Golden Sun is a series that many gamers have not heard about in a very long time. When the Gameboy Advance released, many gamers hungered for a solid RPG, and Golden Sun was at the right place at the right time. Part Zelda, part Final Fantasy with a dash of Pokemon, the solid gameplay and great graphics made it a modern classic.
Now some seven years later after Golden Sun: The Lost Age, we finally get a sequel. Does the formula still hold up?
Shining Brightly - Camelot is no slouch when it comes to great graphics. While I miss the charm of the 2D sprites, Dark Dawn holds its own with more sparkles, explosions and flash than you can shake a stick at. As far as 3D goes on the DS, it’s easily one of the best looking games out there. The soundtrack also features plenty of remixes and new tunes. While they don’t all stand out, they fit well and are pleasing to the ears.
If Isn’t Broke, Don’t Fix It - The gameplay remains mostly the same. Battles are still turn-based, the puzzles still use psynergy and tried and true block pushing, and there’s still a ton of weapons, Djinni and other items to collect. It’s nothing remarkably new, but it’s the great combining of those elements that make it enjoyable.
But If It Was Broke, Do Fix It - One of the strange annoyances of the first two games was that if your character’s target was killed before it was their turn to attack, they would default to defense mode and waste a turn. Thankfully, that’s finally fixed, so your character will attack the next closest target.
Take Your Pick - The entire game, from the field to battles, can be played with the touch screen. But if you’re a fan of buttons, the game obliges with a traditional control scheme. More games should do this instead of shoving the touch screen down your throat like the DS Zelda games.
A Better Yarn - Dark Dawn picks up 30 years after the first game, and while a lot has changed, there’s still more than a few familiar faces that fans will recognize. Luckily for those who didn’t play the other games, the game is very good about filling in the holes, with all major terms and people fleshed out with a glossary that you can access in the middle of a conversation, should you forget a name or a place. The story also manages to flesh out the characters a bit, without bogging you down with flashbacks and other stuff. It’s not up there with the best stories in gaming, but I found it to be a little more interesting than the previous games.
Lack of a Challenge - Quite simply put, the game is a bit too easy. It suffers from the same problem that the Kingdom Hearts game faced: they give you a million offensive options, but fail to give you worthy opponents. I only saw a game over screen after fighting the final boss unprepared. While there is the classic hidden boss that will kick your butt, the main game should offer a better challenge.
Dark Dawn is a great addition to the series, and both fans and newcomers should be able to enjoy it. If you are looking for a challenge, this isn’t going to satisfy, but if you enjoy exploring, solving puzzles, and collecting treasure, this game will certainly please.
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