Re may be a drop of golden sun, but "Golden Sun: Dark Dawn" is not one of my favorite things. Arriving seven years after "Golden Sun: The Lost Age" for the Game Boy Advance, the third entry in Nintendo's fan-favorite role-playing game series gets a graphical upgrade but never strays from the shallow waters of its predecessors. The result is an RPG that is unimpeachably competent but delivers little more than the reptilian enjoyment of seeing your characters' power, health and magic statistics improve as you play the game longer.

An RPG's battle system is always the core of the game, and "Dark Dawn's" is founded on the notion that little Poke-like companions your characters collect can easily be toggled "on" and "off," which changes your character's attributes on the fly and allows for some degree of customizability. The problem is, you're switching these critters from "active" to "standby" (saving up their power for summon spells) so often that your main characters' altered characteristics rarely last more than a couple turns, and pretty soon you forget about these changes entirely.

Outside of battle, your characters encounter puzzles that never increase in complexity beyond what you'd find in the first dungeon in a Zelda game. See some vines? Cast the Grow spell. See a block? Cast the Move spell. All games consist of going through the motions, but it's nice to have to think about the motions before going through them.

'Golden Sun: Dark Dawn'
» System: DS
» Price: $34.99
» Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

"Dark Dawn's" one strong point, other than its spectacular summon spells, is the story, which, incredibly, recovers from the longest scrolling-text intro in history. The game is set 30 years since the last "Golden Sun" and casts you as the sons and daughters of the original heroes, which is a great excuse to revisit old fan favorites while telling a new story.

The story and basic elements like character progress can sustain your interest through the end of the game, but if you're going to invest the time required to play an RPG, don't you want more than competence in return?