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It’s been seven whole years since the previous Golden Sun titled The Lost Age was released to the world on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance and the time for a DS sequel of this handheld JRPG has finally arrived.

The third in the series promises stylus controls and a shift from 2D to 3D graphics. Was it worth the very long wait?

Full review after the jump.

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn takes place 30 years after the events of The Lost Age and revolves not around the same characters from the previous title, but the children of Isaac, Garett and Ivan instead. The children are incredibly similar to their parents, so not much has changed since the previous title and will feel instantly familiar.

For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Golden Sun plays out like a traditional JRPG with adventuring, story and turn-based random encounter battles. What makes Golden Sun a different is that most of the adventuring is actually puzzle-based to a degree.

Getting through areas of the story such as making your way through a cave or getting over mountains requires you to use the characters’ abilities (called Psynergy). A typical example of this would be using a “move” power to push pillars around, or using a whirlwind to raise up large leaves for the characters to walk over and so on.

This element of the game keeps the game fun as a whole, making you shift between adventuring through puzzle areas using your Psynergy as tools as well as walking speaking with people in towns, buying equipment and of course, battling.

The one major issue that I found with Golden Sun is that while I enjoy the classic JRPG battles (enhanced with a system of Djinn creatures that improve characters and can be summoned or used to summon larger avatars), the fights are just too easy for the majority of the game. Every now and then you will come across a battle that requires you to really think through what you are doing and use all of the abilities available to you to succeed. For most of the game however, you merely line up what special powers and attacks you want your characters to use and then watch the enemies get torn to shreds.

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Still, aside from the easy battles, the system is interesting overall with your characters finding and collecting the djinn creatures which serve to aid you in your battles although it can get a little confusing.

Overall, it’s the same Golden Sun that you have always loved, just better thanks to the new additions. The shift to 3D looks marvelous and really brings the characters to life while the ability to play with the stylus will appeal to many gamers even though the original controls are still available for old-schoolers like me.

Conclusion:

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn for the Nintendo DS is exactly what fans of the series will want. Its only downfall is that it maybe doesn’t really do anything new. On that same note, if you just wanted more of the great Golden Sun story and gameplay then you will be in for a treat.

For those not familiar with it, pick this up if you are looking for a neat little adventure on your DS with puzzle elements and adventure. The battles are too easy and the Djinn system still needs some better explaining but overall, you will have a great time playing through the long story mode.


Scoring:

Gameplay: 8/10

The adventuring, puzzles and battles feel great and make the whole game enjoyable to play.

Presentation (and game design): 8.5/10

Golden Sun in 3D looks great and is complimented with fantastic art design, especially in the towns.

Sound: 7.5/10

The old tunes are back with a little bit of flair added to them. Nothing spectacular though.

Value: 8.5/10

A fantastic JRPG adventure for the DS that will give you hours upon hours of joy as you make your way through the campaign.

Overall (not an average): 8.2

A wonderful addition to any DS owners library.

Last Updated: January 20, 2011

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
Summary
8.2

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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