The Good: Charming and beautiful graphics, and story, the best use of the DS hardware in any game ever, decent length, great new additions such as sailing, interesting online mode
The Bad:...But after a few go throughs it's boring, Zelda formula still hasn't changed, Linebeck is a jerk...
This is the first game that's made me pick up my DS in over 9 months. I've been waiting for something like this to come along amongst the kiddy/crappy games that have been pouring out like diarrhea. Zelda uses everything on the DS...I mean EVERYTHING. You never lift your stylus off the screen and you hardly use the face buttons (in fact you don't even have too) Zelda has some of the finest graphics, game play elements, and stories on the DS thus far. You can use your stylus to move Link around, draw the path of your boomerang, use new weapons such as Bombchus and draw it's path to get to unexplored areas, draw the path or your grapple hook or link the poles together to make a slingshot, use your bow and arrow to unlock puzzles and other hidden items...these are just some of the great ideas for the weapons and gadgets throughout the game. You can also kill some enemies by making a lot of noise (via clapping in the mic) to make it vulnerable, scream in the mic when NPCs tell you to for hidden items, even close your DS to copy contents from one map to another! You can draw hidden symbols on doors to unlock as well. You can draw on your map to mark certain locations so you don't get lost or even take notes to solve puzzles! There is just so much care and detail in this game it's almost perfect.
Every boss fight is cleverly laid out. For example on the second boss fight you fight a giant squid that shoots cyclones at you. He is up in the air at the top and you have to use the cyclones at the bottom screen to aim up top and throw bombs at him. Some boss fights are three stories tall! The story in the game is great and charming. You have to save Princess Zelda (in this game she's Tetra) from the Ghost Ship that caught her when you and your pirate friends were treasure hunting. You wake up in a new world and you have to help restore the Ocean King's powers by defeating the evil Bellum. Now a new element here is ship sailing. You have the Phantom Hourglass which let's you explore the Ocean King's Temple without getting your life drained and you're timed...yeah like Zelda dungeons aren't bad enough without a timer. You can draw your route on your map and sail away. You can customize your ship with parts that you find throughout the world. You can salvage for treasure at the bottom of the sea via a mini-game where you direct a crane to the chest and pull it up.
There's just so much in this game it's insane. One nice feature is the online mode. Yes the first online Zelda game. It's a battle mode where you play the Phantoms or Link and you have to put the three tri force pieces in the slots to open the door and the other team is Phantoms that try to stop you. Yes it's interesting but nothing really special. This is a WONDERFUL and beautifully crafted game and is even better than Twilight Princess. The only reason why I don't give this game a 10 is because underneath all the hardware specific quirks...the Zelda formula hasn't changed. You still have spots where it's impossible to solve on your own. Some dungeons are unforgiving. All that is still there. Despite those things it doesn't matter. This game is the best DS game ever made so far and you must own it whether you're a fan or Zelda or not.