I have been a rather lucky boy when you look at my haul of games over Christmas and my birthday. Most of them are for my Xbox or Wii meaning they have to fight it out amongst themselves for time with the television. Zelda, however, is my solitary new DS game and so sits firmly and smugly in its slot knowing that it will be the only one getting my attention.
After only a couple of hours in, it’s safe to say that I love it. I’ve always preferred the top-down versions of Zelda over their 3D counterparts and this is no exception. For me, it’s the way the puzzles are handled and the charming sprites that the series have always used but what adds yet more to its stock here is the series of DS specific abilities that have been added.
The obvious ones in there, such as touching the screen where you want Link to go and using quick strokes of the stylus to get him to slash his sword, plus now you also have the ability to write notes on your map and, for instance, trace the desired path of your boomerang.
To some, these may initially sound like gimmicks used to shoe horn the series on Nintendo’s portable platform. What they actually do is open up new puzzle possibilities and a new way of playing a franchise that has basically been repeating the same formula now for many a year, which is never a bad thing.
A lot of the puzzles are observation based, encouraging you to jot down the clues on your map for when you need to hit switches in a certain order or repeat a certain pattern on a door. These are always woven into the traditional Zelda dungeons topped off with a boss that is more than likely to be weak against the weapon you just discovered hidden around his lair.
Personally, I never once felt about raving about Twilight Princess. I felt I had been there and done that so many times that I didn’t care and put the game down when other shiny things came along. With Phatom Hourglass, however, it has reawakened my love of the Zelda series.