Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, The

January 18th, 2008 by exolstice


My first introduction to the world of Zelda was via Zelda II: The Adventure of Link many moons ago which I had asked my father to purchase for me. At the time, what attracted me the most about the game was its shiny gold plastic cartridge. Suffice it to say, the rubbish gameplay turned me off to all things Hyrule for a good long while. Fast forward to present day, when I had my father purchase the latest Zelda adventure for my birthday, and thus the circle of life is complete. So how did Link’s trip to the DS turn out?

Rather well I’d say. In terms of pure fun, Phantom Hourglass is probably the most enjoyable Zelda game I’ve ever played. In terms of gameplay, this is standard Zelda. If you’ve played any of the other games, you’ll feel right at home with this one. Especially if you’ve played the Windwaker on the GameCube, as this is a direct sequel.

Some people had concerns about the limits of stylus-based controls, well I’m here to allay those fears. The controls work splendidly. You move Link by pressing the stylus on the screen away from him. The further away you press, the faster he goes. Combat is a simple matter of tapping an enemy repeatedly or drawing a quick circle around Link to perform his trademark spin-attack. Special items work in much the same way, select a bomb, tap where you want to throw it. The controls for the boomerang are especially ingenious, just draw the path right on the screen.

Stylus controls aren’t just for combat and items either, for the first time in the series, you can now make notes on your maps! No more memorizing! In fact, a lot of the puzzles depend on this new ability. It’s really a great addition.

Like its predecessor, the Windwaker, this game also involves quite a bit of seafaring, but fear not! Gone is the tedious navigation system of the past. This time you just plot your course on a sea chart using your stylus and the ship automatically follows the course. You are then free to keep an eye on the ocean for uncharted islands or surprise attacks.

Overall this is a great game with one annoyance. It’s called the Temple of the Ocean King. Basically, a dungeon that you have to revisit numerous times during the game, each time venturing deeper. The annoying part comes with the fact every time you leave, all the traps and puzzles are reset, this is where making notes on your map becomes espcially important. Also, every time you get hit by an enemy, you lose life, but you’re also penalized 30 seconds on the timer. It wasn’t terribly difficult, but it was annoying. It felt like a gameplay device that was introduced solely to make the game longer.

Aside from that, the graphics, sound, and game play are some of the best (if not the best) you’ll experience on Nintendo’s DS system. So if you haven’t played this yet, get it now!


Screenshots* (click the thumbnails for a larger version) :

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