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The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Review

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I've got my review up for Phantom Hourglass, see yourself what I think of this game. Here's my original review. And as you will see yourself, I'm trying a new review structure. It's practically the same as the structure of IGN's video reviews, you know: intro, presentation, gameplay and at last the verdict. For some reason I like that review system.

On unrelated news, I finally bought Super Mario World through the Wii shop. It's really time for me to finally play one of those key games that made Mario so unbelievable popular. And until now, I'm enjoying it. That is, until I'm about to go game over yet another time. I like meaty challenges, but I don't like going game over a lot. And there are way too few 1-ups appearing. It's really weird actually: The New Super Mario Bros series has too many 1-ups for it's own good and the challenge it offers, while the old classics (I've also already played a bit of Super Mario Bros 3 and the first few levels of Super Mario Bros) have too few 1-ups. Meh, anyways, enjoy the review.

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"As with every series, as amazing as it may be, there's a low point. Phantom Hourglass is just that for the Zelda series."

Difficulty: Easy

Time Spent: 20 to 40 Hours

The Bottom Line: Mixed Reactions

The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo's biggest mascot's, and upon that, one of gaming's most iconic franchises. With legendary titles like Ocarina of Time, Majoras Mask or Wind Waker, the Zelda series has earned itself some of the biggest praise, of which a lot of video games could only dream about. But as with every series, there's always possibility for a low point of the franchise. And this is where Phantom Hourglass takes over. Well then, Hourglass, your turn.

---Presentation---

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3 years after the DS's launch, Nintendo brought Zelda finally to the DS, with Phantom Hourglass. Guessing because the DS has a weaker graphic engine, Nintendo decided to present this Zelda game on a more classic way. Instead of following Link, the camera has a more zoomed out perspective, showing the near environment around Link, fitting perfectly for one of Phantom Hourglass's new innovations, the touch controls. But to that later.

Phantom Hourglass is a direct sequel to the game-hit Wind Waker. The story of Phantom Hourglass takes off a little after where Wind Waker had end. Phantom Hourglass, just like Wind Waker, has it's gameplay divided into 2 parts, one on land and one on sea. (Correct me if I'm wrong there, never actually played Wind Waker.)

So what's the reason Link is traveling through new territories, venturing a step into risky locations? That is because Zelda, or rather Tetra in this case as well, has once again been kidnapped. Everything starts with Link and Tetra along with their crew sailing among the expanses of the sea yet another time. That is until they come across a haunted looking ship. Tetra, being rather carelessly than brave, jumps upon the ship. Then lightning growls from above the clouds, a loud scream of Tetra comes from the Ghost ship and immediately it sails away, without handing out Tetra before leaving. That's where the adventure starts. Of course, there's still a lot more to come within the story, while you progress you'll find out who's behind all the evil happening and what's the reason for all this, and you'll meet some new, key characters like the pretty selfish Linebeck. It's a story that's pretty good and entertaining. If there's anything to niggle about the story, it is that it does not always evolve in a good pace. Besides that, though, this story is as good and entertaining as any Zelda story.

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But that's where the Zelda charm stops. While, of course, the DS isn't capable of that good visuals, I've seen far better looking games than Phantom Hourglass, on the DS that is. Sure, it's got a more classic look, but it still could look better. Environments look mostly generic, and there isn't much variety between the different environments, they all look pretty much the same to an certain extend. Animations are great, but the characters suffer a bit from the low graphic quality the DS provides. This game isn't up to par with other Zelda games when it comes to character designs, and the facial expression of these characters are pretty bland.
Once in sea, the visuals become a bit more varied and vibrant, and the islands don't only consist out of a specific amount of planes. However, it seems a bit odd that, looking at the islands from on the sea, the islands look way different than they look once you entered the island.

The soundtrack isn't stellar in any way either. While it contains some good tracks, there aren't that many different music tracks to be found in the game. And besides a few really great themes, you'll also come across some generic, boring tunes, like the temple music, that become repetitive and even annoying after a while.

