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Phantom Hourglass Review 89

Posted by Zonk
from the always-dig-that-crazy-hat dept.
Of all the titles in the Legend of Zelda series, some of the most-respected have been for handheld consoles. Link's Awakening, the Oracle duo, and Minish Cap all manage to combine on-the-road gaming with a certain purity of Zelda-ness. Link's most recent adventure on the small screen, Phantom Hourglass, generally continues this tradition and introduces a number of new elements to the property. Unique controls, a true sequel, and cel-shaded graphics all make Hourglass stand out from 'traditional' Zelda games, and together the whole hangs together fairly well. Read on for my impressions of this pint-sized return to Hyrule.
  • Title:Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
  • Developer/Publisher: Nintendo
  • System: DS
  • Genre: Top-Down Adventure Game
  • Score: 3/5: This game will appeal to genre fans. Not the strongest entry in the series, but worth your time.
Phantom Hourglass is a first for Nintendo in a few ways. Story-wise, it's the first time a Zelda game has directly referenced elements from a previous title. In this case, Hourglass is a direct sequel to 2003's Wind Waker. The first moments of Hourglass recap the end of the GameCube game, and sets the scene for the game's overall conflict. As befitting a handheld game, the story (at first) is a bit less epic than in games like Link to the Past. A ghost ship of some kind is haunting the waves, and snags Tetra/Zelda from the deck of her own vessel. Link hooks up with a scoundrel named Linebeck, who owns a paddleboat capable of crossing the seas. Together with the amnesiac fairy Ciela, the three adventurers explore the Temple of the Ocean King looking for clues as to where Tetra has gone. It's a brisk story, without a lot of deep characterization or extremely memorable moments, but it serves the gameplay quite well. Some Zelda games feel like a constant 'one more thing' struggle, as you finish X to get to Y but then find you you have to complete A to get to B before you can return to Y. Hourglass's fairly linear tale doesn't allow for many cul-de-sacs like that, and works just fine for a handheld title. My biggest complaint about the story is that the ending is fairly weak, especially compared to the finale of Wind Waker. I didn't feel as though I was satisfactorily paid off for my investment, and that's always frustrating. Gameplay-wise, the finale was great; I just wish they'd ended on a different story note.

On that gameplay front, Phantom Hourglass offers up more new elements than in any other recent Zelda title. Twilight Princess had Link swinging his sword with the Wiimote, but fundamentally the game played like pretty much every game since Ocarina. Phantom Hourglass makes full use of the DS's touch elements and microphone to produce a completely new play experience. Moving Link, attacking, throwing the boomerang, all are done with the stylus, and these elements were all polished to varying levels of success. Simple movement is effortless, and is an easy mental switchover from the D-pad. There are some moves done with the stylus that take some getting used to (like a circle at the edge of the screen for a tuck-and-roll), and those I found to be sometimes a bit clumsier. Actual combat is as easy as poking your enemy with the stylus, and those simple attacks also feel very 'right'. Some more advanced combat moves will require practice to get regularly, and some never quite felt spot-on to me. The best element of the touch controls is the 'drawing' gameplay, used for items like the boomerang and in navigating Linebeck's ship. The boomerang control feels like this is something that should have been in Zelda games from the very beginning, and it never got old using that simple 'low-level' item.

Beyond the controls, a lot of the gameplay additions were hit or miss. The phantom hourglass itself adds a time-based puzzle to the Temple of the Ocean King maps, requiring you to complete a series of puzzles in a specific amount of time. Given the handheld nature of the game I felt that worked really well. In fact, the handheld basis of the game was well respected throughout. Puzzles never required more than a minute or two of mulling to figure out, you can save whenever you want, and in most cases an entire island only required about 15-20 minutes of your time to complete. Sailing, on the other hand, was just as tedious as it was in Wind Waker. The designers took some deliberate steps to make the experience less onerous than in Hourglass's predecessor, but it still felt like far too much time was spent wandering the ocean or fighting off pirate attacks. Boss battles on the whole were fairly strong, often using DS touch elements in interesting ways. A few, like the requisite fight with Dodongo, felt like they made things different just for the sake of being different. The Gleeok battle, on the other hand, was a great use of the DS's charms to turn old hat into new fun.

