The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass[a] is an action-adventure game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS handheld game console. It is the fourteenth installment in The Legend of Zelda series and the sequel to the 2002 GameCube title The Wind Waker. Phantom Hourglass was released in Japan in June 2007; in North America, Australia, and Europe in October 2007; and in Korea in April 2008. The game was re-released for the Wii U via the Virtual Console service in the PAL region in November 2015 and in North America in May 2016.
The game features 3D cel-shaded graphics with an overhead camera perspective, employs controls involving the console's touchscreen and microphone, and takes advantage of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for online play. The game's story follows that of The Wind Waker, focusing on series protagonist Link's journey to save his friend Tetra from the story's antagonist, Bellum, with the help of Captain Linebeck and his ship, the S.S. Linebeck.
Critics were highly positive towards Phantom Hourglass. Its control scheme was praised, while criticism focused on its online features, which were considered too simple. The game received several video game industry awards, including the Nintendo DS Game of the Year award from GameSpot, GameSpy, and IGN. Phantom Hourglass was the best-selling game in its first month in Japan, with 302,887 copies sold. In the United States, it was the fifth best-selling game in the month it debuted, with 262,800 copies sold. 4.13 million copies of Phantom Hourglass were sold worldwide by March 2008
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is an action-adventure game with gameplay similar to other games in The Legend of Zelda series. The player controls Link, the protagonist, and explores the world to find new items, information, and allies to help him save his friend Tetra and defeat the antagonist Bellum. The game is divided into two gameplay types: sailing between islands, and exploring the islands and their dungeons on foot. While on land, Link discovers and utilizes many items, including the classic boomerang, bow, and bombs. When sailing, the game shows a map of the area on the Nintendo DS's top screen, and a 3D top-down view of Link and his nearby surroundings on the lower touchscreen. The player can bring down the map from the top screen to the lower screen to make notes. During certain events, including most boss battles, a 3D view is shown on both screens, allowing the player to have a wider view of their surroundings. The player controls Link with the stylus, moves him by pointing to the sides of the screen, and uses the stylus to interact with objects and people or attack foes by pointing at them. To travel between islands on the Great Sea, the player controls a paddle steamer called the S.S. Linebeck. The player can plot a course by drawing on a sea chart, redraw the course to make any necessary alterations, shoot at enemies that attack the ship using a cannon, and jump to avoid obstacles.
The game includes a one-on-one multiplayer battle mode. In an arena, one player controls Link, while the other player, on defense, controls three Phantom Guardians. Players of both sides are aided by power-up items that appear on the playing field. Link's goal is to grab a Force Gem and carry it to his base. The other player, controlling the three Phantom Guardians, must find and catch Link before he returns any Force Gems. When Link is caught, or if the round is over, players switch sides. Each multiplayer game consists of three rounds, and in each round, each player takes a turn at both sides. The maximum length of a multiplayer game is 12 minutes, assuming Link does not get caught. The game supports multiplayer both locally and online through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, as well as Download Play. The game is the third The Legend of Zelda game to include multiplayer, following Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures.
Phantom Hourglass introduces the game mechanic of a large dungeon central to the game's story, in this case the Temple of the Ocean King. Link visits the Temple multiple times during the course of the game's story, in order to obtain sea charts that allow him to sail to other parts of the ocean. Throughout the game, the Temple has a curse placed on it that drains Link's life whenever he is inside, but upon obtaining the Phantom Hourglass, Link is able to explore the Temple without being affected by the curse for a limited amount of time. In addition to the curse, Link must contend with Phantoms, a type of enemy exclusive to the Temple. Phantoms are invincible for the most part, necessitating the use of stealth in order to get past them. "Safe zones" are scattered throughout the Temple, and allow Link to avoid both the Phantoms and the Temple's curse. As Link progresses through the game, he is able to access deeper levels of the Temple and stay inside for longer. The Temple, including the puzzles within, will reset whenever Link leaves, but as he obtains new items, he can unlock new routes and shortcuts that enable him to travel through the Temple quicker.