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Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Ain't no sunshine when it's gone?

Golden Sun, last seen on the Game Boy Advance, is a Nintendo grab bag. Turn-based battling mixes with Pokémon's monster collecting and Zelda's item-driven dungeons.

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The world of Weyard revolves around Psynergy, elemental magics that both aid battle and enable you to excavate ancient ruins.

Read hurricanes, fire, plant growth and grip as substitutes for Link's gust jar, fire arrows, seeds and hook shot and Dark Dawn plays like Zelda with turn-based battles.

Alternatively, take it as a Japanese RPG with great dungeons. Where most JRPGs get nervous away from stats - even Dragon Quest IX suffers from drab dungeons - Dark Dawn excels.

Temples ape Zelda's brilliant clockwork designs. There are few things as satisfying as teasing life from forgotten aqueducts or restoring clanking engines to their former glory.

A few dungeons, particularly one based on zodiac signs, rival Link's own DS offering.

Not that stat hounds need stay away. Psynergy and character classes are dictated by Djinn, Pokémon-like critters hidden in the overworld.

Catching them is an adventure in itself, encouraged by the resulting growth in strategic options. In a fiendish twist, using a Djinni's magic exhausts them, negating their class benefit.

In effect, this lets you alter character classes mid-battle - a brilliant system for experimenting with, with a perfectly judged learning curve.

Devs Camelot steer the adventure masterfully. Golden Sun newbies are eased in with a glossary (tap a word for its definition), while old hands overcome the loss of the GBA 2D style with the DS' best 3D to date.

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With a bit of everything, Dark Dawn has something for everyone.

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The verdict

The DS does great RPGs and great Zeldas. Now it does both at once. Essential.

Nintendo DS
RPG, Adventure