Nintendo’s Latest Legend- Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks for the Nintendo DS is the latest installment to the renowned Legend of Zelda series. The game has you once again donning the role of link, the blond pint-size hero of the series, dashing around Hyrule trying to stop the resurrection of the Demon King. This time however you explore Hyrule using the Spirit train and you get a long awaited companion in your quest; Princess Zelda.
The game begins with our young hero receiving his engineer certificate and a request from Princess Zelda to help her bust out of the castle and find out what is causing the Spirit Tracks, magical train tracks that criss-cross the land, to disappear. These tracks, created by a race of celestial train folk (yes you read that correctly, they have wheels for feet) called the Lokomos; keep the Demon King sealed away beneath the ground. If destroyed The Demon King will come back and rain fire and destruction upon the land. One thing leads to another and Zelda’s spirit is forced out of her body by the villains, whereupon she joins Link on his journey.
The gameplay for all intents and purposes is identical to the game’s predecessor Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. It uses the same gameplay, artistic style and even a few carry over characters for you Linebeck fans out there. Your stylus controls all of Link’s movements and actions. This does take some time getting used to because most items require you to stop moving to use them, leaving you vulnerable to attack. You get a new assortment of items at your disposal; some old favorites like the boomerang and bow to a new batch including a whip, megaphone and the new musical instrument, the pan flute. You use the pan flute to open up spirit tracks in the game’s 4 ½ regions. To actually play it, you shift the stylus across the screen over the correct pipe and blow into the DS’ microphone. The notes are displayed on the top screen and are easy enough to follow.
Then there is, of course, the Spirit Train. You control the train with your stylus, selecting which tracks to take and fighting baddies with your cannon. A vast majority of the game is spent in the train and it can get pretty redundant. The game has a lot of side quests and mini games to complete so there is always something to do, but a lot of these are simply plodding along with passengers or cargo and the reward is usually just a small stretch of track opening. It can get old quickly. The game also includes a battle mode, where you and three friends can get together and complete puzzles and dungeons. I unfortunately couldn’t test out this mode in time for the review.
One good point to the game is the inclusion of Princess Zelda and the Phantoms. During specific points in the game Zelda can possess these hulking suits of armor and aid you in the dungeon. This is the first time that Zelda has actually been an active character in a Legend of Zelda game. Many older fans should be pretty excited about this. Her dialogue is pretty funny, but controlling her and Link at the same time can be daunting. There is a lot of trial-and-error to solve some of the puzzles. It is worth it though; having her follow you around is very reminiscent of Al from Fullmetal Alchemist. I kept expecting Zelda to yell out “Brother!” whenever Link would get hurt.
I would say that this is a decent addition to the Legend of Zelda universe. The gameplay is really hit or miss depending on your preferences, so if you liked Phantom Hourglass you’ll probably enjoy this. The story is obviously meant for a younger audience so older fans should gear themselves up for that. The game is good though with a good amount of exploration and side quests to keep you entertained. If you are a big fan of the series this one is worth a play through. If you are a younger fan, sit back and enjoy a kooky, fun adventure.