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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars

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on 20 January 2011
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn for the DS is an amazing RPG.
My review is a little biased since I played the previous Golden Sun titles and they are part of my favorite games ever, however, that also gives me a little base of comparison.

As an RPG Golden Sun DD is a great game, it will stand out, it will be fun to play, it will be adictive, but that doesn't take it apart from the many great RPG's on the DS.
As a Golden Sun title I would have to say that, in terms of quality, it would fit between the two previous titles, more enjoyable than the first but not better than the second.

There are many upgrades made in this game, you now have an encyclopedia where you can store most of the game's data when it is presented, battle has improved greatly and I daresay it is the biggest improvement in this title, new psynergy allowing for new cfreative puzzles, impressive artistic design and, as usual, a great story that reminds me of the first game (for some reasons I will not explain, as they are spoilers).

I found the game enjoyable but it has flaws, and some of them are quite disapointing, for instance, the constant roadblocks that never existed in previous games, somewhat cut the game lifespan as they prevent you from re-exploring some places, hindering the overall game experience. Not that the game is small, it just makes it more linear than other games, which is something I really apreciate.

That was a bit general so I'm going to give some detailed explanations now.

Not the best on the DS I must say, but not bad either, as I said before, artistically it is a great game, with some design flaws, the battle sequences are some of the best I ever seen, but the world map and exploration pales a bit in comparison with other games, as the previous Golden Sun titles had some of the best graphics in the GBA, however they are not despicable and they are quite attractive and enjoyable just like it's predecessors.
It doesn't hurt to get to a place and just stare at everything thinking it's beautifull, this game does this sometimes.

It's great, enjoyable, addicting... you won't get tired soon!
Puzzles are inventive, battles are fun and exploration is the main dish.
Some people say this game is a bit on the easy side, they may be right about that, I found it to be just right, but I have some experience from previous games, and that made the game a lot easier for me, some rookies might find some puzzles troubling, but I think the game has the right difficulty for everyone.
Just be careful of roadblocks if you are a completionist like me.
I found the temples and ruins small compared to Golden Sun: The Lost Age (the second and best entry), as I was expecting 6 floored and labirintic buildings and i got 2 floored and linear places (you will see what i mean when you have to search for the !#$% Gear, sorry spoilers). Halfway through the game it seems like the world squeezes you into the main story, you do get to explore as much as you like later though, but it will still seem weird.

May be a bit boring in the beggining, even more if you don't know the basis of this game (i think that's why the encyclopedia exists, after 7 years it's kinda tough to remember everything), but it is not a bad one, by all means, every character has it's own reasons to take part in the story, and the plot makes you care for them, a bond is created between player and the game. I dont't want to dwelve into details here, I may bring a lot of spoilers.
Even after completing the game there is stuff to do and your save file will not be blocked, but there is no new game+.

How I love thee. (Personal Note: I have werid tastes)
Nothing new to the series, the music adds to the atmosphere of the game, but this time around i haven't found a song that got stuck in my mind for weeks, the game does have some impressive tunes though.
The game fails a bit in some sound effects, the one i found most weird is the one that plays when you slide down a slope, it seems weird.

Ok this ended up being a really biased opinion of the game.
To those who have never played Golden Sun before, go ahead and have a great time.
To those who have played Golden Sun before, go ahead and rejoice.
To those who like RPG's, go ahead it's enjoyable.
In any case, I don't think you will regret playing this game.

Let's all hope for a sequel, as it deserves one!
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on 4 April 2011
I played the first two Golden Sun games on the Gameboy Advance when they were first released, and I loved them. When I found out that a third game was finally being made, I was foaming at the mouth with excitement, and got it on release.

You play as the children of the characters from the first Golden Sun here - the children of Isaac, Garet, Ivan and Mia. You also meet up with four more characters as the game progresses, some new, one players of The Lost Age will remember (I did a little squeak when they turned up - "omg, it's ____!"), and one who players of the previous games will know who it is, even though the other characters don't. ("Eh? Your father was an Adept? WHO COULD IT HAVE BEEN?!" Omg, it's so obvious for us, ahaha.)
Isaac and Garet also make a large appearence at the start of the game. You'll find Garet's grown a stupid little moustache. >.> lol.

It's a great game, but not as good as the first two. The story can be a bit iffy in places - one minute the adult Isaac and Garet are talking to their children about the Psynergy Vortexes that are appearing, and of the danger of a terrible phenonemon called the Mourning Moon. The kids are sent on a quest to find a material needed to build a soarwing to enable Isaac to fly out to the ruined Sol Sanctum to find out what's happening.

