The Legend Of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass // DS

October 7, 2008

For too many years in the early Noughties, videogaming became too predictable. The same old gameplay mechanics, but with souped-up visuals. The beauty of the current generation of Nintendo consoles, the Wii and the DS, is that they are actually offering something never offered before. The control systems are enabling the player to interact with the games in completely different ways than before.

The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on the DS is a prime example of these new methods. I primarily play my DS on public transport, and happened to have a couple of hours spare on the train the other weekend to get into the game. Then I abruptly had to stop, because the game required that I say ‘HEY’ out loud into the DS’ microphone in order to get someone’s attention in game! You can imagine the social stigma of shouting at your games console on a busy train. Another example saw me having to blow into the DS in order to blow out some torches in game to unlock a gate. It is these touches which start really opening the doors for completely original videogame experiences.

As a game, Phantom Hourglass remind me of a cross between The Wind Waker and A Link To The Past. It has the top-down view of the SNES classic but is brought bang up-to-date with the crisp cel-shaded visuals of Wind Waker; visuals that feel perfectly suited to this format. The 3D cutscenes sometimes suffer a bit from some fuzzy pixellation but for a gamer who has grown up with the green duotone of the original Gameboy games, these kind of graphics from a hand-hold console are amazing.

I’ve only played Phantom Hourglass for several hours, but if it continues to employ the innovative touches it has so far, it’s shaping up to be a masterpiece, and a worthy addition to the Zelda legacy.

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