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Author Topic: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.  (Read 2569 times)

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Hoffy

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A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hou...
« on: November 27, 2007, 05:08:58 am »
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A Hoffy Review:
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass




Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date:
USA: October 1, 2007
AUST: October 11, 2007
Genre: Action Adventure
Rating: E (ESRB), G (OFLC)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Players: 1-2


When Nintendo first displayed the unique Nintendo DS handheld to the gaming community, the question on everyone's mind was how a Zelda game would fare on the double-screened gadget. How will it use the touch screen? The two screens? The microphone? The 3D visuals? What about online play? Was it going to be a Four Swords game heavily based on multiplayer? During the GDC conference of 2006, Nintendo revealed Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the first time. The latest pocket Zelda would not only take advantage of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker's controversial art style, but it would also be a direct sequel to the GameCube masterpiece. In short, Phantom Hourglass had a lot to live up to. Did it impress as Zelda games always do, or did the green-clad hero run into one too many Moblins on the way to the Princess?

Gameplay & Controls: 9.0
Okay, first thing's first. You've probably heard it dozens of times by now, but yes, the controls work. Not only did they work so well throughout the ocean voyage, but they felt about as fresh as chocolate milk on a hot afternoon. The whole game is controlled by the touch screen. You touch where you want Link to walk, and he'll walk there. Want to throw a bomb to a certain position? Simply tap and the bomb will land no further than you expected. How about tracing a path for a boomerang? Too easy. Shouting at a character? The microphone is your friend here. Swiping at a ChuChu? Not a problem. Throwing items to certain spots is especially refined, as it has never been so precise in any Zelda game before, and it definitely helps when it comes to throwing items over chasms. There's an immense level of control, and it feels new and refreshing.

You'll find the kind of tasks the touch screen provides don't feel tacked on or gimmicky, but that they actually enhance your experience. This is the advantage of having Phantom Hourglass developed from the ground up for the Nintendo DS, unlike The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Of course, there are a few issues with the control scheme. Rolling is a !@#$% to get used to, and to be honest, I still can't perform a perfect roll. Your hand or the stylus can sometimes get in the way of the bottom screen, albeit not too often. Would the game work better with button controls? Perhaps, yes, it would be easier to control... but it would be nowhere near as fun. And that's my final word on the controls.

Phantom Hourglass is a very simple game. It's obvious Nintendo had casual gamers in mind when they were developing this Zelda; it doesn't feel as complex as the monstrous Twilight Princess. You only obtain seven items for your inventory, as well as two slots for potions (though you don't actually receive any bottles). Not only that, but there are no Heart Pieces to collect either, only a few overworld Heart Containers. That's not to say that Phantom Hourglass feels small and unvaried, there's still plenty of ways to use your items, plenty of a applications for your ship, as well as dozens and dozens of collectibles ranging from treasure you can sell for profit, treasure maps for loot, ship parts you can use to customize your little steam boat and more. There's also a fair share of mini-games and a number of side-quests that'll keep you occupied for hours. The side-quests are also much, much more difficult than other Zelda games, meaning you'll have to work extra hard to get a full set of Heart Containers. Oh, and another thing: everything is very expensive in Phantom Hourglass. Most items you actually want will price at 500 rupees or more. So, unlike other Zeldas, rupee collecting is crucial to the main quest.

The DS Zelda offers up several new gameplay elements as most Zelda games do. In this case, it's the Temple of the Ocean King; an enormous and heart-poundingly difficult labyrinth designed to suck the life out of you when the sand in your Phantom Hourglass hits zero. Invincible Phantoms roam the dungeon corridors. These nasty brutes will take time away from you when they attack with their large weapons. This means you have to complete puzzles, avoid Phantoms and defeat enemies quickly, lest you run out of time. Worst and most annoying of all, the puzzles reset themselves when you leave, and you have to visit the dungeon about five times throughout your quest. It's not always so easy, and redoing the dungeon is particularly bothersome. So even though this feature is new and engaging, it's not something I'd like to see again in another Zelda. Features returning from other games include sailing (which is very much refined), treasure hunting and even fishing.


