Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has some truly radiant gameplay…

Overview

Heh. All oxymorons aside, Golden Sun: Dark Age is the newest in the GS series exclusively for the Nintendo DS that brings a few old characters back from the past, and introduces us to a whole new world after 30 years. But was the 7 year wait since the last Golden Sun worth it?

Well in my humble opinion, Camelot, the devs of this and past Golden Sun titles has definitely had ample time to make a fantastic game, and they have done just that. The problem that older fans of the series may encounter is the fact that some of the characters from the past that they’ve grown to care for are not present in the game. That’s to be expected since Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has the small time skip, but if that slight problem can be overlooked then I can assure you that a game with good graphics, a nice storyline, and enjoyable characters (with funny emoticons) awaits you. :)

Release Dates
NA 11/29/2010
JP 10/28/2010
EU 12/10/2010
AU 12/02/2010

Story

Story

Taken directly from the manual:

Alchemy-the force composed of the four elements, Earth, Water, Fire, and Wind-are the building blocks of reality. Long ago, this ancient force was sealed away as the power it offered was so great it posed a threat to the entire world of Weyward.

That power, however, was the source of the world’s vitality. When Alchemy was contained, the world began to slowly decay.

Due to the valiant efforts of a small group of heroes, a “Golden Sun” dawned on the world and Alchemy was restored, preventing ultimate destruction. However, Weyward was ill-prepared for the return of these mighty powers, and cataclysmic changes rocked the very continents.

Thirty years have passed since the world was both reborn and scarred forever. Amidst the chaos, three young heroes about to set off on their own grand quest…

Our Heroes

Matthew

Karis

Tyrell

After the slightly lengthy text introduction to the game that explains as briefly as possible intro, (not really) on the previous events of the past two Golden Sun games our story begins at the lookout point closest to Mount Aleph and the destroyed site of the previous town of Vale.

We get to see 2 of the original Warriors of Vale and their children: Matthew, Karis, and Tyrell. Unfortunately like all things in rpgs, we have present here our generic hot headed hero in Tyrell, and he decides that he wants to take a flight with an important device that causes Issac, Garet, Matthew and Karis to use their Psyenergy powers and skills to go and save him. This is where the true fun begins. :)

p.s. Psyenergy is like magic in this game.

Gameplay

Gameplay

The gameplay portion of GS: DD is very reminiscent of past Golden Sun titles. The combat is still turn based, djinns still play a role in the gameplay as far as finding them, and the story elements they sometimes provide, and the amount of puzzles in this game is huge!
However along with all of the old, good mechanics Camelot has added some new things that new and past fans alike should find enjoyable.

One of the few things that you will notice besides yet another silent protagonist & the lengthy conversations in the very beginning of the game, are the Red Link Words.
(I’m pretty sure this isn’t what it’s specifically called in the game so work with me here…ahem.)
So these linked Red words are in various parts of the dialogue. The main purpose of these words is to provide you with extra information on topics that you may not know about. It also provides rpg completionists with one more extra thing to do.
Sample dialogue with red links shows up in game like below:

(Issac)
The view of Mount Aleph today is spectacular. What a shame things can’t always stay like this.

You can access these links by tapping the word with your stylus or, even just using your shoulder buttons and it will show on your top screen.
All of the information on the words is also added to your encyclopedia so you can access it later if you want to.

You will also notice that our main character Matthew can respond not with words in conversations but emoticons. Four exactly which display his mood, since he’s not a man of many words. The 4 moods you can display are Happy, Gleeful, Sad, and Angry. Now while this is neat and makes some of the dialogue change slightly based on what mood you choose, it has no direct change in the storyline whatsoever. Maybe that will be changed in a future version of Golden Sun…


And as always when you are not talking to people, one of my personal favorite things that most rpgs are forgoing nowadays is searching every dresser, drawer, barrel, and pot for freebies. I have no idea why current console rpg games aren’t doing this, but in some ways it does kind of make the game longer, and reward you for exploring. Kudos to you Camelot for keeping that in the game.

~Combat~
For a regular rpg gamer turn based combat is nothing new, but I might have to burst a few bubbles and say that Golden Sun: Dark Dawn does it better than a good chunk of current and past console rpgs. Some things that you may have seen in past rpgs across the whole genre are weapons with specific abilities that you can use and unlock as long as you use that weapon, summons, and stronger better equipment for smacking monsters with.

Venus Djinn

The big difference here is the Djinns.

