The Golden Sun logo, revealed at E3 this summer.

Let’s be honest. For those of us (myself included) who remember and love the first “Golden Sun,” it has been a long year to wait since it’s unveiling at last year’s E3. All we had was the E3 video from last year to whet our appetites for this powerhouse role-playing game (RPG) on the Game Boy Advance to return.

This year the game hit the show floor in playable form with both a battle mode and an adventure mode that takes players through the game using Psynergy (magic spells) to solve puzzles. The game makes full use of the touch screen with menus during battle and spells outside of battle that are now motion-controlled. For those of you totally against change, you can still control the menus with the D-pad.

Controlling Psynergy with the touch screen seems natural, and I’m glad that developers at Camelot implemented it in ways that work and yet aren’t forcing touch control on you for things, such as drawing symbols for spells in battle that other RPGs have done. While touch controls work great when controlling the battle menu, you can also use spells for the out of battle Psynergy, such as growth or move. This improvement seems like a natural evolution for the series and another example of good, but not over the top, touch control.

When it comes to collecting magical creatures in the game, summons, Djinn and classes are all returning. Summons now spread out across both screens, making them all the more epic and impressive. Only a few summons were available in the battles in the demo (limited by the number of Djinn available), but I was able to see Ramses return in his dual screen glory, among other familiar faces that I can’t seem to recall. Even though these were start- and low-level summons, I was a little disappointed to not see any new ones, but I am guessing that the new summons are probably reserved for later in the game. I will be equally disappointed if at least some of the old summons don’t return, but I am hoping in the final build to see a good mix of both the new and the old.

Also, the spells that each character uses has changed as well as the Djinn, keeping the important play dynamic of balancing your class and Djinn firmly intact. People familiar with the old games will feel right at home with “Dark Dawn.” I jumped right into the battle mode, instantly able to cast spells, Set and use Djinn and attack with weapons without any need for instructions or a tutorial. The graphic style, while updated to fit the DS, doesn’t seem to be that drastic of a departure from the original games. And as with the last game, the summons are truly where the game shines with its graphics.

With so much staying the same, it is easy to forget everything that has changed and all that we still don’t know yet about the game. As far as the story goes, something went wrong with unleashing the Golden Sun, and now Psynergy Vortexes (those are bad if you can’t tell) are tearing the world apart.

As has been long rumored, you take the cast of new child Adepts through the game, descendants from the original Adepts. With only three confirmed so far, Matthew, an Earth Adept, resembles Isaac, Tyrell, a Fire Adept, descends from Garet and Karis, a Wind Adept, comes from Ivan. The final Adept to join the party has yet to be revealed, but rumors have already hit the web to a certain name that was found in one screenshot. We also don’t know exactly which children go with which heroes, if there was any cross-mixing of Adepts or if they found significant others of a same elemental background.

Aside from that, not much about the story is known. Another interesting thing I noticed is that, in the press release, Nintendo mentioned new worlds that were created (a new continent, of course), and also a new species. Now, my first guess in response to the announcement was monsters, but I wonder if perhaps we will actually see cross-elemental Adepts play some role in the story.

A lot of people also wondered if there would be any connection feature from the first two games, and I was able to get a pretty definite no against this. I don’t think many of us actually expected a transfer function, a la Pokmon, though it will be interesting to see what aspects are included from the old games, especially which evil characters, if any, make a return.

The only negative thing I can say about the title is I fear it may be coming late in the DS’s life span. The originals set the bar for Game Boy Advance games, and I hope “Dark Dawn” can again raise the bar for RPGs on the now waning life span of the DS. Sure, it is going to be great, but it would be even greater to see it take advantage of the 3-D technology of the new 3DS if they waited. I want to play “Golden Sun” as much as the next gamer, but the upgrade would be worth the wait.

If the only thing I could find wrong with the game is not its fault at all, then it must be good. “Golden Sun: Dark Dawn” may have to battle through seven years of nostalgia, but, damn, it sure feels good to have the game back in my hands again. I can’t wait to play through it, as the small look that I got into Weyard at E3 only reassured me that the game is sticking to its roots and will add on to the already great classics that the original two games have become. Either way, “Golden Sun” is due to hit this holiday season, so fans won’t have to wait much longer to see the sun finally rise on this long-awaited follow-up.



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