Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Hands-On

Thirty years have passed in the world of Weyard, and we find out how things have changed in Dark Dawn.

Golden Sun was an extremely well-received role-playing game and a highlight on the Game Boy Advance when it came out nine years ago. Though an equally impressive sequel followed in 2003, it wasn't until the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo that Nintendo finally announced developer Camelot would be working on the third game in the series, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn for the Nintendo DS. At a recent visit to the Nintendo offices in Redwood City, we were able to see what the offspring of the Warriors of Vale have been up to and play the game for ourselves.

One of many psynergy vortexes that have appeared throughout the world.

Dark Dawn takes place 30 years after the events of Golden Sun: The Lost Age where the heroes unleashed the power of the golden sun into the world. The consequences thereafter are what we're dealing with now. As continents and mountain ranges shifted and oceans moved, the world is no longer the same. Strange psynergy (the game's equivalent of mana) vortexes are now appearing throughout the land, sucking in the vital commodity. You play as the Venus adept Matthew, the son of the protagonist in the first game, Isaac. Your party consists of Tyrell, a Mars adept and the son of Garet, as well as Karis and Rief, who are Jupiter and Mercury adepts, respectively. Adepts are people who can wield psynergy, and in Weyard, the elements are classified under four elements: earth (Venus), fire (Mars), wind (Jupiter), and water (Mercury).

In our demo, we were placed somewhere close to the beginning, where our heroes Matthew, Karis, and Tyrell were sent off by Matthew's father Isaac to go look for an old man named Kraden. We spent most of our time in the Konpa Ruins, where we eventually met up with Kraden and Rief, the fourth member of our party. Without revealing too much of the story, our encounter in this temple introduced us to the sinister antagonist, Blados. What's nice about Dark Dawn is the fact that you don't necessarily have to know the backstory to play it, but if you're curious to know what happened before, there are hyperlinks in the dialogue between you and the non-player characters that link you to the in-game encyclopedia. By tapping on the highlighted text, you'll be able to read up on particular characters, locations, and other bits of information that may be of interest. The game has been designed for the DS, so you can use the stylus to control your character or use it to aim your psynergy spells in the overworld, but if you prefer the D pad, you can use it as well. When you pull up the menu that will appear as a list of icons on the bottom screen, you can slide your stylus to quickly scroll through the row of options.

If you're familiar with the previous games, gameplay remains the same where battles are random and turn based. Part of the appeal is that you can use your psynergy powers to interact with the environment around you. When you're not pushing logs around to create a new path, you can use your grip power to reach out and pull you across chasms and onto otherwise unreachable ledges. Cryptic messages scrawled on walls give you clues as to how to progress, and while you're exploring the dungeons and world around you, you'll run into magical creatures known as djinn. Djinn are based on the four elements and can be found throughout the game. Assigning a djinn to a specific character will boost that character's stats, as well as give him or her new spells. Mixing different types of djinn will yield new powers, so mixing and matching could bring up some interesting results. There will be more than 70 djinn to find and collect in the game, many of which you may have seen in previous games, as well as some new faces. They all have their own artwork and dual-screen, over-the-top animation when you summon them, so it's exciting whenever you stumble across a new one. Not all djinn will join your party happily, though; some will fight you before they'll join you on your journey.

Solve puzzles to light the way.

As before, you can't use a djinn to summon unless you set it on standby mode, which will remove it from your character, therefore removing whatever stat bonuses it gave you and making it a bit risky. Strategy and careful planning is necessary to get through boss fights because the djinn have a recovery period so you can't keep using summons. Each summon is impressive, however, as we were able to play around with the eight djinn that were already collected. The summon animation can be fast forwarded, so while seeing a robotic version of Ramses bust out of a pyramid is cool the first few times, you will want to move quickly when battles start to get long. Atalanta, Kirin, Zagan, and Nereid were just a few of the summons we looked at, but there will be plenty to make friends with if you intend to find all of them.

Like its predecessors, the game looks great on the system. While it invokes that classic RPG feel, there are plenty of touches to bring things up to date. The world is vibrant and detailed; you'll also find it really easy to navigate through the world and menus with either the stylus or D pad. Shortcuts can be created with the left and right buttons so you can bring up some of the more useful abilities with the push of a button. We look forward to spending more time with the game, as we'll have an opportunity to play our own preview build in the coming weeks. So stay tuned for more information. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is set to be released on November 29.

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Discussion

87 comments
nathan83_xp
nathan83_xp

the original was the best, but I lost my cartridge when I left college, 7 years ago. Better list this down on my priority purchases 1 Cartridge Golden Sun Dark Dawn Hypertension Medication 3DS/gaming PC and then maybe a commitment ring if I find the money and time. :D

cliffangel
cliffangel

I still have the original and Lost age, for my ds lite, I am so looking forward to this. :D

Arykuarius
Arykuarius

cant wait....one of my favorite series....im so happy.

Lisandro_v22
Lisandro_v22

I was 12 and now 19. I'm definitely getting it

DCubed08
DCubed08

with all the wait its gonna be hard to dislike this game just waiting on the first time i use ragnarok and get a lil excited in my pants

Alphamale001
Alphamale001

I have this on pre-order at Amazon. It will cost me a cool $5 after all the Amazon game credit I have accrued. Probably will be the best $5 I will spend all year.

Spartan90
Spartan90

I was 13 when I fell in love with the first game. Now I'm 20. I have been waiting a long LONG time for this.

