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The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Review

So this is the first full-fledged review for the site. Hopefully it doesn't suck. If this goes well, I'll be writing more in the future. Next up, Portal for PC.

To say that I am a fan of the Zelda series is an understatement. Let's just say that one of my major life goals is to beat every single Zelda game ever made. So you can tell that I like Zelda a bit. So of course you know I was excited to see another game entered into this great series. As a bonus, the game is a direct sequel to Windwaker (which is my favorite Zelda game of all). Also, it's for the DS, so I can play it anywhere I want. I was freaking ecstatic about getting my hands on this game.

I finally got some cash and bought it. I turn it on and am blown away almost immediately. The graphics are like no other game that I have ever seen for the Nintendo DS. Bright and colorful, detail on everything (except for the hands, which look like blocks), that familiar Windwaker style. Throughout the game, the developers seemed to have reached further and further beyond the graphical capabilities of the system. Sure, some parts are blocky and pixelated now and then, but for a handheld game, it's pretty impressive.

From the get-go, you get that epic feeling that you are about to embark on an epic quest, the feeling that comes with every Zelda game. You meet Linebeck, who is now one of my favorite characters in the series, and once you get that boat, you get that feeling like you can go anywhere you want. Just like Windwaker, you have a whole ocean to explore (although slightly smaller) and it thrills you just knowing that.

At first, I was not a huge fan of the controls. I had heard that they were extremely intuitive, but my first experiences with the new touch controls had me thinking otherwise. It took me a while to get used to them; I was used to just walking with the d-pad and slashing my sword with the press of a button. But now, to slash the sword, you have to slash across the screen with the stylus. Eventually, I got so used to it, that you couldn't even tell the difference between the old and new way of controlling Link, it felt so natural. Now and then, like when fighting monsters, you wish the accuracy of a sword slash with the press of the button, but other than that, the controls really grow on you. All of the items really use the capabilities of the screen so well, like the boomerang that goes exactly where you draw and the bow and arrow which shoots with the tap of the stylus. These weapon controls are so polished and are very satisfactory to use.

The biggest gripe that I have with this game is it's difficulty level. This is easily the easiest game in the entire series. While some of the puzzles do require a bit of brain work to figure out, you whiz right through the dungeons and boss battles so quickly. It's really cool how some of the puzzles get solved using very innovative controls and are very satisfying to complete, you sort of feel robbed because it was easier than you expected it to be.

The second, and last, problem that I have with this game is the music. I've drawn so many comparisons between this game and Windwaker, and I'm going to make one more. Windwaker has a fantastic soundtrack, my favorite soundtrack of all time in fact. But Phantom Hourglass is a letdown, music-wise. You get some familiar songs from Windwaker, but they're remixed and I really prefer the old versions. Other than that, the rest of the music is forgettable and doesn't have the quality I have come to expect from a Zelda game.

I was a bit let down with the ending, (spoiler alert) I was hoping they didn't take the old "fell asleep and had an epic dream" story that we saw in Link's Awakening. But that doesn't mean I didn't like the game. Other than that, I really enjoyed this game. Probably the best game out for the DS right now, so definately try it out. It's a good game to tide me over until the next game comes out. But come on, Nintendo, why not consider another 2d Zelda game? I love those just as much as the 3d ones, if not more...

P.S. Also, I'm not going to review the wifi multiplayer game that came with Phantom Hourglass because I've only played it 4 times, lost all 4 times, and didn't like it much after that.


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