The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass (2007) Review

The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass is the first entry to be released on the Nintendo DS handheld videogame system. It is the fourteenth entry in the series and a sequel to GameCubes Wind Waker.

After the events of the Wind Waker Hyrule is flooded and Link and Tetra are crossing the ocean on their boat, they come across the Ghost Ship and climb aboard looking for treasure. On board Tetra screams as she is stolen and turned to stone, the ship vanishes leaving Link floating in the Sea before he is washed ashore on an island and rescued by a fairy called Ceila.

He finds a ghostly hourglass which holds the sands of time and speaks with an old man named Oshus who sends him on a quest with the help of Captain Linebeck to travel the new ocean, defeat the phantom Bellum and rescue Tetra so they can continue in their adventures.

The gameplay is very similar to the average top down Zelda game with hidden temples needing to be completed, each filled with a numerous amount of puzzles and a boss fight, these are each found on islands which you can sail towards on your boat.

Exploring the Sea in this is slightly lacking when compared to its predecessor due to the fact that while you can technically explore freely you can not physically move the boat but instead you draw a path which is then followed via an on rails segment, you can still jump obstacles and shoot down enemies so there is some entertainment value to these changes.

Speaking of gameplay changes I think the ambition to have the game completely controlled via the touch screen needs to be discussed because I have mixed feelings on this.

The use of touchscreen controls definitely had its advantages when it came to combat, simply tapping or swiping enemies worked really well when combined with using the screen for general movement as well.

My issues with this unfortunately came with swapping between items and drawing symbols.

Symbols are used throughout the game for various purposes, the main function is teleportation between the different areas of the Great Sea and finally for accessing certain parts of temples.

I had a lot of difficulty with getting some of these to work meaning that I had to do multiple attempts, the issue I think lies with how they are drawn, I found that I would draw the symbol perfectly and have no luck but if I drew the same symbol in a slightly different way it would work better.

This issue was so bad that at one point that I literally had to go to google to see if I had missed something but no it was just not drawing the image correctly even though it looked exactly the same as what I was meant to draw!

As for swapping items this worked fine enough but I do wish there was a way to apply some to buttons as near the end game it is necessary to swap items in a shorter space of time.

What caught me by surprise was that the game really focussed on the main story and held back on the side content. This worked so much more in its favour when compared to Wind Waker, this time around a longer campaign with a few memorable side quests was a much more enjoyable experience when compared to the repetitiveness of what we got before.

My favourite side quest involved finding a mermaid for a fisherman which would then end with us being awarded the fishing rod.

Other really interesting side content involved secret puzzles, near the end game a maze island is unlocked which gives you time limits to get through mazes which are full of puzzles and obstacles.

The puzzle on the whale shaped island was really unique having to sketch the islands layout based on clues before finally discovering how to open the doors to the Golden Frog King who teaches us about Golden Frog fast travel points.

Mini games are a staple of the series and here we get the obvious target games and bow and arrow ranges but these games now play an important role in how we explore the open sea.

Fishing allows us to catch fish which we can then take to the fisherman to be rated earning us prizes, I loved this as you needed to physically reel in the rod and pull on the touch screen to make sure you didn’t lose your catch.

The other new mechanic is how we use the salvage arm, here we can use a mechanical device to reach the bottom of the Ocean floor and can pull up lost treasure chests, this will result in either parts for your ship or treasures that you can sell for Rupees.

Customising your ship was a pretty cool new mechanic of the game, it wasn’t anything substantially amazing but allowing us to customize our ship did help me make my game unique to myself.

The use of 3D cell shading helps to maintain the cartoony and more family friendly look of the Wind Waker while also helping to enhance the graphic capabilities of the Nintendo DS considering that it was substantially more limited compared to graphically superior GameCube.

There is a large variety of different layouts and colour choices for the different temples but for me my favourite visuals were definitely the boss designs, each fight was unique and visually memorable my favourite was Gleeok the two headed Dragon followed by Bellum in the end game.

The soundtrack takes heavy inspiration from the Wind Waker it still uses the happier melodies help to maintain the less serious direction this chapter in the series was taking, a lot of the music here is somewhat cheerful but can get a little more intense during temples and boss fights but compared to other entries it always maintains its innocence and sense of wonder and even the re-used tracks from Wind Waker such as Outset Island sound fantastic even with the DS’s barriers when it came to its audio outputs.

Phantom Hourglass is a game I feel is often forgotten about by Zelda fans, Growing up I don’t ever recall anyone owning it and everyone played the Wind Waker.

This was my first ever playthrough of the game and I was left really surprised by it, when I first started playing the touch screen controls definitely took some time to get used too but ultimately worked in the games favour minus the issue with drawing symbols I mentioned earlier.

The plot focussing on the ghost ship was unexpected and introducing a new villain instead of resurrecting Ganondorf again was a really great way of making this game feel unique as an entry to the series.

I loved the introduction to touch screen interactivity with the fishing and salvage arm, it made success feel much more satisfying and rewarding

The visuals and audio are both equally as charming and both used the DS to the best of its capabilities giving us some truly fantastic and memorable musical tracks and creative lands to explore.

Overall Phantom Hourglass is to me what I wanted Wind wWker to be because this game really focussed on that main questline and took on a design approach similar to other 2D games in the series, the few side content that was there was lots of fun but didn’t take much focus away from the main goal, it definitely had its problems but for a game as ambitious as this was its really hard to not recommend it, it followed on from a beloved entry in the series that today is often considered to be a fan favourite and while this one has somewhat been lost the sea of Zelda games not only is it worth playing but I would argue that in a sense and only by a small margin I think this one may just be a little bit better. 7.6/10

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Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers (1990) NES Review

Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers is a platformer video game based on the hit television series of the same name, it was developed by Capcom for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The plot follows Chip and Dale on one of their missions, this time to rescue a stolen kitten from the villainous Fat Cat.

