The Legend of Zelda - Phantom Hourglass - Review

Zeldasages.com Review by Webmaster Bob
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It has been months since our hero has slain the evil Ganondorf, leaving Hyrule under the ocean depths. Tetra and the pirate gang have been prowling the seas in search for a new life, a new land. Yet, a sudden fog encases the party revealing a vile ghost ship from the mist. Tetra refuses to let the ship by without investigation and thus began a journey for our hero through the very mists of Hell.

Story:
For a Legend of Zelda game let alone handheld game Phantom Hourglass creates one heck of a thrilling story! From the very beginning you will be drawn in by the events following the mysterious ghost ship, scream in laughter over Linebeck's sheer stupidity, and sit in shock, plot twist after plot twist. Being the sequel to Wind Waker the story naturally begins months after Link and Tetra set sail from the world above Hyrule. On their journey they come across a mysterious ship which emerges from the fog. Tetra, being as daring as she is, goes to investigate failing to return. Link runs after her only to find himself knocked unconscious. From there the story slowly evolves into one heck of an epic tale. As a matter of fact like the Wind Waker, there is a wonderful huge plot twist at the end that may have some fans thinking back to another Zelda game from years ago. In either case, Phantom Hourglass delivers in the story department, tying up the loose ends left by Wind Waker and giving us a good long ending. 10/10



Gameplay:
Many were spectacle about a Zelda game completely stylus based, I was admittedly one of them. To be honest, I was so worried that I did not even reserve my copy of the game and ended up going to Walmart on October 1st to see if I could pick one up, of course I thought if I could not it would be no big deal. With that said, Phantom Hourglass brings a huge revolution to the control scheme, far more than Twilight Princess had. The stylus based controls provide perfect control that not only works well but is just plain fun to use! Honestly, I never want to use the DS D-Pad ever again after being giving precision control such as this. Though the control itself may seem simple, and it really is, veterans and newbies alike will be sufficiently challenged.

Other than the steller controls Phantom Hourglass also delivers with a huge variety of cool gadgets, gizmos, and moves at your disposal. The gadgets you will acquire will not be new to veterans, although each provides a very new interesting twist on use. Just as an example, the grappling hook can be used as a hookshot and to create tightrope bridges for link to walk on. You'll be finding interesting ways to make good use of each of the items in your arsenal and many a times multiple items to accomplish a single task. Although this very idea may sound overwhelming it's the same principle for which Ocarina of Time made such success, and I am honestly astonished Nintendo has waited this long to re-implement the constant use of items such as this. There is not a single item you will acquire that will depreciate in value once you've completed the dungeon which the item is held in.

Phantom Hourglass also contains a really cool side-quest feature to customize your ship which I have daubed "Pimp Yo Ship". Pimping out your ship with matching parts will increase your ships stamina and allow you to make whatever whacked out creation your sick twisted heart desires. You will obtain many ship parts throughout the game, although to really get every part you want you will need to trade parts via Wifi with friends. Other than just customizing your ship its also a great add-in that while roaming the four seas, your ship is a badass. Pirates getting in your way, unleash your unlimited cannon fire on their poor souls. Someone tries to torpedo you, just hop over the torpedo and give them a lesson in pain they will never forget. Traveling the sea in Phantom Hourglass is by far 150 times better than traveling in Wind Waker. No wind to worry about, the ship autopilots itself, and above all you move much faster! While the ship pilots your main duty is to adjust the camera angle in search of anything trying to impede your progress, like enemies, You can also stop the ship and change course at any time if need be, which is always a good thing.

If I were to describe every awesome element of Phantom Hourglass' gameplay we would be here for quiet a while. So, as far as negatives go the only things that bring down the gameplay score are some occasional stylus errors and the fact that most dungeons are very uncreative in design. There are only two temples that really stood out in my mind, and those were the last two prior to your journey to the final battle. Speaking of temples, you will be forced to repeat areas in The Temple of the Ocean King again and again until your head explodes from pure anger. The real saving grace on that end lies in that there is a mid-way warp-point, and at the end of the game you will acquire the ability to kill phantoms (and have enough sand in the Phantom Hourglass to not give a rats-rear about the time limit). 9/10



Sound:
If you've played Wind Waker you will be able to quickly recognize various tunes used in Wind Waker throughout the course of Phantom Hourglass. As far as new bits of music go some are absolutely brilliant such as the the ocean theme whilst others, namely the dungeon theme, are very uncreative and rather dull. Nintendo took a step backward as far as dungeon music is concerned, heck even Minish Cap had separate dungeon themes! This issue is greatly masked by the great variety of scores you will hear throughout the game, especially in the second half, however Nintendo could have done much better in the music department this time around. 7/10



Graphics:
Phantom Hourglass uses the same cell-shading technique introduced in Wind Waker for this DS installment. Like Wind Waker, characters are very exspressfull and full of vibrant energy. It's also not half bad that the DS has been pushed so far to be able to handle this huge overhaul. The downside is that, at times, you will be able to far more easily distinguish pixels, although this is simply the nature of the DS. We can not expect the DS to match up to what the GCN had done and thus all I have to say is "graphics pretty, hehe". 10/10

 

Overall:
The Legend of Zelda Phantom Hourglass is an amazing addition to the Zelda series. The stylus controls provide a fresh new mechanic to the Zelda universe along with a great story line worthy of the affiliation with the name Zelda. Nintendo has really done a fantastic job of translating the Zelda world we all know and love to the DS, and I would not be against another Zelda installment for the DS! The little problems here and there may have brought down the score a bit, although I can certainly attest that this is one of the best Zelda games to date, let alone games for the DS. So, do yourself a favor and throw aside your worries and plunge into a fantastic world of adventure! (wow, what a cliche)

 

Scores weighted differently and based on 100%

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Phantom Hourglass

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