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Thoughts & Opinions: Golden Sun Dark Dawn

January 20, 2012

Got this the other day. It’s been a few years since I played the first two Golden Sun games. I hardly remember the story. Had to look up a synopsis. I haven’t actually beaten the game yet. I’m about 15 hours in, so this isn’t so much of a review, but more of ‘first impressions’.

Gameplay: The gameplay is exactly the same as the first two games. Which is a good thing. I’d forgotten how fun it was. It’s a turn based RPG, in the oldschool sense. You select all your moves, then everyone acts based on their agility rating. Normally I hate such old-fashioned slow game mechanics, but the game keeps things fresh with the Psynergy, Djinn and summons.

Psynergy, the game’s ‘magic’ is vital for solving puzzles in the field. In battle, the psynergy adds a nice twist by having different attack ranges. Some psynergy targets one enemy, others target 3 enemies, and further some can target up to 5-7 enemies. This adds in a tiny bit of strategy when determining what move to use depending on the positions of the enemy.

Djinn serve several purposes. When set to a character, they bolster their stats making them much stronger and offering some customizability by changing the character’s class. You can use them in battle to perform attacks or heal, depending on the Djinn. And finally, they’re used to perform summons when they’re in standby phase. Trying to track down all of the Djinn is addicting.

The puzzles are fun. They’re generally simple, but a few can be challenging. It never gets so challenging that it hinders progress. They’re fun and you actually look forward to solving more.

Graphics: The graphics are good enough. They’re not the most gorgeous graphics the DS can muster, but it seems about average based on other RPGs that have been released on the DS like Dragonquest and Final Fantasy. Other than blocky character sprites, the psynergy animations look great. It’s quite rewarding to cast ragnarok and watch as a giant sword crashes into your enemies. The summons are particularly impressive. Every summon looks fantastic.

Music: The music is pretty standard RPG fare. Fantasy music with that sweet lulling music whenever you sleep at an inn. The soundtrack in general is pretty good. No complaints.

Story: The story is kinda weak. The first Golden Sun was all about saving the world and going after the people that kidnapped your friend. This one however starts with a simple errand because your friend was stupid and broke an important flying contraption. It feels more like each time you go on a quest, you’re just going to do errands for another person.

The story is mediocre, but it’s enough to keep you mildly interested. The story is more of an excuse for you to go to the next dungeon to solve more puzzles and enter more battles. Keep in mind that I’m only about a third through the game so far, so there’s still the possibility of a huge plot twist coming up that could really help the story. But at this rate, it’s unlikely to be anywhere near as good as the original golden suns.

Bottom Line: It’s got great gameplay that will keep you entertained for hours. However the story leaves something to be desired. If you’re looking for an engaging story, look elsewhere. If gameplay is your main concern, it’s good fun and it’s easy to get sucked in trying to get all the djinn. Fans of the first two golden suns will want to get it regardless to see the old characters and ‘finish’ the story.

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