GDC 07: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Trailer Impressions

A few short seconds of new footage of Nintendo's upcoming handheld adventure were enough to whet our appetites for more.

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We were fortunate to attend a Game Developers Conference session led by Zelda: Twilight Princess director Eiji Aonuma titled "Twilight Reflections in the Hourglass," in which the famous developer discussed the factors that led to the realistic visual style of the game, its move to the Wii, and the formulation of its motion-based controls. This led into a description of the multiplayer hide-and-seek mode we got to try out yesterday at the GDC show floor, and more importantly, a new trailer showing off just a bit of the single-player game to come.

The action in the trailer was basically the same as the previous footage shown of Phantom Hourglass, with no apparent indication whether the gameplay is still entirely controlled by the stylus (though we have to assume it is). There were more scenes of dungeon exploration and combat, as well as occasional sailing, as seen in the past. New elements included a "rub" minigame mechanic that kicked in when Link was clashing swords with an enemy or engaged in a pulling match with what looked like a boss character. This minigame had the player rubbing the stylus quickly back and forth in a predefined area as fast as possible. We also saw a giant snail of some kind that appeared to be a boss character, and the dungeon-crawling action was set against a piece of music from A Link to the Past (one that plays during the game's very first nighttime dungeon sojourn beneath the castle, for you hardcore nerds out there).

Phantom Hourglass is definitely sticking with the whimsical, cartoon-like style of Wind Waker, and there were a few brief up close cinematic sequences that showed it off even more. The models look a little rougher and blockier than in that GameCube game, as you'd expect, but the core aesthetic is fully evident despite the relative reduction in graphical detail. There wasn't enough of Phantom Hourglass shown to pick up any story details or much information about where the game will be set, but we've definitely seen enough to know that we're looking forward to playing the game, which is due to be released later this year. We'll do our best to bring you this new trailer when it's made available.

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