Visually Phantom Hourglass holds up the standard of Wind Waker very well, which is highly impressive given that the latter is a GameCube title. I've always personally liked the cel-shaded style used in these games, but folks who found the style's use in the original game offputting won't find any comfort here. In fact, Hourglass goes a step further with the 'semi-cartoony' elements, giving Link some goofy expressions and over-the-top takes over the course of the game. If you go in expecting cartoon instead of Twilight Princess, none of these gags should be too annoying. Probably the only 'classic' element of the game is its auditory presentation. Sound FX are taken right out of Wind Waker, and the musical compositions are surprisingly sophisticated for a handheld game. I particularly liked the composition of the Zelda theme used for the title screen, a stirring combination with Wind Waker music elements set against an ocean scene.

It's strange saying that a Zelda title is 'merely competent', since I've over-the-top enjoyed most of the other entries in the venerable series. Link to the Past is still one of my favorite games, and so in some ways I feel like every new attempt to rescue the princess is held up to that gold standard. Here, sailing around islands that were once the mountaintops of Hyrule, I feel like the gameplay too was a bit flooded. Nintendo tried to cram a lot of new elements into one experience, and ended up with some that were spot-on, and some that weren't. I'm not even sure if the weaker components could have used more time; in this game, some things just felt out of place. Overall, though, it's hard to fault them for trying something so deliberately new. Phantom Hourglass is a fun handheld title, with a focus on quickly-resolving puzzle and action elements perfect for its format. It's well worth a look for anyone who has yet to tire of another try at the Triforce.
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Phantom Hourglass Review

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  • My short review (Score:5, Informative)

    by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @03:49PM (#21245275) Homepage Journal
    I recently finished the game and wrote my review on Sunday, giving it an 8 out of 10. I felt like that the new stylus driven gameplay aspects were great and really added to the series, but the game focused way too much on repetitiveness. You literally run through the same dungeon something like 5 or 6 times throughout the course of the game, and the dungeon is just kind of obnoxious. Plus the whole "phantom hourglass" only matters in that one particular dungeon, basically negating what could have been a cool concept or object nearly completely.

    I didn't think the sailing was as bad in this game as in Wind Waker (which I still enjoyed in that game too). You would draw on a map point A to point B, and your ship would go there for you. The only annoying part was having to fight enemies on the way with your cannon (very basic bad guys - cannon fodder if you excuse me) on the way, sometimes it's just nice to sit back and check out the scenery as you sail. There were also six warp points that allowed you to get to point B very quickly, basically eliminating any long and tedious journeys.

    I also thought the exploration was fun, and appreciated "uncharted islands" and such, really kind of felt like I was setting out on the new ground. There was an island shaped like a Nintendo DS though, and that breaking of the fourth wall was really out of place.

    Anyways, my review is here [blogspot.com] if you're interested, just a little side site I run to more or less keep track of what games I beat.
    • by Erwos (553607)
      I played the game for a bit, but I could never get into the touchscreen controls. Maybe I'm too used to "old school" Zelda, but it felt off to me when I was using a stylus. I can see how some folks would fall in love with the game, mind you, but it didn't resonate with me, for whatever reason. Maybe it gets better further in?
      • Re:My short review (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Monday November 05, 2007 @04:00PM (#21245431) Homepage Journal
        Well, early on it feels awkward, that's for sure. But once you start picking up the standard Zelda weapons, I liked it more. At the beginning all you have is a sword and fighting enemies is as easy as tapping them with your stylus, but once you get the boomerang or the bombchus, fighting baddies and solving puzzles is more fun. For the boomerang you draw it's path on the screen, not a very realistic boomerang but more fun than just throwing it straight and then it comes back to you. Bombchus are like walking bombs and you draw their path on the map and they follow it. Those are probably the most stylus unique weapons, otherwise you have the bow and arrow which you just aim with the stylus or a hammer which feels like it was just tacked in at the end.

        If you didn't like it at first, I'd play until you get the boomerang. It gets better after that but if you still don't like the gameplay by then, you probably won't enjoy this game much. It was an experiment by Nintendo and I personally think they did a good job with it. Not for everyone though.
        • by zenrandom (708587) *
          I agree, sailing is a bit of a chore, it gets to be less slow when you can ride the cyclones. I really, at this point (haven't quite completed the game yet) am really tired of the phantom hourglass temple of the ocean king parts. Seriously, I get tired of going through the motions time after time just to get a new level. Seriously, how many times do I need to go through those first six floors? Great they give me a portal after a while for the first 6, but then I have to redo the next set of floors repea
          • Re:My short review (Score:4, Informative)

            by Speare (84249) on Monday November 05, 2007 @04:35PM (#21245839) Homepage Journal
            If you pay attention, you will note that each time you visit the temple, you have a new tools at your disposal, and that new tool will let you open up new secrets in most levels of the temple. You can optimize your time by using these carefully. By the end of the game, if you learn all the tricks, you can traverse the whole temple in about 30 seconds of elapsed time. You also get extras like more treasure maps and ship parts for your troubles. I agree it seemed repetitive at first, but they really made pretty clever dungeon levels with layers of puzzles in them.
        • by Fozzyuw (950608)
          I agree.

