Anyone who has been reading the posts on this site will know that I always look forward to new Zelda games – and the DS game, the Phantom Hourglass, has looked extra special to me for some time now.

Ever since I first realised the Phantom Hourglass could be entirely controlled by the stylus (touch screen) I have been hooked. I knew I would get the game regardless, but this extra change made a lot of difference to my anticipation. It added something new without stepping too far from the tried and true formula.

zelda hourglass website

The story in the Phantom Hourglass is the usual Zelda fayre – the princess (aka Tetra the pirate) has gotten lost, and you have to rescue her. She has actually been kidnapped by a ghost ship, and it’s your job to hunt down that ship and bring her back to safety.

zelda ph 02The move to stylus based control is done wonderfully. To walk you simply tap where you want to move, attacking involves tapping the enemy you want to hit or drawing a swipe with the pen. My favourite commands are the weapons you pick up in the dungeons. If you’re anything like me the first time you use the boomerang you’ll have a massive stupid grin on your face (in case you haven’t seen the various trailers, controlling the boomerang involves drawing it’s path on the screen). Controlling the boat that moves you between the games islands is similarly simple, just draw where you want to travel and you will.

The other big new feature is the maps. The Nintendo DS has become quite well known for it’s lazy developers who add a map to the second screen, and don’t add anything new or worthwhile. In Phantom Hourglass things are slightly different. Yes, there is a map, but this time you can draw on it. It might not seem like a big thing to read but once you play you will realise that it’s incredibly helpful, and there are some puzzles that are only (easily) solvable if you make notes.

zelda ph 03The difficulty also deserves a mention. In some ways the game holds your hand a little too much, between your fairy companion and the other islanders you will rarely become stuck, but the change in controls has brought new puzzles and challenges. Also the dungeon bosses have changed in tempo slightly. The rigid, three hits and their down system has not been followed quite as closely as it once was, although there are still some left overs of the system.

Actually the dungeon bosses are one of the best parts of the game. They all play in very different ways, each making use of the second DS screen in different ways. My favorite boss is probably the Shadow of the Colossus style golem from one of the later dungeons – he’s not the toughest but is very enjoyable to beat.

Something I do find quite interesting is that the dungeons in the game are generally a lot shorter than in previous outings. I’m not sure if this was a conscious decision based upon the target platform (shorter bursts of play) or if it was an attempt to reach out to a broader audience. Whatever the reasoning I liked the change, I rarely have time to sit down and play for hours on end, so being able to complete each dungeon in a single sitting was a welcome feature – admittedly I am quite well versed in Zelda games (having played and completed most of them) so I suspect my skills within the Zelda world are quite well honed.

zelda ph 04The temple of the Ocean King is the biggest challenge of the game. You have to revisit it in between most of the dungeons, each time progressing a little further. It’s in this temple that you get to make use of the Phantom Hourglass. Walking through the temple of the Ocean King will hurt you, unless you have sand in the hourglass – filling the hourglass is done through defeating dungeon bosses, and collecting sand within the temple. The temple is actually a masterclass in level design, making use of the different weapons you find to let you move further each time you visit. Occasionally it can be a bit of a pain but I really enjoyed my final visit when I new the routes and had all the weapons, letting me make my most efficient journey through.

I would argue that the Legend of Zelda, the Phantom Hourglass is one of the finest looking games on the DS. It has the same visual styling as the GameCube Zelda game, Windwaker and these fit the DS perfectly. The graphics have a very simple clean aesthetic, and the super stylised Link has been given some wonderfully animated moments that would not be possible with the more realistic Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess clothes.

zelda ph 07Aurally the game is a wonder. It contains all of the classic Zelda tunes, tweaked and jiggled for a new adventure naturally, and then adds some more music on top. I’ve long been a fan of the Zelda Overworld theme though, so I guess I am a touch biased in this respect.

Unfortunately, whilst incredibly good, the game isn’t perfect. Despite what I said about the Temple of the Ocean King being a wonderful example of level design, the repetitiveness of going back to the same place over and over is sometimes frustrating. The controls generally work incredibly well, but the rolling is very awkward to do, and is never really used anyway – so a touch pointless – and there were a few times when I found my hand covering the screen so I couldn’t see where I was going. These negatives are all relatively minor and certianly not a reason to pass on one of the DS’s finest games.

I would say that the unique control scheme on it’s own is worth getting this game to try, but there is a wonderfully charming game underneath it all. Yes, it’s another Zelda game, but it’s been created with such care and attention that I find myself recommending it to everyone I meet. Play It!


A keen video gamer and web developer I have been making games and designing websites for many years. Binary Joy is the combination of my two passions.

You can also see me on my personal website, Binary Moon, and try my games from my online game store, Binary Sun


  1. I understand what you say but when i go to the area that u use a boom to open the hideout where u get the shovel, i dont see there any sun door, and were is the old wayfarer`s second hideou???? O.o

  2. -ElfenHerm1t

    No, not the first hideaway. The second hideaway. The one that is found by marking the positions of all the Old Wayfarer tablets and drawing an digging in the center of all four?

  3. I’m stuck pls help me!!!!! I’m on Molida Island and trrying to go through the cave, but ever time I try a lady stops me and tell me it’s too dangerous. I can’t find Ramonos. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG????

  4. I went in the house, the man keeps saying “thats the big talk among the fishermen lately. dont get any crazy ideas in your head”.
    No one is giving permission to go into the cave. Heeelllpppp!!!!!!!

