The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Yesterday’s post was just a precursor to this one, to explain why I’m so behind the times in writing about The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. The reason goes something like this…

  • Phantom Hourglass was released in October 2007, and my girlfriend bought me a copy for Christmas that year
  • I decided to play The Wind Waker first, in order to get the continuity right.
  • After playing The Wind Waker (and Twilight Princess before it), I felt all Zelda’d out, so I took a break to play Super Mario Galaxy.
  • Then I bought Okami, which I finished in July.
  • Finally, about a month ago, I got round to playing Phantom Hourglass (largely in preparation for Spirit Tracks later in the year)

So although the game has been sitting on my “to play” pile for 18 months, that’s why I’ve only just finished it.

The game is great – nicely pitched in difficulty, with a few ingenious puzzles that make great use of the touchscreen. Drawing boomerang paths or steamboat routes was very intuitive and there was some nice (if limited) use of the microphone. I would have preferred the shoulder buttons to act as toggles rather than requiring a press-and-hold to activate the selected tool: too many times in the heat of battle I found myself releasing the shoulder button prematurely and losing the boomerang path I’d drawn.

The temple designs were inspired. In particular the little shortcuts which let you progress through the main temple faster with each new weapon gave you hope that this time you might have enough sand in your hourglass to make it through on the first attempt.

With the immediacy and convenience of a portable game, this has perhaps been the best Zelda I’ve played to date. I just wish it had been longer – but I suppose there is a trade-off to be made when you’re running from a cartridge.

My girlfriend played it as the same time as me, and also thoroughly enjoyed it. She found it a little more taxing than I did, but did manage to complete it. Usually she wouldn’t fancy a role-playing game like this, but the cute graphics and simple control mechanism made her an instant convert. We’re now both eagerly awaiting the release of Spirit Tracks.