The one game that almost every Nintendo DS owner has been looking foward to recently came out with a bang. This game is the latest in the Legend of Zelda series, Zelda - Phantom Hourglass.
The game continues off from Zelda - Wind Waker for the Nintendo Gamecube. While the storylines don't have much in common, and the gameplay is very different, the same feeling of the game is still there.
In this game, the crew of the pirate ship stumble upon a ghost ship, which Tetra, the girl you have to rescue, jumps aboard to see if there's any treasure. The ship, however, starts floating away with Tetra on board. Link tries to jump on after her to get her off, but falls in the water. That starts the storyline in the game.
The storyline in the game gets better and better, but is quite predictable if you think about it.
The game is controleld primarily with the stylus, and can be controlled entirely with. While many people were skeptical about this sort of control style, it works really well with the game. Touch to move, touch an enemy to attack. It's very simple.
The models in the game are 3D cel-shaded models, just like in Wind Waker, but scaled down so that the DS hardware can handle it. Playing the game, however, is 2 1/2D That basically means that while the graphics are 3D, the game is played in more or less a 2D style, like in the classic SNES games or GBA games of old.
And just like in Wind Waker, you are trapped in a watery world, which means that you'll be sailing everywhere you need to go. While the sailing segments of Wind Waker was almost hell on earth, sailing in Phantom Hourglass is easy as cake. When you sail, a map will drop down onto the touch screen, you set the course with your stylus, and off you go. There are also warp points which become available to make travel time short.
There are 2 problems with the game that I encountered. The first problem is that it's very reptative. You end up having to do the same dungon no less than 6 times. Almost every time you kill 1 boss, you end up having to go back to the first dungeon you do and repeat it. This does get very tedious. Nintendo tried to compensate this with a timer on that dungeon too, so that you not only have a limited amount of time to do the dungeon, but it gives you the initiative to try to continually beat your record. While the time limit does set some sort of challenge, the dungeon is easy enough that you don't really need the time limit.
The second problem is that the game is quite short. For anyone who considers themselves a hard core gamer, the game can be completed within a 48 hour play time. I finished the game after 3 or 4 days playing it at least 8-10 hours per day.
But while the game is short, that's not much of a problem. The real fun starts when you work up the guts to play online against someone. Yes, this is the first (correct me if I'm wrong) Zelda game to feature online play. Just click on "Battle Mode" to start playing online. I haven't personally played online yet, but I have heard it's great fun, especially with friends. There's also an online (or ad-hoc/peer to peer, I'm not sure which) trading mode where you can trade items between players. The only real use for this, though, is trading ship parts between people. Again, I havne't tried this out yet.
Overall, the game lives up to the hype that has been created by the gamers and the gaming industry. It's most definitely worth a purchase, or if you don't care much for the online gameplay, at least a 1 week rental.