To rejoice the thirty fifth anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, we’re working a sequence of options a particular side — a theme, character, mechanic, location, reminiscence or one thing else fully — from every of the mainline Zelda video games. At the moment, Kate reminisces concerning the good, the dangerous, and the stylus controls of Phantom Hourglass…
You recognize, I can not determine if The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is admirably courageous, or lovably silly. The hand-held Zelda video games have all the time been just a little… bizarre, whether or not it is Minish Cap’s “what if Tingle had a family” or Spirit Tracks’ “what if the bad guy was a train”, and that is largely all the way down to the truth that Nintendo can afford to go a bit wild on the Zeldas that are not on the massive consoles. They fly just a little beneath the radar, they are not all the time 100 per cent canonical, and consequently, they will simply play with the established system just a little extra, since nobody takes them fairly as significantly as a full-fledged title.
Enter Phantom Hourglass: the sort-of-but-not-quite sequel to Wind Waker, by which the world remains to be A Large Moist, however Tetra the badass pirate is not trapped within the physique of a blonde girl who’s caught in a basement. It was fairly a bet – Wind Waker was an enormous success, and is likely one of the most beloved Zelda video games to today, so to set a sport in its world is a dangerous proposition.
For essentially the most half – at the very least, for my part, which is what you are about to get a number of hundred phrases of – Phantom Hourglass carried the torch properly, however what it is remembered for greater than something is its central dungeon. Let’s get into that first, eh?
The Temple of the Ocean King, AKA the Bane of the Video Sport Participant, is a temple dungeon divided into particular person ranges on every flooring that should be executed a minimum of 5 occasions. In case you thought Ocarina of Time’s Water Temple was a ache within the bum, then you definately ain’t seen nothing but. Every time you revisit The Temple of the Ocean King, it’s important to re-do most of the puzzles and stealth challenges you’ve got already executed – as a result of, oh yeah, the entire thing is a stealth dungeon – though new gadgets gained within the meantime will open up the occasional shortcut.
DID I MENTION THAT THE DUNGEON IS ALSO TIMED? No, I didn’t. However it’s, and going over the time restrict will deal harm to Hyperlink. Cut-off dates, stealth, and repetition are maybe my three least favorite sport mechanics – and but, I contemplate Phantom Hourglass considered one of my favorite Zelda video games of all time. What offers?
Effectively, many issues offers. To start merely, it is a incredible use of the DS’ know-how; the stylus is used for every little thing, from motion to fight to at least one notably nice second the place it’s important to map out a complete island on paper. Certain, that will have been a unfavourable for some individuals, and I definitely do not suppose I would take pleasure in it fairly as a lot at present, what with all that tendonitis I’ve, however again then, it was a revelation.
Nintendo have all the time loved experimenting with their console tech, and for the primary few years of the DS, the Wii, and the 3DS, we had been handled to some novel and inventive makes use of of these applied sciences. For the Wii, it was video games like Wii Sports activities and Okami; for the 3DS, Luigi’s Mansion and Tremendous Mario 3D Land used the autostereoscopic characteristic as a lot as they may; on DS, only a few video games reached the stylus-use heights of Phantom Hourglass.
One of many biggest options of Phantom Hourglass was the way in which it let gamers doodle everywhere in the map. Breath of the Wild’s map pins and stamps had been however a restricted replication of Phantom Hourglass’ note-taking, which might allow you to jot down the place particular gadgets, chests, and enemies had been, or simply draw an enormous dong, should you wished. Some dungeons revolve across the thought, and Bombchus particularly (that are much more helpful on this sport than some other) require drawing a exact path that does not contact any partitions. Pen-based gameplay? Heck yeah! Signal me up, child.
However, for a chunky-looking handheld sport that was attempting to copy a particular, cel-shaded type on a way more highly effective console, Phantom Hourglass can be full of character. Taking its cues from the cheeky, expressive Wind Waker Hyperlink, Phantom Hourglass has our hero pulling all types of goofy faces, with an enormous deal of humour made doable by the animation, even regardless of his lack of spoken traces.
There’s additionally Linebeck – the love-him-or-hate-him sea captain launched in Phantom Hourglass – who fulfils that satisfying trope of “washed-up treasure bastard with a heart of gold”, and Oshus, the loveable, grumpy outdated man who helps Hyperlink in his quest after which seems to be a whale-deity. It is all the time those you least anticipate. Each character on this sport is brimming with character, tales, secrets and techniques, and
Most followers of the sport will bear in mind its best, and most irritating second above all others – the bit the place it’s important to switch a map to a different map. For me, I found it fully accidentally, and I am positive I am not alone in that. After a confused 20 minutes of attempting to attract, button-press, and logic my technique to victory, I closed the console and stepped away – solely to find that that is precisely what you are imagined to do. Phantom Hourglass punched via the fourth wall and broke into the meta-game by insisting that you simply switch particulars from the highest display to the underside display by folding your DS in half like a e book.
There have been a bunch of video games within the meantime (and earlier than Phantom Hourglass) that used intelligent console trickery to pressure gamers into attempting new issues. There’s the (deserted) Banjo-Kazooie Cease ‘N’ Swop characteristic, which required gamers to modify out cartridges whereas taking part in, or ‘s trick the place it’s important to change controller ports to cease the boss from “reading your mind”. These bizarre little fourth-wall-breaking methods are annoying while you’re taking part in the sport, for positive, however grow to be legendary as time goes on, and nostalgia’s erosion rounds off the sharp edges.
Penning this has made me realise how a lot I miss stylus-based gaming. There’s nothing fairly just like the verisimilitude of a touchscreen, or the instantaneous approach it helps you to work together with issues on-screen. With a mind, a finger, a button, and a sport, there’s all the time a slight delay between every, however brain-touch-screen is satisfying in some deep-seated primal approach. Do not ask me why! I am not a scientist, regardless of claiming a number of occasions to be good at science.
Plus, as a gamer and particular person with a horrible consideration span and a love of fidgeting with issues to remain targeted, you may’t beat a stylus. You may draw little doodles with it, and a few of my finest work on Phantom Hourglass – as ephemeral because it was – was pretty to see, each time I might return to a map with a giant Toon Hyperlink sketched throughout it.
Phantom Hourglass, general, is each admirably courageous and lovably silly, you see. That is why it is so nice: like most of the finest Zelda video games, it tries new issues, and despite the fact that it typically falls over its personal toes like a pet studying to chase a ball, you may’t assist however smile. The repeated dungeon may not be essentially the most enjoyable, however it’s definitely fascinating, and the riddles and puzzles are so frustratingly smart-yet-obvious that Professor Layton himself can be proud. It isn’t the riskiest Zelda, and it is not essentially the most well-polished Zelda, however it’s so filled with coronary heart, appeal, and wit that it stands alone as doubtlessly the funniest of all of them.
I hope, in the future, that we get again a few of what we misplaced after the heydays of DS-based Zeldas: the stylus controls, the goofs, and the liberty to doodle everywhere in the map. We have executed horses, boats, and trains, so how about, er, a Zelda sport in a automotive? Or a aircraft? Hit us up, Eiji Aonuma. We have got some incredible concepts.