to refer specifically to the chance of an Unleash occurring. If an Unleash is triggered for a weapon with multiple Unleash effects, the effect will be chosen at random from the available pool of that weapon's Unleashes. While equipping Critical-increasing equipment will increase the overall rate of an Unleash occurring, there is no way of choosing a specific Unleash effect. This means that weapons with multiple Unleashes can be seen to decrease in usefulness; while a weapon may have a powerful unleash effect, the other 2-3 effects are usually much, much weaker and could be called on at any Unleash activation. One example is Excalibur. In The Lost Age, Exacalibur's chance to triple damage with its Legend made it one of the premier endgame weapons. In Dark Dawn, however, Legend is one of four unleashes, with the other three being distinctly weaker. Legend is less likely to be called on, and thus its tripling effect occurs at a rare rate. This means that the Levatine, a sword with a lesser Attack increase, is seen to be the better choice, due to its three Unleashes, all of which are fairly equal in power, allowing for a more consistent rate of damage.
Explanation for Unleashes
Although no real explanation for unleashes occurs in-game, a small bit of easily forgotten text on the subject appears when Isaac's party first arrives in Kolima, prior to having defeated (and healed) Tret. The enraged tree curses the residents of Kolima for taking their axes to him, turning them into trees, so that they would die alongside him. Isaac's party happens to get involved, needing to pass through the Kolima region as part of their quest. Immediately they are set upon by Tret, who immobilises the Adepts, pinning them to the ground. However, as the wave of Psynergy that would turn them into trees approaches, the Adepts are enveloped in a shimmering barrier that wards off Tret's curse. This barrier was a purely reactive and subconscious display of Psynergy, as none of the Adepts intentionally used their powers to create the field. They assume this type of subconscious defense is similar to a weapon's unleash, which holds vast, though uncontrollable, power. Apart from a concluding remark about how it would be nice to control this ability, it is never mentioned again. As such, this only serves to confirm that the Adepts do know that unleashes exist and that they are uncontrollable and nothing more.