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Monday, October 15, 2007


Things you never thought your game would ask you to do.

Well, I'm back from my trip to Eugene and the Indie Games Con. It was good to get out of the home office and among my fellow game developers, but it's even better to be back home. I'm still trying to readjust to the time change. I'm no reporter, so I'm not sure if I'm qualified to tell you about some of the things I saw there. (Note to Indie developers - press releases!) But I'll see if I can relate the news to you when I've sufficiently gathered my thoughts.

In the meantime, let me tell you about the latest installment in the successful Zelda franchise, The Phantom Hourglass. Suffice it to say, they don't mess with what works in the series. Though I'm wondering why our hero always has to wake up on a beach?

At any rate, what's new is that this game takes advantage of the unique inputs of the DS. Using the touchscreen is a given, but even here they go to extraordinary lengths. Sure, you use the stylus to steer Link around the environment and to attack enemies (he has three different sword atttaks based on tapping, slashing and spinning the stylus). But you also use it to make notes, writing clues and symbols down on your map, and even tracing lines that reveal the location of hidden treasure. Certain doors won't open unless you draw the proper strokes on them, and to find those strokes you have to read the clues and "connect the dots." But it doesn't end there. Certain objects (most notably the boat you use to get from one place to another) navigate by following a route you draw on the map. Don't like where you're going? Draw a new route.

But there's more to the creative input. Use of the microphone is also encouraged to blow out candles, make windmills spin, shouting to get attention of other characters and to defeat monsters sensitive to sound. And just when you think they've scraped the bottom of their bag of tricks, they have one more surprise which I won't spoil for you. It's better if you discover it for yourself.

All in all, I've found little to dislike in this latest offering from Nintendo. Old fans of Zelda will find this an enjoyable game and it is sure to make new fans out of those who have never played before. This game is a must-have for DS owners.

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That sounds like a hoot! Too bad I've got my lousy ol' PSP.
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