Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Q&A

Find out why it took Camelot more than seven years to come out with a follow-up to the series.


The last Golden Sun game, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, may have come out a little more than seven years ago, but that doesn't mean fans have forgotten the beloved series. Developed by Camelot, the first Golden Sun and its sequel followed the lives of the silent protagonist Isaac, his close friend Garet, Ivan, and Mia. The Lost Age was a direct sequel to the first game, but Dark Dawn picks up 30 years later, where you play as the children of The Lost Age's heroes: Matthew, Karis, Tyrell, and Rief. Newcomers to the series can read up on the lore via the in-game encyclopedia, but those who have been anticipating the return of Golden Sun for years can read on to see what game designer/producer Hiroyuki Takahashi and assistant producer Yuya Sato have to say about Golden Sun: Dark Dawn.

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GameSpot: It's been awhile since the last Golden Sun game. Why did it take so long for a third?

Hiroyuki Takahashi, Camelot: Development of the former Golden Sun games was really intense due mainly to their enormous background and storyline. The great reception we received--both critically and commercially--especially outside of Japan, gave us a lot of energy on the development side. So we naturally had an idea of a sequel at that point in time, and we would have never imagined we would keep you waiting for such a long time!

I must confess I was actually a little burned out right at that time of the release of the last game. It took so long to develop that we had finished the most of energy design. In details, it took four to five years for conception before we actually started development…or even more years, if we include the period we only had vague ideas. Maintaining the quality is a mission for Camelot--a role-playing game-focused developer. We felt that more than ever as we were developing Golden Sun. So the fact is we needed to cool down before we could really begin on Dark Dawn. And then, in every aspect, the timing was right, and I believed we could develop with really fresh feelings.

GS: How was it developing for the Nintendo DS? What were the features that you were most excited to take advantage of that you couldn't do before?

HT: The Nintendo DS contains various features, which were seen in the Game Boy or Game Boy Advance, and we had the highest interest in the touch screen. Traditional controls using buttons and D pad have been--without any doubt--the most suitable method for intuitive input. So we tried to put emphasis on touch-screen control along with traditional input as we thought it would add new gameplay to Golden Sun. We also aimed for a perfect compatibility between button and touch-screen inputs. There may be times where you find it appropriate to switch control methods, depending on the situation.

GS: What was the decision behind adding more than 70 djinn to the game? How did that affect game balance?

HT: Djinn hugely affect combat. For players who heavily use djinn attacks, the variation of djinn will have a big impact on how they play. Even for those who do not use djinn often, the additions will give them new options for character ability or skill customization. I know there are other players that enjoy collection, so getting them all may also be fun for some. Even though it will be satisfying enough to complete the collection, I would like players also try djinn attacks or various combat actions they enable, including summoning spirits.

Sato Yuya, Nintendo: Just to be safe, more than 70 is the number of djinn in this title, which includes both traditional ones and new ones. Some of the new djinn can use new djinn attacks, which were not available in the older titles, so I would like players to also utilize them.

GS: What kind of additions are you including for fans of the series?

HT: The previous Golden Sun titles were popular on a global scale. We imagined that many titles would follow the Golden Sun style, but in actuality, this did not happen! I think it was because Golden Sun's strengths were not superficial and therefore difficult to imitate. Actually, the games required a large workforce to design systems and handle programming. If they could mimic the game where players can utilize energy-like forces on the map…it is another challenge to design and program unique dungeons, which requires endurance, teamwork, and adept skills! For Dark Dawn, we have added many new mechanics focusing on the intuitive use of energies or quests, which will challenge a player's imagination through plural abilities and effects for a single energy. These things may simply look like an extension of the former titles if you are playing in a normal manner, but we have developed them with a much larger workforce and imagination than those for older games. Please keep in mind that a much larger team worked on Dark Dawn, resulting in benefits that the player may not be able to immediately notice.

SY: In Dark Dawn, characters from the older titles will come back, so you can enjoy seeing how they have grown up.

You'll see some new and familiar faces.
You'll see some new and familiar faces.

GS: Any plans to continue the series after this one is out?

SY: I'm really sorry that I can't offer any details on the future of the series. We would like to consider the possibility of sequels by assessing the feedback from fans and players.

GS: What are some of your fondest memories when developing this series? Did it all turn out the way you planned and did you expect the kind of reception that it has received?

HT: We visited several UNESCO World Heritage sites during the development of the game. It gave us an un-ignorable influence on story creation and the realism of the storyline. It's really not how we planned it initially. Several years after the last Golden Sun game, Camelot--once called an RPG-specialist developer--might have missed some of the know-how. It must be one of the reasons why the development did not go as we planned. Although the absence was negative in some ways, it was not entirely bad. With all the prior experience "reset" after the absence, we were able to review so many things, and it actually gave a positive influence on our user interface or presentation where we took a bold new direction. But more than anything, the storyline was given the largest change, becoming more dramatic.

GS: Thank you for your time!

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Avatar image for Wolflink001

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

Avatar image for cboyuno

hmmm.... I'm not buying his excuse for a 7 year wait. I don't care what you say, it shouldn't take 7 years to make a DS RPG. The story of the first game I remember quite well and I never finished the second game but I know enough to say that this game can't possibly live up to the hype created through 7 years of development. Hopefully I stand corrected.

Avatar image for osed125

What´s taken gamespot so long to make the review? i hope they are checking each aspect of the game before doing the review

Avatar image for superty69

wow what a long wait for this game but man its definitely worth it :D 9.0/10.0

Avatar image for Wolflink001

Whoa! You wouldn't believe all the angry people back at IGN who saw that 7.5! What the heck was that editor thinking??? Such a very half bleeped review! 4 Heros of Light was deserving of a 7.5 but not Golden Sun. Not by a long shot! This game will be my absolute most favorite game on DS! Screw that editor! Gamespot, PLEASE give a better review so I can have something to talk about this week!

