I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Zelda games on handhelds than on the consoles. It just comes down to a time thing, even though I love the games, I just don’t get time to finish them on the GameCube, N64 or even the Wii. However, on the Gameboy Color, Advance or the DS, I can make use of dead time and get really involved when on the move.
Which is why I’ve been looking forward to Phantom Hourglass so much and it hasn’t disappointed one bit.
Looking very similar to Wind Waker in terms of cell-shaded graphics and being set on a number of islands you have to sail to, the game starts with princess Zelda being kidnapped by a ghost ship. And so your adventure begins as you talk to townsfolk, swing your sword and solve more puzzles in dungeons before fighting the bosses.
So, in many ways this feels like a conventional Zelda with a very unconventional control method – as the whole game uses the stylus. To make Link move you just drag the stylus on the screen and he follows where you point to. To attack you either tap, strike through or spin round Link to make him twirl around. Again, tap objects to interact with them or to push, pull, throw or drop them.
They even give you clues and puzzles where you must make notes on maps and plot routes through mazes and areas full of danger.
You also use it to plot where to go in your ship on sea charts, and to look around and fire your cannons and pirate ships and amphibious enemies that pop up from time to time.
Graphically, this game looks amazing. It’s not far off the GameCube graphics and must really push what the DS can do without slowing the game down. It’s such a departure from the last one I played The Minish Cap yet if you like the Zelda games, you’ll get into this one just as quickly and instinctively know how the puzzles and combat work.
Also, they’ve put a multiplayer mode in the game where you play as Link or an evil knight in a deadly game of tag. At the moment I haven’t had a chance to play it as I have a US copy but it does look like a lot of fun and something to extend the life of the game once you’ve finished the single player mode.
My only gripe is that during combat, you sometimes walk into baddies instead of hitting them because everything is controlled using the stylus, but this never results in getting too annoyed as if you do die, you don’t have to repeat lots of the game to get back to where you were.
If you own a DS, you have to get his game. It would get a 10 apart from the combat issue I just mentioned. So, it gets an almost perfect 9 out of 10.