It has been years since Camelot released their take on the classic RPG experience. And while we heard about a new Golden Sun game at E3 last year, it wasn’t until this year that we truly got to experience the next chapter in the Golden Sun saga. Now that Nintendo has pulled back the curtain on Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, the question remains: how is it going to stand up to the previous games in the series. If the playable demo at E3 is any indication, the answer is decently if not spectacularly.
The Golden Sun was released upon Weyard 30 years ago at the end of events shown Golden Sun: The Lost Age. This was supposed to be a good thing, releasing alchemy back upon the world and reversing the shrinking of the land. However something has happened, Psynergy Vortexes have begun to appear, vortexes which suck the Psynergy from both the land and adepts that get to close to them. So it’s up to the children of the previous games’ heroes to take on this new threat to mankind.
The E3 demo gave access to two different areas: some field gameplay and some battle areas. Both fit the mold of the original game, though it was a little disheartening to not see drastic improvements in the visuals of the game. It may look a little better than the past games, but Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age really pushed the GBA’s processing power. It doesn’t appear that Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is going to do the same on DS.
The field area is a sort of training ground for new adepts to practice their Psynergy. The demo featured two powers: Move and a fireball power. Both utilized the DS’s touch screen to great effect. The fireball in particular had players draw a direction to shoot the fireball in and then had them flick the screen to shoot it. Move highlighted a small area around the character and then had players use the stylus to move an object in this area. We did not test if players would be able to use these powers without utilizing the touch screen, but it seems like a requirement of the game at this point. Touch screen haters will be glad to know, though, that otherwise the game appears to be completely controllable using the buttons.
But the field demo is only part of the game, also playable were three battles of increasing difficulty. The demo started off with a couple of easy monsters, and slowly walked the player through battling in the new game. The battle system appeared to be the same as the system in earlier games with no major additions to the gameplay. Other than touch-screen control, which really does streamline things.
The other major addition to battles comes from the use of both screens for summons. Even summoning cutscenes from summons available in the original games have been reworked to utilize both screens, and some of these new cutscenes are gorgeous in their execution. Whereas the rest of the game looks like a slightly upgraded GBA game, the summoning cutscenes look to really try and push the DS hardware, something that is definitely appreciated.
Journeying back into the land of Weyard after all this time is still satisfying. While the demo was short, it gave an accurate impression that this game will live up to the original in depth and scope, if not trying to do anything spectacularly different. We’ll be sure to bring you more on Golden Sun: Dark Dawn when it is released this holiday season.