One day those switches are going to get their revenge.

Visuals & Graphics: 10.0
The Nintendo DS isn't exactly a graphical powerhouse, but it's safe to say that Phantom Hourglass is the handheld's prettiest game, second to perhaps Metroid Prime: Hunters. While on land, Phantom Hourglass looks like A Link to the Past or Minish Cap, at a pseudo-top-down perspective. Of course, the obvious change here is that characters, enemies and some objects are presented with a 3D model, and textures look much better. Rupees, barrels and the like are presented in 2D, but not a cost, as they blend in with the surroundings seamlessly. Don't think this new Zelda is bound to the top-down perspective either: the game will switch camera angles when receiving a new item, talking to a character and while sailing. Cutscenes look exceptionally gorgeous, and it's usually hard to tell whether you're looking at a console game or not... an old one, anyway. Occasionally a framerate drop, but otherwise everything looks spectacular. Did I mention the art style is still the best thing ever?

Sounds & Music: 5.5
What the !@#$%, Nintendo? It's obvious Koji Kondo was doing other things (like basking in his wheelbarrows of money and musical admiration) because he definitely wasn't on board with this particular Zelda, and it shows. Instead, Phantom Hourglass' musical score was composed by Kenta Nagata, a man so anonymous his name could have faded well into obscurity already. Toru Minegishi also returned to the series for a fourth time to work with his specialty - enemy and boss themes, and quite a terrific job he has done. But, Nagata-san was the main man here, and his themes are so amazingly simple and bland that they completely fail to convey the sense of atmosphere and culture Zelda pieces are known for. All dungeons have the same background music, consisting of something like two different notes, and island themes fail to provide that tropical feeling. To be fair however, cutscene music and especially Linebeck's theme are fantastic.


The graphics are great. The music... not so much. Boo-urns.

Story & Presentation: 9.0
The story for Phantom Hourglass isn't exactly Tolkien material, but it does suffice as quite a nice story in the long run. After Link's journeys in the Wind Waker, Link is found sailing the seas with Tetra's crew, possibly searching for new land and sweet treasure. While adventuring, the crew take a wrong turn into a sea said to be haunted by an ominous Ghost Ship! Upon finding the ship, Tetra is determined to discover whether or not the ship is really haunted, and jumps on board to investigate. A flash of lightning, a scream, and Link charges, unarmed, onto the Ghost Ship to save his Princess... only to slip into sea water! Phantom Hourglass is like all other Zelda games in that it presents a simple complication and a reason for Link to set out, and then the tale complicates to something much more, and eventually Link finds that the world is relying on him. It's a nice little formula, but there is the chance that it's becoming slightly old. Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is presented quite well all the way through, and there's no tedious Triforce Quest to deal with either. Zelda fanatics will find that there's very little NPC interaction as a price of the focus on gameplay. But, Zelda fanboys will love that Phantom Hourglass has that obvious Wind Waker feeling, that hint of Link's Awakening and that magic from the original The Legend of Zelda. It's really something quite new, and special.

Overall: 9.2
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is enjoyable because it's presented as a simple, fun adventure game, and in a way, this simplicity is appealing to hardcore gamers as well as the casual. While playing Phantom Hourglass, it felt like I was playing Zelda for the first time - all over again! It's a mixture of new gameplay mechanics that don't demand too much on the player, as well as presentation like that of the original Zelda game. It's a formula that will definitely draw in casual gamers while still providing a definitive experience for the determined Zelda player. Clocking at about 10-12 hours, the main quest is pretty easy on the difficulty side of things - don't get me wrong, I was stumped once or twice, but like other Zeldas the main quest is just that little bit too easy to fly though. The real difficulty lies in the sidequests. Not only do they demand time and effort, but they can add an extra 15 hours to your gameplay time. The music is mostly terrible, and the quest is too easy, but otherwise, this is Zelda in it's entirety. Plain and simple. Linebeck kicks ass, too.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2008, 04:49:20 am by 4Sword »
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Hoffy.
Re: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom...
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2007, 08:55:26 am »
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I give your review presentation a 10.0.