BatmanR20
BatmanR20

This is not gonna be better then the 1 but I'm still going to get it

valentinetru
valentinetru

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

cloud345
cloud345

Ok so im late to the party, and never played a Golden Sun game. BUT i did preorder this.. im hoping this game will have me occupied for a while.

zyreali
zyreali

@valentinetru he is the villian!!!! but i serious cannot wait until it comes out even busted out the old gba to play but i think there will be extras like with ff tactics A2

RueRyuzaki
RueRyuzaki

They should make Golden Sun game in PSP. They should make it loike MH style... =))

Wolflink001
Wolflink001

Why do some people want there data from the first 2 Golden Suns? Like, what would they do with it in Dark Dawn?

ferrustaurus
ferrustaurus

It's a regular DS game, not a 3DS game. Reserved mine a while back, and definitely will play it until I beat it once the weekend hits.

Mooninites
Mooninites

you sure as hell better be able to transfer you data from the 2nd game like you could between 1 and 2 you could totally do it with the old ds with the gba game in the bottom slot or by codes but im sure theirs no way you can > : (

valentinetru
valentinetru

Firstly, I can't wait. The first Golden Suns were amazing and I still have them. Secondly, how is Kraden still alive? Wasn't he really old in the first games? lol

Alnifrazz
Alnifrazz

=o I've been waiting for this game for years!

geomyr
geomyr

finally the true sequel of the golden sun series comes out this year hurryyyyyyyyy :)

zombehman
zombehman

I played the first one when it came out and then played number 2 as soon as it came out, I am so excited to play this game I might camp out for it

cprmauldin
cprmauldin

I'll probably get this in the future, but with New Vegas and Fable III taking up all of my time, It likely wont be a first day buy.

Johan444
Johan444

The first Golden Suns were fantastic and I hope that this game will be as good or better.

HYPERROY
HYPERROY

well at least they did another GS, I already reserve my copie!!

riariases
riariases

@Wolflink001 The 3DS isn't $300. Thats Japans price. But yeah, when they announced this over two years ago, I was so hyped. My hypeness died down, and now its back.

nate1222
nate1222

This one may be a getter for me. I still own the original Golden Sun (GBA). But lately, I've been rocking Chrono Trigger and Lunar Knights (both DS) pretty hard. Then, there are the GBA FFs (4&6)...

jarvans
jarvans

I can't wait for this game! It's still 37 days away, but that seems to be a short wait compared to the 7 years that we have waited since The Lost Age...

jarvans
jarvans

@TheJamin The second one is even better than the first one. Definitely pick it up if you can and play threw them both!

katsika64
katsika64

Now, THIS is one game i've been waiting for many years! :)

TheJamin
TheJamin

@jarvans i have yet to play number 2... but number 1 had be hooked for weeks.

okami5436
okami5436

Have been waiting for this for years.

Wolflink001
Wolflink001

@SDBusDriver1979 I'm not paying $300 plus dollars to play Golden Sun on a different DS!

worldwarz2
worldwarz2

i feel like im gunna faint and die if i have to weight this long!

SDBusDriver1979
SDBusDriver1979

kind of disappointed this is coming out at for the DS instead of the 3DS. Would of made a killer launch title.

Witchsight
Witchsight

Probably best not to even bring up the E word Tyco.

tyco_ex
tyco_ex

I hope it doesn't use the stylus much if at all so I can play it on an emulator... NOTE: I don't support pirating and even if I can play it on an emulator I will still buy the game to support the developers. However, I don't own a ds and as much as I love Golden Sun I don't love it enough to buy a DS just to play a single game.

jarvans
jarvans

I can't wait for this game! It's been a long seven years since Golden Sun The Lost Age was released back in 2003, and this is a day one purchase for me. If ya havn't played the first two, then do so. They are some of the best game on the GBA! I still play them for a good story and I know what happens...

psycho325
psycho325

i told myself if they made a golden sun on ds then i would get one... ugh theres more money gone i dont have.

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

boy with a glowing preview like that this game better get a 9.5 or something ... because if it doesn't either the individual doing this preview is so head over heels in love with the game he doesnt see the flaws or somehow a company can take a game with as much promise as this and run it into the ground in the last 4 months of development (very hard to do).

kuttsy14
kuttsy14

nice......i want this game......

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

After reading through this really seems to be the one article in a long time that has nothing negative in the comments. Golden Sun brings gamers from everywhere together. I spaced and was thinking the game came out sometime 2011 so I didn't think about it. But now knowing it is a month and a half away; how could I think about anything else? Other than crap where did the first two get too, I gotta find em quick.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Before I knew lots about video games I just went to the store and bought a GBA with Golden Sun 2 because it looked cool. Later to find out it was one of the best games for the GBA.

Matt-Porter
Matt-Porter

I've been waiting for this game for 8 years now. I got all of my characters in Golden Sun 1 and Golden Sun 2 to level 99, 228 hours on GS1, 125 hours in GS2. I've played through the story numerous times, named my email after the game, and so on. Bottom line, even after playing numerous other RPG's, this game caught my attention more than all. I've had the DS game pre-ordered for over a year now, and I'll be picking it up the moment the store opens. Seeing as I'm self-employed, life in general will be put on hold until this game is completed :D

Blue_Guardian
Blue_Guardian

@natron557 you could name your characters in GS 1 and 2. All of them, not just the main character. There was a combination. Up down left right up up down down and select or start... i think...

Blue_Guardian
Blue_Guardian

Who is stupid enough not to get this game after playing the first 2?

Wolflink001
Wolflink001

Finally! It's Golden Sun's time to SHINE!