The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (ゼルダの伝説 夢幻の砂時計 Zeruda no Densetsu Mugen no Sunadokei, literally "The Legend of Zelda: Hourglass of Fantasies"), is the fourteenth installment in the Legend of Zelda series, released on the Nintendo DS in Japan on June 23, 2007, in North America on October 1, 2007, in Australia on October 11, 2007, and Europe on October 19, 2007.
Phantom Hourglass is a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. It features 3D cel-shaded graphics with a 2D overhead camera perspective, and is played using several features of the DS for game controls, including the Touch Screen and microphone. Although Phantom Hourglass is not the first entry in the series to include a multiplayer mode, it is the first to have online competition using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Phantom Hourglass is a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and is set several months after the events of The Wind Waker. The game opens with a retelling of the events of The Wind Waker, which ended with Link riding aboard Tetra's ship. Link, Tetra and her pirates are at sea looking out for the "Ghost Ship" rumored to sail the waters in the area, taking sailors and residents from the nearby islands. Tetra, convinced that the Ghost Ship is simply a bunch of trouble-making pirates, is determined to teach them that pirates have rules, too. When a mysterious ship appears in the middle of a dense fog, Tetra jumps aboard to explore. As Tetra screams the ship pulls away and begins to vanish with her on board. Link attempts to leap over and save her only to fall into the water himself.
After having a vision of Tetra being surrounded by darkness and calling for his help, Link is washed up on Mercay Island and meets a fairy named Ciela. The fairy has lost her memory and decides to team up with Link. Ciela tells Link to see her "grandfather", an old man named Oshus. He provides him with a sword. Link travels to the far side of the island and meets Captain Linebeck in the Temple of the Ocean King, while he is searching for treasure inside. Linebeck tells Link that the temple drains the life out of living thing if one stays in it for too long.
Link is given the task to restore the Spirits of Power, Wisdom and Courage from the temples of Fire, Wind and Courage, respectively. These spirits, who turn out to be fairies, join Link and assist him in the Ocean King's Temple, where he receives the Phantom Hourglass, a strange hourglass that allows him to resist the draining effect of the temple. After defeating the boss of the Temple of Courage, the Fairy of Courage is saved, but unlike the other two, it has no colour and lifelessly floats. Oshus arrives at the Island and fuses Ciela with the colourless fairy, revealing that she is the Fairy of Courage herself.
With the help of the spirits, Linebeck and Link then set off to pursue the Ghost Ship. After rescuing and defeating four evil sisters on the ship, Link and Linebeck find Tetra; however, she has been turned to stone. The old man Oshus arrives and reveals that he is in fact the Ocean King. According to him, some years prior to the events of the game, an evil monster named Bellum appeared, hungry to consume the life force possessed by all living things. He used this absorbed force to create powerful monsters, such as the dungeon bosses and the Phantoms in the Temple of the Ocean King, and used them to seal away the three fairies of Power, Wisdom, and Courage. Ciela, the Fairy of Courage, was able to create an "alter ego" of herself and fled, but as a result, lost her memory. The Ocean King tried to fight Bellum but failed with his true self still sealed by his evil.
Link then learns that the only way to defeat Bellum is to forge the Phantom Sword from three unique, "pure metals" around the local islands. After collecting the materials and forging the Phantom Sword, Link descends to the bottom level of the Temple, and after a fierce battle, appears to have slain the beast. Tetra is unpetrified, but just as the group is about celebrate their victory, Bellum re-emerges from the ocean depths and takes Tetra again, possessing the Ghost Ship while doing so. In the ensuing battle between the S.S. Linebeck and the Ghost Ship, Linebeck's ship is lost. Additionally, Oshus, and Link and Tetra are captured. Linebeck then reluctantly picks up the Phantom Sword shivering with fear and, sacrificing his own freedom, is able to free Link and Tetra. He is able to quickly give Link the Phantom Sword before Bellum possesses Linebeck. Link battles the possessed Linebeck, and manages to drive out the evil spirit from his body. Bellum is then defeated once more; this time, forever.
As the adventure closes, the sand from the Phantom Hourglass is released back into the sea. Oshus, now in his true form of a white blue whale, readies to depart with the Spirits, while Linebeck, surprising everyone, wishes not for treasure but for his ship back. The Ocean King reveals that they are not in their own world, but that they were transported to his world when they boarded the Ghost Ship at the beginning. After everyone says their goodbyes, Link and Tetra find themselves back on the pirate ship. It appears that only ten minutes have passed since Tetra jumped on board the Ghost Ship. The rest of the crew say nothing too bad had happened and they insist that all of their adventure had been a dream. However, Link still possesses the now-empty Hourglass, and spies Linebeck's ship on the horizon, knowing full well that his adventure was real.
