This time I will review a game, I bought: Zelda the Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS.
I love Zelda Games since the NES (Famikon) and I also enjoyed this one a lot, but the reason I write about it in my Blog, is because the game is very suitable for learning Japanese.
ゼルダ 夢幻の砂時計 Zelda The Phantom Hourglass
The Nintendo DS brings a lot of innovations (or rediscovered features) as for example the touch screen and touch pen. Zelda The Phantom Hourglass makes heavy use of this feature and the entire control is made by using the pen on the touch screen. This gives the Zelda game a new touch and the player a new gaming sensation.
While the sword fighting is mostly simply "tapping with the pen on the enemy" some other weapons like the Boomerang or the Bombchu make more use of the new control. For both you can paint a line on the screen which the weapon will follow if possible (if the line is not blocked by a wall). Also at several points you will be required to draw certain patterns you got explained before or saw before on the screen. But one of the coolest features is, that you can make notes right on you maps. You can mark important areas or connect certain way points to form patterns (the X marks the treasure). This gives the game a cool new sensation, that lets you immerse more with Link.
Another new feature is the ship. You will use it to navigate from island to island and to fight sea monsters in between, especially fights against other ships are fun. You can also find certain parts for your ship an upgrade them. If you collect an entire set, you get an even higher life boost. Alas the fun ist mostly in the collecting itself, as the sets have all the same benefits, expect the last one, the golden set, which gives you one additional life boost than the others.
Finally no Zelda Game would be complete without Mini Games. And Zelda The Phantom Hourglass is no exception. The Game is full of interesting and challenging, but also fair Mini Games which improve the fun during Gaming a lot. If you are stuck somewhere in the plot, you can always solve some Mini Games first and cool your head down, before you try it again.
The story is nothing special, but it comes with nice animations (paper cut style) and it is fun to gradually learn more about the world you ended up in. At the beginning Link seems to be a pirate on a ship. The ships runs into a storm and Link and his friend Detorah are taken away from the ship. When he awakes he has been spilled to a shore... (sounds a bit familiar ^_^).
The further story involves a lot of monsters in temples, a Ghost Ship, three rare metals that form a special sword blade and one special temple of time. Whenever you challenge this temple, you have a certain amount of time corresponding to the sand in your hourglass. Throughout the game you will be able to find more sand and therefore be able to proceed further into the temple, where the final boss deep inside this temple is waiting for you.
As I said in the introduction, I decided to mention the game, because it is very suitable to learn / improve your Japanese. First the game targets younger audience and older audience a like. Therefore the dialog use Kanji, but the programmers thought of something to make them readable also for younger people. Whenever you read a word written in Kanji on the touchscreen, you can touch the word with your pen and you will get the reading. That helps a lot following the dialog for foreigners and makes it easy and fun to learn new words. The game uses simple language, and it is usually worth learning the words you don't understand.
Also the game contains a lot of riddles. Now the riddles are in theory quite easy to solve and shouldn't take you longer than five minutes, but with the language barrier they get really challenging. You don't know how to proceed if you don't understand the riddle, but in order to understand the riddle you need to understand what is written on the screen. This proved for me to be a very enjoyable challenge, as I slowly tried to translate the texts and then think of the meaning and the solution of the riddle. Again it is not so difficult, so be sure to give it a try!
So if you like Zelda or Zelda like RPGs, try to get your hands on a Japanese version of Zelda The Phantom Hourglass (夢幻の砂時計 Mugen No Sunadokei). Luckily the Nintendo DS has no country codes and works with any kind of games.
happy riddle solving