The Djinns are your bread and butter as far as combat is concerned in GS: DD. In the beginning of the game, you will obtain a few Djinn to start off and from there it is up to you to explore, every inch of the wold you come across to find more Djinn. The main reason for this is that Djinn give you access to not only your summons, but different classes for each of your characters which are totally dependent on your current level and Djinn currently equipped, more stats, and new powerful spells. So you should make sure you catch them all… ahem. Get them all I mean. :D
Just keep in mind the more Djinn you have the more easier the game becomes, and honestly the game is already super easy as it is.

Meganera summon

~World of Puzzles~
Now for the most important aspect of the game that I enjoyed the most, and what people are picking this game up for is the puzzles. If you love rpg games that have a lot of puzzles, or games similar to Lufia 2 in puzzle execution then you are going to love Golden Sun: Dark Dawn.
Anytime you see a treasure chest, an elusive Djinn, or there is somewhere you just have to get to you will most likely be solving a puzzle.

Now keep in mind these puzzles aren’t hard or anything ridiculous. They are actually pretty enjoyable because they allow you to use your Psyenergy in neat ways. If you didn’t know, most of your Psyenergy can be used in combat to fight all of the monsters you will encounter, and that same Psyenergy will allow you to solve every puzzle you face in the game as well.
The best explanation of this lies in the video below:

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Abilities Trailer from NintenDaanNC

All in all, from slaps to wake people up, and growing trees to open up new paths I’d say the puzzles make this game far more enjoyable. Especially since they are in no way frustrating and they always reward you once you have solved them.

Using Move Psyenergy to push a statue

Noteworthy
Here’s my personal list of Pros & Cons for this game:
Pros:

  • The puzzles, and smooth combat truly make this game a gem in the Golden Sun series.
  • You can actually run around the world map, and explore.
  • The emoticons that everyone uses even the ones in the menu screens are pretty funny.
  • Finally another GS game to add to my collection!
  • Summons look awesome.

Cons:

  • Sometimes it feels like the dialogue drags on and on.
  • Point of No Returns make you miss valuable items unless you start a new game.
  • This game is super easy, which could be considered a con to a lot of hardcore rpg gamers.
  • Still too many unanswered questions in the GS universe which means more sequels maybe 10 years from now D:
  • Even though I think the 3-D graphics look good it does not mean it’s better than past Golden Sun titles.

  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is about 25-30 hours long for the average gamer, although I’ve heard of people on the interwebs completing it in less then 20 hours :S
  • There are a total of 83 Djinn in the game, but the catch is that you can actually only use 72 of them. The other 11 make short cameos in the game.
  • When you catch a Djinn you don’t have to equip Mercury Djinn to your Mercury aligned party members. You can switch them around as you see fit. But if you do align them, you can unlock some pretty powerful classes…
  • If you don’t like the sound the characters make when they are talking, visit your options menu and turn it off! :D
  • A good majority of the weapons and equipment in this game have powerful skills, and effects. Unfortunately a good majority of these require some form of RNG or forging of specific metals to acquire. :(
  • There are a total of 8 playable characters.
  • There are a few points of no return (aka PONR) in this game and after you get to them if you’ve missed any items or Djinn then you can never go back. So for you completionists out there you might want to use a gamefaqs, or be very very thorough.

Image Gallery
This image gallery contains screenshots and art for Golden Sun: Dark Dawn on the Nintendo DS. Enjoy! :)

Videos

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Trailer from IGNentertainment

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Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Battle System from RPGamerdotcom

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Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Abilities Trailer from NintenDaanNC

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Words from Z
Overall I think this an excellent addition to the Golden Sun series. They kept all of the good stuff and added even more good stuff, but Camelot is also making new and old fans suffer by still not answering new questions that popped up in this newest Golden Sun.
To give an example, something was said about Psyenergy Vortexes early in this game making it seem like they were the true threat and then it’s not even talked about until almost the end of the game. Also most of the older Warriors of Vale are still alive and kicking somewhere in the GS Universe yet we only saw a few in this game. So like I said previously, it just means we have to wait for another sequel. I thought we were going to get more content in this game, after waiting the 7 months and some days, but I was wrong lol.

One more thing to point out. As of this post, it seems a lot of people have been asking should they get Golden Sun: Dark Dawn or Dragon Quest 9.
Well this game has a stronger story overall then DQ9 in my opinion, better puzzles, and memorable characters.
Dragon Quest 9 however has a heck of a lot more content then any rpg on the Nintendo DS right now. I’m including post game content in this as well. Granted, GS:DD does have a bonus dungeon after you beat the game, it’s only that one. DQ9 has that and so much more so get whichever one you like more of.

TL;DR DQ9: If you want more post game content, and you love the old school Dragon Quest 9 feel.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn if you want a really good storyline, better puzzles, and memorable characters.
So have you played Golden Sun: Dark Dawn yet?

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