And then... it all changes. After a short while, Psynergy vortexes and the Mourning Moon are barely mentioned at all, as the story seems to go off on another tangent. It's still a good story, it's just the change is slightly confusing, especially when it jumps back to it later on and it's kinda like "Huh? What? Oh.... THOSE. I remember..."

There are also several points of no return in the game - so if you miss something, such as a Djinni or a summon, there's no going back to get it.

But the main thing I didn't like about this game is the fact that it's so darn /easy/. The original games offered a good challenge, but this one hands out experience points like they're going out of fashion - by the end of the game I was getting 150,000 exp a battle, and my characters were levelling up every other fight, even though they were already almost level 60. I never once had to go out and level up specifically for a boss, and I never had a single character downed. You can just breeze through it, which some people might like, but I prefer a bit more of a challenge.

The puzzles also left a lot to be desired - I remember the puzzles in the previous games making me turn the air blue on several occasions - but I only had trouble with ONE puzzle in this game. And then I find out afterwards that the use of a certain Psynergy shows the solution for this puzzle, taking away any sign of difficulty. The solutions for all other puzzles were often so blindingly obvious it sometimes became boring.

It is still a good, fun game, and takes around 30ish hours to complete, but it's just far too easy sometimes, and not a patch on the originals. If there's a fourth game, I just hope it's a little more challenging than this. I would also guess that if there is a fourth (and I think I heard there is another title in development for the new 3DS) the seemingly forgotten Psynergy vortexes and the Mourning Moon will play a bigger part. Then it will be perfect. :)
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on 8 January 2011
Dark Dawn is a great sequel to the other Golden Sun games while also offering an easy way in for newcomers to this brilliant series. Although the game follows on from the two previous ones, it shouldn't matter whether you have played them or not as Dark Dawn is set 30 years afterwards.

Game play is pretty much the same from the last games: turn based combat with cool summons and spells that take full advantage of the DS graphical capabilities (the eclipse summon is awesome!), puzzling dungeons that require a brain as well as brute strength and plenty of little bits and pieces to do on the side if you want to gather all the best weapons and summons. Golden Sun fans are also in for a treat as many old faces from the previous games turn up.

The bad points? A little too easy. I didn't have to think too hard about any puzzles or boss strategies, but that doesn't mean this is a short game as I still managed to clock up 33 hours. There's also a lot of talking, which may or may not be to your liking. Personally, I like having little jokes and character development, which all comes out in the dialogue.

The biggest disappointment is the ending. The quest begins with you looking for a feather to fix a broken flying machine and investigating some dark voids along the way. However, this all gets sidetracked for something else and you never find out what is happening with the voids. There are also a few other loose ends that aren't tied up.

On a more positive note though, the game is left wide open for a sequel!
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on 24 May 2011
Ive just finished the main story of this excellent game and it took me a good 25 hours and im sure theres still a good 5 hours of side dungeons to complete still. I was a huge fan of the original games and i was worried that this wouldnt be able to live up to the standard but it exceeded my expectations in every regard. The story was just as immersive as the others but i have to agree with the other reviewers in that there is a ton of dialogue. At least 50% of it could have been cut. That would be my main criticism and the only other one i have is that it could have been longer or bigger as the map felt quite small. It doesnt really finish the story that the game starts with (aka finding and returning a mountain roc feather to your parents) and it had a few other loose ends therefore i have to assume that there is going to be a sequel which is good news. The dungeons,quests and the game in genral were definately easier than the previous games but i liked that because i found the other ones a bit too hard and frustrating. Anyway, the optional dungeon bosses are still just as hard as the hardest boss battles from the previous games. In general the graphics were satisfying and i didnt ever feel like they didnt put in the effort. At times the gameplay almost felt like i was playing a Zelda DS game. I also liked how the story was a lot darker. There was a lot more death and the bad guys felt more like bad guys than in the other games which is good for us older gamers. Overall an excellent game that every RPG fan should own and a worthy addition to the Golden Sun series.
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on 6 October 2011
I enjoyed the first two GS games immensley on the Gameboy Advance. The first was probably the best one, as it was well-paced. The second one, Lost Kingdom, seemed a little over-crowded and confusing, but over-all, it was a good meaty game to keep you exploring for weeks. So obviously I was excited about Dark Dawn, but somehow, it killed the series for me. There may be spoilers ahead, so don't read if you want to avoid them.

