First, an embarrassing admission for a dedicated gamer to make: I’ve solved only one Zelda game, the second one on the original Nintendo machine, which was called Zelda II: The Adventures of Link. I came very close on my favorite of the series, A Link to the Past, but a move to Maine way back when and the loss of access to the Super Nintendo my family had at the time ended that run. I never owned a Nintendo 64 until well after its time had passed so I didn’t play the two legendary Zelda games that came out for that platform until years after they were past their prime and I was just interested in seeing them in action and less interested in playing through them. I had a gamecube and played a good bit of Wind Waker but ultimately the endless sailing about in that game put me off of it.
I never played any of the Zeldas that came out for handhelds until I picked up Phantom Hourglass about a month ago for the DS. I was skeptical about it even though it was getting pretty good reviews, mostly because I figured the stylus-based controls would suck. As it turns out, they actually work really well – the only problem I had with them was finding myself constantly obscuring my view of the action with my hand as I dragged the stylus around. Instead what sucked was the premise that I must return to the central ‘dungeon’ of the game, repeating sections I had previously cleared in order to get to the deeper levels each time I acquired a new ‘key’, while on a timer. Designer who came up with this idea? Fuck you, I sold your shitty game on ebay. Don’t. DON’T. DON’T make me repeat the same stuff over and over and over again, nothing puts me off a game faster than doing that. It’s not charming, it’s not clever, it’s not novel, it’s just boring, frustrating crap. Yeah, I know you tried to alleviate this a bit by making it possible to skip past parts of the earlier levels as I acquired the standard Link toolset (boomerang, bombs, bow and arrow, etc) but it was too little too late. Better luck next time, and meanwhile if anyone has tastes similar to mine and can’t stand repeating areas in games – stay far away from this one.