The Eskimo-like creatures that live on the western end of the Isle of Frost. The Anouki are constantly terrorized by the Yook, another species that lives on the Isle of Frost. They are led by an Anouki Tribal Chief
The Yook are hairy yeti-like creatures that live on the eastern side of the Isle of Frost. They are fierce enimies with the Anouki
There are at least three fairies, called spirits, in Phantom Hourglass: The Spirits of Courage, Wisdom, and Power. Link's fairy is Ciela this time around.
The gameplay in this Nintendo DS game is mostly viewed from above, similar to most 2D Legend of Zelda titles. Utilizing the full capabilities of the Nintendo DS, the character models and the environments are in 3D. The rendering environment is similar to Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube, and somewhat like the Nintendo DS sequel to Animal Crossing. The touch screen is used to show the main gameplay, used to control Link, or to solve puzzles, while the upper screen is mostly used as a map and menu screen. At one point in the game, it is required to close the DS (which usually puts the DS in sleep mode) to solve a puzzle. The map can also be brought down to the touch screen, allowing the player to write notes on it. All boss battles use both the top and bottom screen. The player can use the microphone to "shout" at other characters to grab their attention or to blow air to activate certain switches.
Link again has a Fairy Companion. Ciela the fairy acts as the cursor for touch screen input with the stylus. However, unlike in the Wii version of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the fairy and Link communicate throughout the game. Ciela is not the only fairy, two more are acquired along the adventure, Leaf, the Spirit of Power and the Neri, the Spirit of Wisdom. Special gems for each fairy can be collected throughout the game and yield special abilities for each; the Spirit of Wisdom generates a magical shield that decreased the damage done to Link, the Spirit of Power increases attack damage and the Spirit of Courage, Ciela, allows Link to shoot beams from his sword, essentially rendering it a ranged weapon as well as a melee one. For these powers to work, ten gems must be found for each fairy, and for them to reach their maximum power, twenty for each must be found. They are activated on Spirit Island.
Sailing in this title similar to the sailing system found in The Wind Waker. Instead of a sail boat however, a steam boat, the S.S. Linebeck is Link’s mode of transportation, requiring no manipulation of the wind. The boat’s course is plotted ahead of time using the stylus, allowing the player to concentrate on attacking foes with its cannon as the boat travels to its destination point. The cannon is used simply by tapping on the screen, at enemies or obstacles, and has infinite ammo. The cannon isn't available until a short while into the game. After that, like the rest of S.S. Linebeck, it can be replaced by different parts. Various cannon models exist. The jump option remains, although it is used much less.
Treasure hunting works differently than in The Wind Waker - instead of using the Grappling Hook and waiting for it to hit the bottom of the ocean and dig up the chest, a mini-game is activated, where using the Salvage Arm, Link must guide it down the the bottom of the ocean, avoiding explosive sea creatures, nab the chest, and bring it back up.
There is one "master dungeon" that Link must complete in the game called the Temple of the Ocean King. However, he can only make limited progress, and must work through other dungeons before he is able to proceed further in the primary dungeon. In the "master dungeon" and other locales there are enemies known as "phantom guardians". These enemies follow the player, cannot be defeated until the phantom sword is created, and can lose a heart container of energy and some time from the hourglass if they hit Link.
Most of Link's classic equipment returns, like the Boomerang, the Grappling Hook, Bombs, Bombchus, the Bow and the Shovel. Items can be accessed by a touch panel on the lower right corners of the touch screen.
Link can be caught by some enemies or forced into a grind with one's sword, forcing them to rub the screen back and forth when prompted either to escape, or force the enemy's weapon away.
Battle mode in Phantom Hourglass
A multiplayer battle mode is also included in Phantom Hourglass. This battle mode is a 1-on-1 multiplayer game officially dubbed "Hide-and-Go-Seek" by Eiji Aonuma. In an arena, one player takes on the role of Link, while the other player, on defense, controls three Phantom Guardians. Players of both sides are aided by power-up items that shortly appear on the playing field, such as the Pegasus Shoes, a Decoy, a Time Increase and a Whirlwind maker.
Link’s goal is to grab a Force Gems from one of the many zones and carry it to his own base at one side of the arena. The other player, controlling the three Phantom Guardians, must try to find and catch Link before he scores any points. When Link is caught, or if the turn-time has passed, players switch sides. A game consists of three rounds, and in each round, each player takes a turn at both sides. The maximum length of one whole multiplayer game is 12 minutes.
If you reach certain standards during a single Battle Mode match, you will receive Big Plays. If you meet the standards for four different Big Plays, you will receive a Golden Ship Part for you're ship in your Adventure. Big Plays obtained can be viewed from the main Battle Mode menu.