The story begins by introducing us to the three main characters who are the children of three of the main characters from the first Golden Sun. During the early stages, they are sent on a quest to find the feather of a Roc. During their travels, they encounter these mysterious dark vortexes that seem to absorb the magical energy our heroes use, which is called Psynergy. So this had me thinking that the vortexes would be a recurring element throughout the game and somehow tied to the final boss. However, the plot of this game pretty much disappears up its own rear end. we end up running into a group of cillains who trick us into doing a bunch of misdeeds which result in us bringing about an apocalypse that we have to put right.

My biggest annoyance with this game is that there are too many cut off points, in which once you progress through a certain area, thats it, you won't ever be going back to the previous areas you have explored. This, for me, is a big fat No-no when it comes to RPGs. In the first two GS games, there were quite a few points where you had to leave a lot of things behind to proceed, but eventually you would find a way to get back to the earlier stages of the game (for example, a broken bridge gets repaired or you use your ship to get back) this makes for a nice non-linear experience, so that if you realise you have left behind certain items, then you can head back and retrieve them. In the case of the GS games, this is essential to making sure you get hold of all of the Djini spirits, which are used to make characters more powerful.
Alas, with Dark Dawn, there are several point in the game's storyline where once you proceed, thats it. No going back. Missed any of those djinnis or unique diety summoning spells? Tough. You'll have continue without them, or quit and start all over again from the beginning. This just makes the game too linear for me to fully enjoy, and makes me think it should not have been designed as an RPG.

The other problem I had with this game is that it becomes so morbid and depressing halfway through. Not that I don't love a good fantasy romp with plenty of dark, intriguing themes, but the doom and gloom that occurs in this game just does not suit the style of GS at all. The first two GS games were very light-hearted. at times, it seemed like certain characters were in peril, but they'd pull through and come back. In Dark Dawn, once the apocalyptic event kicks in (the Eclipse, which causes the Dark Dawn of the game's title) then its all down-hill from there. You wander around towns and find the streets literally littered with corpses. This is very dark indeed for a Golden Sun game. But the thing is, a lot of the death that occurs in this game seems to have been dealt with quite in bad taste. One of the characters you recruit has the ability to communicate with the spirits of the dead, so you actually get to go around talking to some of the dead bodies, and they kind of give these black humoured lines of dialogue. Funny, but again, not what I want from a Golden Sun game.

As for the characters - in total, you get to recruit 8 playable characters (2 for each element) but to me, that just seems like 4 too many. I said Lost Kingdom seemed over-crowded, but that game had a good length. This game is significently shorter than Lost Kingdom. In fact, at one point, I really thought I was about halfway through the game, but it turned out that I was very close to the end! The other advantage that Lost Kingdom had, was that you explored a big chunk of the game with the 4 "new" characters (3 of them were people we met in the first GS) and then later on we'd be reunited with the 4 major characters from the first game. so it patched things up nicely, and there were plenty of side quests to explore with the fully formed group.

In Dark Dawn, half of the group were people I did not give a damn about. In the beginning, you get to do a bit of training with Isaac and Garet (2 major characters from the old games) and I wa slike "Cool! we get to see how everyone has grown up!" but unfortunately, those two are only in this game to give tutorials on how to use synergy and djinnis. Once you leave home, you never see them again, and you don't get to meet any of the other characters from the previous games (exept for their children) I honestly think this game would have been better if half the group were fresh-faced youngsters, and the other half were characters from the previous games. Sadly, for me, it was about gathering a group of mostly new characters and the story seemed very rushed, considering how short the game is over all. I think the other new characters should have been saved for another game (I don't actually know if they have made/ are making another GS game - I do feel we need another one to make up for Dark Dawn)

I also feel I should mention that my inventory was constantly becoming over-loaded with useless items. In the Golden Sun games, we get a large amount of magic points (called psynergy points, or PP in the Golden Sun realm) and they constantly replenish during travel, so we get practically limitless uses of attack and healing spells. Therefore, we don't really need all these herbs and elixirs taking up space in our inventory. We don't need smoke bombs and sleeping gas, either. this may seem like a minor issue, but when i want to give a certain character a new peace of equipment, and he can't take it because his pockets are full, then it becomes an inconvenience, because I have to mess around choosing which items to swap over.

As with the previous GS games, you can alter your characters' fighting classes by aligning different elemental djinni alongside each other. This was a good feature in the first two GS games, which had a lot more exploring and fighting, but in Dark Dawn, it seems virtually useless. Battles are just too easy, for some reason, and the areas we explore are quite small, so you don't exactly get to wander far and wide, encountering many battles. I can't quite put my finger on it, but the class alterations seemed redundant in this game compared to its predeccessors.

