The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is the fourteenth game to be released in the Legend of Zelda series. It is the direct sequel to The Wind Waker, making it the second game in The Hero of Winds and A New World timeline branch, also known as the Adult Timeline. The game was released in Japan on June 23, 2007 with most international releases arriving in October of that same year.
It was the first of two Zelda games that released on the Nintendo DS; the second being The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. Phantom Hourglass made thorough use of the Nintendo DS’s unique features, and garnered much praise and awards for it. However its casual, easier gameplay compared to previous titles, its repetitive elements, and gimmicky controls and mechanics were sore points. Despite this, Phantom Hourglass was a commercial success with 4.13 million copies sold worldwide.
Development and Release
<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1128” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/hqdefault-1-250x188.jpg” alt=”Phantom Hourglass GDC” />Phantom Hourglass began as a DS version of Four Swords. Many of the developers who worked on A Link to the Past and Four Swords Adventures were brought onto the project. The game at first featured a map on the bottom screen that allowed Link to be controlled on the top screen. The screens were later switched when the developers decided the controls on the bottom screen disconnected the player from the action on the top. Placing the action and controls together on the lower touchscreen was also meant to appeal to Japanese players, who Nintendo claimed preferred simple interfaces.
At the 2006 Game Developers Conference, Phantom Hourglass was revealed for the first time and demoed. It released the next summer in Japan, followed by an international release months later. For the holiday season, Nintendo also released two special editions: a silver Nintendo DS with art of Link and the game’s logo, and a gold Nintendo DS with the Triforce emblem. Both systems were bundled with Phantom Hourglass.
In a the first Nintendo Direct since the passing of Satoru Iwata, Nintendo announced that Phantom Hourglass, along with Spirit Tracks, will be available to purchase on the Nintendo eShop for Wii U on the 13th November, 2015.
<img class=”alignleft wp-image-1127 size-medium” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/911390-31-200x300.jpg” alt=”Phantom Hourglass Touchscreen” width=”200” height=”300” />Phantom Hourglass was the first Zelda game to feature touchscreen controls, made possible by the Nintendo DS’s dual screens. Using the system’s stylus, players guide Link across the game’s various islands and through dungeons. Tapping an enemy prompts Link to attack it, and item buttons are used in conjunction with the touchscreen controls for aiming and marking a path certain items can take. Puzzles showcase more of the Nintendo DS’s features, with many requiring the player to mark down clues and notes on a map to solve them. The microphone allows players to blow away flames or dust, and even the system’s clamshell design is used at one point.
When out on sea, the ship’s path is drawn on the sea chart. This allows the player to concentrate on taking down enemies with the cannon without worrying about running into anything. It also eliminates the need to change the wind’s direction–a common complaint in The Wind Waker. The ship has a health bar much like Link, and it can be customised with various parts that add to the health.
One dungeon in Phantom Hourglass must be traversed multiple times, with new floors opening up as Link progresses in his quest. The dungeon utilises stealth gameplay, forcing Link to avoid enemies known as Phantoms, which can fell him with one blow. The game’s namesake – an hourglass filled with golden sand – protects Link from the dungeon’s curse for a set period of time. Defeating dungeon bosses adds more sand to the hourglass and, thus, more time. Multiple safe zones on each floor also provide respite and a place to flee when Link is spotted by the Phantoms or their sentries. Previously cleared floors must be re-traversed with each visit before the new floors can be reached.
Repeating the same puzzles and paths was a mechanic frowned upon by reviewers and players alike. In response to the feedback, Spirit Tracks allowed players to bypass cleared floors in its phantom-filled tower.
Trivia and Facts
While The Wind Waker’s GameCube island never came to fruition Phantom Hourglass features an island in its southeastern section called Dee Ess Island, shaped as a Nintendo DS.
Similar to its predecessor’s development, a number of islands were conceived for Phantom Hourglass that never made it into the game. One such island, reminiscent of the fortress in the film adaption of Howl’s Moving Castle, would have grown larger with each visit.
The game’s final boss, Bellum, was nicknamed “Grande Octo” (meaning “Big Octorok”) during early development.
Phantom Hourglass was the first Zelda game to feature real-time item selection.
Phantom Hourglass continues the story begun in The Wind Waker, with a gap of several decades between its end and the start of its sequel Spirit Tracks. It takes place in a time known as the Era of the Great Voyage, and chronicles the search for the land that would later become New Hyrule.
Phantom Hourglass Backstory
In The Wind Waker, Ganondorf once more attempted to gain control over Hyrule by gathering the three pieces of the Triforce. His efforts were thwarted by Link and Tetra, who worked together along with Hyrule’s past king to defeat him. Acting on the past king’s wish, the gods drowned out Hyrule and placed Link and Tetra on a hopeful path to a better future. With Hyrule forever drowned out and their destiny finally put to rest, Link and Tetra–along with the latter’s band of pirates–set sail in search of a new land to make their own.
Phantom Hourglass Events
After several months of travel, the pirate ship finds itself in waters rumoured to be haunted by the Ghost Ship. While the Ocean King is said to protect these waters, ships have recently started to disappear.
When the Ghost Ship appears before Tetra’s pirate ship, she leaps aboard to discover the truth behind it. She is subsequently captured, and Link attempts to rescue her. He falls into the ocean instead and washes ashore on Mercay Island, located in the waters of the Ocean King. There an amnesiac fairy by the name of Ciela finds him and takes him to a wise old man named Oshus, who sets Link on his new adventure. With the help of Ciela and a cowardly sailor named Linebeck, Link travels the Ocean King’s waters and discovers the means to unlock the clues within the Temple of the Ocean King. He soon learns that the Ghost Ship’s location can only be discovered with the help the three spirits of Power, Wisdom, and Courage.
Link finds the spirits of Power and Wisdom, who resemble fairies. When he discovers the spirit of Courage, he is surprised to learn it is Ciela’s other half. Oshus then explains to Link that he is the Ocean King, and both himself and Ciela have taken different forms to hide themselves from the evil Bellum–the monster behind the Ghost Ship and other evils in the sea. Bellum now hides in the depths of the Temple of the Ocean King where he works to drain the Life Force out of the world.
<img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-1124” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ph_phantom_sword_by_blueamnesiac-d4ru0uh-102x300.png” alt=”Phantom Sword” />Before Link challenges Bellum, he first tracks down the Ghost Ship with the help of the three spirits in order to rescue Tetra. He finds her turned to stone, having been drained of Life Force. Oshus promises Tetra will return to normal if Link defeats Bellum. To do so, he must gather three pure metals and forge the Phantom Sword. With this complete, he descends to the lowest level of the Temple of the Ocean King and challenges the evil Bellum.
Bellum is defeated by the Phantom Sword–or so it appears. Tetra is restored, and she and Link return to Linebeck’s ship where Oshus, Ciela, and Linebeck wait. They have no time to celebrate, however. Bellum rises out of the ocean, recaptures Tetra, and possesses the Ghost Ship. Link and Linebeck bombard the ship with cannon fire until it sinks, and they climb aboard the remains.
<img class=”alignleft size-wcsmall wp-image-1125” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/300px-BellumArtPH-250x221.png” alt=”Bellum” />Bellum reappears, sinks Linebeck’s boat with Oshus still aboard, and captures Link. Linebeck picks up the dropped Phantom Sword and frees both Link and Tetra, but Link is knocked unconscious when he is dropped. He comes around to find Linebeck possessed by Bellum, who turns him into a Phantom-like knight. With Ciela’s help, Link is able to defeat Bellum without harming Linebeck.
With Bellum defeated Oshus regains his true form, and he departs with the three spirits after restoring Linebeck’s ship. Link and Tetra are sent back to the pirate ship where the crew tells them only ten minutes have passed. Nevertheless, Link still holds the Phantom Hourglass, and on the horizon he sees Linebeck’s ship sailing off.
Phantom Hourglass Legacy
Phantom Hourglass concludes Link’s and Tetra’s story, begun in The Wind Waker. Decades later, Spirit Tracks picks up in New Hyrule with descendants of the previous game’s characters taking the leading roles.