But I'm confused. Why is Story & Presentation combined, and why is it 9.0? You made it sound good but bad, which should be an 8.0.

Besides that, thankies Hoffy =D.
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the a o d c
Re: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom...
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2007, 12:27:27 pm »
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I agree with AoDC, I also agree with the music part, the fact that all dungeons have the same music, as do at least two of the islands is a real let down. What you must remember though is that maybe that was done because of the limited space available on the NDS card. considering what they crammed into that teeny card it isn't surprising that some sacrifices had to be made. Great review mate.

If anyone is in doubt: BUY THIS GAME!
And anyone who complains tha it should have had d-pad controls needs to go die while I call a waaaah-mbulance. lol I mades a funny....
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Re: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom...
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2007, 06:51:30 pm »
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Players: 1
It has multiplayer offline and online...
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Re: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom...
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2007, 07:04:55 pm »
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It has multiplayer offline and online...

True, but does anyone actually play that more than the one time it takes to see what it is?  The multiplayer blows... It's a shame that they didn't do something more like FS.

Anyway, nice review Hoffy.  You covered mainly everything I'd say if I were to review it.
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Re: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom...
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2007, 12:08:17 am »
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Players: 1
It has multiplayer offline and online...

True, but does anyone actually play that more than the one time it takes to see what it is?  The multiplayer blows... It's a shame that they didn't do something more like FS.

Anyway, nice review Hoffy.  You covered mainly everything I'd say if I were to review it.
I played it plenty of times, and its absolutely awesome.

Hoffy, that was one fine review. 9/10.
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Hoffy

Hero of Fire
Re: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom...
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2007, 01:38:57 am »
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I give your review presentation a 10.0.

But I'm confused. Why is Story & Presentation combined, and why is it 9.0? You made it sound good but bad, which should be an 8.0.

Besides that, thankies Hoffy =D.
That is a good point, and I don't really know. I gave Story and Presentation a 9.0 because the story is reasonable compared to other Zeldas and the presentation is fantastic. But yes, maybe an 8.0 would have been more suitable. And I don't know why they're together. I'm thinking of restructuring my reviews, I also need a "Lastibility" type section.

I agree with AoDC, I also agree with the music part, the fact that all dungeons have the same music, as do at least two of the islands is a real let down. What you must remember though is that maybe that was done because of the limited space available on the NDS card. considering what they crammed into that teeny card it isn't surprising that some sacrifices had to be made. Great review mate.
I must admit I never thought of that. But my opinion stands: most background music is !@#$%, and if it wasn't for the great boss themes and cimena music, the score would have been much lower.

Players: 1
It has multiplayer offline and online...
OSHI-

Yeah, I realised this morning that I didn't even mention the multiplayer... but it wasn't anything special anyway. It might be more fun if I were playing with my friends, but none of them seemed interested...
« Last Edit: November 28, 2007, 01:42:43 am by Hoffy »
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Hoffy.
Re: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom...
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2007, 01:48:48 am »
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Hoffy, that was quite possibly one of the most colorful reviews I have ever read... you should be a pro game reviewer or something. :) Also, reading this makes me want to actually go out and buy PH.. whereas before, I didn't give a crap. gg. :)
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Hoffy

Hero of Fire
Re: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom...
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2007, 01:57:05 am »
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Hoffy, that was quite possibly one of the most colorful reviews I have ever read... you should be a pro game reviewer or something. :) Also, reading this makes me want to actually go out and buy PH.. whereas before, I didn't give a crap. gg. :)
Thanks Zoru, that means a lot :D
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Hoffy.

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Re: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom...
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2007, 02:03:44 am »
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Yeah, your review was actually awesome for a review. For those people who have a DS they should get Phantom Hourglass. XD
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Re: A Hoffy Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom...
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2007, 02:05:42 am »
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Yeah, your review was actually awesome for a review. For those people who have a DS they should get Phantom Hourglass. XD

And people without a DS should go buy one and then get PH so they can play it.
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