Avatar image for Sub-Zero210

Man i loved this series as a kid, i cant believe they made another GS game i really need to pick this up.

Avatar image for Sophia

@penandpencilman - It's not exactly a short game, and from what I can tell, it just came out...14 hours ago? The review is coming.

Avatar image for penandpencilman

Why doesn't gamespot review this game. It's been out for a while. only gave it a 7.5, that worries me. I have played number 1 and it was amazing.

Avatar image for eshtebala

Who the hell is Mathiew, its Issac !

Avatar image for fattass21

love golden sun, just loved it. so glad this is coming out now. time to go get my ds back from my cousin :D

Avatar image for zombehman

The first games I ever got for my gameboy advance were theses ones as a Christmas present from a grandma who had no idea how it would suck me in. these games truly changed my perspective on rpgs and games in general furthering the positive comments that games are art

Avatar image for xrtlop

This is looking pretty great. Can't wait to get it.

Avatar image for MSZN

I play to the two first one, i can't wait for this one

Avatar image for hitomo

while I coundnt get that interested by GS on the Gameboy, Camelot once made the superior ShiningForce 3 part1-3, an timeless milestone for JRPGs in general back in the time ...

Avatar image for djimenez0628

Let's hope it lives up to expectations.

Avatar image for TheTrueMagusX1

I am so pumped up for this game. Its been a god solid year for DS RPGS, this game will only add to that.

Avatar image for TheFreakyManga

I can't wait for this! I loved the original games!

Avatar image for sickorange

must get one! perfect for Christmas

Avatar image for gantz91

golden sun was one of my first game that i own, cant wait for this one to come out.

Avatar image for dennyx11

Man... Catastrophe looks so sweet on the DSI.

Avatar image for Lisandro_v22

It's weird nobody tried to do something similar to Gonden Sun on home systems. I always expected someone would draw some aspects from GS and put it on a home system.

Avatar image for Nosnitsttam

i've missed golden sun. the first 2 were my favorite RPGs on the GBA.

Avatar image for dazerozoid27

T^T I've waited so long, I wanna play now D8

Avatar image for Wolflink001

Wow, I figured that was the reason why the sequel took so long. They were burned out after Lost Age. I'm pleased that they have taken this new direction! The development staff is much bigger for Dark Dawn so were going to see some really cool new things! I'm curious to know will they continue after Dark Dawn? I guess that all depends on how good this game will be! Argh!!! I can't wait! Can't the release date get here any faster???

Avatar image for lilrobda1

Brings back good old memories, I remember when I got the 1st GS in 4th grade, then I found the 2nd GS by luck at toy r us. Good times. I know I wont be getting this game this year, but I know I'll get it early next year. Cant wait to see Isaac again.

Avatar image for Hanzoadam

Can't wait had it pre-ordered for ages, though its a christmas present now :cry:

Avatar image for cadc

A MUST Pick up, The first two were excellent, I have no reason to believe this one won't exceed all expectations. Camelot is truly becoming a prestigious company

Avatar image for Toysoldier34

@Nzilla Yes an HD full scale RPG on par with FFXIII but is Golden Sun would be amazing. Though I don't see that happening. The summons would look awesome too. But I am still very excited about this one.

Avatar image for Jinroh_basic

Golden Sun was easily one of the best (but underrated) franchise last gen. wish i had a DS. :D

Avatar image for Nick_DeLonge

Whoa, cant hardly wait to get the game (and a DS), only 7 days more

Avatar image for lch153

i loved the first 2...wish i had a DS to play this one :(

Avatar image for Nzilla

Great series. I wish they would make a console version

Avatar image for soulless4now

Geez, I still need to play the first two games before I even think about getting this game. :P

Avatar image for Links24

this game is gonna be so awesome

Avatar image for sonictank

oh to heck with it IM BUYING This cause im a hardcore gs fan LOVED the first two still play em even today so also im up to speed but i heard theres alot of talking in bubble format not that its a bad thing i enjoy a good rpg story!

Avatar image for valentinetru

Words can not explain how excited I am for this. :D

Avatar image for King9999

I didn't even realize it's been seven years until GameSpot mentioned it.

Avatar image for Kou-Nurasaka

I say we need a console Golden Sun! Easily one of the most old-school, new school RPG's in the world. This series deserves every single bit of success it has earned and so much more. My only regret is the silent protagonist thing. That needs to be changed, but the gameplay and story? Perfect. I have to pick this up!

Avatar image for acerpg007

Feeling nostalgic right now.. hahaha

Avatar image for Jehuty08

It feels like it has been so much longer than seven years, just finished my billionth run through lost age, so Im back up to speed and ready. Bring on the Dark Dawn :D

Avatar image for I_Like_Muffins

This is released on the 2nd decemeber in Australia, and I will be waiting outside my local EB Games to pick up me preorder! Seven years, Camelot. Let's make those years worth it!

Avatar image for gotdangit

Didn't realize this game comes out 11/29! wow, I will definitely get it right after Thanksgiving!!

Avatar image for BrunoBRS

7 years have i been waiting for this game. saying that i'm getting it as soon as possible is an understatement.

Avatar image for mcnugget1996

I can't wait! 7 days till the US release! I even changed my avatar for this release!

Avatar image for TristanH12

Yes the story is even more dramatic, I thought the first two already were. I hope Golden Sun continues!

Avatar image for Neosword

Been waiting for this game for years. Can't wait to finally play it.