          This Zelda game has been one of the more enjoyable Zelda's I've played in a while. It's style brought back a lot of "classic" Zelda feelings. It's not worth a perfect score, but I feel it was much better than "Twilight Princess" and hands-down worth buying* (if you liked the Wind-Waker).

          The main reason? The DS Stylus. They new ways of doing things, with your weapons, really added a lot of flavor to the puzzles you could solve. There was a lot of use of the stylus that was just great stuff. Dra
          • by Fozzyuw (950608)
            gah, I forgot to mention, another great thing is always having a map at the ready and being able to use it to write notes or even needing it to solve puzzles or find treasure (mark the location of each item 'x' and draw lines connecting them to find where you should dig).
          • by aichpvee (631243)
            As far as I'm concerned it's more fun to play than ANY of the other Zelda games. The controls are fast and smooth, even with a scratched up screen protector, and the puzzles are really smart. I don't know if it's a better game than all the other Zeldas, but I'd put it above any of the 3D entries and well ahead of Minish Cap, possibly the worst Zelda this side of 1995.
            • by KDR_11k (778916)
              Minish Cap wasn't bad in terms of gameplay, the story just reads like bad fanfiction.
              • by aichpvee (631243)
                There were some mis-steps with the gameplay that really bothered me. I've never cared about the story in a Zelda game, not even Twilight Princess where they tried to actually give it one. It's about the dungeon-based puzzles and the combat, and Minish Cap just screwed up the formula a little too much for me. Which was a big let down for me as I've otherwise loved every handheld incarnation of the series. I'd have to go back to it to point out what I didn't like about it as I can't remember the specifics
    • You literally run through the same dungeon something like 5 or 6 times throughout the course of the game, and the dungeon is just kind of obnoxious.

      Actually, I quite liked that.

      Yes, you're going through the same dungeon over and over again. But each time you do it you've got more equipment while going through the repeated parts to reach the new bit. Once you get kit like bombchus and the hookshot and the shovel, you can cut out huge slices of that dungeon - if you notice where to use them, that is. It's

    • If you played Link's Awakening, you would realize that kind of breaking the fourth wall is right at home.
    • by Agilus (471376)
      I've heard the repetitive complaint a few places. Without it, however, the main purpose of the map annotation goes away.

      I suppose they could have scrapped the map annotation, but I thought it was a clever usage. Using your own notes to improve your speed in the dungeon is an interesting and new challenge for the series.
      • by Zenaku (821866)
        I loved the map annotation, but I found it very difficult to mark much useful information on such a small screen without obscuring the map with all my "ink." I just can't legibly write/draw small enough with a stylus to do much more than put down dots whereever there is "something interesting."

        I just started my second play through, and I'm trying to keep better notes in the temple of the Ocean King about where the shortcuts are for later trips, so I've taken to drawing little bombs where there are bombable
  • Touch screen issues (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sciros (986030) on Monday November 05, 2007 @03:53PM (#21245325) Journal
    This is the first game in which I have experienced some serious calibration issues with my DS touch screen. (The proper "click on red squares" calibration is totally shot on my DS...) The item select, the map drawing, etc. It is driving me friggin nuts!

    I admit the control scheme is (when working properly) quite well-conceived and makes me happy. The boomerang and bow+arrow especially are fun, as is the boat cannon.

    The game is great, although whoever came up with the idea of repeating that one Temple over and over (even with some shortcuts thrown in) is a total prick.
  • not the first sequel (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2007 @03:55PM (#21245363)
    "Phantom Hourglass is a first for Nintendo in a few ways. Story-wise, it's the first time a Zelda game has directly referenced elements from a previous title.

    Actually, it's not the first sequel. The second Zelda game was the first sequel:

    "The Adventure of Link is a direct sequel to the original The Legend of Zelda" Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
    • by geminidomino (614729) * on Monday November 05, 2007 @04:00PM (#21245429) Journal
      Hush. Nothing before LTTP counts, doncha know?

