850th played so far

Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: DS
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo

Somehow, I managed to end up behind on Legend of Zelda games and have three more to go in about 150 games – yeah, with 850 we’re at a clear landmark and it feels good to play a game in a big series this time.

Phantom Hourglass is one of the handheld top down games like Minish Cap, using more of the seafaring that we also saw in Wind Waker – taking its inspiration in look and themes. I enjoyed the former, and I think I did the latter eight years later, so we’ll see how it goes here.

Our Thoughts

I think that at this point in the life of a series, it’s fair to ask what new thing a game offers. Phantom Hourglass draws on elements that appeared in its console iterations before, while using that to gate the game as well – you need to gather charts to open up more of the world, using a central dungeon you keep coming back to. You’re limited in how long you can stay in there, upping that time limit and getting items to get through the dungeon faster are part of what you keep doing throughout the game.

The dungeons feel like fairly prototypical Zelda fare, with some nice stealth puzzles put in and the added pressure from the time limits in the dungeon – they didn’t get to me too much, but it works well to create some added urgency. It didn’t get in the way much, with everything feeling generous enough, but the tension is there.

The exploration of the world works quite nicely. Rather than a world that feels packed together, with unlocks taunting you constantly, the charts and growing world keeps you focused on your goal, at least early on, and it feels like you can actually finish exploring places earlier on rather than having to sweep the map every time you get powers for new places. It feels big and open, in a way that the series really moves towards later.

Final Thoughts

I don’t think Phantom Hourglass is among the best Zelda games, but this shows how the quality of the series is so high that almost any real entry in it deserves a place on the list. There’s enough in the world to recommend it, as well as the charm in the characters and the way it is all put together. Sure, I’m looking forward to Spirit Tracks – that one seems custom made for me – but it’s incredibly good here.