So what positive things can I tell you about Dark Dawn? well, the graphics are pretty awesome for a handheld game. while walking around and watching cutscenes, the character sappear as cute stubby polygons, and when you get into fights, the polygons look more mature - they have more human adult-like proportions. Kind of like how Final fantasy VII on the PS uses different polygons from when you're walking around interacting with things, and when you have battle encounters.

The graphics are particularly beautiful on the summon spells. In the first two games, a drawing of a god or spirit would show up and lightning would flash about, and that was it. Very little animation involved. However in Dark Dawn, each summon spell gets its own little cutscene. We see Thor with his mighty muscles and tattoos, and many goddesses in skimpy outfits and flowing hair. Unfortunately, this is one the game's downfalls for me. I don't need 10-40 second long fancy cut scenes during battles to keep me occupied. Once or twice is nice, but after 79th time it gets a bit boring. I don't care what an exotic dragon queen from the heavenly palace looks like when she's breathing flames all over my enemies, as long as it does lots of damage.
Perhaps if the game's creators put as much effort into designing a better world to explore, then my review on this game would be a little more cheerful.

another feature to the game is that you can collect picture books that tell the story from the first two games, with cute little hand-drawn cut scenes depicting major events from the previous games. A dangerous distraction - reminding us that these games were once awesome.

And the dungeons, although they don't quite rival the lengthy dungeons of Lost Age, are quite well done. They are not overly-difficult to the point where you think "screw this - I'm gloking on the web for a solution", but the puzzles in this game rather... fun!

And one of the greatest credits I give to this game is its soundtrack. The music is beautiful and lively (fpr the most part, mind. There's always a few annoying tracks that have us turning down the volume in these sorts of games) but the scores are pretty much on par with the previous games.

Well, thats about all can say about Golden Sun: Dark Dawn for now. The older GS games are not perfect, by any means, but there flaws are little easier to overlook. I found a lot of flaws in this game, which became worse as I progressed through it. Its not a bad game, its just disappointing by the standards set by the first two golden suns.
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on 22 December 2010
I have been playing this game for about a week now and love it! The graphics are stunning, the storyline flows and the puzzles are challenging enough without being frustrating. There are random battles but just enough. I personally get frustrated when there is a battle every few seconds when you are trying to solve something. Golden sun is not like that. When you do battle the graphics are fantastic and the options for attacks are so varied it keeps you entertained. I have only played a few RPG's (dragon quest, final fantasy and zelda) but this is my favourite so far. The attention to detail is excellent - it feels like value for money - I say buy it and you won't be disappointed!
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on 12 December 2010
I really like this new updated version of Golden Sun. It still has the essence of the old games which is a good thing I think. Music and graphics are on par and characters are very similar to the old ones we had (Isaac, Jenna, Ivan and Garet) I also think that the user interface is quite easy to use and good for first time players also new to the game. A good solid RPG game and I recommend it to anyone especially RPG and Golden Sun fans. The only down side I'd say is the long dialogue speeches, sometimes they just seem to talk forever and ever. Apart from that, it's a great game.
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on 5 October 2012
This is a really good game, but I did have a few issues with it. Mainly concerning the plot, as it is a typical RPG, and is very predictable if you have played many. But, other than that the game is a lot of fun.

Without spoiling the plot, the game is set 30 years in the future from the previous Golden Sun games, and after the Golden Sun event. Instead of playing as Isaac, Garet or Felix, this time you play as Matthew (Isaac's son). Also, instead of a party of 4 being separated from one another throughout most of the game, you will find your companions as you visit different countries, towns, and cities. There isn't much of a world map to explore in this one. But, at least the game is a bit more straightforward, as if you read the dialogue, you can work out where to go next. Something that wasn't always provided in the first two Golden Sun games, where you had to run around and find the next town, city, country or dungeon and hope that you were in the right place.

The game also utilises the stylus to move Matthew around. I however, found that the stylus wasn't needed, and that I could just play the entire game walking around with the D-Pad. You can also use the joystick on your 3DS to move Matthew, if you have one!

If you enjoy turn based action in your RPG's, then this game is definitely for you. The puzzles in this game I found rather easy. There will be times when you may have to look up how to reach a certain Djinn, but other than that the puzzles are relatively straight forward and fun.
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on 27 December 2013
Golden Sun Dark Dawn is a turn-based Japanese Role-playing game (the game is in English. Japanese Role-playing game is the genre/style).

