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Video Game / The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

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Ciela: Linebeck! You fled the second you heard about monsters in the temple!
Linebeck: No! Of course not! I suddenly got worried about my ship!

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, a demonic creature that is steadily sapping the life out of the realm. It's up to Link to find Tetra and slay Bellum before he sucks the last of the realm dry.

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, either controlling Link or a group of Phantoms.

This game provides examples of:

  • Bare Your Midriff: Jolene.
  • Big Bad: Bellum.
  • 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 as evident when you're walking around on them.
  • Build Like an Egyptian: The Cobble Kingdom.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • A more minor example than most, but two of the earliest characters you meet in the game, the fortune teller Astrid and her deceased assistant Kayo, are later revealed to be descended from the ancient Cobble Kingdom, the ruins of which are unearthed and explored later on in search of one of the Pure Metals.
    • Zauz is a double example. You have a chance to visit his island when you first explore the northwestern sea, before Oshus directs you to him later as the only person who can forge the Phantom Sword. Certain hints from his appearance and dialogue also suggest that he, like Astrid and Kayo, is related to the Cobble.
  • Colour-Coded Timestop: Grayscale.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Yet another The Legend of Zelda manga has been made, this time about this game.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: The Gossip Stone on Harrow Island will not tell you that you can (and likely will) lose money beyond the usual fee until you have already paid the latter. Even worse, it claims you can randomly find a Treasure Map regardless of whether this is actually the case or not. There are several, and there is no way to tell how many there are left (or that some of them won't appear at all until you have completed the Sea Chart).
  • Cosmetic Award: Beedle's "Complimentary Card," which sounds like it can be exchanged for a free item. When you redeem it, he compliments you.
  • Demonic Possession: Used on Linebeck in the end of the game.
  • Earn Your Fun: The shooting gallery, Maze Island, and the "training" with the captain of the Prince of Red Lions.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Bellum lives far beyond the reaches of man, mostly acts through avatars and projections, is completely impossible to reason with, is either not sentient or has a mind that is so thoroughly alien that it can't be defined in human terms, and is otherwise totally apathetic towards other life aside from needing to feed off of it. It isn't even evil or malicious, per se, more just a force.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower:
    • The Phantom Sword, which sure would have come in handy a lot sooner than you're able to get it.
    • Then there's Ciela's ability to create Time Spheres, which give Link the ability to freeze time.
  • Enfant Terrible: The Obviously Evil Cubus Sisters, at least while they still appear human.
  • 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 supposed 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 purple areas of the temple's floor. When Link stands on these areas, he also sparkles.
  • Exposition Fairy: Ciela. Leaf and Nari also occasionally serve as this.
  • Faceless Eye: Bellum.
  • Fantasy Keepsake: The game ends with Link waking back on the pirate ship, the game's whole adventure being seemingly a dream, then seeing Lineback's ship on the horizon.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Bellum is given no concrete backstory or motivation. It just exists.
  • Ghost Ship: Word-for-word!
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: The Grappling Hook makes a return from Wind Waker and is one of the most versatile weapons in the series. On top of being used to grab things, it can also be used as a tight rope and a human slingshot.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: For part of the dungeon on Goron Island, you switch control between Link and Gongoron, the son of the Goron tribe's chief. 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 crest pointing to the Sun Key. 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!
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: When Linebeck refuses to enter the Ghost Ship, Ciela refers to him as a "cucco." Cuccos are chickens in all but name and ferocity.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: The Cubus Sisters, once you figure out they are lying to you. (Which should take all of two seconds).
  • Intergenerational Friendship: The adolescent Link and the adult Linebeck. Eventually.
  • Internal Homage: The 'self proclaimed hero' is a giant shout-out to The Wind Waker. He 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), referencing Aryll giving Link a telescope; He dresses similar to Link with a heart on his buckle instead of a swirl, having blue boots instead of brown, and having a pom pom on the tip of his cap; calls his ship the 'Prince of Red Lions' in reference to the King of Red Lions; and in the trading sequence accepts the Hero's New Clothes, which is what Link got on the Second Quest in The Wind Waker.
  • Invisible to Normals: The Hero's New Clothes, making a return appearance from Wind Waker. Allegedly they can only be seen by very honest people.
  • Item Get!: Generally played straight, but the game contains a number of hilarious subversions and parodies:
    • At the beginning, Link does this while not being able to stand straight from Linebeck shaking him too hard, accompanied by a broken 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.
    • Parodied once more with the Rupoors, negative black rupees that subtract money. Whenever Link gets one, a distorted version of the Item Get music plays, and Link looks upset.
    • Finally, after Zauz forges the Phantom Sword, he tells Link to take it back to Oshus, who can finish the job. When you meet Oshus, he asks Link to take out the Phantom Hourglass. For no reason whatsoever, Link decides to (unnecessarily) go through his typical Item Get! motions. However, Oshus, apparently not in the mood, grabs the hourglass from Link mid-motion, leaving Link with his hand in the air and...nothing in it!
