E3 10: Hands-on with Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

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All this week I am going to be giving ridiculously quick hands-on impressions of all the games I see on the E3 show floor. Since I think everything is a little amazing, they will be rated, from least to most favorite: 1 (A Little Amazing!), 2 (Kind of Amazing!), 3 (Pretty Amazing!), 4 (AMAZING!), and 5 (The Most Amazing Thing I Have Ever Seen!).

Ah, Golden Sun, how I’ve missed you so.

Not seen since the gone, but never forgotten Game Boy Advance, the Golden Sun series has finally been reborn on the Nintendo DS in the form of the sequel Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (SO FOREBODING!). In my hands-on time I got to try out the two main modes in the game: Adventure and Battle.

In Adventure, just like in the old games, you control a main character as he walks around between towns and battles. Instead of most role-playing games ignoring things like puzzles and stuff, what makes Golden Sun: Dark Dawn stand apart is its reliance on very Zelda-esque environmental puzzles and level design. Using the game’s magic system — called Psynergy — you must traverse obstacles and solve puzzles. In the demo, you are given two Psynergy powers: “Move” and “Fire”. Using the stylus and touch screen, you can activate both powers. “Move” literally moves objects on-screen like rocks and statues (a quick stylus swipe!), while “Fire” lets you shoot a fireball in any direction (flick of the touch screen!). What I love about this mode is the puzzles really are clever and well-designed. They don’t feel at all forced just to make the game have more variety. If anything, they are the best part of playing Golden Sun!

Battle is much more obvious. It’s … a battle. In an RPG! Just like every other role-playing game, the battles are turn-based, with characters selecting their attacks from a menu. Fight, Psynergy, summons: all the stuff you are used to seeing in a Golden Sun game is intact. But what is worth mentioning is everything looks really good. The battles are beautiful, with some of the most dramatic and over-the-top magic spells and summons this side of Final Fantasy!

What else can I say. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is exactly what a Golden Sun game should look and feel like on the Nintendo DS. The demo is short, so I had no idea what to expect of the story, but I only assume it will be something about dawn. A dark dawn.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (AMAZING!)


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