Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (Hands-On) (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Adam Riley 07.08.2010 11

Review for Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Both Golden Sun and its sequel, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, helped thrust Camelot Software Planning back into the spotlight after it had built up a strong reputation for creating superlative RPG experiences in the past, such as Shining Force for SEGA. Sadly, though, after two highly successful Game Boy Advance adventures, the expected third entry into the burgeoning series never came, despite numerous rumours and plenty of speculation about where the story was heading in the near future. Thankfully, however, Nintendo and Camelot have once more joined forces to bring gamers what they so eagerly wanted, in the form of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn for the Nintendo DS.

For those that have not yet read up on the background of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, this is what the Takahashi Brothers at Camelot had originally planned as being the main event for the RPG series. Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age initially were supposed to be one game, but due to the technological constraints of the Game Boy Advance hardware they were split in two and expanded upon, yet these adventures were only set to be prologues to what has eventually been revealed as Dark Dawn, first of all rumoured for GameCube, and now finally unveiled as a release on the Nintendo DS in the twilight of its existence.

Anyone expecting to jump straight in playing as Isaac and his friends once more may be somewhat disappointed, since the setting for Dark Dawn is in fact thirty years after the GBA titles. When The Lost Age concluded, the team of heroes had successfully returned healing power to the world of Weyard. Now, though, the power of the ‘Golden Sun’ has altered the look of the world completely, moving continents around, bringing new species unto existence, and heralding the birth of a plentiful supply of new countries. Sadly it has also resulted in the advent of ‘Psynergy Vortexes’ that drain the land and the people known as Adepts of their power. Players must take control of the offspring of the first two games’ champions (Matthew, Karis and Tyrell) in order to halt the spread of this new impending threat before it spreads too far.

Screenshot for Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Rather than throw people right into a deep role-playing adventure that could not be fully appreciated due to the noisy setting, lack of comfortable sitting areas and general atmosphere found at events such as these, Nintendo and Camelot instead chose to show off a couple of tasty morsels from the main adventure. Therefore, there were two elements to the early version on show at Nintendo’s special ‘Post-E3’ event in London, UK. The first had players working through an obstacle course, taking full advantage of the powers of the Djinni that were used in previous adventures, whilst the other had a more traditional focus on battling enemies in turn-based encounters.

The former mode allowed players to tinker with the Move Psynergy command from previous outings, as well as a Fireball one, except this time players cast them by holding down either the L or R shoulder button (each corresponding to a particular power) and then using the stylus to draw the relevant motion on the touch-screen in order to unleash the Djinni’s ability. Despite this addition of touch-screen movement and spell-casting, players of the previous two games will feel right at home with the style and backdrop of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn since Camelot has attempted to retain as much of the originals’ feel as possible so as to avoid alienating fans who have been patiently waiting for it over the past seven years.

Screenshot for Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

The course, set against the clock, had players burning down objects, climbing trees and moving logs around in order to progress and acted as a basic starting point to introduce newcomers to the control set-up, as well as refresh those who had not played the GBA editions since The Lost Age landed at retail. Everything controlled extremely well using the touch-screen, with the Move Psynergy still being represented by a large white hand on-screen, but now the player can physically push specific objects around with the stylus. The same goes for when casting a ball of fire, with a radius appearing around the main character, and the objective being to choose the correct trajectory before sliding the touch-pen from the character to the edge of the radius to throw the fireball.

As for the battle scenarios, three rounds full of standard attacking, item usage, defending and magic casting (using the power of characters’ Psynergy or support from the Djinni helpers that can be equipped during the adventure) was the order of the day, with your team facing off against all manner of strange creatures. Rather than being individuals, though, various classes of enemy were grouped together to help the team focus on particularly tough foes. One of the major annoyances levelled at the previous two games was how when a monster had been defeated, rather than the rest of your team intelligently moving on to attack something else, they would simply skip their turn, which proved amazingly frustrating during very tough fights later in the adventure. Thankfully now it seems like this problem has been rectified after listening to user feedback. Other than that, the battle mechanic was of the standard fare, with each character in the party taking a turn to attack before the enemy retaliated. Following the three encounters, each increasing in difficulty yet not proving to be particularly testing in all honesty, the demo ended by allowing for limited access to a village area, giving a general feel to the more sedate side of Dark Dawn.

