13 Points on Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

User Rating: 7 | Golden Sun: Dark Dawn DS

1. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn plays at being the best RPG on a system w/ no shortage of great RPGs but it just plays at it.

2. The graphics here have got to be close to the best for any game on DS. The DS doesn't quite have the resolution for its games to look next gen because the games always look a little blocky but this is as close to it as you're gonna get.

3. The graphics are the best thing about this game. Unfortunately.

4. This has a pretty typical console RPG plot where your main character and a couple of friends go out to run an errand and end up ultimately saving the world with a few new people they meet along the way, all of whom they trust implicitly from the first second they met them.

5. The characters here were so tropey and generic that I could not remember any of their names. I spend the whole game being like, "OK, I will put this helmet on the hot head guy and the sweet female character gets to wear the combat ready sun dress."

6. Combat is satisfyingly complex. In addition to your ordinary array of magic and physical attacks you collect these little lumpy nymphs they call djinn. You can keep djinn equipped for a stat boost or use them for a special magic effect, which causes you to lose their stat bonus but allows you to use them for an extra powerful special attack called a summons you can unleash on a later turn. This makes every battle a complex chess game where you are forced to weigh risk and reward on every turn.

7. Just kidding! The combat is easy enough you just spam regular enemies with ordinary attacks and then spam special attacks at bosses and you're fine until the final boss, who is annoyingly more difficult than any other battle in the game.

8. There is a cool environmental puzzle solving element to this which rather reminds me of 2D Legend of Zelda games. You cast a progressively growing list of spells to affect various objects to solve puzzles. Occasionally, these puzzles even span many rooms over the same dungeon.

9. Or, well, it starts out well but eventually devolves to: you see that thing you can use magic on, use that kind of magic on it. Done!

10. Number 9 is particularly disappointing as it is the one thing that feels like it would be a major advance over previous games in the series. The puzzle solving element has always been here but this seems like a failed attempt to take it to the next level and bring it to the forefront of the experience.

11. You pick up additional characters to use throughout the course of the game that you can use in your party but it doesn't seem like they are scaled to your level. By the end of the game, the new auxiliary characters were five levels below my main party. Yeah, I'm going to experiment w/ them...

12. *Spoiler* The errand you set out to complete to start off the plot, yeah, you don't. Well, you do, but not until after credits roll.

13. Between graphics, the fairly complex combat system and the puzzle system, it seems clear that a lot of effort and expense was put into the initial design phase. The plot, the difficulty curve and the actual puzzles seemed rushed and unfinished. If Camelot didn't run out of money halfway through the development of this game, I would sincerely be surprised. Everything about