      TAoL really gets more flack than it deserves... I love that game...
      • by geminidomino (614729) * on Monday November 05, 2007 @04:09PM (#21245521) Journal
        Wow. That's the first time I've ever been modded flamebait for waxing nostalgic about The Adventure of Link... some mod must REALLY hate that game.
      • by meringuoid (568297) on Monday November 05, 2007 @05:28PM (#21246541)
        TAoL really gets more flack than it deserves... I love that game...

        I think it gets less now than it used to. It used to be more of an odd one out - the side-scrolling action instead of the other games' top-down model was certainly weird. It didn't feel at all the same as the other games, and so it got a fair amount of abuse. I loved it myself - I'd played it first, and only got the others rather later, so I didn't see it as so strange - but I can understand the criticism.

        That was the case while Zelda II was compared with Zelda I, LttP and Awakening. All top-down adventures clearly related to each other, leaving Zelda II out in the cold.

        Then Nintendo decided to change the rules a bit. I remember feeling a certain trepidation when I heard what was being done. 3D? How'll that work? The whole thing was pretty much a complete rethink, making the difference between Zelda II and the other three seem rather less significant.

        And then the game came out, and... well, there's Civilization II and Super Mario Bros. III, and maybe Half-Life, and that's all that stands comparison.

        Now Zelda II isn't so much seen as an oddball, a black sheep of the family. It's a precursor to Ocarina, ahead of its time. Fighting side on? You do it in Ocarina, when you're not viewing it from behind instead. Using magic spells? Well, that's what the ocarina's for. And better yet, Ocarina explicitly endorsed the awesomeness of Zelda II: Rauru. Ruto. Saria. Mido. Nabooru. Darunia.

        Now, I'm looking forward to the second (or the first exclusively) Wii Zelda. I hope to find out at last just who Kasuto was :-)

      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        I think it gets flak because it's just a bad game. The level design is often repetitive, the fights annoying and the way you have to start from Zelda's temple every time you run out of lives is really annoying. There have been better implementations of similar gameplay. Playing AoL is like playing the original Metroid, just no fun.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hansamurai (907719)
      After Wind Waker came out, I always considered Link's Awakening to be like a psuedo sequel to it. Wind Waker ends with you sailing the high seas and Link's Awakening begins in the middle of a storm on the high seas.

      But then again, I like to draw connections to things that shouldn't really connect. Like how I consider The Big Bounce to be a sequel to Shawshank Redemption (hey, it stars Morgan Freeman on a resort island, he obviously let Andy Dufresne build up the resort, then he killed him and took over -
    • by Gneekman (1039136)
      And what about Majora's Mask? Unless I'm mistaken, it was a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time.
  • Direct sequels... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2007 @03:56PM (#21245379)
    Actually, there were several Zelda games that were either direct sequels or directly referenced earlier entries in the series. Link's Awakening is almost certainly a direct sequel to A Link to the Past, Majora's Mask IS a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, and talks about it quite a bit, and Wind Waker makes a lot of semi-obscure references to Ocarina of Time...

    -Moses
    • by TeamSPAM (166583)

      While there are references to Ocarina of Time in Wind Walker, I felt they make it pretty clear that you are not "the Link" from Ocarina of Time.

      • by Alistar (900738)
        The original hyrule was buried far underwater, it was either the church or the castle you visit at some point.

        It seemed like many generations had passed.

        I always assumed you were simply of the bloodline, not "the" link from Ocarina of Time.

        I think the story even hints at, if not directly says, something to that effect.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by KDR_11k (778916)
          The story says only one descended from the knights of Hyrule can defeat Ganon. Hey, I wish I could get one of these "only X can defeat me" deals, I'd pick a mentally retarded wheelchair-bound Indonesian suffering from pneumonia and being a descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte as my only enemy.
    • Can you explain the connection (at first I typed link) between A Link to the Past and Link's Awakening? It's something I've never really seen, personally (and like I said as a reply to another post, Link's Awakening seems like more of a sequel to Wind Waker).
      • by Scoth (879800)
        The Link's Awakening manual states in pretty much direct terms that after "fulfilling the prophesy" and destroying Ganon, there were still threats to be had. So, Link set out to gain wisdom and such, but ended up shipwrecked on the way home. It isn't completely slam-dunk that it has to follow LttP, though, as it's somewhat vague. It could fit in after just about any game in the series. Some even say it could have happened in between the major continents of Hyrule during Zelda II, but that doesn't really wor
    • Wind Waker makes a lot of semi-obscure references to Ocarina of Time...

