Zelda: Phantom Hourglass - multiplayer hands-on

There's been talk of a Zelda: Four Swords game for DS for a while now, so when we got our first look at Phantom Hourglass's multiplayer element, we were surprised to see that the co-op steal-a-thon we were expecting was nowhere to be found (although there are different colored Links).

Instead, Eiji Aonuma and his portable Zelda team have come up with a fun little one-on-one battle game which has a red and blue Link fighting over scattered triforce pieces in a Pac-Man style maze.

You're tasked with collecting various triforce pieces and taking them back to your capture area on either side of the map. The bigger the piece, the more the points - though larger pieces slow you down.

The control setup is the same as in single-player; movement is managed by directing the stylus on screen and items are picked up by simply tapping them, and thrown in the same way. While this control method works well - and no-doubt opens up some interesting gameplay later on such as the drawn-path boomerang - we wish we had the option of using the d-pad as well.

But it's not just a simple game of "Capture the Triforce;" as one player skims around the level pillaging triangles the other controls a team of three hard-nut Phantoms (the cloudyguys from Wind Waker).

As the baddie player you command your henchman using a top-down map view to draw paths for them using the stylus, hoping to corner your opponent who is conveniently highlighted on your map. This is a great use of the stylus and requires real strategy to trap Link, who can only see your Phantom trio when he's carrying a piece of the triforce.

Once the baddie player does eventually manage to capture Link (which the Phantoms do automatically upon encounter) player roles switch and the Phantom man takes the role of a second Link to capture more triforce pieces.

The field remains the same though; so if you're feeling particularly mischievous you cansteal triforce pieces from your opponent's capture zone and return them to your own, making for some frantic revenge-fueled bouts.