---Gameplay---

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So where's the decisive reason to play this game? The story is good but not enough to convince you to purchase this game only because of it, so may the gameplay make the game worth it's price?
What is most noticeably are the new controls. No more are there any buttons to be used in order to control Link, now it's all per touch screen. Guide Link in a direction by simply pointing with the touch pen in a direction, Link will always follow your touch pen. Of course Link also has some moves up his sleeves. Tap on enemies to let Link attack them, or tap on other objects so that Link interacts with them. And there are more actions of Link, each performed by doing a certain move with the touch pen. It's not always that responsive however. At times I found myself trying to perform a roll attack of Link, but it didn't react because of the slightly inaccurate controls. The same goes for the spin attack.

As for the game design itself, Phantom Hourglass does fine in that aspect. While barely ever challenging, main quests, side quests and temples are generally fun. The temples are what save the game. While picking up in challenge not until the near end, their clever puzzles and great designs make it one of the most enjoyable aspect of the game. And each of these temples end in an exciting or less exciting boss battle. These boss battles range from good to annoying.

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Definitely one of the better boss battles.

The Sailing in Phantom Hourglass on the other hand is quite boring, really. You draw a route along the sea card on the touch screen, and then you'll have to wait until your rather slow boat finally reaches the destination. Along the way you are able to fight enemies by blasting them with a canon, but the sailing still remains on the boring side.

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If there's one part that really ruins the whole game, than it is The Temple of the Ocean King. Unlike the other temples, that temple is absolutely disastrous. You'll be visiting that temple way too many times, and each time you do, you will have to solve all the puzzles again and again, even though you already cleared those puzzles multiple times, and it's incredible frustrating and odd having to do the temple over and over again, with only one mid point to skip at least the first half of the temple once it's reached. And it does not help that you're limited with time in the temple, which after the time has run out sucks out the life of Link rather fast. It's super annoying.

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Dealing with all the down sides of the game, you'll at least get enough content out of the game for it's price. Besides the lengthy main adventure, you've still got a lot of treasures and other hidden secrets to find, both on land and in sea, including ship pieces that can thereupon be used to modify your own ship. It's definitely not the biggest Zelda world, but it's big enough to keep the game on the long side. Farther including to the game's length is the multiplayer mode. It's, well, just meh.

---Verdict---

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You probably could tell until now, Phantom Hourglass does not rank up there with the truly great Zelda titles in my book. There's a lot of innovative ideas including the touch screen controls and new ways to solve temples and other puzzles by simply being able to make notes on the corresponding maps appearing on the touch screen, may it be temple maps or island maps, but in a whole Phantom Hourglass falls short on what we usually get out of a Zelda game. Visuals and audio are to be improved, and the gameplay only feels half-hearted. It's mixed with great and odd moments. What really hurts the overall package is the Temple of the Ocean King. It's rare that a game's biggest flaw is some specific content within the game, but in Phantom Hourglass's case, this comes true. Rarely did I ever encounter any content in a game with such awkward and downright terrible design choices. It ruined quite an amount of my motivation to play the game, and once it even almost made me quit the game totally. A real shame, really!

As a game on itself it's already just a little above average, but what really makes it disappointing is the fact that it's got Zelda in it's title and doesn't lead up to what a Zelda Title normally leads up to. While it does have those occasional moments where the Zelda magic shines through, overall the game falls quite flat, especially considering it being a Zelda title.

The Good

  • Some nicely designed temples and puzzles
  • entertaining story
  • very innovative
  • nice amount of content


The Bad

  • generic visuals and audio
  • control quirks
  • low on challenge
  • Temple of the Ocean King is incredibly frustrating and annoying
  • lacks a lot of the Zelda quality and charm of other titles in it's series

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Review Score: 6.0/10

Super Mario World available on Wii U?

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So to all Wii U owners:

Is Super Mario World available in the shop of the Wii U to download, or would I have to transfer it from Wii to Wii U, and can I use a classic controller with the Wii U to play Super Mario World? (I think I know the answer of the second question already, but I just want to go sure.)

Thank You!!

Who Wants to be a Millionaire (DS) Review!

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So I've finally got a new review up, not for Phantom Hourglass, (that will come next, I assume), but for Who Wants to be a Millionaire. My original review is here, thumbs up/down if you feel like giving feedback, it's appreciated very much!

