My goodness me, have I been a busy bunny. In all respects. I finished this little game in June and only now have I had the time to review it. Shocking. This DS title (bought in April) which I played on my trusty and still not-too scuffed up 3DS was one hell of a lot of fun, but firstly, a little background info…
Phantom Hourglass was the first Zelda Game to come out on the DS system and was released five years ago in 2007. Being released in the Noughties, it was during Nintendo’s ‘experimental’ phase of bringing new control systems to their Zelda Games. Phantom Hourglass was the first Zelda game to use the touch screen as the only way to control Link. To put it in the now revealed Zelda Timeline, the Phantom Hourglass is a direct sequel to The Wind Waker, with the events in that game occurring almost immediately after its predecessor. Like Wind Waker, the art style is Cell Shaded giving the whole game a cartoony appearance, which I personally liked.
All right, the game, what do I think. I absolutely love it, except for…all right, I will get onto the bad bit in a minute. First let me go through what I liked about Phantom Hourglass, and I liked a lot in the game.
First of all, Phantom Hourglass is incredibly fun to play. The stylus control is second nature and really is a doddle to master. I was as cynical as the rest when I first got my hands on this title, but I have to admit that I reallly did enjoy moving link around with my stubby stylus and making him slash and swipe away with his sword. The controls in fact had to be one of the best points of the game.
I also thought the story was pretty original. Nothing amazing, but a lot of fun, and kooky, which alongside Link’s Awakening seems to be a theme for handheld Zeldas.
Then came the gameplay. With easy controls and a fun story, this was brilliant. And a whole line-up of fun characters including the magnificent Linebeck, who really kicks ass. In fact, I rate Linebeck as one of video game’s coolest characters.
So what went wrong. Ah, the Temple of the Ocean King. Oh dear. While I loved wandering around the Great Sea and popping onto the little islands that are perfectly designed for handheld gaming, the Temple of the Ocean King made me shudder.
Êhe Temple of the Ocean King is a repetitive level. Now that is not a problem in itself. To come back to a central temple is fun. But to be forced to traverse the same temple, backtrack though previously cleared passages (now re-infested with bad guys) before advancing a little bit more was frustrating. Plus, you had a time limit. This really bugged me. So I had to figure out where I had gone before, rush through and get to clear the new stages, in an allotted time period. Otherwise I would be forced to start the temple. Again.
For such a fun game, why was such a crap concept slapped right in the middle of it?
As a result, I would have lots of fun playing Phantom Hourglass, but I would procrastinate around the map until I absolutely had to face the Temple of the Ocean King. Sad, eh?
So what is my recommendation for the Phantom Hourglass. Well, this is a fun Zelda, not a classic one, but fun only for Zelda fans. If you are a non-Zelda fan, then this is not the game to get you into the series. And that is solely due to the Temple of the Ocean King, a major chore. Video games are meant to be fun, so why should I feel bored making my way through a game? And it makes what could be a great game into a good one. And that is sad, as there are so many fantastic elements to Phantom Hourglass.
Overall,, I give this game a ‘B’. If not for the Temple of the Ocean King, this would have got a ‘B+’, that is how much fun I think this game is. But that pesky temple will mean that any sort of replay will be limited to only the most hardcore of Zelda fans. And it is telling that I have not touched Phantom Hourglass since completing it in June…
(Rating – B. It is a good game, but its obvious flaws means that while is should have scored higher, it cannot)