Golden Sun: Dark Dawn mini-review thing

I waited years for this game, and it's... eh, okay.

Spontaneous mini-review!

TL;DR Combat is stupid easy, puzzles are stupid easy, the game doesn't tell you when there's a point-of-no-return and you're going to miss stuff forever, but the art is amazing and the story is surprisingly good.

I was having a great time playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn today (getting into it again for my trip tomorrow), but then I got to this point where you have to go and collect all the djinn (collectible creatures, for the uninitiated) and summon tablets before you go to the next area or else miss them forever.

Did I mention that it doesn't even tell you this in the game, you have to read a guide to know where these points are? And in case you didn't play the previous two titles in the series, there was nothing like this in those games (definitely in the first, not 100% sure about the second); you could traverse the world as you pleased.

This stupid B.S. and the fact that 90% of the puzzles aren't even puzzles, but just "see this here unlit torch? Cast 'Fireball' on it to open the door to the next room" Zelda crap makes this game less awesome than I initially expected.

Oh, and the battles are stupid easy to the point of ridiculousness. If I run into one, two, or sometimes three creatures in a random encounter, I can almost always kill them by mashing "A" (Attack, [target creature], Attack, [target creature], etc.). On slightly harder monsters or large groups of monsters, I just have each character cast an area-of-effect spell, and it kills everything in one or two turns.

I almost always only need to heal up between battles, and even then, running out of PP (Psynergy Points [mana]) is never a problem or anything. I haven't slept at an inn yet, except to advance the plot. I've never used a healing item, and I sell all that I get, including Water of Life (revives player) (each character has a djinn that can revive a player and Matthew just got it as a spell) (and it's worth hella monies).

Bosses are a little more difficult, in the same way that picking lifting a can of soda over your head is more difficult than raising it to your mouth. For every boss so far, I first spend four turns having each character use djinn effects.

(Quick explanation of djinn for non-Golden Sun fans: When you "use" a djinni [singular of "djinn"], it does an effect on a character, the party, or the enemy [healing, damage, confusion, stun, etc.], then becomes "on standby." When djinn are on standby, you can "spend" them to cast summons. After being used for summons, they are then put into "recovery" for a few turns, and can't be "used" during that time.)

After four turns of status effects and minor damage on the boss and healing and buffs on the party, I then have each character use a summon on the boss. If this doesn't kill it, do it again, after the djinn haven't recovered. Throw in some light healing occasionally, and you have a dead boss in like ten turns, max.

It's just silly; the combat system is really good, and you have a ton of options on how to do stuff, but you just... don't need to use any of them except for a few. And did I mention it's stupid easy?

The art is amazing, though, and the story, while confusing at times (pretty much every town or civilization has some beef with another town or civilization) is surprisingly good and sometimes genuinely funny. The only downer in this area is that only a handful of characters return from the previous games, and two of those characters are talking trees. Only two of the main protagonists of the first two games are seen in-game, but the rest are frustratingly referred to constantly.

Overall, as a rabid Golden Sun fan, the game is alright. I wish I could turn up the difficulty of the combat somehow, and I wish there were more difficult puzzles, and I wish you could retread through every part of the world you've been to at any time, but it's okay. It's fun. It's very nice-looking, for a DS game.

Oh, and as a self-proclaimed menu connoisseur, the menus are awesome. They are about as perfect as I've seen in a game. I could go on all day, but I'll spare you, since let's face it, you either didn't read this far or skipped right down to this paragraph because the link stood out. Right?

3 Comments
4 Comments
Posted by takua108
I waited years for this game, and it's... eh, okay.

Spontaneous mini-review!

TL;DR Combat is stupid easy, puzzles are stupid easy, the game doesn't tell you when there's a point-of-no-return and you're going to miss stuff forever, but the art is amazing and the story is surprisingly good.

I was having a great time playing Golden Sun: Dark Dawn today (getting into it again for my trip tomorrow), but then I got to this point where you have to go and collect all the djinn (collectible creatures, for the uninitiated) and summon tablets before you go to the next area or else miss them forever.

Did I mention that it doesn't even tell you this in the game, you have to read a guide to know where these points are? And in case you didn't play the previous two titles in the series, there was nothing like this in those games (definitely in the first, not 100% sure about the second); you could traverse the world as you pleased.

This stupid B.S. and the fact that 90% of the puzzles aren't even puzzles, but just "see this here unlit torch? Cast 'Fireball' on it to open the door to the next room" Zelda crap makes this game less awesome than I initially expected.

