Video Game: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
The fourteenth game in The Legend of Zelda series, Phantom Hourglass is a sequel to The Wind Waker, and stars the Hero of Winds once again. Unlike previous Zelda games, there was also a single central dungeon, the Temple of the Ocean King; beating other dungeons would allow the player to progress farther in the Temple, which would open up more dungeons, and so on. The Nintendo DS game is entirely stylus-based, with the bottom screen consisting of most of the action and the top screen containing a map that the player can bring down and mark for clues.The plot picks up right after The Wind Waker, with Link sailing with Tetra's crew on the trail of the mysterious Ghost Ship. When the ship is in sight, Tetra goes aboard and disappears, prompting Link to go on after her. He is tossed from the ship, and wakes up on a strange island where a fairy named Ciela finds him. During his quest to save Tetra, he meets up with Linebeck, the captain of a steam boat, and the wise but mysterious old man Oshus. Oshus gives Link the titular Phantom Hourglass to ward off the curse placed over the Temple of the Ocean King by Bellum.The game also includes a two-player battle mode, playable either over local wireless or online, where the players compete for control of Force Gems in alternating rounds where the players either control Link or a group of Phantoms.
Bigger on the Inside: Not only do islands look a lot smaller while you're sailing than they do on land, they also have larger varieties in elevation like cliffs, hills and peaks when you're viewing them from your boat that aren't quite as evident when you're walking around on them.
Enter Solution Here: One way they show off the DS's features is to allow you to write notes on maps. To make sure you get maximum use out of this feature, the solution to a puzzle is frequently given somewhere else in the dungeon, and you're intended to write it down when you find it.
Everything's Better With Sparkles: In the Temple of the Ocean King, Link's life/the sands of the Phantom Hourglass won't get drained away if Link stays on certain purple sparkling areas of the temple's floor. When Link stands on these areas, he also sparkles.
Fishing Minigame: With that in mind it's easy to believe that this isn't the Great Sea.
Funny Background Event: Used rather frequently, mostly with Linebeck. The most notable one is of him knocking over the petrified Tetra and frantically trying to fix it while Oshus is seriously explaining something. Also, near the end of the game, the ship is flooded and you see Linebeck being washed away.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the final scene, the Ocean King offers Linebeck a single wish in return for his help. Linebeck asks to have his ship which was sunk earlier returned to him. This is supposed to be a bit of Character Development for the usually cowardly and greedy Linebeck, but it still comes off as a bit money-hungry if you've gone through the pains of collecting and equipping all the Golden Ship Parts, which would make said boat worth every Rupee in the Great Ocean.
Guest Star Party Member: For part of the dungeon on Goron Island, you switch control at will between Link and Gongoron, the son of the chief of the Goron tribe. You get to play as him again in the race on the nearby Dee Ess Island after you clear the dungeon.
Guide Dang It: The second Sea Chart. Who would have known that you're supposed to close the DS to put the marking on it? Ciela even congratulates you on figuring it out!
100% Completion: The only possible value to be gotten from one particular bonus. Once you have the Phantom Sword, you can kill the Phantoms in the Temple of the Ocean King. If you kill all the Phantoms on each level, you get an extra bonus, such as a piece of treasure or a ship part. This is great...except that once you have the Phantom Sword, there's nothing left to do except fight the Final Boss, meaning that the treasures and ship parts are essentially useless.
Also parodied at the beginning when Link does this while not being able to stand straight from Linebeck shaking him too hard, accompanied by a wonky version of the Item Get sound effect.
And parodied before that when Link opens up a chest and finds...nothing in it.
Parodied yet again when Link receives a "mysterious" gift (which is invisible clothing) from the Man of Smiles, he does his usual Item Get animation but with a disturbed expression.
It's Probably Nothing: The Phantoms take the fact that this kid that they chase always vanishes into thin air a bit too lightly. Possibly justified by the fact that they are relatively mindless, presumably undead mooks.
Kid Hero: Link is still not beyond the age of thirteen in this game.
Lampshade Hanging: One of the talking skeletons whines about not being able to use the D-pad and buttons.
Lovable Coward: Linebeck is the incredibly lovable embodiment of this trope.
The Maze: The pyramid-shaped temple on the Isle of the Dead.
Money for Nothing: It's not hard to finish this game with literally thousands of Rupees in your purse and nothing worthwhile to buy with them.
Out of Focus: Tetra compared to The Wind Waker, with Linebeck getting the limelight instead.
Point of No Return: Once you finish crossing the bridge leading to the final boss it collapses, leaving you stuck on the other side of the room. Ciela tells you that this is it; there's no turning back. Then a warp path to the beginning of the dungeon appears, subverting it.
Precocious Crush: An odd one. After defeating the Ghost Ship, if Link returns to Molida Island, he'll encounter a girl near the dock who wasn't there on his previous visit. She swoons over her mental image of the hero who defeated the Ghost Ship and gives Link a treasure map to give to the hero, who she seems to think is much older than him.
This one takes it up a notch by having three separate stages of the adventure. The first two stages involve collecting three items (first the three Spirits, and then the three Pure Metals), and the third stage, the fight against the Final Boss, is itself split into three stages!
Also, in a more subtle example, three of the four sections of the map feature areas where rocks are arranged in a formation of three, and an island is hidden near each of them.
Schmuck Bait: Played straight and subverted with the Obviously Evil Cubus Sisters on the Ghost Ship. Played straight when one of them tries to lure you into opening a booby-trapped treasure chest; subverted when another warns you not to shoot the Reapling guards in the back lest you piss them off - it turns out that it's the only way of stunning them, making it much easier to slip past.
The game is bookended with Link's Awakening references: it begins with Link on a ship caught in a storm and ending up washed ashore on an island, and ends with Link meeting a whale-like creature who returns him to his own world where his adventures seemed to be All Just a Dream.
There seem to be at least a few thematic shout-outs to Majora's Mask, as well, such as Link freeing trapped guardian spirits (the Ocean King and his helpers/the Four Giants), an emphasis on time limits (the Hourglass/the three-day cycle), a bad guy with tentacles and big, yellow eyes who seems more like a destructive force of nature than a thinking, plotting villain (Bellum/Majora), a yellow fairy companion with a bit of an attitude (Ciela/Tatl)...
Gleeok is a double Shout Out. The multi-headed dragon makes its first appearance since the original game, but is given powers similar to that of Trinexx from Link to the Past (one head shoots fire, the other shoots ice).
The way to defeat a Pols Voice in this game - by shouting into the microphone and then slashing it with the sword - was originally how one was supposed to defeat it in the original game, but it was taken out when the game was imported to America (since the NES didn't have a microphone).
Nyave tells Link, as a joke, that the kaleidoscope he found (belonging to someone from the Ho-Ho Tribe) belonged to his sister (as if he had one anyway). This is a reference to Aryll giving Link a telescope in The Wind Waker.
Tutorial Failure: The game tells you to "draw little circles at the edge of a screen" to perform a roll. In reality, the technique is more like wiggling at the edge of the screen — drawing circles will just make Link flail around with his sword.
Vendor Trash: Goron Amber, Ruto Crown, Regal Ring, Pink Coral, Pearl Necklace, Dark Pearl Necklace, Zora Scale, and Helmaroc Plume. Interestingly, their value and rarity varies greatly from game to game, so what may be common and cheap in one game can be extremely hard to find and worth a lot in another. This also applies to extra ship parts as well.