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One of the best Zelda games. And that's saying something.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is probably the most under-appreciated game in the series. It doesn't have the nostalgia factor of older titles, or the flashiness of more recent games. However, if you actually take the time to play it with an open mind, you will realise that it is a brilliant game and a worthy addition to the Zelda franchise. Phantom Hourglass doesn't just use the DS' touchscreen as a gimmick, but rather as an integral part of the game mechanics. The stylus controls are easy to get used to and never feel like they limit the player; you will never wish you had analogue controls or D-Pad controls. This isn't the only way the DS' unique hardware features are utilised; you can blow into the microphone to clear dust off maps, and close the DS to transfer a stamp from the top screen to the bottom. Again, these are used just enough that they don't feel gimmicky, and are never actually taught to you by the game, so when you discover one of these uses, it comes as a pleasant surprise. The game itself is pretty long and involved, with maybe 30-40 hours to do everything, and there is certainly a lot to do; aside from the main quest, there are treasure maps to find, ship parts to collect and sidequests to discover. The main quest itself is great, the story is involving and does get quite emotional (I don't cry at videogames or books or films, but the ending of this game was...pretty heartfelt). The characters each have their own personality, my personal favourite being that lovable rogue, Linebeck. The artstyle is lovely, with the cel-shaded looks that worked so well with Wind Waker. The choice of artstyle suits the platform as well, making the game look pretty damn good despit the DS' hardware limitations. Now for the bad points; if you didn't like Wind Waker's artstyle, you won't like that of PH, and it takes a lengthy sidequest before you are able to fast travel, so getting around takes a while. Finally, there is that recurring dungeon. Some love it, some hate it. I personally don't mind it. I like the idea of going back to an old dungeon with new gear, and seeing howfar you get. It's very metroid-esque.

Overall, Phantom Hourglass is a must for any DS or 3DS owner, and is a great entry point for the Zelda series as a whole.
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Great game overall, but disappointing in a few aspects.
My first thoughts about Phantom Hourglass, as someone who was always in touch with the Zelda series, is that the gameplay is quite entertaining, and it has a good story, altough pretty subpar by Zelda standards, mostly if compared to the game it is a sequel to. It's pretty simple: After Link and Zelda, now Tetra, defeat Ganon once again in the previous game, which is even retold in the game intro, which is good if you aren't familiar with Wind Waker, the crew is shown in the midst of sailing, and they come across the Ghost Ship. Immediately after Tetra boards the ship, she screams for help. It ends up with Link falling into the ocean and washing up on an island where he meets the Exposition Fairy Ciela, who coincidentally, has Navi's voice clips. Link then embarks on a quest to save Tetra with the aid of local Ensemble Darkhorse and Jerk With A Heart Of Gold, Linebeck, after obtaining the Phantom Hourglass from an old man named Oshus.

As its predecessor, sailing is abundant, and everything is controlled by the DS' touch screen. The items, the sword, walking, everything. It also includes a few puzzles which involve drawing symbols using the touch screen. You can also customize your ship. It's a very entertaining game with many awesome bosses and other attracting features. Highly reccomended. It is, however, disappointing in a few aspects, which are:
  • The dungeon music. The music for all the dungeons is the same track, which is quite disappointing considering the series' history with awesome soundtracks. The game itself has excellent music, but the dungeon theme gets repetitive too quickly.
  • A pretty disappointing villain: Bellum doesn't quite have the uniqueness that the Zelda antagonists are known for.
  • The minigames: Some are plain evil, specially for those aiming for 100% Completion.
  • Temple of the Ocean King: Going through the same level, the same floors over and over again gets tedious quickly.

Overall, Phantom Hourglass, while not quite as challenging as most Zelda games (Except for the archery minigame), it's still a pretty fun game which maintains the charm of the series, with a rather nice story, and some good Character Development along the road for Linebeck, if only with a rather disappointing villain by Zelda standards.
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