Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Golden Sun:Dark Dawn

Gamespot Score: 7.5 (Good)

My Score: 8.0

(+)Pros: - Amazing visuals for the DS, - Great music, - Battle system is easy to learn and fun to exploit, - Djinns are as awesome as always, - Huge world for movement and exploration, - Great field mechanics and different skills that can be used to solve some pretty diverse puzzles in dungeons, - Post game content (yes, I know almost every RPG has them), - More party members than previous installments, - Cameos and references to old games.

(-)Cons: - Way too f**king easy, - Sequel bait ending....yeah.....

Gameplay time: 30 hours +

It's been a long time since my last DS game review, hasn't it ("Dengeki Gakuen" was way back in March)? I've never been too big of a "Golden Sun" fan. I've played the original on the GBA, but I just didn't quite get the feel for it and never finished it as a kid. Many years later, "Golden Sun:Dark Dawn" came out, and I just let it fly under my radar. Only years after its release then I picked it up and said "why not?", thus I gave it a spin, and for the first time in my life, I finished a "Golden Sun" game. I'm glad to say that I was genuinely surprised, and really happy to find a RPG with such old school roots. In this day and age, old school is good.

Its been many many years since the previous game, and our old battle worn hero Issac, has already settled down. He has a son, Matthew, and he lives with him on the top of a mountain, watching over the world of Weyard. One day, the son of Garred screwed up with a flying mechanism and went crashing down into the forest below. This is the first time something like this has happened, so ours heroes start to panic. Issac, being the cool mother f**ker that he is, suggests that they all go down to look for him. So now Matthew, Issac, Garred and Karis, the daughter of Ivan who happened to be there, all set out to look for the poor chap. After all is said and done, the three children of our old heroes are sent on an adventure which starts out with a minor purpose, and propels to something big that threatens the fate of the world.

Towns, everyone likes them

"Golden Sun:Dark Dawn" looks beautiful, there's no doubt about that. Among all the games on the DS with 3D visuals, "Golden Sun:Dark Dawn" is one of the best out there, that's for sure. Great attention to detail in the environments will definitely spark "ooo"s, "ahh"s and "woah"s in most players, because I know I was impressed. Its also safe to say that the game looks EVEN BETTER during battles. Chibi-fied characters become normal, full sized characters, and they look amazing at what they do. Skill effects can look overpowering at times, and some of the more powerful Djinn summons look REALLY badass, like old school "Final Fantasy" summons. Plus, you combine all this with the AMAZING battle music (I love Sakuraba, but his "Golden Sun" work has really been the best so far), and you've got yourself a hype pumping battle.

Battle is the standard affair you get out of old school RPGs, and is mostly the same as it's predecessors. You take turns to hit enemies and they take turns to hit you, its a simple process that most gamers must have encountered before at least once. Basic mechanics such as normal attacking for physical damage and using spells for magical damage apply here, but exclusive to "Golden Sun" games, we have the Djinn system, which is COOL as f**k. Like in old games, you spend time traversing the world, and occasionally, you run into Djinns. These sly f**kers are hard to get, as most are usually hiding in some high edge corner which require some puzzle solving or power from a later level to get. Some even encounter you during random battles. Djinns are like the summons and Materia of "Golden Sun", and come in handy in MANY different ways. Depending on the affinity type of your characters, Djinns will boost or weaken them accordingly when you equip them.


A Djinn  of different affinity is going to weaken the user, but will grant him/her new spells usually not accessible. Its a really cool system, but while equipping all Djinns of similar affinity to a character is best, swapping around is also an option you might find worthy of exploration. Using them in combat will grant some flashy attacks, and when using multiples Djinns will sometimes summon another Djinn of extreme power to pull off something ridiculous looking. The world is HUGE, and exploration is done via a world map like old "Final Fantasy" games, while going into a location will switch to the normal map navigation. With a HUGE world map, there is a shit ton of locations to explore, and most dungeons, have puzzles. Using the different field skills that you have, you interact with objects to clear path ways or create new ones to proceed.

This includes using wind to blow up petals for you to step on, shooting water to douse flames, using energy to push blocks and logs, or using a pull type magic to lunge you across pillars. There are tons of these little interactive objects and different complimenting spells, so it can get rather difficult at the higher level dungeons, hell some puzzles are harder than the bosses that come later. And you know, since THIS IS a JRPG (one with an old school feel at that), you can expect, post game optional content. Optional bosses and dungeons galore, you can probably still net a good 10 hours or so after you finish the main game (f**king Dullahan). Its also worth noting that this installment has more party members than previous ones (8 as compared to the previous games' 4), which gives more variety. Plus, if you're a fan of the old games, cameos and references to old characters will make you smile.

Meh, just a bear and 2 birds

As I said this was the very first "Golden Sun" game that I cleared, and I'm not sure if this was the case to old games, but this game is way to f**king easy. THIS, was my major concern with the game. Not the touch screen menus or anything like that, its the difficulty of the game. If there was a hard mode, I would have picked it. I died ONCE throughout the entire game (and it was because I didn't know how to fully utilize my Djinns during that part of the game), and the last boss....didn't seem like a last boss, he was so easy! Hell the Roc was harder than he was (f**k I'm sorry if I spoiled you, the only worthwhile challenging boss in the game is Dullahan, but he's post game). The sequel bait ending, I guess its also a bad thing. Most people hate to see sequel bait endings, but honestly, I want the sequel already :D.

"Golden Sun:Dark Dawn", is a great JRPG for the DS that can really get you going. The old school feel and gameplay made me stick around, because nowadays, most JRPGs play themselves, and are void of that exploration feel that games like "Golden Sun:Dark Dawn" can provide. If you missed the old days of "Final Fantasy 1-9", this game can bring you back. Fans of old series will definitely enjoy this I suppose, but as for newcomers, you'll like it if you love old school RPGs, otherwise, maybe not that much. It is however, too easy to be of much challenge (hell the hardest parts were the puzzles). Nintendo if you're watching this, make the sequel harder please, or power down the Djinns if you really can't balance it out.

Happy gaming!