  5. im on Molida island how do i get to that guys 2nd hideout and when i face Bellum i draw the 8 and it doesnt work and ive done it before

  6. -Angela when you start to leave look at the top screen it will say WAIT COME BACK go and talk to him again he will grant you permission

  7. Hi, I am trying to locate the circle shaped stone in the temple of the ocean king to get the other two sea charts.. And I can’t find it! I read in one of the threads that you need a square and a triangle too.. The skeleton is saying to me ‘I wish I’d made a note of where is was…’ but i can’t find it anywhere in the temple! I have even searched other islands for it and tried to find the ghost ship agian as I know there was one in there. Please help! Thanks.

  8. Ok I have just read on the net that you need a hookshot to get the round circle stone. Does anyone know where do I learn to do a hookshot???

  9. kay ; i’m stuck in the ice castle where there are two eyes that close everytime you look at them . how do i do this? pleaseee?

  10. -Isabel

    Create a rope line between the two poles on either side of the eyes, then fire an arrow at the rope, which will bounce off and into the eye. Then do another, just bounce it off into the other eye.

  11. Hey Im backk pplz lol long time no see
    ?!Can someone help meeee?!?! Im in Muhtos Temple…and i cant get past the 3rd puzzle πŸ™ Ive googled it but the descriptions for it are just way too confusing!! Can someone tell me what they did first and stuff and the order of hitting the tiles.. THANKS SO MUCH
    omgs im almost done with the game!! Reply asap thanx!

  12. Can someone tell me where the temple of ruins is? I need the hammer to get the fourth sea chart. Does anyone know how to kill a phantom?

  13. krystie » You can stand on the poles. There use becomes more obvious once you have the weapon associated with them (the hookshot style weapon). You will be able to string a rope between the poles and then use the rope in various ways (tightrope etc)

  14. Sorry ben just realised what I’de typed. When you said master sword do you mean the one forged with the three metals? I am stuck trying to find the fourth sea scroll and I need the hammer. I have heard its in the temple of ruins, please can you tell me where this is?

  15. on mercay island, how do you get to the smaller island in the northeast corner. Ive tried everything i cant get to it!
    and what is the statue with the light for?

  16. -Rachell

    Draw a line on your map from the Temple of the Ocean King to the Milk Bar. Turn the statue with the light, so that it’s beam is parallel to the line. Then, follow the bam to where it hits part of the mountain side. Bomb the spot it touches, revealing a cave. Go through, and your on that island.

  17. i have played the game and beat it. i went back to get what i missed, and found a cheat.(well sort of) There is a crack on the wall on the way to the Temple of the Ocean King on Mercay Island. bomb it. i bombed it in the begining of the game so i just figured this out. when you get your bow and arrows, come back to that place, and inside there is an eye. shoot it with an arrow.a bridge will come across and you will have to kill a monster. Walk outside. There, you will find a stone tablet. read it. shoot an arrow at the eye to the left of the stone tablet by standing on the stairs. i forget how to move the light beam, but when you do, it will point to a wall beside a tree. Notice the tree? its the same one they guy in the begining of the game told you to bash. so bomb that wall beside the tree(the closest flat part) and walk inside. Walk through the cave(there’s nothing inside), and go up the steps. you will meet a guy named Freedle. He will help you swap items with other DS card holders. Put things in the boxes, then talk to him. also on the bottom of the island, press a button and a bridge will appear so you don’t have to go through the cave again just to get here. good luck!

  18. Sorry, that isn’t a cheat. That is the thing I just told two people how to get to. Freedle is used, as you said, to trade items between two players.

  19. help!!! i cant get through the ice temple! you know when it says (the thing that gives you advice when you hit it with your sword. the thing with one eye!) “it’s easy to leap farther than you ever thoght possable! all you do is just use the rope in a new and creative way.” thx to whoever gives this edvice back!

  20. -Link*lover*

    Look for two poles. Make a rope line between them by targeting the first pole, and then targeting the second, and then shooting the rope. Then, get between the rope and the place you want to jump to. Walk into the rope, and Link will stand in it like a slingshot. Then, let fly!

  21. Jen – the door is really sensitive – you have to keep drawing it and eventually you’ll get it right and it will open!

  22. i need help a bunch! i am and have been stuck in the northwest sea for three months! I NEED HELP how do i get in the temple of wind i got the map for the two islands but i cannot find a way to get in the temple HELP PLZ PLZ PLZ!!

  23. MEW » there’s no need to post your comment multiple times πŸ™‚ It will go through eventually. I am sure someone will help you soon. Just be a little more patient πŸ™‚

  24. help! (again!) how do you get through the cyclone to get into the isle of ruins! HELP ME SOMEONE! i am very confusied i went to the isle of the dead first! an then i figured out that i had 2 go to the isle of ruins! HELP ME!

  25. I am in the temple of the ocean king for the 3rd time now and I am on B2 but the key had disappeared from its usual spot so I can’t seem to move on to B3. Can someone help pls?

  26. oh and Kez:

    there is a switch that you probaly just forgot about.
    because that happend to me too. so try all the possible things that you can do in each room.

  27. I am at the temple on the isle of ruin or dead which ever any way i know how to get the water down but how do i move link around as he is to low down to move on

  28. I can’t get to Ed’s place to get the cannon! D:
    The bombs I need to get through the very last path keep blowing up before I get to blow up the 3 rocks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *