Phantom Hourglass was a surprise announcement during Eiji Aonuma’s Zelda speech at GDC 2006. The game makes good on a promise made by Nintendo that gamers would one day see a return to the graphical style first used in The Wind Waker. The cel-shaded adventure uses full use of the Nintendo DS touch-screen, used to control Link (via Ciela, his fairy companion), swing his sword, write on maps, unlocks doors, and much more. The microphone is used to blow out candles, blow off dust and yell over great distances, while even the clam-shell form factor is used to its full potential in one hair-tearingly obvious puzzle.
The connections to The Wind Waker don’t end with the title’s style, as the title is a direct sequel to the original sea-faring adventure. Indeed, the DS game is set on the Great Sea once again, though the awkward sailing of TWW has been replaced by touch-screen sea battles, route planning and, best of all, a steamboat that doesn’t require the wind to be directed in a particular direction.
Despite being modelled in 3D, the game takes a top-down view of the action - reminiscent of old-school Zelda games. This removes camera problems and allows the game to be more effectively controlled via the touch screen. Apart from the sword, other weapons are enhanced by the touch screen too, for instance you can now draw a path for
your boomerang, allowing for more complex puzzles. Adventuring is naturalised, as you now receive clues around the dungeons that you can make notes of on your map. No character recognition is needed - the map is now a tangible item for you to interact with as if it was your own. Once again, Nintendo makes strides towards making the player feel as if he is Link. The game lays down important foundations for future Zelda titles.