Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Undefined Gamer: "Golden Sun: Dark Dawn" Review

E3. Video Game Review. Who says we
aren't topical.
      Let me tell you a story about a long forgotten franchise deep from
the realm of the 2003 Game Boy Advance. Golden Sun. Like Zelda, it
seemed to keep Nintendo on the gold standard of gaming they displayed
back when they conquered all aspects of gaming, even graphics. This
was a period when the Xbox and PlayStation* had not yet risen to what
they are today, when Nintendo's only real competitor was still
smoldering in defeat (Sega).
      It was a simpler time, when RPGs often could get away with endless
lines of dialogue and overly long stories while somehow still fitting
it all on a port no bigger than the palm of your hand. This era
birthed the Game Boy Advance, the finest handheld device at the time**,
and spawned many RPGs. Go to IGN, NP, GI, whatever, they'll tell you
that situated at the top of this RPG GBA pyramid, was Golden Sun.
      Originally meaning to be one game, Golden Sun was split into two
games, Golden Sun (2001) and Golden Sun: The Lost Age (2003), both for
the GBA. Despite all this success, it took Nintendo seven years to
release a sequel for the Nintendo DS. Why? The company that makes the
series, Camelot Software Planning, was too preoccupied with the
all-important Mario Sports games such as Mario Tennis and Mario Golf
to work on the award-winning series! Clearly Camelot has their
priorities in order!
       Released in 2010, Dark Dawn follows the children of the original
heroes, now dubbed the "Warriors of Vale", 30 years after the Golden
Sun event that occurred at the end of The Lost Age. Weyard, the
disk-shaped world, has changed a lot since 2003. Continents have
shifted, villages flooded, and a new race of furries, I mean Beastmen,
have evolved. It sounds pretty good to me, being that the alternative
would be the world crumbling.
      You play as the main character, Matthew, who does not talk like his
father, Isaac and communicates through head shakes and facial
expressions. Matthew is living in an all-guy household with his
father, Isaac, Garet from the second game, and Garet's son, Tyrell.
Karis, the daughter of Ivan, stops by just in time to see Tyrell be a
dumbass, who breaks an item known as the Soarwing right off the bat.
      The Soarwing is the only thing that can get you to a sacred place
named Sol Sanctum from the first game as you'll sort of run into lava
if you go by foot. The Soarwing requires a Mountain Roc feather, and
the only way to get that is to journey across the damn continent and
battle one. This is your basic quest.
The fairies from Dora the Explorer?
      Along the way, you run into other people who will join your party,
many of them royalty, as well as two members of a country called
Tuaraparang, which apparently is situated in a gigantic ship. The two,
Blados and Chalis, as well as a being that travels around with them
named Arcaneus (even though it's obvious he's Alex from the first two
games. Yeah, turns out he survived standing in the center of a
volcano), are the main antagonists of the game, manipulating your
party to eventually activate a doomsday machine known as the Eclipse
Tower, which basically unleashes a mini-apocalypse on the continent.
      The story is great. It may not be a complex or as high stakes as the
first two games, but it serves it's purpose well. The only annoying
thing is that like the first two games, the dialogue is four times as
long as it needs to be.
      The graphics, for a 2010 Nintendo DS game really push the limit. The
battle characters are the most detailed I have seen for a pre-2011 DS
game, though the characters outside of the RPG battles could use some
work. The cutscenes are ok, again they could be improved by less
dialogue bubbles, and everything about the battle system works great.
It uses the same battle system as GS and TLA, just with much needed
graphical updates, no lag, and extra summons. It's great.
      The last issue I'd like to address is the difficulty level. The game
simply is too easy. The hardest part in the game comes halfway
through, not the final boss, which is ironic because this series is
known for impossible final bosses. The extras are fine, but the main
game is just too easy, and that 15 hours of gameplay compared to the
30+ hours for Golden Sun and The Lost Age proves that. Guys, there's
appealing to a younger audience, but that is just sad.
      Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is nowhere close as good as its predecessors,
but it is still a good game, and despite all its flaws, serves as a
good 3rd entry to the series, and provides a 4th Golden Sun game (if
Camelot can get their shit together. Seriously, Google Golden Sun 4
and see what I'm talking about. You can't end a game with "The
End...?" and expect no one will want you to finish the story arc) with
a good platform and fresh new ideas to eventual surpass all of its
predecessors. The ideas are there and the fanbase is there, the only
thing not there is Camelot (seriously, stop buying Mario Tennis so
Camelot can focus on what's really important. And no, it's not those
lint bunnies under your bed).
Say what you will, but I here this place has the best birdwatching.
     If anything, play this game for its music. It's excellent.  Give this game a
try, you'll enjoy it if you have the time. The key being if you have the time,
 even though this is only 15-20 hours of gameplay, 25 if you count extras.
If you love RPGs or just Golden Sun you'll love this
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn gets 4 stars out of 6.
Cinema Won's notes:
* PlayStation 1 was kicking ass and taking names of said asses, actually.
** This I completely agree with though.

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