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 know this is goin 2 sound really dumb since i just
    beat the game a cuple weeks ago…..

    but i forgot how to get past the mountain passage…… yessss……….. i know….


  2. i need help, please!

    i am on my 3rd trip to the Temple of the Ocean King. i have retrieved one small key to make it to B2, but on B2, there is no key for B3!
    it’s after you blast the wall with the bomb, you crawl into the area where you have to stand on a plate and toss your boomerang to the west, where there was a key last time.
    am i confusing anyone?

    is this a game glitch? i have exited to re enter 3 times and even re started my game twice. it is still not there.

  3. I’ve been to Isle of gust but having problems getting past first section I was told to let the wind blow me where should I stand to let this happen?

  4. -Kelly Leone
    You have obviously done something wrong, sometimes i think its a glitch but it isn’t, all you have to do is work it out.
    If you rlly rlly think it does tell JB HI FI or something and they will give u the nintendo phone number, they will help u

  5. -Ender

    Ender its on the island where the old Wayfarer’s
    House… If you have know idea where that is, its on the island where the mermaid is. you need bombs to break through the entrance to it when u get into the cave.

  6. -Zeldalostforwords
    Your draw it like the hourglass it will show a picture of it than fade away though. You will have do it correctly- i hope this looks a bit like it
    \ /
    \ /
    \ /
    \ /
    / \
    / \
    / \

  7. I got through the temple of wind eventually but not sure where I’m suppose to go next I think I need another map but don’t know where to find one. How do I get under the sea to look for treasure ?as I have lots of treasure maps.

  8. Roasyandjim-
    You will need to get the salvage arm to get treasure that should be found on cannon island
    where you first got your cannon from you will need to make a deal with him and clap or something
    Also, you will need to go to the temple where the Wayfare people is, you will fight a creature before you get there (its on the first map , left.

  9. Ok. HOW do i get on to the 10th F in the ocean king.

    ! i know u have to put the gems like :
    Square, circle, and triangle but i can’t put them in! cause the layotu is circle, square and triangle!
    help please =l quickly!

  10. i’m on the isle of frost and i am trying to shoot the eye on b2 that’s got the ice in front but the arrows just hit the ice, i’ve run out of arrows now, so how do i got more arrows and then how do i hit the eye..

  11. Help me i’m so stuck. I CANNOT, I repeat CANNOT kill the little rock ball dudes when I am Gongoron. What am i doing wrong?

  12. oh my goodness, I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I spent a week just rolling and rolling around wondering why they wouldn’t die. Why didn’t i think to tap them, after all that’s how you defeat most of the other enemy bods! Three seconds it’s taken me!!

  13. Omg. Doesn’t ANYONE reply to what i say. geez.!

    Is my game like a glitch.
    cause for some reason the order of my thing is –
    O [] /\ ! how do i swap em around!

  14. how do i pull the leavers on the ghost ship??? it keeps making the beeping sound and they pop back in
    help plzzzzzzz

  15. hey kazelda
    stop moanin….
    here u go
    u dont put the gems in the wrong pedastles
    all u do is
    put the square in square ped 1st, then put the circle in the cirle ped then put the triangle in the triangle ped 2nd
    then go through the door
    and come out

  16. -Austin
    Ok, You gotta go up north and blow (into ur DS)
    on 3 winmills.
    Then it will stop. But….. becareful there are huge creatures that are underground. they are huge. just throw a bomb around were they’d be. They will eat it and die.

  17. people. how do i pull the leavers on the ghost ship?? i do it in the 24153 order but it says its wrong. plz respond cuz i really need 2 finish this part

  18. Thanks for your help kazelda I now have a crappling hook. I’m now stuck in the temple of courage. I’m trying to fight the big monster (crab thingy) at the end and I don’t know how to defeat it. It said something about follow the order of the temple . Am assuming that means the fact you go up then down then right then left but how is this supppose to help me??

  19. -Rosyandjim
    I’m not very familiar with the order of the temple or whatever but you need your bow and arrow.
    One of the screen tells you where the crab is running to, so you will have to be quick
    i hope this helps you. If not go to :

  20. -Hele.zelda
    Ok, The triangle crystal is on b9, you will need the circle crystal to open the spikes which will let you go into b9, than open the chest and you will find it. than go back upstairs and find your way.

  21. -Pangsterr
    Hmm i am kinda laughing but, You don’t need to crawl you will get those bombs that will be able to move. can’t remember their name but yea you get them soon.

  22. Hey, im really stck on zelda. After you have drawn the sacred crest on the door you go inside. up in front is that sun emblem i saw on molida island. i tap it and it shows the South-Western sea chart apart from it has a weird courage symbol in the middle. But it says somin lyk ” press the sea chart against the sacred crest”. I have no idea wht to do and i dont have the sun key Plz help….

  23. Hi… I’m sure the answer to this is really obvious so apologies. There are certain treasure chests that are impossible to reach, for example on a mini island where the gap is too big to cross or on a highledge. How do I get to them? Is there a secret jump move I don’t know about? Pls help!

  24. i am stuck on getting the cannon too! All i have seen is just throw the bombs off the cliff… is that the right way to do it or do i need a bomb bag… if so how do i go about getting one

  25. -Shelly + Em
    Ok It is a bit hard but you jump of the cliff nearest to you and once you ahve got near it you throw it. It is hard but easy at the same time.

Leave a Reply

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