A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is a turn-based role-playing game in which players use magic and melee weapons to fight fantastical creatures. The violence is moderate -- kids see only a flash of light when enemies are hit. The game’s heroes are a brave and clever bunch, often risking themselves on behalf of others. They are forced to solve a wide variety of environmental puzzles with their magical abilities. Parents should note that this game requires good reading skills; its epic story and all instructions are presented through text.
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What's it about?
GOLDEN SUN: DARK DAWN picks up 30 years after the last game in the series. Near the end of the previous entry, the dying world of Weyard experienced a massive outpouring of magical energy that brought it back to life but also caused global catastrophes. Now, decades later, the world is still recovering and changing. The game’s heroes -- the children of the previous game’s primary protagonists -- set out on their own adventure. At first, their goal is simply to find a missing part to help one of their fathers rebuild a hang glider, but it soon transforms into helping others in distress and eventually becomes a mission to save the world. As usual for the franchise, the action is composed of traditional turn-based battles mixed with a liberal dose of environmental puzzles in which players must use magic to move obstacles, burn impediments, grow vine-like ladders, and blow platforms into the air.
Is it any good?
The third game in this beloved series of handheld role-playing games delivers a conventional -- but refined -- experience. The writing is concise and compelling, turn-based battles are quick yet demand strategy, and the puzzles -- the heart of the game -- are familiar but challenging. What’s more, collecting those devilishly hard-to-find djinn -- magical creatures that can be assigned to characters to change their statistics, class, and powers -- is as habit-forming as it was in previous Golden Suns.
But while Dark Dawn may recall earlier games, it’s not without innovation. One of its cleverest new features is an encyclopedia that can be accessed by tapping on words in the game’s text dialogue, much as one would click a hyperlink on a web page. This action calls up an efficient description of the person, place, or thing referenced, and should prove an invaluable aid for players new to the series. Consequently, it matters not whether you’ve played previous games in the series; Dark Dawn can be great fun for anyone who enjoys role-playing, puzzles, and the occasional turn-based battle.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. What rules of thumb do you follow when determining whether a game is too violent or scary for your kids? How do you know when your kids might be ready to take on something more mature?
Families can also discuss how and whether games can help improve a child’s reasoning skills. Do you think learning to understand and solve puzzles in games can be beneficial to kids’ development?
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