Screenshot for Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Visually, the village exploration section consisted of graphics similar to that of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, with static 3D backgrounds and small polygonal characters wandering around. When jumping into the battle arena, however, the game took on a whole new stance, with the characters looking totally different, completely revamped thanks to a massive increase in the level of detail given to each one, with the same being true for the enemies you stand off against, and the wondrous magical effects that are in plentiful supply. Whilst my personal initial thoughts were of disappointment back at the original E3 showing, having gone hands-on and seen how the battles look, my mind has been completely changed in absolutely every way possible. The huge fan of the original two games has just woken up inside me and is extremely eager to get more time with Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, hopefully later this year.

Screenshot for Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (Hands-On) on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

Camelot has been tinkering away on this third adventure since 2003 when Golden Sun: The Lost Age was released on Game Boy Advance, yet rather than totally revolutionise the series, the team has instead chosen to only moderately amend the gameplay to allow for a smoother control system and iron out any annoyances from the already highly rated original duo. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn will appease those hungry for the third outing, and should draw in many more newcomers thanks to the intuitive touch-screen control system now employed.






Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (3 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


I'm looking so much forward to this game, it's gonna be so awesome

Minnie M (guest) 08.08.2010#2

I'm actually REALLY pleased to hear there haven't been too many changes. I was kinda worried that after all this time Camelot would have done something drastic to appeal to the 'new' market.

PHEW!!! Smilie

It just needs more completely over the top partical effects Smilie Thats the only slight thing that seems missing from the trailer. The switch to 3d seems to have turned them down somewhat. <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

Whens this expected to be released.

'Holiday 2010' is all we have at the moment, sadly. Hopefully it'll actually come around November to grab attention during Thanksgiving in the US.

Darkflame said:
It just needs more completely over the top partical effects Smilie Thats the only slight thing that seems missing from the trailer. The switch to 3d seems to have turned them down somewhat.

I need to see more of the game to make a better judgement, but the battles look much more impressive than I first thought when I saw the opening trailer at E3.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
Tom (guest) 10.08.2010#6

I wonder why it took so long? Guess Camelot isn't working with Capcom again on another We Love Golf or We Love Baseball/Tennis, despite the trademarks discovered a while back! Smilie

I wonder if there will be any bonus for those that completes the first two games? Did any of you folk link The Lost Age to the original to get the reward?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

So. Fucking. Stoked.

jesusraz said:
I wonder if there will be any bonus for those that completes the first two games? Did any of you folk link The Lost Age to the original to get the reward?

Indeed I did, I missed one sidequest item, but other than that I got all the bonuses from connecting the two games together.

It would be amazing to have more connection bonuses but I kinda doubt it this time. Maybe next time.

I can't believe they changed the thing where the characters don't attack if the enemy they aimed at was defeated! O: I thought that was intentional to give the game more individuality and strategy, but I guess not Smilie

kljfdsfsadhsfjlahfskjsal I need this now.

( Edited 11.08.2010 15:34 by SuperLink )

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

Haha, I put it down to a design flaw. As far as I could tell, the characters did indeed simply move on to other enemies, but the battles weren't very long, so I'm a bit hazy on that point. If it'd been like before, though, I'm sure I'd have remembered because it used to annoy me so much!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Finally, I've been wanting to see the end of that battle mindset of "Oh but the big ugly monster I was gonna kill isn't there anymore, I'll just watch as the other scarier one kills you". Now it feels like it'll play more similarly to when I played Dragon Quest VII. Weirdly enough, there's a LOT of similarities I saw between Golden Sun and Dragon Quest VIII, from the item pockets to the battles themselves >.> But that's another story~

More excited for this game now, though I'm still wondering who the 4th character in battle will be...

I linked the first to the second. My team was too amazing to not do so. I had all the Djinn and picked up Muramasa, which is one of the extras from a quick dungeon if you do the transfer.

My final team was:

Isaac, Felix, Piers and Jenna. Garret annoyed me, his hair..

( Edited 16.08.2010 21:34 by Ultima )

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