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The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

October 1, 2007
Fantasy Violence

Video Game Cat Review

Date of Review:  April 15, 2012
Format Reviewed:
Language / Country of Origin:   English / USA
Single or Multi-Player:  Single- and multi-player (both through local and online connections).  Multi-player only supports two players at a time.
Online Capability:  Gamers can log online through their wi-fi connection to play one-on-one against others in a timed “capture the flag” game – using triforce pieces instead of flags.
Prequels: The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Equipment Needed: DS, DSi, or 3DS handheld gaming system.
Maintenance Required:  None.


The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass follows the adventures of Link in a water-covered Hyrule (known as the Great Sea) as he battles to save his friend Tetra from a mysterious ghost ship that has entrapped her.  Along the way, Link discovers that he must use an hourglass that he found to locate the spirits of courage, wisdom, and power – as only they can direct him to the ghost ship.  Link is helped along the way by a large cast of characters, including Ciela the fairy, who offers words of encouragement and advice, and Captain Linebeck, who provides Link with his ship (but who is really motivated by money and treasure).  The game takes place on both water (via the S.S. Linebeck) and on land (where Link can explore towns, islands, and dungeons).  Typical of Zelda games, items such as the boomerang, hookshot, bombs and arrows are used to solve various puzzles that are encountered during the game.  Fans of previous Zelda games will note that Phantom Hourglass picks up where The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker left off.

Cultural / Historical Value:
This was an instrumental title in harnessing the unique power and features of the DS.  It completely changed the interaction of players with the Zelda franchise.  In order to solve various puzzles and complete certain tasks, players must yell or blow into the DS’ built-in microphone or draw on the touch screen (i.e. to take notes, chart courses or sketch symbols to open doors).  Although some critics and players lamented the fact that there were no alternate controls or thought that the game was too easy, the game was generally well-received and won several awards.

Teaching / Learning Characteristics: 
Phantom Hourglass completely changed the interaction of players with The Legend of Zelda franchise.  It made gamers rethink their worn tactics by making them interact with the DS hardware in new and innovative ways. Game designers should take note and explore how new systems can reinvent tried and true franchises.

Replay Value:
Although players can finish the main quest relatively quickly (15-20 hours), there are many additional side quests and challenges that extend the life of the game.  Players can explore uncharted islands, salvage buried treasure, customize their ship, and attempt mini-games like target shooting.  The online two-player game also gives the title additional depth.

Likely Audiences:
Obviously, fans of previous Zelda titles will enjoy this game – especially those who liked Wind Waker, as this title builds off of its storyline.  It is true that the title is more lighthearted and casual than previous Zelda games, so hardcore gamers might not find it challenging enough.  However, those looking to explore the DS’s touch capability will find much to appreciate.

Overall Score:

Other Reviews:


About the Author:
Shannon L. Farrell, MLIS, MS
is an Assistant Professor and Liaison Librarian at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins.  Having been an avid gamer for the last 25 years, she has a great interest in incorporating videogames into library and educational environments.  She has conducted research on the topic, examining current use of videogames in libraries and the resources available for collection development purposes.  Shannon is a member of the ALA Games and Gaming Round Table.  Since she plays videogames on a daily basis, Shannon is a regular contributor and editor of reviews for VideoGameCat.  She also maintains the VideoGameCat Twitter (@thevideogamecat) and Facebook ( accounts.


Award Giver Category Verdict
Spike Video Game Awards 2007Best Handheld Game Winner
Game Developers Choice Awards 2008Best Handheld Game Winner
Interactive Achievement Awards 2008Handheld Game of the Year Winner
Golden Joystick Awards 2008Handheld Game of the Year Winner
Golden Joystick Awards 2008Nintendo Game of the Year Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2008Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering Nominee
GAME British Academy Video Game Awards 2009Handheld Nominee


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