GDC: Zelda: Phantom Hourglass hits DS

Nintendo president wows the crowds with stunning footage from brand new handheld cell-shaded Wind Waker successor

In time-honoured fashion, Nintendo stunned audiences at company president Satoru Iwata's GDC keynote this morning by unveiling the much-anticipated new Zelda game for DS.

Titled The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, the accompanying footage at the event showed a stunning 3D cell-shaded game, very reminiscent of the GameCube's Wind Waker. Opening on a mysterious doorway, the footage showed the stylus being used to draw an hourglass across the stone. As the door swung opening, gasps of surprise were heard around the auditorium as the camera swung round to reveal a fully 3D cell-shaded Link featuring graphics barely distinguishable from the first GameCube Zelda title.

From the footage, it seems that cut-scenes and certain gameplay elements will be displayed in full sumptuous 3D, while actual the main action will be viewed using a top-down 3D-style combining elements of both the SNES Zelda: A Link to the Past and Animal Crossing on GameCube.

It seems that the touchscreen will play a major role in the game, with examples shown including the ability to plot the course of your boomerang from overhead, taking out multiple enemies at once, annotating the traditional Zelda dungeon map and drawing your path across an expansive ocean, very much in the vein of the controversial sailing elements of Wind Waker.

This latter segment showed a visually stunning sea battle as a huge galleon roamed the ocean firing cannon balls at enemy vessels. There were even glimpses of massive boss characters including what appeared to be a gigantic hurricane.

It would be an understatement to say that attendees were impressed at the brief but tantilising demonstration. Even better, Iwata promised we'll see much, much more of the game at this year's E3. Best of all though, Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is currently scheduled for release on DS later this year.

UPDATE: The official Nintendo Europe website has the GDC Zelda trailer up already. Go check it out via the 'video' button on the linked page.