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We’re back at it again in my unending quest to complete every Zelda game. Last time we played Wind Waker, one of the best Zelda games out there. A solid foundation with some niggling little problems here and there. Today, we start up it’s direct sequel! Phantom Hourglass, for the Nintendo DS. A lot of people are hard on this one, much like Wind Waker…and unlike Wind Waker, a lot more of it is kind of justified for reasons that we’ll see in today’s starting video. This isn’t my least favorite Zelda, but it’s definitely down there! That being said, it’s still a good game despite myself. We’ll be shooting for 100% as always, and I’ll also be attempting to keep up The Streak, which is to say I haven’t died even once during every previous Zelda LP and I have no intention of dying in this one…though that being said this game is significantly harder than more other Zelda’s for a variety of reasons, so we will see!
Updates will be Monday and Friday as always. Remember the rules, no spoilers and please keep discussion that does happen to the game in question. Don’t be TOO mean to some of the no good very bad mechanical choices this game has going for it. Always respect Linebeck. With that in mind, lets begin with Phantom Hourglass!
Like most Zelda’s, we start off with a bit of a plot recap/backstory moment. This time it’s a very cute looking recap of Wind Waker from the perspective of Tetra’s pirate crew, made by the adorable little swabbie Nico. Link is not interested, having fallen asleep on the deck like a goofball who’s trying to conform to the trait of Zelda games always opening with Link waking up. Our heroes have been exploring for the New Land for some time, but seem to have gotten sidetracked hunting down a ghost ship. We ARE heroes after all, and heroes gotta stop bad guys. And then we DO find the Ghost Ship, which is relatively intimidating! Tetra attempts to board it…only to get captured, since we can’t have a game where Zelda is a relevant character until Spirit Tracks I guess, and Link attempts to save her…only to get dunked on.
Waking up once more, having washed ashore on a mysterious island, Link meets a cute little fairy girl named Ciela, who is definitely not Navi. She offers to help, and we accept! And it is here we learn the first bit of rules about how gameplay works in this game; I hope you like touching, because that’s how everything is done. To move you must hold the Stylus on the DS’s bottom screen, and Link will move towards it. You can move the stylus to make him turn, but it is an incredibly non-precise sort of movement. The game does not have precision, precision is a lie that does not exist. You can roll in this game, but only by doing a specific loop de loop draw motion at the very edge of the screen…meaning that rolling upwards or downwards is going to be tricky. You can’t even roll into walls in this game though! At least you can hit trees, and often for good results too so there’s that but…no bomping into trees!
Another mechanic we quickly learn is one that’s actually really good! We have a map in this game, visible at all times on the top screen. If we pull it down to the bottom screen to investigate it, we can draw on the map! This is really fun for a variety of reasons. It lets you do interesting puzzles (which they do, a lot) and lets you take copious notes in case you forget something (which I do, a lot) and, most importantly of all, it allows me to talk to you directly, live while recording! One day I’ll be able to do voice commentary, but this’ll have to do for now. This also means that in editing you’re gonna…see me brush up against myself and that’s always gonna be fun. The constant back and forth of Past and Current Zodi, both of whom aren’t actually the most recent Zodi because I, the Zodi writing this post, is the most recent. God this is going to be confusing…
But yes, with our newfound power of “being able to walk somewhat” we explore the island we’ve found ourselves on, Mercay Island. We do so, talking to friendly friends and otherwise just getting a hang of the control scheme. We talk to Ciela’s grandpa, the human Oshus, and learn that we’re gonna need a sword. Luckily, Oshus’s sword is hidden behind a fairly easy (though telling of the future) puzzle, which we easily solve. Unfortunately Oshus catches us, and we have to have a dreaded tutorial segment before he lets us have the sword properly! Which is fine by me, this game does combat weird so a tutorial helps. You can swing the stylus across the screen to slice, drag it forward to stab, do a circle to spin attack, or just click on enemies to do a jump slash. All of these attacks do the same amount of damage FOR THE MOST PART. Some enemies take extra damage from the jump slash and some DO NOT and it’s very odd system that I need to experiment with to get a full idea of how powerful the math is. Point is, combat! It’s…not precise at all!
With sword in hand, we begin exploring the rest of the island, on our quest to find the mysterious and brave and not at all idiotic sailor Linebeck! Sadly the bridge is out so we’ve got to take the scenic route through a bunch of monsters. Primarily just Red Chu’s, who do as Red Chu’s do, jumping around and wigglin’. Nothing too hard to deal with. Then we get into the cave, our tutorial dungeon of sorts, which bring us push blocks once more. I’m actually rather tolerant of these push blocks since the top down camera and the way Link sticks to them make them easy to use, and they’re pretty obviously pointed out as push blocks so there’s no possibility of trickery with them. There’s also no indication of where they’re supposed to go most times, but that’s actually fine in this case? The puzzles in this one are more open ended for the most part so it works. But then we face the actual puzzle of this dungeon; pulling switches in order. This is a very easy puzzle, and if you get it wrong Rope Snakes fall from the ceiling. Rope Snakes are fast little buggers that slither around, and once they’re within range of you in a four directional cross, they’ll charge. They’re toned down from regular Zelda because this game doesn’t know what precision is, which is good. Same with the Keese we meet as well, they’re just way less flaily. The game is actually working with it’s constraints!
But yes…switch pulling puzzle. A very easy puzzle. The easiest puzzle in the game in fact. A puzzle that I definitely do not get wrong four times due to hitting the wrong switch once while trying to hit some snacks and then just legitimately getting wrong because I wrote down the order wrong. That doesn’t happen at all and is NOT indicative of how the game is going to go from this point forward. There is absolutely no way, at all, that any other puzzle is going to destroy me like this one didn’t at all. At all. Ever.
…god this is going to be a madhouse. I hope you all enjoyed, I’ll see you guys next time for more Phantom Hourglass!