The mechanics are overworld exploration of continents and sea, turned based combat, and puzzles that use Psynergy ("Powers" or "Magic"). Unique to this game is the mechanic of "Djinni" who are small creatures that represent each of the traditional elements of alchemy (Wind, Fire, Earth and Water). They augment your party of characters by giving your characters a boost to stats, or affecting what Psynergy powers the character knows. Each of the 8 total playable characters represent one of the 4 elements.

You can choose any combination of Djinni on any character. For example, you can have a few Earth Djinni on a Fire character (Adept). Since each Djinni (even within the same element) buffs different stats, you can mix-and-match to craft your perfect character. This adds a surprising amount of depth to the game. Unfortunately, the controls for doing this is rather fiddly. You navigate lots of menus to compare and contrast different Djinni combinations. Especially when you acquire a new Djinni. As a result, you'll probably end up making your Adepts purists. e.g. Putting only Earth Djinni on an Earth Adept. It's a shame.

Another area which is a hit and miss is the storyline. There are several points of "No Return" through out the story. This by itself isn't bad. It's a change from the very-open world of the first two games but it helps direct the story and reduces the likelihood of you getting lost. Unfortunately, the problem with this system is the fact Golden Sun has a "Collectable" aspect to it. You can only get certain Djinni and Summons in certain parts of the story. If you progress past a "Point of No Return", you will *never* be able to obtain those Djinni or Summons ever again. Which means if you want to 100% Djinni and Summons, you must refer to a Walkthrough guide. Which isn't enjoyable as you risk reading spoilers and it takes away the decision process of where to go.

The puzzles compared to the previous games are improved and at the same time made worse. There are no more annoyingly obscure puzzle solutions. However, on the flip side, some puzzles are insultingly and patronisingly simple. However, it could be that since I had played the previous two games, I can instantly see what needs to be done.

The story is different from the previous games. If you had played the previous games you'll appreciate any returning characters/places x years on. But the story isn't focused. Elements are dropped and ignored whilst new agendas appear. Despite the game being more linear, the narrative is less focused. The game feels more like series of events than an over-arcing plot.

The 8 playable characters are nicely varied with personality and gameplay. However, encountering them is sprinkled across the story. Which means when you encounter the last two, you are very far into the game and comfortable with your preferred choice of 4 to battle with. Which is a shame.

The game makes improvements over the previous two games. However some of the changes to make the game less punishing instead has made some aspects too simplistic. And ironically, this game now punishes you for being ignorant about Djinni and Summon locations. I gave this game 4*s because the previous two games are 5* material. It is a fun game. However, if you're expecting Golden Sun 1 & The Lost Age then you will be slightly disappointed.
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on 13 February 2011
I bought this with a mix of trepidation and hysteric excitement. The best RPG series Nintendo ever published makes a return. Dark Dawn retains much of what made the GBA saga a fan favourite, with some updates and enhancements to reflect the age. The series has a strong ancestry, but I was a little afraid that the perfect experience of The Lost Age would be tainted with new problems.

I needn't have worried.

An absolute must have for any RPG fan and a worthy successor to the series. Is it as good as The Lost Age? Not quite. It's a little shorter, and, despite developer claims that it is a stand alone game, it feels much like the first golden Sun, in that it sets up lots of plot threads and then buries them, giving indication that any future titles will be thick with drama.

The Gameplay is follows The Lost Age in it's perfect mix of meandering, puzzle filled dungeons and short but frenetic random battles. Many More HardCore RPG players may find the battles too easy, but I felt that by keeping the fights short, they prevented the story from being held back. There is no need to grind levels, and lack of equipment can be compensated for with strong magic. The only places I felt were too simple were boss fights, which (aside from the unnecessarily cruel final-boss) are too short to get a proper pace going.

The story is easy to follow, and short by RPG standards, but in any given moment there will be hefty rewards for straying from your designated route to seek out weapons, djinn, or devastating summons. There are also rewards for back tracking and for further exploration post-game, including the only truly great boss fights in the game.

The presentation is astounding, and clearly the most powerful use of the DS to date. A great score and strong cinematic sequences bring the action to life, just as they did on the GBA

Dark Dawn, unlike The Lost Age, isn't perfect. But it's still a 5 star RPG and the best one on the DS. It offers more variety the Final Fantasy titles, and a more compelling story than Dragon Quest IX. Here and there It felt a little vague, but those moments were brief and far between. The dungeon design is flawless, the game mechanics simple but rich, and the characters and settings charming and beautifully crafted.

At the end, I felt sad that I had visited so little of Weyard, and that so many of the complexities of the story had seemingly been lost. But then the same thought cheered me up, because there is doubtless more on the way.
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