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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The Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker (2003-2013) (GameCube/Wii U) Review

The Legend of Zelda the Animated Series……… Wait no its not

legend-of-zelda-wind-waker-hd-freeThe Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker is one of the most beloved games of the Legend of Zelda franchise and is often considered to be a masterpiece to gaming, but it never used to be looked at in such as positive light as upon the games release it was hated amongst fans due to its less serious plot and characters and its new cheerful and brightly coloured visuals.

Before just a few weeks ago I had only played this game once while I was visiting my cousins back in 2003, even though I only played the game for a short time the memories I had playing have treasured me for many years and I always intended to return the game hoping to have as much fun with it as I did back then I have now played through both the HD remake and the original thanks to my very same cousin kindly lending me the very copy we played those many years ago.

this is a comparison review so I will be using screenshots from both versions of the game.

So how did it hold up?

You play as Link an adventurous young lad who lives with his little Sister Aryll and his Grandmother on Outset Island, its Links birthday and as a gift his Sister lets him borrow her special telescope for one day, while testing the telescope out Link notices a giant bird carrying a girl and dropping her into the forest of fairies which is located on a hill above Outset Island, Link runs into the forest and to his relief the girl is absolutely fine and she introduces herself as Captain Tetra and at the same time she introduces her crew of Pirates, Link and the Pirates decide that its time to leave the forest of fairies but unfortunately as they do the same bird snatches Aryll and takes he away to the Forbidden Fortress.

Aryll Kidnapped

 

Link suprised the bird stole his sister

The Pirates agree to help Link rescue his sister by escorting him to the Forbidden Fortress and after an intense mission impossible style journey to top of the fortress, Link finally reaches the top only to find out that the evil mastermind behind all of the previous trouble was none other than Ganondorf who has much bigger plans for the fate of the world other than simply kidnapping young girls and its up to Link the Hero of the Winds to stop him.

link and ganondorf

 

As I mentioned above Wind Waker didn’t do so well upon release due to its change in graphics and visuals but another reason for this is its game play, Wind Waker is the most interesting Zelda title I have ever played because unlike most other games in the series that mostly focus on a serious and dark plot with side missions and other objectives thrown into the mix as a bonus, Wind Waker does the very opposite because it has a big focus on exploring and discovery and less of a focus on the main quest, at the time a lot of Legend of Zelda fans didn’t like this new change of pace and they labelled the game as being a wannabe Zelda title, personally I really like the idea that the game wants players to create there own adventures as these days I feel that most Zelda games don’t have a massive emphasis on adventure which was originally the staple of the franchise.

King of Red Lions sailing

Instead of a horse this time we are given a boat called the King of Red Lions, the King of Red Lions is one of the most useful characters in the game because not only does he help guide you towards your main quests goals but he is also the only way you can travel between towns, islands and dungeons, if you haven’t already guessed the majority of the game takes place in the ocean meaning that most of your objectives and goals are spread all across the world on different islands.

This is a Zelda game so there is a couple of dungeons that you need to complete in order to beat the game but like I said there isn’t many dungeons as the main focus here is side questing, the idea of exploration is really cool and I appreciate that they made this the main focus but unfortunately the map for the ocean kind of sucks due to there not being much indication of where certain areas are on the map, some of the main towns are drawn on the map but the rest is mostly blank and this makes exploring extremely difficult, frustrating and not fun.

tumblr_nigb6z4AcB1qg98wdo1_1280There is a way that you can easily indicate where certain areas are situated on the map but from my experience the only way to do this is to feed your bate (red berries) to certain fish in the ocean, I found a couple of these fish and they did help me with mapping the coordinates of certain islands but I only found a few of them so they actually weren’t that much help.

I feel that this issue could have been fixed in a couple of ways for example how about nothing is indicated on the map but once you discover a new area or island it is automatically added to the map for you.

If you go on-line you can find coordinates to the different areas an example would be that the private cabana is situated on E5 this makes it much easier to traverse the vast world of Wind Waker so they could have fixed the map problem by giving you the opportunity to purchase the coordinates to certain areas in shops or from travelling merchants in the game.

The most obvious fix to this would be to simply provide the player with a physical map of the ocean packed in with the game that has all of the coordinates written onto it (Similar to the Grand Theft Auto games).

Finally for Wii U players the map is seen on the game pad so it would have been cool and useful if we could have drawn our own coordinates on the map using the stylus and the game pad.

