Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn Game Poster Image
Outstanding RPG offers fine role models, great puzzles.

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Narrative themes include courage and self-sacrifice. Our heroes perpetually put themselves at risk for the greater good. They use violence, but only when necessary, and the fighting is not gratuitous. Emphasis is placed on exploration and solving puzzles.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Our young protagonists—a collection of recognizable personalities including a duty-bound girl, and a brash boy, and a mostly mute primary hero—are questing to help a world in turmoil. They fight only when attacked and spend much of their time solving puzzles and aiding those in need. Players can control whether the lead hero responds positively or negatively to certain situations, giving them a modicum of control over his personality.

Ease of Play

Players can choose whether to use the DS’s buttons or its screen to control the action. Both methods work well and are simple to learn thanks to constant onscreen aids. Kids will need to know how to read well in order to understand the story and game instructions.


Player characters wield bows, swords, axes, staffs, and magic while fighting a variety of fantastical foes (giant rats, troll-like apes, etc.). Enemies flash brightly for a split second when hit and disappear when defeated.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byYokosLover January 4, 2011

Another Classic; And I got mine for free.

I loved the original Golden Sun for the GBA and I was psyched when I heard this one was coming out. Something about that classic RPG feel and the puzzles that I... Continue reading
Parent of a 15-year-old Written byZerofield January 1, 2011

Good for any one.

Played the first game when I was 6, first game I got and I still feel that game is the greatest game I have ever played. Appropriate for all ages.
Kid, 8 years old April 1, 2011


Lots of puzzels some violence.
Kid, 10 years old December 17, 2010


Awesome Game. I Played The First One. It's Great!

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?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
  • Price: $34.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release date: November 29, 2010
  • Genre: Role-Playing
  • ESRB rating: E10+ for Mild Fantasy Violence
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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