To Attack is a basic, yet extremely practical, in-game command of party members in battle during Golden Sun games. Put very simply, it's when a selected party member physically attacks a target on the opponent's side, and damages the target's HP meter based on how the party member's Attack rating compares against the target's Defense rating.
Obviously this is a ubiquitous staple and convention of almost every fantasy Role-Playing game ever made. In the Golden Sun games, however, the Attack command has a particularly unique significance in the overall scheme of battling methodology, compared to other RPGs' battle systems. A large percentage of the game's equippable weapons (the primary pieces of equipment that increase Attack Rating) have what are called Unleash effects, which are bolstered attack-based magic effects that have a chance to automatically commence in place of a normal attack whenever the equipped Adept uses the Attack Command. Unleashes almost always takes the equipped Adept's attack rating and damage the target with an effect that is a dramatic enhancement of what would otherwise have been a banal physical attack. Because of the nature of Unleash effects hidden within each weapon, this makes physical attacks often the most powerful method of dealing sharp amounts of damage to individual targets on the battlefield; to compare, Psynergy spells and Djinn effects are a variety of effects that do less powerful elemental damage to multiple opponents at a time or to provide support to your own party, and Summon sequences are colossal maneuvers that do heavy elemental damage to all opponents at once but leave the summoning Adept weaker as a result.
A Critical is a completely random event during battle. The player will strike a foe and do 25-30% damage more than they normally would. This is NOT to be confused with an Unleash, which can only be used with an Artifact. A Critical can be triggered by a non-artifact weapon, but Artifacts are capable of both Criticals and Unleashes.
- Although no real explanation for criticals/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 defence 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 and criticals exist and that they are uncontrollable and nothing more.
- In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, the attack symbol changes depending on what type of weapon the player has equipped (for instance, it can either have a picture of a sword or an axe, etc.).