Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is a refreshing RPG (Role Playing Game) as it brings something new to the genre. Even if these new things are small it is nice to have a change from the standard RPG elements.

Golden Sun is all about Psynergy, a spell system of earth, fire, wind, and water elements that can be harnessed by adepts to use in battle, but also to solve the puzzles around the world of Weyard. Use the characters in your party and their individual strengths to manipulate the environment around you. This is done to either reach a higher or lower location to open a chest or find a new Djinn, and also to unlock a maze to get to the other side or through the temple of puzzles. Most RPGs games have these barriers to set limits to stop access to an area until a power, ability or object is obtained to continue the story but Dark Dawn seems to incorporate it into the game more so.

The player starts off with Matthew and Terrell, two adepts, sons of Isaac and Garet, the heroes of the previous Game Boy Advanced titles, Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age. Don’t worry if you can’t remember those details as the other great feature of the game is the comprehensive encyclopedia. This book is more than just a reference guide that in other typical RPGs tells you how to move and attack. In this, character profiles, Djinn details, how to use them and even stories from the last game so that the player does not need to have played the previous titles are included. Most key words in the dialog are hyperlinked to the encyclopedia to give the player a quick reference to understand missing details, to fully appreciate the dialog at the time… and they even show the player if they have visited the link before.

Matthew is the group’s leader by default and is the character that the player moves around when the group becomes compact for travel. He is a powerful Venus adept, taking after his father, controlling the earth and ground around him. Terrell, his best friend, is not so stable and is the definition of a pyromaniac. Being a Mars Adept, he has a fiery personality and the skills to match. The last member of the main group, and the most needed to bring the other two to reason, is Karis, a Jupiter Adept that sparks electricity from her finger and can pull the most amazing things out of the wind and have it do devastating damage. Other characters are met during the story and it’s up to the player to choose who can join the party.

Depending on whether they feel the need for having an all rounded team, or to specialize in one way. There were 72 Djinn in the previous version of the game and they are all back with more added to mix things up.

Each Djinn has its own unique influence over adepts’ stats and abilities, and combining them gives an even greater list of permutations. Players need to allocate the Djinns to the characters and, other than being forced to evenly spread them out where ever possible, the choices of combinations are theirs. 

The obvious combinations are that a Mars Djinn with help and boost the powers of a Fire Adept and the Wind Adept will do well with a Jupiter Djinn but the combinations will give the character new skills to use inside and outside of battle.

Aside from just helping the character with skills, the Djinns also have their part to play in combat. They can be summoned to just cause damage or heal a party or, if “set” to a player, can be combined to create a wide ranges of other creatures. Using the Djinns in combat in some of these ways will give experience to the character in their adept element and boost their nature skill.

There are so many different ways to equip and set the Djinn that having and find more will just add to your inventory of skills. Weapons are used by the adepts as well, but don’t play a major factor in the game. The characters do learn how to be more efficient in a type of weapon which, when added to their elemental skill, does do a lot of damage but these are secondary and mostly used when the mana runs out.

Dark Dawn throws a lot of different skills together into a game and gives the player the excitement of using them all to their will and liking. It is a game that if someone did not get you one for Christmas, you should get for yourself.

At A Glance:

Dark Dawn is the follow on from two successful Game Boy Advanced titles and a great continuation of the story.

Developer: Camelot

Publisher: Nintendo

Distributor: Core Group

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