      Such as the bloody great statue of the Hero of Time, and the stained glass windows of the Seven Sages.

      And Ocarina itself reverse-referenced Zelda II, retconning the village names into people. And Twilight Princess also gave the occasional nod to Ocarina - take a good look at the photographs at the fishing pond.

  • To increase the level of difficulty, try playing this game on a DS with a whacked out touchpad. Also, I wish that sword swinging were still button driven as I found the stylus driven attacks to be monotonous. Also, it could have used some L-targeting.
  • Every other ratings site has been giving the game 9+/10. I'm not an expert, but everyone I've showed it to ran out and bought it, so I'd say that at least a 4/5 would be justified.

    • by Jonny_eh (765306)
      I would have given it a 4 or 5 out of 5, if not for the fact that the puzzles were REALLY easy!
      Link's Awakening and Minish Cap were much much better games.
  • Now, I have never played Windwaker or Phantom Hourglass, but I have heard similar complaints about Suikoden IV. Now, I wonder if it would benefit those games to adopt the sailing system of the early Ultima series. Maybe the sea traveling section could feature a giant world map, where you could sail around, and pirates would occasionally attack you with a cannon, which weakens the structural integrity of the ship. They could also feature a ship-to-ship battle if the two ships pulled along side each other. Th
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2007 @04:20PM (#21245665)
    Just wondering, when did game reviews start popping up on slashdot?

    Anyway, I recently beat the game so I'll add my 2 cents.

    Its a very good game. The first time I put it in my DS I could not put it down and managed to kill 6 hours in a single sitting. The graphics were very good, the characters are nice and developed, and its got a great story to it.

    There are of course some drawbacks. First, an option to use classic controls would have helped at some point, as its somewhat hard to control link in close quarters combat using just the stylus. It also would have helped if the L an R buttons could have controlled different items, like how in almost all zeldas since ocarina you cna have multiple gadgets equipped on different buttons somehow.

    Second, the audio wasnt as detailed and thoughtful as in past zelda games. The same short tune plays in each dungeon, and its not even a really suspenseful tune. I finally got around to playing Twilight Princess a few weeks ago, and every dungeon in that game had a different, deeply immersive tune that added to the feeling of the game. Heck, even the first portable zelda: links awakening had unique tunes for the dungeons.

    Third, and this has been mentioned before, you have to repeat the same dungeon like 6 times in the game, and only after the 3rd or 4th time through does a portal open up to take you back to that point the next time you enter. It wouldn't have been nearly as repetitive if each time through you unlocked one of these portals.

    Now, this game did offer a lot of positives. Being able to draw routes for your weapons was absolutely brilliant. This is the only zelda game in which I actually enjoyed bombchus and regularly used them. Being able to tell your boomerang exactly where to go was great as well, and helped in many places. Being able to draw notes on the map was a great addition as well, and I hope they add that feature to the next Zelda on the Wii. Sailing was also much less of a chore in this game than wind waker, and the warp methods were actually useful, even tho I didnt manage to get all of them before I beat the game.

    Humerously, when I started the game I actually had the same feelings as a recent VG Cats comic and literally said out loud "Oh no, not navi!" But the fairy in this game isnt that bad, and actually ads a decent amount to the game in the later stages, especially if you pay attention to one of the side quests.

    Anyway, I think its an extremely well put together game, and a must-have for any zelda fan or DS owner. There were some shortcomings, but the freshness more than makes up for it. This anonymous coward gives it a solid 8.7 out of 10.
    • It also would have helped if the L an R buttons could have controlled different items, like how in almost all zeldas since ocarina you cna have multiple gadgets equipped on different buttons somehow.

      Would have defeated the purpose. You'll note that the D-pad and Buttons are mirror controls, to accomodate left handed and right handed people at the same time; having someone holding the DS with their left trying to click the right shoulder button (or vice versa) would be too onerous.
  • My Review (Score:2, Informative)

    by zzottt (629458)
    If you like any of the old Zelda games and you want to play Zelda in a new and fun way on the DS then this game is for you!

    I think its the best DS game I have played so far. The game play is highly addictive and the story works great if you have been following the game for the last few installments then you will be right at home.