  • 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.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you have yet to play The Wind Waker and still want to play it without being spoiled, you might want to delay playing Phantom Hourglass, as it summarizes the plot of the former game in the opening cutscene.
  • Lampshade Hanging: One of the talking skeletons whines about not being able to use the D-pad and buttons.
  • Lovable Coward: Linebeck is the embodiment of this trope.
  • The Maze: The pyramid-shaped temple on the Isle of the Dead.
  • Meaningful Name: Bellum's name is Latin for "War", and it is known that he engaged in a war with humankind and the Ocean King in the past.
  • Mini-Dungeon: The pyramidal tombs in the isles of the Cobble Kingdom, where the corresponding four Cobble Knights rest. Link has to 1) find a way to the isle where Mutoh's Temple is, 2) enable said way to that island, and 3) enter the temple.
  • 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.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • 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 are also some analogies with Majora's Mask, 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), and the game's overworld having four major regions, with the fourth of them being the former homeland of extinct societies (the Cobble and Ikana Kingdoms).
    • The eyes on the boss "doors" and keys reminds one strikingly of Vaati's eye motif.
    • Gleeok makes its first appearance since Oracle of Seasons, but is given powers similar to that of Trinexx from Link to the Past (one head shoots fire, the other shoots ice).
    • The easiest way to defeat a Pols Voice in this game - by shouting into the microphone and then slashing it with the sword - was 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).
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Cubus = succubus/incubus.
  • Not Completely Useless: The items in the trading sequence, which otherwise serve no useful purpose — the kaleidoscope, for example, looks ridiculous if you don't know why you have it.
  • Obviously Evil: As noted, the Cubus Sisters. Seriously, this is what the youngest sister says when describing her "captured" sisters.
    Youngest Cubus Sister: Fallen! Fallen! They are the fallen! Excuse me. I don't know what came over me.
  • One Time Dungeon: The fourth dungeon - and only the fourth dungeon - is an example, but averts one instance of Permanently Missable Content because it's a case of Developers' Foresight.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: While Link and Tetra are first led to believe it was All Just a Dream, Link finds the Phantom Hourglass on him and sees Linebeck sailing away in the distance.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: A girl just pretends to be one for fun. A big hint is her wearing a swimming ring as she swims around.
  • Out of Focus: Tetra compared to The Wind Waker, with Linebeck getting the limelight instead.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Ciela turns out to be one once you get the hammer. When you equip it, it's wielded by her instead of Link, meaning it can be used at range!
  • 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.
  • Rule of Three: Zelda games always do like threes.
    • 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 treasure chest with a small Rupoor (-10 Rupees) and spawns a Reapling.; 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.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The Ocean King.
  • Shout-Out: During one of Jolene's later ambushes, she reveals that she knows that Linebeck is hiding in the wooden box. When she calls out to him, the only thing you see coming from the box is an exclamation point.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Isle of Frost and its dungeon.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Like Midna before him, Linebeck, the game's Ensemble Dark Horse, has a lot of plot and Character Development focused around him.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The pirate Jolene. When Linebeck robbed and left her she didn't take it lightly.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: The Temple of the Ocean King.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: On the Ghost Ship, Link has to "rescue" four little girls, "the daughters of the house of Cubus." It becomes increasingly obvious that they're evil, but there's nothing else to do but "help" them.
  • Surveillance Drone: The Phantom Eyes. They don't hurt you themselves, but if you don't get to a safe zone fast, the Phantoms come...and they do.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Ciela. She even has the same voice as Navi. HEY! LISTEN!
  • Taunt Button: In the battle mode, you can use the D-pad to show your Link cheering, gasping in surprise, or pouting.
  • Technicolor Death: All bosses except the Ghost Ship's boss turn into gold, disintegrate partially, explode into a column of sand, and then the sand freezes in midair.
  • Tennis Boss: Wouldn't be a Zelda game without it. Dead Man's Volley, anyone?
  • Timed Mission: Temple of the Ocean King.
  • Time Stands Still: The only way to hurt Bellum.
  • Taken for Granite: Tetra, aka Princess Zelda. For the second time in the series.
  • Tutorial Failure: The game tells you to "draw little circles at the edge of the 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.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: You have to press two maps together, one on the top and one on the bottom screen. To do so, you have to close and open the Nintendo DS.
  • 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 commonplace in one game can be worth a lot in another. This also applies to extra ship parts as well.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
  • Villain-Beating Artifact: The Phantom Sword.
  • Warp Whistle: A variation — writing symbols on a blank slate summons golden frogs who uses typhoons to transport the ship to various parts of the ocean.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Despite the fact that Linebeck's original (and subverted) reason for going with Link at all is to make money and plunder stuff.
    Linebeck: Hey, good for you! Taking a break from saving the world! Class act!

Alternative Title(s): Phantom Hourglass