Additionally, if you met up with Freedle during you're adventure on Mercay Island, and put Treasure or Ship Parts in his boxes, you might swap with you're opponent after the battle match.
The game supports multiplayer via both local and online of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
The main objective in the game’s creation was to fully utilize the DS’s hardware, having a Zelda game controlled by the stylus/touch screen alone. Eiji Aonuma's ambition was that the new control scheme would follow through into future Zelda titles, and maybe even other adventure games for the DS.
The first concept for control was that the player would control Link by using the D-pad and buttons, having a 2D map on the bottom screen, while all the visual 3D action would take place on the top screen; similar to Metroid Prime: Hunters. The team found out that this control scheme didn't work well, which saw the change to the 3D stylus method of control as the game uses now.
The game was first shown to the public at the 2006 Game Developers Conference, in the form of a trailer. At E3 2006, a playable demo was available for the visitors. The convention also saw the introduction of the multiplayer mode. At E3 it was announced to be released in the fourth quarter of 2006, but as Nintendo kept quiet on the game in the months following, it became apparent it was going to be delayed and in late November, it was officially announced to be delayed into 2007. At the 2007 Game Developers Conference, Nintendo announced the game would be released in the USA in the 2007 holiday season.
The reason for Phantom Hourglass' long delay was recently revealed in an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto. According to him, he had been so busy developing Twilight Princess that he had not been able to get involved in the creation process for Phantom Hourglass at all. When Twilight Princess was finally finished, he was able to look at the nearly finished beta for Phantom Hourglass, and he desperately wanted to become creatively involved in it. He begged Iwata to delay the game, in order to allow him that opportunity. In the interview, Miyamoto apologized to fans for the delay, but stated that the title would be "much better".
Four Swords DS
The project initially started out as a Four Swords game for the DS, and the same team, having discovered the potential of cel-shaded graphics on the console, ultimately decided to opt for a single player adventure instead. When Nintendo first announced the Nintendo DS at E3 2004, Eiji Aonuma also hinted at a The Legend of Zelda title for the system. Shigeru Miyamoto stated in October 2004 "We're thinking of bringing Zelda: Four Swords to the DS", but Aonuma later remarked that the idea never reached the development stage. In late 2005, Aonuma told Electronic Gaming Monthly in an interview that the new The Legend of Zelda game for the Nintendo DS would not be a Four Swords title, and rumors were finally put to rest when Nintendo announced Phantom Hourglass as the actual DS project at the 2006 Game Developers Conference.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass was released in Japan on June 23rd, 2007, at around 4 months ahead of the North American version. The North American version was released on October 1, followed by Europe on October 19th 2007. As a special bonus for Nintendo's rewards club, My Nintendo members who registered their game and their Nintendo DS hardware at MyNintendo.com and filled out a short survey would receive a special Nintendo DS stylus that looks like an old-fashioned quill pen, modeled after an item in the game (although the pen is subject to availability).
At both E3 2006 and 2007, Phantom Hourglass won the Game Critics Awards for Best Handheld Game.
On the stylus-driven control scheme, Chris Kohler of Wired gaming blog Game|Life noted that "there seems to be absolutely zero learning curve. Playing with the stylus feels totally natural," predicting that it "will be copied endlessly from here on out. It is like a textbook of how to use a touch screen for a third-person action game."
In issue 179 of Edge, Phantom Hourglass scored 9 out of 10, the UK magazine saying "Phantom Hourglass is a game completely remoulded by its platform. It achieves the deep, all-encompassing synthesis with the host hardware that Nintendo's designers are famous for, but hadn't yet attempted with the idiosyncratic features of the all-things-to-all-men DS. It is an instinctive, ingenious joy to play for every minute, and it sets a new gold standard for game interface design on any platform."
Phantom Hourglass received a 97 out of 100 from Australian gaming magazine Hyper, the highest score it has given to a handheld game.
IGN writer Mark Bozon gave the title a 9.0, saying that it was much more casual and less for the hardcore gamer, but nonetheless was an enthralling piece of software for the Nintendo DS, pushing the system to its limits and using the DS in every way possible. He did, however, criticize the game for being "too simple" and its online features, citing the trading aspect as being unneeded and its Battle Mode for not being as deep or fun as Four Swords.
In terms of early sales reports, Phantom Hourglass shipped 400,000 copies to Japanese retailers, and over 350,000 of those sold in the first week. These sales on par with The Wind Waker's release (around 350,000) in Japan, and just behind Ocarina of Time (500,000) and Majora's Mask (400,000) as the third best opening week for a Zelda title.
As of September 30 2007, Phantom Hourglass has sold 1.35 million copies worldwide, with 910,000 of those copies being sold in Japan.