This is the the only thing about the game-play that I really dislike so lets now talk about the more positive aspects of the game

Link timed button command attack

With Link being a being a master swords man you are going to be doing a lot of sword fighting in the game and a new attack introduced in Wind Waker is a timed button command, this new attack can be triggered by the player targeting the enemy and not taking damage for a few seconds, then once the command appears they must hit the button before it disappears and if they are successful they will take hit the enemy while dealing some major damage.

deku leaf

Another staple in the Zelda franchise is that in every game a new item is introduced and this time around we got the deku leaf, the deku leaf essentially allows Link to float through the air until his magic meter runs out this is useful for when you are trying to reach far away ledges and platforms, another use to this item is you can blow gusts of air with it which is mostly used to power certain mechanisms in the game luckily this particular use of the deku leaf uses no magic.

This wouldn’t be a Wind Waker review if I didn’t talk about the Wind Waker, the Wind Waker is essentially this games version of the Ocarina, through out the game you will learn new songs you can play using the wind and to the usual Zelda fashion some songs are needed in the game when others are not so important but still useful, for example if you are using the original sail while sailing you will need to sail in the direction of the wind and if you play the Winds Requiem you can change which way the wind is travelling making sailing to your destination much faster and easier, another example is the Ballad of Gales which allows you to warp to previous locations you have already visited.

teacher private cabana

Since the game mostly focuses on everything beyond the main quest you would think that the Side Quests would be very creative and unique compared to side quests in other entries of franchise, but this really isn’t the case as some side quests are genuinely a lot of fun and really stand out such as the Pictograph Quest which has young Link taking Photographs for an aspiring photographer on Windfall Island but apart from the few like this most of the Side quest are generic fetch quests having the player collect 20 of a specific item to be rewarded with rupees or heart pieces, one of the most awesome rewards for completing one of these quests is that Link gains his own Private Cabana which was an unexpected treat.

Both the Gamecube and the Wii U version of Wind Waker have very tight and responsive controls which are expected from a Nintendo Title, the Wii U version is the most beneficial version to play if only for the player not having the need to pause the game in order to switch between items and treasure charts due to the quick and easy access to these menus on the Wii U game pad.

The Wii U port also has a less aggravating final fetch quest at the end of game due to Nintendo kindly removing the majority of the Triforce charts allowing players to only collect three of them compared to the original which made the player collect eight.

The most unique aspect to the Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker is its visuals, Nintendo decided to steer away from the realistic and dark visuals which had become the staple of the series and decided to go with something much more happy which gave more of a childlike and innocent vibe which produced some beautiful final results.

Here are a few screen shots I found of both versions of the game.

images

Link looking like a boss on the bridge

link hanging around

WiiU_ZeldaWindWaker_Scrn01

Wind Waker is a very lively and well animated game, the game itself looks like an artist has gone absolutely nuts with colours and detail, this is also the first time we have really seen Link have a personality as he clearly shows his feelings and emotions using facial expressions through out the game and by using these facial expressions Link can take some magnificent selfies using his pictograph, the graphics are outstanding and are what help make the game really stand out as a unique title in the series.

Wind Waker also has an amazing sound track that really suits the games atmosphere and charm, what makes Wind Wakers soundtrack really stand out is that it always remains fun no matter what situation it is presenting itself too, for example most of the music in the game is fun happy and cheerful but even when the game gets to its more serious moments such as dungeon crawling and emotional scenes the music changes to suit these new environments but it also keeps its fun and cheerful presence as if its reminding you not to take the game to seriously and this is a game design choice that I really enjoy.

The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker is one of the most amazing entries in the franchise due to how unique it is, it was the first game in the series to have a less serious plot, feel and pace which is a touch that I believe only this game could pull off,  the game focuses more on adventuring than it does the main quest which is something that I believe Nintendo should implement into future Zelda titles, because Wind Waker chose to focus more on side questing and exploration I wish that the game had more interesting side quests and better map system because personally this left me very disappointed, the graphics are an interesting and risky choice but they work really well and honestly help give the game more personality, the music also carries this same risk but the final result really works in this type of game.

I will probably be crucified for saying this but I don’t think Wind Waker is one of the best Zelda titles although I believe I could have been if certain aspects of the game were executed better.

I may not have enjoyed Wind Waker as much as many of its fans but I do believe that it is a very unique entry to the franchise due to its personality and its charm.

Wind Waker 6.8/10

Wind Waker HD 7.2/10

Thank you for reading my review of The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker for the Gamecube and the Wii U

If you respect my opinion, I will respect yours

By Padawan

Want me to review a specific game/movie/product or do you have a general question you would like me to answer? if so please email me at ragglefragglereviews@gmail.com

You can find me on Miiverse by searching for draskafer

Also me and some friends have recently started playing games together so please check out our YouTube Channel Hoenn Rangers, We haven’t played Wind Waker yet but I’m sure we will at some point whether we play the Game Cube or the Wii U Port.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYmN8F6Q-eGOD0gp0anCdcQ