    5 out of 5 stars

  • It's as though the reviewer only played 25% of the way through. He does not go into any of the online elements, which include playing the hourglass battle games online vs random competitors or via friend codes, he doesn't go into the item-trading aspects, nor is discussed the ship customization collect-a-thon. I'm very disappointed that none of the online aspects were referenced in this review.
    • by Ost316 (1035874)
      I agree. This game is far better than the skeptics' review that is here a month late. Online mode and it's unlocking of items in the games is certainly a big point missed. Trading can be fun and the different value of goods in each cartridge is rather innovative. Sailing is no where near as tedious as Wind Waker if you're adept enough to get the Cyclone Stone early on. Plus, you don't have to control the ship once you've drawn the path. A much smoother experience. I found very few elements of the gam
  • by DreadSpoon (653424) on Monday November 05, 2007 @04:37PM (#21245859) Journal

    Read on for my impressions of this pint-sized return to Hyrule.


    Apparently you didn't pay much attention to the plot while reviewing, eh? ;)
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Monday November 05, 2007 @04:55PM (#21246075) Homepage Journal
    Not to mention they use the same puzzle with the microphone multiple times. Ok, I blow into the ds, I get it, it's interesting, but not something I'm willing to do in a public place(and since we are talking about a portable, it will often be used in those places). Doing it once, ok, but requiring me to blow into the microphone multiple times to solve what is basically the same puzzle(lighting some lamps, blowing off dust on my map) is just dumb. And don't even get me started about having to shout.....

    The game also breaks the 4th wall multiple times. When you are first starting the game I can understand why you might need to do so, but the game just keeps on breaking it and breaking it. The worst being when you had to close the DS to solve a puzzle. It just really takes you out of the game.

    I think Nintendo broke a cardinal rule of alternative inputs here: If you use them, don't disable the more "traditional" inputs unless you have a good reason to do so. Phantom hourglass has yet to produce a good reason for why you cannot use the d-pad or hit alternative keys instead of blowing into the ds etc... Still an alright game, but pales in comparison to how much fun Minish Cap was.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Monday November 05, 2007 @05:16PM (#21246363)
      And don't even get me started about having to shout.....

      Snap your fingers in front of the microphone. One of the NPCs even tells you about that trick ;-)

      • by Darktyco (621568)
        Typically I'd be lying in bed at night while playing this game. My wife would have kicked me out of bed completely if I had started shouting at my DS while she was sleeping, so instead I would fake a cough with my mouth close to the mic. In my opinion a decently faked cough looks even less embarrassing than snapping your fingers, you just need to be careful not to spray your DS.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Someone keeps deleting my save game and im running out of fingers to snap! I dont know if its worth it to begin snapping my toes =\
      • Take the stylus, and tap it against the microphone. The guy congratulated me for how loud I shouted, and I didn't look like an idiot on the plane. (and it's not even very loud to you ... just to the microphone)
    • Yeah, requiring a lot of this stuff is just stupid. It's more gimmicky "don't we have some way to use the XYZ?" than it is "hammer for nail, screwdriver for screw".

      On the other hand, they did the gesture thing really well. It actually works. There are other problems (like it becoming painful to hold the DS after awhile... play this on a flat surface), but this particular aspect works. This is what they should have done with Zelda:TP on the Wii, instead of the craptacular control scheme they came up wi

      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        It might hurt but it doesn't hurt as badly as, say, Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland which uses dpad movement and stylus actions, that's a real pain.
    • > The worst being when you had to close the DS to solve a puzzle. It just really takes you out of the game.

      There are two kinds of people. Those who find that when they meet metafiction it takes them out of suspension of disbelief, and those who find that when they meet metafiction it sucks them in further. Given that metafiction has always been used as a means of achieving the latter I suspect you're in the minority in your feeling. Or to put it more simply, the fact that I had to close the device to s

    • No shit! I was waiting on the local shop to rotate/balance the tires on my car while playing. I got up and went to the bathroom to blow into the mic as to not look *too* retarded :P
  • by dmomo (256005) on Monday November 05, 2007 @04:56PM (#21246089) Homepage

    I've become hooked on Battle Mode. I won't review it here, but will offer my experience with it. The game itself is a lot of fun. The biggest drawback, however is that users disconnect when they are losing. When a user disconnects, it seems that they suffer a slight point loss while the player who was winning gains nothing. It's a real shame. If it were not for that, the experience would be top notch. I've learned to throw the rankings out the window and just play the game. I simply chalk the disconnect up as a win for myself.



