"When Nintendo tries something new with the Zelda series, it usually pays off. Moving to three dimensions in Ocarina of Time resulted in what many consider to be the best Zelda game of all time, and experimenting with an ultra-cute graphical style worked surprisingly well in The Wind Waker. Nintendo's at it again in the direct sequel to The Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass. What sets this apart from past games is that the entire g..."
When Nintendo tries something new with the Zelda series, it usually pays off. Moving to three dimensions in Ocarina of Time resulted in what many consider to be the best Zelda game of all time, and experimenting with an ultra-cute graphical style worked surprisingly well in The Wind Waker. Nintendo's at it again in the direct sequel to The Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass. What sets this apart from past games is that the entire game is played on the DS' touch screen, but this experiment doesn't work as well as you'd hope.
Link's journey begins with him aboard Tetra's pirate ship once again. You're on the search for treasure, just as all pirates are, with your target being a mysterious ghost ship. A minute later, this ship appears. As luck would have it, instead of obtaining a bounty, Tetra is swept away, Link is thrown off the boat, and now it's up to him to save Tetra once again. The story is sparse, uninteresting, and only included as a formality on the part of the developers. The obvious focus is on the gameplay, but Phantom Hourglass doesn't fare much better there.
As you'll immediately realize upon starting the game, PH brings back the top-down view that the SNES and GBA Zelda games used. This makes everything feel a lot more like those classic entries, but with one major caveat: the touch screen controls. The entire game is played by manipulating the DS' features -- you'll literally never need to use a button, and that's just as well, because you can't use them for anything but menus. To run, you hold the stylus on the screen in the direction you want to move, you swipe the screen with the stylus or poke at an enemy to attack, and you can draw paths for boomerangs and bombs to follow when you throw them. Unfortunately, the control scheme is a mess that ends up bogging down the game as a whole. The motions you make on the touch screen to run and attack are nearly identical, which means that in frantic situations, it's far too easy to attack when you want to run somewhere and vice versa. Even simple actions like trying to pick up a bomb can end with you striking the bomb accidentally and taking damage. It becomes pretty frustrating and can make you feel helpless if you're in a situation that requires any amount of precision. The microphone is also a mandatory part of playing this game -- there's probably not another game that requires you to blow into the microphone as much as this. Unfortunately, blowing into your DS to activate windmills and clean off dusty maps is stupid and adds nothing meaningful to the game, and that's far from the only lame use of the DS' features to be found here. These instances aren't cute or clever. Just unnecessary.
Community review by Daisuke02 (December 28, 2007)
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