The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

In 2003, Nintendo launched the sailing adventure The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for Nintendo Game Cube. The game was a great success, but its cartoonish cel-shaded art direction, humor-filled script, and ocean-centric game play was a great departure from previous Zelda games. Though the entry in the franchise received some fallout from fans and reviewers who yearned for a darker, more serious Zelda game, the game left a huge mark on video game production and formed a cult of loyal fans.

Plot

This latest game and Zelda franchise debut on the Ninteno DS, Phantom Hourglass picks up where Wind Waker left off. This is significant because with Ocarina of Time, the Zelda meta-narrative split into two timelines. One timeline, where a young Link and Zelda warned the King of Hyrule of Ganondorf’s treachery, lead to the events of Majora’s Mask and subsequently getting closure with Twilight Princess. The other timeline, in which Link ceases to exist because he went back in time, and where Hyrule was decimated by Ganondorf’s power, lead to the events of The Wind Waker, which closed off the second timeline.

Phantom Hourglass takes us a step beyond that ending, following Link and Tetra (Zelda) as they journey through the Great Ocean in search of a new place to settle and start Hyrule anew. Of course, this can’t happen without our heroes running afoul of some dangerous monsters and ancient evils. This makes it some pretty standard Zelda fare.

Controls & Game Play

This is the biggest change from previous titles. Link is controlled entirely with the stylus and touch screen. The stylus controls a small fairy character, which Link follows around. Tapping on objects or enemies causes Link to interact with them in the appropriate way, by flipping switches, picking up objects, or attacking enemies. The touch screen’s innovation also allows the player to issue very direct commands to both boomerang and bomb-chu devices, and to make all manner of notes on the map. These notes are invaluable in completing the game, though some of the dungeons are contrived specifically to force the player to resort to taking notes.

Humor

This game continues Wind Waker’s tradition of humor and uses a light animated style. Many of the interactions with other characters are just light comedy. You deal with everyone from your abusive and greedy shipmate Captain Linebeck, to the various quirky individuals who reside on the islands in the area. One of the funniest aspects of the game, however, is Link. The cel-shaded model plays well on the DS. The loose animated model is more emotive than the realistic model used in Twilight Princess. His swirling eyes and dizzy expression endear him more as both boy and hero.

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