    Another thing that is sometimes frustrating is lag. I've yet to be able to figure out if it's a flaw in the game or the result of cheating. But it seems that sometimes lag suspiciously begins to occur just when the Link player is in a tight situation. The Phantoms and Link both freeze up. The Phantom player cannot draw lines to guide the Phantoms. Link appears motionless, but when the lag ends, he has "teleported". I can't help but think that this lag is brought on intentionally by the Link player. Maybe they are sitting by their wireless router and unplugging it for a second. Who knows, it might just be an issue with the game.



    In any case, if you can play with a non-cheater (friend codes, or luck of the draw) and there is no lag, you'll be in for a treat with this game. It's short enough to play "just one more" again and again. Buyer beware!

  • I think the touchscreen controls were great. They're highly intuitive and the boomerang and bombchu controls really add to the Zelda experience. It's the little touches that make it so great, like the fact that the boomerang actually lets you see beyond your usual range, and the bombchus let you look pretty far away. Drawing on the map makes a lot of sense, since many people will end up writing things down in previous zelda games. Making the note-taking an in-game element is an obvious continuation, and sin
  • OK, this is somewhat pointless, but I'm curious where they got the screenshots shown in this review from. Compare the boat screenshot shown first [slashdot.org] with the last screenshot shown [slashdot.org]. The first screenshot is from the final game. The last is apparently from some pre-release.

    Notably, the health bars became hearts, the ship has only one speed ("Go") in the final versus two in the pre-release, and the cannon became always equipped versus selected in the pre-release shot. Plus, having played most of the way through

    • Yeah, that level isn't in the temple. You need special equipment to take proper screenshots of the DS, so these are probably lifted from other sources. Who probably lifted them from other sources, and so on, until you get to a proper reviewer with the special screen-shotting DS or to Nintendo themselves. The last and the middle screenshots, at least, are from a pre-release.
  • Thanks for the spoiler about the secret path in the screenshot...
    • Chances are you'd only recognise it as a spoiler if you've played past that bit already... that is until you pointed it out.
  • I've pretty much completed the game now and I've had a fair amount of game-play out of it, probably more than the 15 hours that ign suggested you would get out of it. I loved the sailing elements which is FAR less annoying than wind waker, the oceans are just smaller and you learn how to warp to sufficiently specific places that there is never really any extended periods of annoyance with it. I liked the touch style play - I was unsure at first but I think it really won through, bombchus have become genuine
  • This is a fun game, but it feels extremely linear. There aren't a whole lot of real sidequests, and it's kind of like do this, then this, then this without much freedom to do anything else. Heart pieces are mostly given as rewards and not hidden. Searching the sea for treasure is simply a matter of finding maps and then playing a skill crane game. which is cool until you realize that it's the same every single time and all you ever get are either random ship parts (that you probably already have) or some ru
    • I have to say, if you like Zelda, but haven't played Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, run (don't walk) to your nearest import store and get it now. I have no idea why this game did not get better reviews (they were good, but nowhere near what it deserves). I wouldn't say that it's definitely better than Phantom Hourglass, but... it just might be. They're both great games, in my opinion, and both are absolute must-have titles.
      • I was playing Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland last night. I thought I kind of knew what there was to the game and how many areas there were going to be to explore, when BAM - it opened up and was even bigger than i thought.

        This game just gets to be more and more fun. The classic zelda audio cues and tunes are so fun, too.

        This is one of my favorite DS games EVER. i was a little hesitant about importing it, but i have no regrets. With 3-day shippng, it came to around $60, and i think it's worth every p
  • Wind Waker routinely takes a beating in reviews and discussions for all the time 'wasted' sailing around the world. Did anyone else out there besides me find that part of the game actually fun and that it contributed greatly to the feeling of immersion and non-linearity? Why or why not?

    How did Hourglass change / improve on this, if indeed it did - assuming you think the sailing bit needed 'improving'.

    Just curious.

    SR
    • by pokerdad (1124121)

      Did anyone else out there besides me find that part of the game actually fun and that it contributed greatly to the feeling of immersion and non-linearity?

      I loved the sailing in Wind Waker, for exactly the reasons you say. To be honest when I first started reading people's complaints about it all I could think was "How are any of the negative things you people are saying about it not true of the endless walking present in virtually any other RPG?"

