The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Written by Joe Martin

October 27, 2007 | 04:50

Tags: #ds #force #game-and-watch #ganon #ghost #handheld #link #lite #miyamoto #navi #phantom #stylus #touch #tri #wii #zelda

Companies: #nintendo

Minigame Madness

One of the things which has always made the Zelda series great has been the sheer number of distractions and backtracking in the game world, which bolsters the longevity and gives players something to do when they inevitably get stuck. It’s a tradition which has been successfully carried over into Phantom Hourglass and there’s a great number of minigames and sidequests to keep players on their toes.

Some of the games are fairly standard. Salvatore reprises his role as the less-than-enthusiastic manager of the various game stands and offers players some simple shooting gallery type of games and the chance to win new decorations for their boat. The various pieces of boat décor serve as regular prizes and discovered treasures throughout the game and are great way to bring a personal feel to Link’s steamer, especially as certain combinations will unlock extra hearts.

There’s also some more interesting games and sidequests which become available as the game goes on – such as the ability to go fishing. Fishing is one of the more difficult, but rewarding minigames and players get to keep their trophies on a special collection screen and can boast about them to a certain mermaid-obsessed fisherman.

Fish aren’t all that is drifting about in the sea and there are several points of interest on the ocean, such as pirates (the bad kind), traveling merchants and other heroes on other quests. Each of them tends to have a little errand for you to run or at the very least some information or presents to give you – giving Link the chance to strike his oddly camp celebration pose whenever he gets a gift.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Conclusions The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Conclusions
Using the touch screen to control the boomerang (left) and playing multiplayer (right)

Combat on the high seas is plentiful, though a tad on the simple side and players just have to tap on the screen to send cannonballs flying. Navigation can be a little boring at first and involves little more than drawing a route on the map and making sure you don’t drive into anything, but it soon gets a lot easier if you solve the right puzzles and get the ability to fast-travel via tornado.

One might think that a tornado would be detrimental to the health of a ship, but one who thought that would probably have forgotten that this is a game. A game with cel-shaded, kiddy-graphics no less.

There’s also a cool new multiplayer mode available in Phantom Hourglass which can be played in either download, multi-card or WFC modes. The intricacies of the game are a little complicated to explain, but it’s basically a two player game of cat and mouse. Our experiences with it ranged from boredom to sheer, screaming excitement – though our final thought was that, although it’s a nice distraction, it doesn’t compare to the single-player game on any level.


The Phantom Hourglass has run out of time and now we can only choke out our parting shots before we’re buried under a veritable mountain of great gameplay.

That’s exactly what’s on offer with The Phantom Hourglass too – a mountain gameplay which will keep you coming back for more over and over. The game does well to offer a scaled down version of past Zelda titles and the design team has obviously learned what was good and was bad about The Wind Waker. More impressively, they’ve managed to design a game which is perfectly suited to the hardware of the DS.

There are a few problems with The Phantom Hourglass though, such as the titular hourglass which provides Link with a set amount of ‘safe time’ when traversing the game's central dungeon – The Home of The Ocean King. The dungeon itself relies more on stealth gameplay than puzzles and the hourglass is an obvious and annoying attempt to add tension to it all by restricting players to a certain amount of time before they die.

That said, as a whole The Phantom Hourglass is a fantastic game which should be considered a must-buy for the Nintendo DS. For hardcore gamers there aren’t that many must-have games either, and if you want to avoid the likes of Nintendogs then you’re pretty much limited to Mario, Advance Wars and Castlevania – which makes The Phantom Hourglass even more of a feat.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Conclusions

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October 14 2021 | 15:04