The game has 11 levels that each need to be explored, each of these are themed and some can be played out of order.

In the levels your main goal as usual is to get from the start of a stage to the end however you will be dealing with many tough bad guys which you can defeat by picking up items and throwing them at them.

The boss fights in the game are fantastic, they all follow a similar pattern of using a thrown ball to defeat them but they each have different attack patters which can be pretty tough at times, the final boss was particularly quite challenging.

This game is quite simple in its premise and its design but what I love about it is the smaller details, I think its great that you can play simultaneous 2 players as that was quite rare on the NES, some of puzzles are really interesting such as turning off the taps or trying to get past the desk fans which is difficult due to your small stature. I also think its great how its uses plenty of enemy sprites so that they are not repeating all of the time, giving plenty of variety. The game is very easy especially on two players so I would consider this more of a fun game to run through than a title that would test your skills as a gamer.

The soundtrack is fine, its not one my favourites and I while it is a lot of fun I do feel some of the tracks could have been changed to suit the levels more but its not a bad soundtrack by any means, it does have a great chiptune of the shows themesong.

Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers for the NES is really fun game that I feel anyone can enjoy without getting stressed or giving up, it is a great game for new gamers but is also a fun time for older gamers aswell, for the best experience play the game on two players co-op, one major update I would make if I designed the game is I would have made the co-op need more team work in order to proceed through the game, for example more puzzles that require communication that just good reflexes.

8.3/10

Thank you for reading my review of ChipnDale: Rescue Rangers for NES

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Kirby Star Allies (Nintendo Switch) Review

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Released on the 16th of March 2018 Kirby’s latest adventure has become popular amongst both fans and critics, the game makes a few changes to the regular Kirby formula which helps to make the game play feel unique while still being similar to its predecessors.

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On a distant Planet a Crystaline heart is blown up by a mysterious individual, the heart fragments are shot across the galaxy where they land on various planets including Kirby’s home planet of Dream Land, many characters are possessed by the heart fragments making them extremely aggressive, Kirby is also affected but instead of becoming dangerous Kirby gains the ability to befriend anyone he pleases, with his handy new ability Kirby heads off to find out whats going and prepares himself to save the galaxy.

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similar to most other Kirby games this one is a plat-former but as previously stated it does add a fair bit to the average Kirby formula, Kirby is still able to consume enemies and shoot them back out in the form of a star as a means of attack and most enemies will allow Kirby to gain their abilities if they are completely consumed, whats new is the ability to throw hearts at enemies forcing them to join your team, you can have up to three extra team members to help you beat the levels by killing enemies and solving puzzles, this doesn’t always work so well as I found that I occasionally needed to sacrifice a team member by consuming them as they wouldn’t commit to simple tasks such as lighting a fuse meaning that I has to do it my self at the loss of an ally although this wasn’t too much trouble as you can easily find someone else to join your team in their place, it should also be noted that some enemies can add elements to Kirby’s weapons making some enemies easier to defeat, you can also play as a main series characters such as Meta Knight by unlocking them in bonus areas called Dream Palaces, these palaces and bonus levels are unlocked by finding giant pink buttons in certain levels.

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Another fun ability Kirby can perform with his friends is the various podiums you find through out the different planets, these podiums require you to have a full team of allies so that you can create various forms, the most the common is the friendship circle but my personal favourite is the train, it was so much fun racing through the train segment at full speed not too mention very cute.

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Boss fights are what you would normally expect from a Kirby game but that isn’t a bad thing, they are still fun to fight and and its not as if they aren’t unique at all, the King Dedede fight stands out to me a lot and the final battle is extremely dramatic although I wont spoil that here.

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The visuals are amazing this is Kirby looking the best he has ever looked, the graphics are smooth, the game has some great uses for shadows and shading, colours vary from bright and cheerful to dark and gritty in order to fit the mood and atmosphere of the different planets and even smaller touches such as fire sparks being caused by fire attacks and the backgrounds being slightly enlarged and stretched out when passing over it during a water attack, this really goes to show just how much effort was put into the game by the designers.

The soundtrack of the game may just be my favourite yet of any Kirby game, it has all of original music as well some updated versions of classics tracks from the past, check it out above.

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Some Minor spoilers regarding bonus content below

Bonus content in this game while fun isn’t too much to get excited for, the main collectable of the game are puzzle pieces and if you collect a certain amount you can unlock one of many pictures inspired by past Kirby games, there are a few extra mini games available from the moment you start the game one is a lumber jack game where you must chop down trees faster than your opponents and the other is a game where you must bash a meteor with a baseball bat hoping that it goes further than the other players, once you beat the story mode you will unlock a boss rush mode and time trials which allow you too play as various enemies from the game, if you beat this game you can then play as dream palace characters such as Dedede and Meta Knight.

Kirby Star Allies is a really fun game and is a great entry to the series however it is far too short, its also very easy which isn’t surprising for a Kirby game but honestly there is no challenge at all in the main story, the boss rush can get a bit tough but that doesn’t make up for a story mode which only managed to kill me a handful of times, I know Kirby games are easier than most but this seemed a bit ridiculous, however its still worth picking up mostly due to the bonus content the player gets rewarded through out the game, the graphics are wonderful and the soundtrack will have you humming along all day, also at some point in the game a nod to one of Kirby’s earlier games is made and its honestly so cool and is worth discovering for your self.

Kirby Star Allies is a nice return for Kirby and I hope that its sells enough games to encourage some new story DLC but until then this game is good enough but definitely could have done with being a bit longer 7.3/10

I hope you enjoyed my review of Kirby Star Allies for the Nintendo Switch

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