Fans have eagerly anticipated the next Golden Sun since the last two adventures were released back on the Game Boy Advance. Lots of questions were left on the table as to the characters and to what the Golden Sun itself signifies. After a long wait, the next chapter in the series, Dark Dawn, has finally made its way onto the Nintendo DS on North American shores.
The game takes place 30 years after the original Golden Sun games where the Warriors of Vale saved the world from complete annihilation by raising the “Golden Sun.” However, they were both praised and criticized for their actions when the world of Weyard was rocked by the sudden return of Alchemy, which devastated the continents. Dark Dawn follows the tale of the children of the Warriors as they face a new source of evil that threatens to once again tear their world apart.
Battles are frequent as the game contains random encounters. The options available in battle are Attack, Defend, Psynergy and Djinn. Psynergy is useful for attacking enemies and for curing your party members whereas Djinn are used for elemental attacks and summons. You can assign Psynergy shortcuts to the L and R button on the open map to solve puzzles like clearing obstacles, removing roadblocks and altering your environment. These can be changed at any time as you are usually rewarded with treasure chests and special items for carefully exploring every nook and cranny of the game world.
There are four types of Djinn: Venus, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter. They are broken down respectively into four elements: earth, fire, water and wind. They are visible as tiny little creatures that can be assigned to any party member before battle. Who you choose as your Djinn will influence your class and the abilities available to you. Djinns are capable of summoning powerful allies to deal devastating damage to your enemies in the thick of battle. The use of these summons is limited as they are put on standby for a couple turns before they are accessible again.
Within the dialogue comes the choice of how you react to every situation. These are displayed with the use of emoticon icons and there are four in total: Pleased, Excited, Sad and Angry. Choosing either of the options has no bearing on the story as the only difference lies in the dialogue you receive from other party members surrounding you.
Psynergy attacks require Psynergy Points in battle which can be replenished by touching a psynergy stone, using select items, sleeping at a village inn or walking around and exploring the world map. Character classes for your party members vary depending on the Djinn you have assigned to them. Talking to NPC characters, jumping across chasms, and exploring the environment is all done via the stylus and tapping spots to interact with them.
Visually, the game is polished and the character designs are detailed. There is no noticeable slowdown even when the game switches to battle mode or to the map screens. On the music side, the soundtrack is a nice accompaniment but there isn’t anything in particular that stands out.
Golden Sun is a very enjoyable game and one that remains true to the series. Despite the game’s shortcomings when it comes to dialogue and pacing, Dark Dawn is fun while it lasts and a worthy addition to the series. Here’s to hoping the wait for the next Golden Sun game won’t be nearly as long.