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The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass

Author: Geoff Larsen
Monday, 5 November 2007
9/10

DS
Nintendo

It is Zelda on the DS, what else needs to be said-
As a fan of Wind Waker on the Gamecube it is good to see that Nintendo have returned to their colourful cel-shaded style. The game is actually a direct sequel to its console sibling – however, with the events of the first game explained within the first few seconds, it is not a requirement to have finished the previous installment in the series to have fun with Phantom Hourglass.
The first thing long-term Zelda fans will notice is that the old control scheme has been ditched for a new, DS-specific, control scheme. Link is now controlled exclusively via the touchscreen by simple taps and strokes. The new control scheme is extremely intuitive – it has an almost nonexistent learning curve. You will soon be swinging your trusty blade as well as – or more likely better than before… but more on that later.
The gameplay actually creates the illusion that you are on an adventure. Through the course of your travels you will have to explore new territory, draw your own maps, jot down locations of treasures and solve puzzles all by making use of unique and intuitive variations on the DS control set up. The storyline is your standard save-the-kidnapped-princess affair but, as always, it is told in the trademark Nintendo charming style.
On his new travels, Link, or whatever you choose to call him, is joined by two new companions. The first is a fairy with many similarities to Navi from Link’s N64 outing Ocarina of Time, the second is a cowardly snooty-looking sailor called Linebeck who allows Link to sail the seas in search of Princess Zelda.
The areas of the game are quite diverse and most of them feel alive, each with their own stories. The player is required to complete six dungeons in order to gradually progress to a large mega dungeon and while all are excellently designed the mega dungeon can get a little repetitive. A run-through of the adventure will consume roughly 20 hours which is a little shorter than Link’s previous adventures but a fairly decent time for a handheld game.
The game also may seem to go by very quickly as the new control scheme, while sleek and easy-to-use, makes combat and puzzles almost a little too easy. I managed to make it through the entire game without ever seeing the ‘Game Over’ screen. Still, it is easy to forgive this as the game is so engaging on its own. The lifespan of the game is further increased by co-operative and versus multiplayer games which is one of the few games that can be played over Nintendo’s WFC connection.
Phantom Hourglass is a beautifully well thought out game that oozes quality and sets a new standard for games on the console and, while it isn’t the longest handheld game out there, it’s definitely one of the most memorable.

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