Welcome to episode 6 of my quest to complete every mainline Zelda game before the remaster of Link’s Awakening releases for Nintendo Switch on Sept 20. For this episode, I played The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.
Phantom Hourglass was the first Zelda title for the Nintendo DS handheld system. As such, Nintendo made sure that the game took advantage of nearly every single new feature on the console. The game allows players to switch between each screen on the DS. Link is almost entirely controlled with the touch screen and stylus. Players are even occasionally required to yell and blow into the microphone for specific items and puzzle mechanics.
Unfortunately, due to the heavy use of less-than-intuitive controls, the game falls somewhat flat compared to other games in the series. Honestly, the game just feels like a 20-hour tech demo for the Nintendo DS.
Not all of Phantom Hourglass‘s innovations were bad
While I was certainly not a fan of the overly complicated controls for Phantom Hourglass, there was one feature of the game that really stood out to me: the ability to draw and take permanent notes on your in-game map.
In the game, players can use the DS stylus and touch screen to make notes about puzzles, draw symbols, and, in some cases, even draw the entire area map out by hand. You can also save the drawings and notes you make so that you don’t have to remember what you did the last time you picked up your console to play.
Drawing on the map was novel and made perfect sense. I mean, really — why wouldn’t an adventurer want to take notes on their map?
But a lot of it was still bad
Phantom Hourglass is a direct sequel to The Wind Waker. Both games use the same art style, the same character designs, and an oceanic overworld. The story of the game even takes place right after the conclusion of The Wind Waker. However, other than those few things, the game never really feels like a true sequel. Something always feels like it’s missing.
I’ve played the game a few times over the years, but each time I get bored within the first couple of hours. The horrendous controls coupled with the seeming lack of a compelling narrative really make Phantom Hourglass one of my least favorite Zelda games of all time. If you haven’t picked it up in a while, I’d recommend you just don’t. It isn’t worth your time. Plus, if you’re someone who gets a little excited and taps a little too furiously like me, you may wind up damaging the touchscreen on your DS (like I did the first time I played it years ago).
Anyways, September has already begun, and I still have four more Zelda games to finish and write about before the 20th arrives. It’s about time to get started playing through the next game in my quest: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. See you then!