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"This has nearly nothing in common with the TV show, that's for sure."

Difficulty: Just Right

Time Spent: 10 Hours or Less

The Bottom Line: "Rip-off"

Who wants to be a millionaire? If shouted out loud into a big crowd, I think we could all expect about everybody raising their hands immediately. That, however, won't ever happen. Only the brave deserve a slight chance on the delicious taste of the one million dollars. The ones, that actually participate in Who wants to be a millionaire.

Paying about 20 dollars, probably depending on where you buy it, you get a chance to participate in a video game version of the TV show Who wants to be a Millionaire?, for the DS, and a chance on one million virtual dollar. So yeah, sure, you don't buy a game such like this because of winning money. But gaining a game like Who Wants to be a Millionaire for the DS, you should be able to expect a nice quiz game with engaging questions and at the least some of the atmosphere that takes part in the actual show. But Who wants to be a Millionaire does nothing that could even make it earn the show's smell of fart. While the majority still remains good questions, horrendous presentation and bad question order and amount make this game unworthy of it's price.

You know, unlike in the actual show, there is no audience, sure not so bad, if I think about it, an audience full of heads, each consisting out of one pixel, isn't that nice to look at. But there's no moderator, no room, no you, just a system showing one question after the other, and a voice talking that seems to be a voice of an old, boring robot (the German version at least, the English one at least has the original moderator talking, though he too is quite lifeless, since he only has a very limited amount of sentences to say). And the music consisting out of singing monks, always presenting the same old melody doesn't raise the bar of delight either. At least the English version and another language version have a moderator shown at times when he talks, though it does not really improve the presentation by any means. It's still pretty sloppy!

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Yup, no support of the original moderator from the German TV version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire DS?", Günter Jauch! (Guenter Jauch)

You know, right after starting this game I already got a feeling this game hadn't much to offer on value. At first you come across the language menu, where selecting your choice of language is required. After that, you get to choose between single and multiplayer, and then the game starts. No settings, no other options, no extras, nothing! The game does not even save your record on how far you already come in the game. After finally reaching the 1 million dollars and getting what seems like feigned praise of the moderator, the game forgets about the bold score and sends you to the select the amount of player menu again. And then the game starts off as usual.

It's not just presentation and offering where the game inappropriate messes up. While I was playing, I got a nutshell hard question for 500 euros, just to get reminded that Shrek is an Ogre and not a Cyborg or reptile during my 1600 euro question. The amount of questions is also quite a little one. The description on amazon said it had roughly 1000 questions, so I thought the amount would have me entertained for a little time at least, but after figuring out that there are different questions for each language, which makes actually sense, of course, I fear that these 1000 questions are dispersed into these 6 different languages. Which means 1000 divided by 6 equals about 166 questions for each language. Yeah, let's not mention that in the description. I'm not sure if this is true, or if they actually meant 1000 questions only for the German part of the game, but so or so, it won't take long until you meet the first repeated questions, and after another few days of daily play session, a session being most likely about 15 to 30 minutes, you'll barely find one more question that you haven't encountered yet.

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There's a multiplayer option though, where you and your friend can compete against each other by successively answering questions, progressing separately. And all on only one DS system. It's only for 2 players though, and it's way too simple to make it anything worthwhile.

You guys should know, the only reason I bought this game was for me and my friends to play at school and test our knowledge, (mine is pretty low, by the way), and more so, to simply kill some time with it at school, and there's no other reason to buy it. The majority consisting out of rather decent questions doesn't make up for a terrible presentation, bad question order and the little amount of questions available. It's definitely not worth your time and money. No way!

THE GOOD

  • majority of questions are fine

THE BAD

  • terrible presentation
  • some questions are clearly not fitting to their price sum
  • too little amount on questions
  • Simplistic multiplayer

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Review Score: 3.5/10

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Presentation: 2.5
Monotonous moderator, annoyingly repetitive music and no atmosphere of the actual show what so ever, Who Wants to be a Millionaire does everything wrong it could possibly do wrong in this factor.

  • Graphics: 4.5

Boring, just simply boring.

  • Sound: 4.0

While it is essentially the music played in the background of the TV show, it grows insanely repetitive during the game. The moderator is also far from great!

