How could one go wrong by buying a game from a video game series as “legend”-ary as The Legend of Zelda? (Is that a bad pun or what?) The adventure games continuously created by Nintendo still manage to retain the challenging yet rewarding aspect of gaming where other series with as many games have become old and monotonous. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is no different from its predecessors in that respect, but it is the first Zelda game to be published for the touch-screen system of the Nintendo DS. Although I doubt the developers would call it beginner’s luck, Phantom Hourglass’s touch-screen control layout works very well and really enhances the game-play experience. Unlike previous releases, this Zelda game allows you to mark up your maps and make little notes, especially helpful for later on in Phantom Hourglass when certain actions have to be done at specific places, specific times, or on different levels of a dungeon or temple. The dungeons and temples are areas where you’ll spend a lot of time in the game, and each one has its own unique identity.
The characters in the game serve as another part of the game that draws one into Link’s world of high seas. Early on, your character meets Captain Linebeck, the head honcho of the S.S. Linebeck. Because the nature of the game is a lot like Wind Waker, you spend time traveling on Linebeck’s boat to and from different islands. Linebeck’s cowardice and the show he puts on to cover it up are always amusing. Your spirit guide for your journey is a fairy similar to Navi in Ocarina of Time, but far less annoying. And of course, how could there be a Legend of Zelda game without the title character, Princess Zelda? The main storyline of Phantom Hourglass is initiated when Tetra (this game’s version of Zelda) leaves her pirate ship to go exploring and is turned to stone on a ghost ship. Naturally, it is up to you to save her. Before you can find the ghost ship that took Tetra, you have to find maps for the different quarters of the seas. Later on, you discover that an evil being named Bellum is the reason Tetra, after being captured, was turned to stone. As you could probably guess, defeating Bellum becomes the main quest in the game. Despite this main quest being fairly straightforward, the developers of Phantom Hourglass manage to keep things interesting with a good number of side quests and games.
Weapons and accessories are another important characteristic of Zelda games and Phantom Hourglass is no different. In Phantom Hourglass, several new weapons make an appearance, as do some old ones. The boomerang becomes fun to use, as you can now draw the path it should travel, a huge help in some puzzle situations. Bombchus now work in a similar way. Besides the standard shield and sword combination, you also come upon weapons like a grappling hook and a hammer as you go through the game. But weapons are not limited just to your island escapades; you can customize the S.S. Linebeck, which is equipped with a cannon to protect you from the many dangers on the high seas. Somehow, it still doesn’t manage to comfort the good-natured yet scaredy-cat Captain Linebeck.
For Zelda and Link’s first appearance on a touch-screen hand-held platform, the overall game experience is quite entertaining and challenging. The adventure is just as big on a Nintendo DS as it has been on previous Nintendo consoles. In conclusion, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass represents a must-have for Zelda fans and new gamers alike, and it most definitely gives the Nintendo DS a game to be proud about.