Golden Sun in 2001 and Golden Sun: The Lost Age in 2003 were two halves of one story, which together made the best original role-playing game on the Game Boy Advance. That story continues in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. Seven years is a long time between sequels, and Dark Dawn feels conspicuously similar to its forebears - not a bad thing, as those games stand up today despite being somewhat dated, and this one benefits from visuals that stand among the best on the DS.
Set 30 years after the end of the second game, Dark Dawn does a good job recapping events from the previous two games and presenting its own story, though it has a tendency toward overexplanation and hand-holding.
Battles at first appear as typical turn-based RPG fare, with attacks, defense, item usage and Synergy (magic) among the standard options, but the use of Synergy outside of battles gives the Golden Sun series an edge in its game play.
Some Synergy abilities can be used only in the field (telekinetically pushing stone pillars, for example), while others can be used in either context - the Grow ability can be used to spear enemies with thorns or to make vines grow up or down ledges to create ladders.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
RATING Everyone 10 and older
PLOT Fantasy role-player
DETAILS Nintendo DS, $35
BOTTOM LINE Shines like its Sun forbears