|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nintendo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 1, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Philip Hanan
February 28, 2007 - The trademark action RPG series that has stood the test of time has returned for its first DS installment. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass brings new gameplay depth to the handheld series for the first time in ages by using the touch screen to the fullest extent. It also gives gamers a deeper look at the world of LoZ: The Wind Waker.
When The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was shown at E3 back in June 2002, audiences were shocked by what they saw. There was a new Link in town and he was cel-shaded. Eventually, the game was released and gamers noticed that the gameplay still had the classic Zelda style they had come to expect from Nintendo and the new cartoonish graphics helped add character to the game. Although Nintendo finally gave the gamers a realistic, down-to-earth Zelda game in the form of Twilight Princess, some gamers who fell in love with the new Link were saddened by the loss of the new cel-shaded style. Fortunately, Nintendo has brought back the new storyline and design for the Nintendo DS.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass involves the mystery of the Phantom Hourglass which has the secret power to tell time and other secrets which weren't revealed by Nintendo. Link discovers it while sailing with his pirate crew during their treasure hunt, and of course, the hourglass, with lots of other treasures, are all hidden in various dungeons that Link must sail to.
The sailing controls are unique and easy and the graphics of the sea are precisely the same as the Windwaker. Simply plot your course on the map when it is on the touch screen and the boat will automatically sail towards the marked destination. If trouble heads your way, simply tap the cannon icon on the touch screen and Link will fire blasts towards the enemy. If you wish to kill the enemy completely, either turn around and fire some more cannonballs or move your ship back and forth to keep it from sailing past the enemy while firing at the same time.
Once you're on land, you will head into the dungeon to raid its treasures. In order to do so and to fight the enemies that block your path, you must pull your stylus from its sheathe and smite your enemies. Moving Link is done by pressing on him and making him walk or by quickly sliding the stylus on him and enabling him to roll under traps, etc. Stabbing enemies is done by tapping on them or by circling Link, enabling him to perform a spin attack. Objects can also be accessed by tapping on them. Some items that you use will be controlled via the touch screen such as the boomerang as you can plot its course. Others will be used via simple touching and tapping.
Dungeon runs vary as there are different goals in each one. Some have you sneaking past enemies, while others have you focusing on avoiding traps and hitting switches. Sometimes, just to enter rooms, you may have to draw symbols via the touch screen.
Boss Rooms can be totally different however, as they don't use the traditional overhead view that the LoZ series is famous for. Some feature a 3rd person viewpoint that focuses more on Link performing tasks such as lobbing bombs at bosses than it does on moving around in true 3D. I say it is also likely that there will be mini-games with all kinds of different view points and controls. I'm hoping for a new bombchu mini-game!
Graphically, all of the viewpoints and areas of the game look amazing. Even with 64 bit graphics, the cel-shading looks amazing and as good as it did on the GameCube. Nintendo claimed that they felt the cel-shaded style of this Zelda series was too different and unique to quit producing and I'm personally glad this humorous and vivid cartoon Link is still around ..unlike the actual 1990s cartoon Link. (via Super Mario Bros. Super Show)
The game's sound effects are as good as The Windwaker, but I wish Link would talk a little more for once so we could get to know his personality better. The game still lacks some nice voice acting.
Overall, the game is wrapping up to be a traditional Zelda game, but with unique gameplay. I'm personally excited about this one as I know going through the many dungeons the game has will finally stop being boring. I expect Zelda fans and even casual DS gamers will be tempted to pick up this title when it's released June 1st 2007.
CCC Freelance Writer