Oct 1, 2007
In some people’s Zelda codec, boat = monotony. Wind Waker’s Triforce trawl and irksome wind realignment did for many of you, leaving jaded gamers in its wake. Well, get over it. Although a canonical continuation of Wind Waker, this is a custom-built DS outing, determined to deliver more than a control-scheme makeover. From the moment Link plunges his hand into a chest and pulls out… nothing at all to an off-key discovery jingle, you know you’re in for something quite different.
Ignoring the under-nourished connotations; Hourglass is Zelda Lite - throwing out the end-of-the-world bombast that producer Eiji Aonuma usually can’t resist. Ganondorf’s gone and the only thing standing in the way of Link’s life of leisure is a phantom ship that whisks away his pirate chum Tetra. Hardly a classic villain - it’s a boat for crying out loud - but it fits perfectly with the scale of this particular adventure. Hourglass is a smaller, tightly choreographed romp - a portable experience through and through.
Gone is the sprawling ocean, wisely squeezing all the islands into a two-by-two world map that takes only five minutes to circumnavigate. Unlike Wind Waker, where the lonely doldrums above water made those few submerged Hyrulian moments oh-so-special, PH knows not to push its luck - you just chart a course on to the map with the stylus, and off you go.
Music soars, seagulls tailgate your vessel and Link stands proudly on deck, beaming at the impressive draw distance. This would have been enough for us soppy romantics, but Nintendo know more is needed to keep people on board (har har). And so golden frogs explode from the ocean froth, horse-racing fences rise and need a tap of the jump icon to traverse, and a variety of pirates and marine-based nasties taste canon ball, courtesy of highly responsive screen-tap cannon attacks.