Oh wait - decision: Phantom Hourglass.
You really can't go wrong with this one. First, imagine the most disorganised thing in the world. Like my flat: as I type, I am sitting on a beanbag, next to a window, shielded from the sunlight by the box half of my bed came in, tossing an empty can into a John Lewis bag I use as a bin, typing into a laptop perched on a table constructed out of a wooden box and an Easyjet printer. Now imagine the opposite of that. That's Phantom Hourglass, a Zelda game so happy and so refreshing and so elegant that it makes other DS adventures look tired and unimaginative. Well, more so anyway.
Reviewing Zelda games is usually a depressing experience, because all of the best things about them are exactly the things you can't talk about. The constituent parts are usually the same, or similar; it's the skill and precision you're exposed to when it comes together that makes everyone happy. As sometime Eurogamer contributor Keza MacDonald pointed out the other day, as a series they lend themselves better to retrospectives. She probably just said that so I'd link hers, mind you. Sneaky one, that Keza.
Anyway, the point is that this is true of Phantom Hourglass, but for once it's not the end of the world (metaphorically anyway - one thing you can say about Zelda is that it usually is the end of the world), because the interface, the presentation, the humour, and the multiplayer, are all good enough to buy a ticket. The interface, in particular, is just disgustingly good. Oli frothed over it in his import review, so I didn't bother so much domestically, but it bears further acknowledgement: with the exception of a few minor kinks (the roly-poly is a bit fiddly, and slashing with your sword isn't quite an exact science), this is a 2D action adventure that takes to the stylus like rupees to bushes.
It's not hard to imagine accepting a return to Zelda's 2D movement and combat controls, but it is almost impossible, after Phantom Hourglass, to consider a 2D Zelda without drawing a line for your boomerang, or throwing a bomb with the stylus, or shouting at mice. And thank goodness for Wind Waker, eh? If you don't laugh out loud at some of the sight gags, or smile at the cut-scenes, or yearn for the sea, you might as well throw yourself overboard. "By no stretch of the imagination is this going on my shopping list," a blinkered idiot told me yesterday. Frankly, if you need to stretch your imagination to enjoy Phantom Hourglass, you need a new website. Or a new hobby. Or a new imagination.
- Balls of Fury (DS)
- Carnival Funfair Games (Wii)
- Cocoto Kart Racer (DS)
- Crash of the Titans (DS)
- Eternal Sonata (Xbox 360)
- Every Extend Extra Extreme (Xbox Live Arcade)
- Football Manager 2008 (PC, Mac)
- Galactic Assault (PC)
- Hoshigami (DS)
- I-Spy (DS)
- Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights (PSP)
- Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 (PS2)
- Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis (Wii)
- SingStar Bollywood (PS2)
- Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe (Xbox Live Arcade)
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)
- The Orange Box (PC retail, Xbox 360)
- Thrillville: Off the Rails (Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, PC, DS, PSP)
- Top Gun (PS2)
- WWII: Battle Over Europe (PS2)