Looking over my recent posts the other day I realised that, despite being a gaming blog, I haven’t actually talked much about the games I’m currently playing. Unfortunately, being the busy bee that I am at the moment what with leaving my job, sorting out new flat details, making another costume (I’m going to be a unicorn this time, stay tuned for that) and various other things that I have given myself to do despite my lack of time, my gaming life has had to take a back seat. I intend to remedy this as soon as possible but for now the only thing I have time to do is get killed by the Blood Starved Beast (yep, STILL on that dude, it’s getting embarrassing) in Bloodborne over and over in half hour sessions occasionally and play The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on my way to and from work. I haven’t actually talked about Phantom Hourglass yet and I wasn’t going to, mainly because it’s really old now and therefore not exactly hot off the press “check out this amazing game!” but, maybe because it’s old now, the more I play it the more I realise that Phantom Hourglass is VERY into using all the features available to the Nintendo DS and it’s been a really long time since I have played a DS game that has done that, I know that back in the day when the DS was first a thing we had games that used all these features but now I have my 3DS with various Pokémon, Mario, and some other LoZ games but I rarely use the stylus, microphone or camera and when I do it’s optional (usually). As this keeps tripping me up – I didn’t expect to be doing things like shouting at my 3DS to get a low price on a salvage arm for my ship (among other things) – I thought, why not? Let’s post about it and give it some love! Also, this is a total coincidence and I didn’t realise until I Googled the release date out of curiosity, but it will be 10 years since Phantom Hourglass was released on the 23rd June so this can count as an anniversary tribute post!
I picked up Phantom Hourglass in a second hand shop a while ago and as soon as I started playing I hit a block. I couldn’t get Link to move. None of the buttons worked. As it was second hand my first thought was that the game was broken but then, after an embarrassing few minutes of me just raging at the screen, I had a “could it be..?” moment, dusted off the stylus and tapped an area on the screen which Link then moved to. Yes, it was super dumb of me, I groaned and face palmed too. It wasn’t long until I realised that EVERYTHING in this game relies on the stylus. With most of my aforementioned games I must admit that on the rare occasion I need to use the stylus for a quick tap on something (e.g. choosing a Pokémon move) then I will just tap it with my finger. This is obviously not the best way to keep my Nintendo in pristine condition but it doesn’t really do it any harm either. I feel like styluses seem to have been phased out of most Nintendo Games at the moment with it being more of an optional feature than a game dependant one. As a result I am really unused to using it constantly like I need to in Phantom Hourglass, and when I actually have to attack something poor Link ends up swinging his sword around in a battle technique I like to call the ‘Panic and Swoosh’, it’s usually accompanied by equally panicked, incessant yells of “HYAAA KYAA HYEEEEEH AAAAH!!!!”, pretty sure this translates to “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, CRAZY BITCH?!” I think I’m pretty far into the story though now though so I must be doing something right.
Another feature this game makes use of, which I don’t think I have ever used on my Nintendo 3DS, is the microphone. This was an embarrassing moment. I was on the train sat in one of the areas with the table and there was another three people I didn’t know sat around it with me. Everything was very quiet. I was happily plugged into my 3DS and Link was running around outside the Temple of Wind. I realised that to get the temple door open I had to get some windmills spinning. Guess what you have to do to get them spinning? You have to blow on the mic. After realising this I had a sneaky look round and tried to blow, very discreetly on the mic. It didn’t work. That’s when I had another, worse, realisation: you have to make a blowing sound because it’s a mic, it can’t feel you actually breathing on it. I sat there for about 10 minutes trying to get those damn windmills turning by fake coughing, sighing very loudly, and even fake sneezing on the mic to no avail, after the fake sneezing I started to get some odd looks so I stopped and spent the rest of the journey sulking that the world was not yet ready to just accept a woman blowing loudly on a Nintendo 3DS in public (that line will come back to haunt me completely out of context at some point in the future, I’m sure).
Despite my reserves about playing it in public – it’s rare enough to see anyone playing 3DS in public, let alone shouting into the mic and blowing on it – I am enjoying this game. Like its predecessor, Wind Waker, it’s a lovely, colourful world and it has some really good characters in it too. Linebeck, your travelling companion is great, even though at first I was put off by the fact that he’s meant to be the comic relief with very aimed-at-children humour (which is ridiculous, who would think to aim this game at children?!) but he’s grown on me. Plus he has a sweet-ass coat.
While we’re on the topic of characters, I just want to bring up this weird but AWESOME side quest. I met an old dude who lives alone on an island (who, by the way, has a wife and son on a different island, but that’s none of my business…) and he tells you how he would love to meet a mermaid. When you leave his house lo and behold a mermaid appears. She kept diving away from me and out of frustration I chucked my boomerang at her, not expecting it to do anything, but it did! So I hit her round the head but she seemed to get over that pretty quickly. She then reveals to you that she is not a mermaid she just likes dressing up as one and she is using a swim tube to float. That made me love her so much. She’s living the life, who wouldn’t want to do that if they could? THEN I went back to the hut and set her up with this gross, wife cheating old man who thinks she’s a real mermaid and now she lives in a paddling pool in his house!!! That is hands down the best side quest I have ever done. Except maybe the one where you get drunk in Skyrim and marry a hag, which was also very fun. It was super easy and quick to do, not to mention I was hooked on all the drama, but I think I’ll have to keep coming back to it in the future as the game goes on, kind of want to know what happens next, does his wife find out? Does mermaid lady get bored, meet a merman and leave? Do they get married? Scandal…
Another little thing I’m enjoying about this game; like in Wind Waker, Link has some incredible facial expressions. In Wind Waker he had quite a sassy look which I always thought was funny, but in Phantom Hourglass he is a bit goofier, maybe because his head looks like it’s been squashed Hey, Arnold style from some angles.
So in conclusion, if you fancy an old (feels weird calling it old, still feels like the DS only came out a couple of years ago) game that is a bit of fun and goofy but also sometimes quite frustrating give Phantom Hourglass a whirl.
Are there any old games that you’ve been pleasantly surprised by? What are your favourite 3DS/DS games?