|Dev: Camelot Software Planning|
|Release: November 29, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
Another issue is that the battles are too easy and too frequent, and the difficulty isn't adjustable. There really isn't much of a challenge until maybe halfway through the game; most of the enemy groups that come after you can be clobbered to death in a few turns. Also, most of the early puzzles can be solved at the first glance, and we found it ridiculously annoying to be attacked repeatedly by small creatures while we were trying to figure out where we were supposed to go next.
However, the game becomes tougher in time, especially the boss fights, and you'll have to master its fascinating and deep combat system. There are three ways to attack. Weapons and magic (here called "Psynergy") are standard in RPGs of this type, but Golden Sun also features Djinns. Djinns are small creatures that you collect as you work your way through the game, and that you assign to characters in your party. When they're "set" to a character, they boost that character's stats and make him able to perform new Psynergy attacks. However, during battle, you can have a Djinn itself attack your foe -- which is highly damaging, but takes away the advantage the Djinn conferred on the character.
It doesn't end there. Once used, a Djinn becomes ready to help summon a faraway god to intervene in a fight. Each Djinn is of one of four elements (Mercury, Venus, Mars, or Jupiter), and once you've used enough of a given type, you can summon a god of that type to inflict some major damage in a fight. Then, the Djinn take some time to recover before being reset to the character.
This system gives players a lot to work with. They have to assign the Djinn to characters in a way that maximizes their effectiveness, decide when it's worthwhile to have a Djinn attack, and then figure out when to summon a god to help out and get their Djinn back. We're not aware of another game franchise that has anything quite like it. If there's one reason for Golden Sun newcomers to give this game a shot, the Djinn system is it.
If there are two reasons, the other is the presentation. The graphics are some of the best the DS has to offer, with detailed and colorful environments, well-drawn characters (especially in battle, where the tiny sprites are replaced with full models), and amazing cutscenes whenever your Djinn summon a god to help. The music and sound effects complement the gameplay without become grating, even during long sessions. The controls are borrowed from the DS Zelda games, relying heavily on the stylus to make moving and casting spells a breeze. The text, while wordy, has been well-translated and edited. Kudos to both the Japanese developers and the Western localization team for a job well done.
If we haven't stressed this enough, this is not a game for everyone. Its glacial pace and text-heavy gameplay will put most gamers to sleep. But those looking for a deep combat system, a complex story, and a long-awaited new entry in a beloved franchise will absolutely love the many hours they spend working through Golden Sun: Dark Dawn.
CCC Freelance Writer