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The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass hands-on

Friday 12 May 2006
Were you one of those people that really had to struggle with the Saturday morning graphics of 2003's Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker? Well, get over it, because the 'toon style is back and this time you're only going to be using the DS' stylus to save the day.

Phantom Hourglass seemingly ignores every button on the handheld, forcing you to guide Link through Hyrule by pointing and sliding the stylus across the touch screen. A fairy accompanies the pointy-eared hero, advising him where to run, jump or swing his sword. Slashing monsters, flipping switches, reading signs or talking to townspeople is accomplished by simply tapping them with the stylus.

Removing most of the button functionality hasn't trimmed away any signature moves, though. By directing the fairy all the way to one side of the screen, Link will run and roll (a common way to clear some ground a little quicker). Tapping the ground near the intrepid elf will make him drop whatever item he's carrying on his head, while tapping further away makes him toss the object like a projectile weapon. Finally, twirling the stylus in a circle around Link makes him execute a spin attack.

In all honesty, having the stylus constantly in the way of the screen takes some getting used to and not being in direct control of Link, at times, makes you feel a little detached from the action. We're hoping that this feeling will gradually evaporate over the course of the adventure.

If there's one complaint we all shared about Wind Waker, it would have to be the time spent sailing the game's vast ocean. The waterlogged world returns in Phantom Hourglass, but from what we've played it seems slightly more manageable. You can literally draw a sailing path on the map and your boat takes off on its own. You can't skip ahead and just 'arrive' at your destination, but you do get to man the ship's novelty-sized cannon for blasting seaborne creatures.

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