After finishing a monster of an essay on The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass’ psychoanalytically charged story, I’m on the brink of wrapping up my research for this game, which, through careful study and attention, has become one of my favorite Zelda games seconded only to the narrative and gameplay powerhouse, Majora’s Mask.
At the bottom of my Phantom Hourglass Methodological Toolkit (a fancy term for my notes) I still have the bullet point outline left over for an essay I have not written. It would be a shame for such unpopped kernels to go without seeing the light of day, or without being run under the friction of one’s thoughts from someone out there.
So I’ve decided to try something new and post a “bullet point essay,” which will be little more than a short collection of my thoughts, questions, and notes.
Thesis/Topic: To examine the value system in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. What values does the game put on actions and items? How is money handled compared to other games in the series? What kind of culture or value system does the game’s structures and elements reflect?
- There are no wallet sizes: Players start off with deep pockets from the outset. This tells the player that there are no limits for how much they can hold, which basically says “the sky is the limits” for any of your economic ventures.
- Commodification of Treasure and Ship Parts: Players can have their wares appraised. The collected treasure has no functional value in the game other than exchanging it for money.
- Yelling into the DS mic to reduce the cannon price: Negotiating? Haggling? Or simply being a craze consumer whose desire for lower prices manifests in shouting in the game and in real life as well.
- The American Dream: Several characters seeking fortune have set off on their own and started their own “businesses.” Romano, the Goron, and the boat game man have all set up games to earn revenue. Though these actions are reflective of rugged individualism, who are they marketing too?…the occasional young adventurer in green that, more likely than not, will walk away with more money than when he arrived? Such actions make these characters the epitome of risky, or foolish, entrepreneurial ventures. This is not to mention the characters that have abandoned their families and sold everything they owned like Romano’s dad and the Wayfarer. Some treasure hunters have died on their adventures, while others still comb the seas searching for common items that can turn a profit when sold back at their homelands.
- Real “meta” economy: Each Phantom Hourglass game pack attributes a different value for the in game treasures. Players wanting to become filthy rich can trade items around with their friends to maximize their earnings. Players can also trade items anonymously and discretely by battling online or offline. The random swapping of items is like playing the stock market. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. But it’s easier to wait and see. It’s not hard to think of a situation where battling others opens up new economic opportunities.
And that’s as far as I’ve gotten.
I hope you’ve enjoyed The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass more after reading any of my essays. It is worth buying a DS for.