Technical Stability: 7.5
Technically the game is polished thoroughly. I mean, there isn't a lot to do wrong in this category.

Gameplay: 5.5
The majority of the questions are okay, though weird question placement and some pretty stupid questions boggle the gameplay down. And there really isn't any motivation at all within the game.

Longevity: 3.0
Perplexing fast does the game start to repeat some already seen questions, and after some hours of playing time you will already have to grind for new questions.

Finished Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

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So about a half a week ago I beat Zelda Phantom Hourglass. An interesting game, indeed. I'll be posting a review for this game, well, sooner or later.

Also, just yesterday, I got Trine and Trine 2. As a huge platformer fan I couldn't leave them without testing. I've already mastered a handful of levels from the first Trine, it's definitely fun, and more remarkable, it looks absolutely gorgeous. For it's release time anyways but even nowadays it still remains amongst the good looking games.

Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing: Transformed for the Wii U

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Well it seems like the Wii U's version of Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed is a much inferior one to those of the PS3 and Xbox 360. At least according to gamespot's review. The PS3 and X360 version got an 8.5, while the Wii U version only a 6. So I'll maybe rather get it for PC. Does anybody have it for PC already and can tell how good it is?

Gamespot's Review for New Super Mario Bros U

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So Gamespot has finally released a review for New Super Mario Bros U, and to me it's a pretty big surprise. Rating is higher than I was expecting it to be, but much more importantly, the review itself was a lot more positive than I was expecting. Heck, they didn't even have one negative point selected at the beginning of their review. Only positive points, which is incredibly rare for a Gamespot review, as far as I know. And the Video review has some content of the later half of the game that looked really awesome. Jeez, I really can't wait much longer now, the game is looking so good. Though here's a warning, if you decide to watch the Video review please know that there are some spoilers in it!

Unions will be reformed!

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So it seems like Unions will be finally reformed. I believe those are great news. Visit the original blog here!

New Super Mario Bros U and Nintendo Land reviews!

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I know, a little late, but here are the first reviews for Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros U, by GamesMaster:

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- Luigis Haunted Mansion, Animal Crossing Sweet Day and Mario Chase offer up some of the most innovative, raucous and party-fueling fun weve ever had with a console
- Plaza is filled with all things Nintendo
- Theres menu music for each attraction that bleeps out in NES chimes
- Monita, the floating computer, guides you around the parks features
- Spend winnings on pachinko-esque coin game
- Win a jukebox, day/night cycle button, and more
- Miis from your console and other consoles through the Internet
- Attraction mode: set up a Nintendo Land party; choose a time limit and player count and then head to a points-based tournament of mini-games
- Multiplayer games are fun, but GamesMaster says the single-player ones are sometimes forgettable
- A few games highlight some seemingly inherent problems
- Ex: Takamarus Ninja Challenge constant screen misalignment
- GamesMaster says GamePad/TV crossover usually works best when done in tandem
- As a discerning gamer, you may not find all that Nintendo Land has to offer to your liking, but should you fork out for a Wii U, you owe it to your family, to your friends and to everyone else you know, to bag a copy of this to go with it.
- Graphics: 90%
- Gameplay: 86%
- Accessibility: 95%
- Lifespan: 82%
- Innovation: 92%
- Overall: 86%
- An essential purchase for party lovers that whets the Nintendo appetite. Bring friends.

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- May look the same, but there are some incredible tweaks
- GamesMaster feels its easier than NSMB Wii
- Took under seven hours to complete
- More to the game outside of the main campaign
- Most of the innovation is saved for the final levels
- Without wishing to spoil anything, we were surprised, excited, and twinkly-eyed during an excellent finale. Its almost as if Nintendo suddenly realised that they were in fact working with a Wii U, with a game-changing GamePad and everything.
- Hopes Nintendo will build on this solid, if not mind-blowing, foundation.
- Graphics: 82%
- Gameplay: 85%
- Accessibility: 90%
- Lifespan: 80%
- Innovation: 75%
- Overall: 82%
- A great excuse for families to gather round the TV, and an enticing glimpse of Marios HD future.

World Map

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So please, tell me your opinion. How do these 2 games look to you, right now?