Oh, and the battles are stupid easy to the point of ridiculousness. If I run into one, two, or sometimes three creatures in a random encounter, I can almost always kill them by mashing "A" (Attack, [target creature], Attack, [target creature], etc.). On slightly harder monsters or large groups of monsters, I just have each character cast an area-of-effect spell, and it kills everything in one or two turns.

I almost always only need to heal up between battles, and even then, running out of PP (Psynergy Points [mana]) is never a problem or anything. I haven't slept at an inn yet, except to advance the plot. I've never used a healing item, and I sell all that I get, including Water of Life (revives player) (each character has a djinn that can revive a player and Matthew just got it as a spell) (and it's worth hella monies).

Bosses are a little more difficult, in the same way that picking lifting a can of soda over your head is more difficult than raising it to your mouth. For every boss so far, I first spend four turns having each character use djinn effects.

(Quick explanation of djinn for non-Golden Sun fans: When you "use" a djinni [singular of "djinn"], it does an effect on a character, the party, or the enemy [healing, damage, confusion, stun, etc.], then becomes "on standby." When djinn are on standby, you can "spend" them to cast summons. After being used for summons, they are then put into "recovery" for a few turns, and can't be "used" during that time.)

After four turns of status effects and minor damage on the boss and healing and buffs on the party, I then have each character use a summon on the boss. If this doesn't kill it, do it again, after the djinn haven't recovered. Throw in some light healing occasionally, and you have a dead boss in like ten turns, max.

It's just silly; the combat system is really good, and you have a ton of options on how to do stuff, but you just... don't need to use any of them except for a few. And did I mention it's stupid easy?

The art is amazing, though, and the story, while confusing at times (pretty much every town or civilization has some beef with another town or civilization) is surprisingly good and sometimes genuinely funny. The only downer in this area is that only a handful of characters return from the previous games, and two of those characters are talking trees. Only two of the main protagonists of the first two games are seen in-game, but the rest are frustratingly referred to constantly.

Overall, as a rabid Golden Sun fan, the game is alright. I wish I could turn up the difficulty of the combat somehow, and I wish there were more difficult puzzles, and I wish you could retread through every part of the world you've been to at any time, but it's okay. It's fun. It's very nice-looking, for a DS game.

Oh, and as a self-proclaimed menu connoisseur, the menus are awesome. They are about as perfect as I've seen in a game. I could go on all day, but I'll spare you, since let's face it, you either didn't read this far or skipped right down to this paragraph because the link stood out. Right?

Posted by Brendan

@takua108 said:

Overall, as a rabid Golden Sun fan, the game is alright.

This is me. I tried to come into it with no expectations, but I still thought that the masterpiece that was The Lost Age was better in every way.

Posted by Brendan

I should add that I actually felt like the game relied a little too much on the previous titles. I understand that since you traversed the entire world in the first two games it would make sense to see much of the same things again, but while the first two games brought so much to the table I don't think that the newest game had enough memorable standalone world building story content for me to care as much as I did on the GBA.

I should add that I still did really like the game.

Edited by takua108

@Brendan said:

I should add that I actually felt like the game relied a little too much on the previous titles. I understand that since you traversed the entire world in the first two games it would make sense to see much of the same things again, but while the first two games brought so much to the table I don't think that the newest game had enough memorable standalone world building story content for me to care as much as I did on the GBA.

I should add that I still did really like the game.

This is where I'm really divided on the game and I can see the developers were, too. There's tons of shout-outs to the previous titles, and I enjoy them, but I hate not being able to see anyone from the previous games outside of (spoilers) Isaac, Garet, Kraden, Alex, Briggs, Eoleo, Tret, Laurel, and a bunch of djinn and probably a character or two that I haven't met yet. I didn't really want to have them be vital to the plot, but I just wanted to see how they looked thirty-years-later-but-not-really-due-to-plot-device-induced-anti-aging, y'know? And the way the world is totally convoluted from the previous games makes sense and is acceptable to have everything feel new and stuff, but it is weird when you're going to Kolima and you're like "fuck yea I'm going to Kolima oh wait why is it over here" and some random NPC replies "golden sun event moved it lol."

Also, the lack of Reveal and Mind Read knocked it down several Respect-Notches(TM) for me. I know it has some similar psynergies, but I loved talking to dudes and then mind-reading them to see them contradict what they just said or whatever, and I loved learning how to know how to tell when part of a room is Totally An Area Where Something Is Hidden But You Can Find It With Reveal.