    • Did anyone else out there besides me find that part of the game actually fun and that it contributed greatly to the feeling of immersion and non-linearity

      Hell, I loved that part of the game. Sometimes I would just go on sailing and see what I found and forget about the rest of the game for a while. You always found something nice. Like the islands shaped like a paw print. It gave the feeling of a world a lot bigger than it actually was. I liked going to the islands and talk to the inhabitants just to s
    • by grumbel (592662)
      ### Did anyone else out there besides me find that part of the game actually fun and that it contributed greatly to the feeling of immersion and non-linearity?

      I would say it could/should have contributed to the immersion, but sadly didn't much at all. The problem with sailing in Wind Waker was that it was pointless, there was nothing to see on the water, nothing to do. Go into your boat, bring the wind into the correct direction, wait five minutes doing nothing and you reach your next island. Sailing sucked
  • (I haven't beaten it yet, but I'm reasonably close)
    While it is a good game (as the above review explains), it felt too much like a console zelda and not a portable zelda.
    Specifically, the temple of the ocean king. Each time you enter it, it takes a good 20-40 minutes to get back out, and you can't save inside it. Well, you can, but you'll restart at the top when you load that save.

    I mainly play my DS while waiting for class to start, or waiting to meet someone, or a few (20) minutes before I go to bed. So I
    • I have the same time with M&L:Partners in time. 90% of my DS play is on my 15-minute bus ride twice a day, and several times I've had to turn that game off without saving it because I couldn't get to a save point in time. Portable games really should not have finite save points.
    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      "And you can't save inside it. Well, you can, but you'll restart at the top when you load that save."

      Close the DS.
  • What I am enjoying most about phantom hourglass is how they really make you use all of the features of the DS.
    I thought that blowing on the microphone to blow dust off your map was really cool. blowing out torches to unlock things was cool the 1st time, but it did get old.
    closing the DS to emboss a pattern onto your map did take me out of the game, but i thought it was a really unique idea, I have never seen anything like that before in a video game, and I really enjoyed how creative this game is with the
    • sword control is great, but why is rolling so damned hard?

      The explanation of how to do it seems a bit broken. Rolling works 100% of the time for me:

      1. Move the stylus to the edge of the screen
      2. Quickly move it back about 2 millimetres
      3. Without interruption, quickly move it back to the edge of the screen

      Tingles rupee land assumes that negotiating prices and constant system restarts when you get it wrong are fun

      You do realize, though, that by restarting the game after a failed negotiation, you're only cheating yourself out of the fun of the game, don't you?

      • i noticed the same thing in phantom hourglass. instead of thinking in terms of doing circles on the edge of the screen (as they tell you to do in the instructions) i just think of it as doing two small, quick taps against any edge of the screen. LKM described it more accurately, though. i guess Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland - like any game - isn't for everyone. but in my own experience, i haven't had any trouble with negotiation and i almost never reset the game. whenever someone asks for a certain amount, i jus
        • Your roll technique works much better than the one printed in the book. i have had some sucess moving the stylus back and forth quickly along the edge, but tapping works quite well.

          i did sound overly harsh in my review of tingles rupeeland, i do enjoy the game quite a bit, the characters are hilarious (especially the bridge builder who leaves far too little to the imagination) but there are just some things that bug me......eg. bodyguards i hire from the second contanent disapear when i go home to save/co
          • by LKM (227954)

            bodyguards i hire from the second contanent disapear when i go home to save/cook/sell.

            For me, he waits on the continent I leave him, unless I hire another bodyguard on another continent.

    • by grumbel (592662)
      ### but i thought it was a really unique idea,

      Not really, all the puzzles you mentioned were already present in Another Code/Trace Memory around two years ago. While I enjoyed them back then when the DS was new, they got old very quickly, which really wasn't surprising since they are very gimmicky in nature and far to focused on the DS instead of the games story/world.

      ### taking notes on your maps? brilliant!

      More like 'bloody obvious'. Now its nice to finally see it in a game, but it was one of the first th
      • I can see how using the features of the DS can come off as gimmicky, no, it doesn't enhance the story, yes, it breaks down the 4th wall.

        but it is neat!

        writing notes on your map is bloody obvious, but no one has done it before, so you have to give credit to zelda. When you think about it, evolution is also 'bloody obvious' but it took people a long time to get around to understanding it.)

        I must agree with the 2 screens things, many games just don't make good use of them. Zelda is probably the best exampl

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