Review by Chiiix3
For a first try at Zelda, I'm impressed.
I've heard all kinds of rumors about Zelda. Since I don't own any of the major consoles that host Zelda games, this may not be from a true point of view about the Zelda series. However, for a first time truly owning a part of the Zelda series, I must say, it's been worth every dollar I spent. Enough of my own life story, time to get on with the review of The Legend of Zelda : Phantom Hourglass. This is review number two for me. (Hopefully I do a good job...heh.)
Gameplay : 10/10
This made me go nuts. Normally, I'd stick to my computer and play MMORPG / FPS, but I honestly had to try and play both. There's too much to do here - play mini-games, do quests / side-quests and much more. This will keep you going for quite a few days, and ironically enough, I've beaten the game - but haven't 100% done it yet. About a week since I got it, so trust me, 100% won't be an easy task for this game. Which is a plus for any game, having things to do while you've beaten the story mode.
Graphics : 10/10
From what I've seen, this is probably the best animated game I've seen on the DS. It's almost like watching a show, the characters act like real people (show emotions, create drama, etc.) Background effects look nice, explosions look like an explosion, the seas act like seas, just waving about, and the monsters look fearsome. From what I've seen, you can compare this from The Legend of Zelda : Wind Waker (Just because I don't own a console that hosts a specific game doesn't mean I haven't seen it.) - but a portable system could never match the graphics on a console. Then again, am I wrong? -laughs-
Story : 8/10
The storyline was worth going through, it actually made me read the dialogue. (yes, I skip some scenes if they seem boring to me and I just don't care. Stupid reason, I know, but I'm sure you've done it before for one game.) It created a lot of suspense, but nothing too new from the old Zelda games I've seen. Zelda (as usual) gets taken away and trapped by some boss, one of your friends goes to the side of evil, you go and rescue the girl, save your friend. Nothing too new for this.
Sure, the main point looks the same, but I feel there might be a twist...but that's for you to find out, eh? I was surprised to see some things turn out different, but hey, buy the game and find out. The suspense is worth it.
Sound : 6/10
The sound layout went "according to plan" if you can put it that way. If a Phantom appears, you hear spooky music, as if you stepped on a trap and something appeared. You get a item that's useful, you hear like a victory tune. Get something bad, it sounds like a bad record. When you sail the sea, you hear seagulls, "riding the waves", cannons sound like cannons. Pretty much the same thing over and over. Nothing too special.
Replay : 9/10
As I mentioned before, just because you beat the storyline doesn't mean you've beaten the game. This is one tough cookie to "100%" since you'll have to do various things. This should keep you busy for an extra day or two. Getting ALL the ship parts (64 ship parts), all 60 Spirit Gems (20 for each Power, Wisdom and Courage), catch all 6 fish, obtain all the heart containers, list goes on forever.
Multiplayer : N/A
Wish I could tell you about this, but I haven't tried it out yet. I've heard various stories about it, disconnect fests, worth your time, etc. I'll have to give it a go at some point, but for now, I'll leave this category alone.
Controls : 10/10
Seriously, for once, you DON'T use the control pad. Unless you need shortcuts, but I still never use them. The DS uses it's full potential in this game, TOTAL stylus use everywhere. You move with the stylus, attack with it, probably everything you do is with the stylus. No, correct that, it IS everything. For an experience that uses stylus only games, I'm satisfied. 100%.
Basically, since the D-Pad doesn't make Link move, I'm sure you can guess the stylus makes him move. Closer you are to Link, slower he moves. Farther apart, you get the point. Flat out put the stylus somewhere, and just move where you want him to. Quite simple, if you ask me.
Attacking is also quite easy. Tap a monster, Link gives it a good slash on the head. Draw a line, he stabs in a straight line. Draw a curve, he swings his sword sideways. Draw a circle, he swings it in a full circle. The only downside, draw too much circles, he gets dizzy, a nice nifty touch. Your better off just tapping enemies.
Using items is quite fun. Draw a path for your Boomerang and Bombchu, throw your Bombs where you want them to be, tap to shoot your Bow and Arrow, tap something to use your Hammer.
This isn't the only use for your stylus - you can also write down little notes when you open your map. Mark a spot where you need to go, write down a correct path you need to take, or you can do something that relates to "X marks the spot." This could fill your whole map, which would get annoying, but unless you can write pretty small and still be able to read, I think your fine. I never had to write anything down, I remembered everything, which saved me some time.
Back to movement. Sailing your ship (I think it's a steamboat? I'll still refer to it as a ship.) is different now, you have to draw your route to where you want to stop / land, and when your done with that, you have to protect your ship while it sails to it's destination. (Providing you have a cannon, which I hope you remember to get.) Besides moving, you can do quite a lot on the seas, like play minigames such as fishing, and using your Salvage Arm to get chests underwater.
I'll point out one thing that could make controls a little annoying, and that's the "master" dungeon of this game. The Temple of the Ocean King has quite a few twists that might annoy you. This is where the Phantom Hourglass comes into play. During your stay at the temple (trust me, it won't be a good one), you'll find some purple areas which are called safe zones. This protects you from losing your health (which is the beginning, before you own the hourglass) and if you do own it, stops you from losing time on the hourglass. Every other area causes you to lose life, and if you have the hourglass, you lose time until the hourglass runs out, where you start to lose life. What makes this even more challenging to navigate are Phantoms. They roam the temple, and are invincible until you get a certain weapon. They can one hit you, which sends you to the beginning of the floor your on and you lose 30 seconds of time. Getting time is pretty straightforward, kill a boss, gain two minutes. Get Sand of Hours from a chest, get one minute. What brings a challenge is the actual time challenge, and it's fun to see how fast you can clear it. I have yet to try this out.
Overall : 10/10
While this game has it's flaws, this is a must have for any person who owns a DS. Sure, it has flat tunes and repetitive adventures, but trust me. it's worth paying for. Whether your a Zelda fan or not, probably a game you'll want on your wishlist this Christmas. If your willing to wait that long.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (US, 10/01/07)
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