It appears that Nintendo has plans for The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, the Wind Waker sequel and bestselling 2007 DS game, after registering a new trademark for the game in Australia but a few months ago. But could it mean we see the cel-shaded DS game come in some form to Nintendo Switch?
The news comes courtesy of @KeliosFR, who runs the French Pokemon fan site Pokekalos. Kelios posted a screenshot of the trademark to Twitter, showing that it was filed by Nintendo in mid-2020, and accepted in November – though it only went public in early February of this year (via Nintendo Life).
Y a quelques jours, trademark de Phantom Hourglass acceptée en Australie pic.twitter.com/c1BU56TEagFebruary 9, 2021
Phantom Hourglass was a bestseller on the original Nintendo DS handheld, following on from the story of the GameCube's Wind Waker to tell a high seas adventure of toon link conquering time itself – with the help of the eponymous hourglass – to defeat a great evil.
The use of touch controls were very innovative, making use of the DS's touchscreen and stylus to chart the paths of boomerangs, plan routes through dungeons, and etch runes for magical effects. The cowardly pirate (and Jack Sparrow lookalike) Captain Linebeck is a great comedic addition to the ensemble too.
It's definitely exciting to see the game get a new lease of life in some form, but what could it refer to?
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Phantom Hourglass: our predictions
Trademarks like this are intentionally broad, covering "Electronic game programs", DLC, and the like, and it's not clear what Nintendo might have in the pipeline.
Given that 2021 is the 35th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda franchise, though, it's certain that some big things are afoot – and Phantom Hourglass appears to be one of them.
We're expecting to see some remakes and remasters of previous Zelda games for the Nintendo Switch, as we saw with the 3D All Stars Collection for the Super Mario series last year. We could envisage some GameCube titles like Wind Waker (which got a Wii U port too) or Twilight Princess, but there's no reason why some of the best Zelda titles on Nintendo DS couldn't get a look-in too.
The Switch does feature a multi-capacitive touchscreen, so a re-tweaked Phantom Hourglass could feel right at home, whether it gets a slight graphical overhaul for the Switch's HD screen or something more of a remaster. It would be harder to imagine this working in the Switch's TV mode, though, given this would stick the touchscreen inside the Switch dock – but expecting fans to play a DS port in handheld mode doesn't seem like too much of an ask.
The best scenario is probably a packaged Phantom Hourglass + Spirit Tracks release, the latter being a spiritual (ha) successor that swaps boats out for trains, but retains the same art style and underlying mechanics.
It's fitting that, whatever Nintendo has in mind for Phantom Hourglass, we're sure to see the company turn back the clock to revisit this and other classics from The Legend of Zelda's past.
Didn't play Phantom Hourglass on the Nintendo DS? Check out the trailer below: