A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is a sequel to Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker on the GameCube, but kids don't need to have played Wind Waker first. The game has bloodless fantasy violence with swords, bombs, and so on, but since the main character gains no experience points from defeating monsters, players can avoid confrontation by side-stepping them in most cases. Aside from the fighting, there's no questionable content to note.
What's it about?
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: PHANTOM HOURGLASS is the sequel to the GameCube's The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, continuing the story line and featuring cut scenes rendered in the same cartoonish style. Players once again control the boy Link as he sets out to rescue his pirate pal Tetra after she gets kidnapped during an encounter with a mysterious ghost ship. All the staples that have made the Zelda series so popular over the years are accounted for, including ingeniously designed dungeons, action-oriented gameplay based around Link's trusty sword and shield, and plenty of secret areas to discover. Here's the twist: It's entirely possible to play through Phantom Hourglass using only the stylus -- controlling Link in this manner will soon seem second nature.
Is it any good?
It's remarkable how thoroughly and effortlessly Phantom Hourglass exploits the unique features of the Nintendo DS. To throw Link's boomerang, for example, you draw a line with the stylus telling the projectile where to go, which opens up all sorts of puzzle possibilities involving throwing it around corners and over chasms to trigger switches. Players will also find themselves charting courses for the ship by drawing a line from point A to point B on the sea map, signing their name to receive packages from the mailman, blowing into the microphone to snuff out candles, and labeling points of interest on an interactive map that is then displayed on the upper screen.
The adventure itself would be plenty, but Phantom Hourglass also features an innovative battle mode that two players can play over local Wi-Fi. Although abandoning the directional pad for the stylus might be a leap of faith for longtime Zelda fans, Phantom Hourglass doesn't disappoint.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the character of Link is an unselfish hero whereas Captain Linebeck is cowardly and greedy. What does Link do and say that makes him into a hero, and how do Linebeck's actions brand him as a scoundrel? Do you like to play video games that are tied to an established brand the way this game is? If so, why? Did this game live up to your expectations?
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