The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Posted 3 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
When it comes to adventure games, The Legend of Zelda series has always been consistent in giving gamers a worth-while experience. The last major release in the series, Phantom Hourglass, was viewed by many as an incredible entry in the series and brought with it a new way to play. Yes, it did have its detractors who did not really enjoy the idea of controlling Link using only the stylus, but despite that issue, you could not deny the game’s great story or fantastic environments. Link’s newest adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, takes everything that made Phantom Hourglass such a great game, addresses a few of the more persistant problems and gives you yet another reason to lose track of time playing your Nintendo DS.
In the land of Hyrule, the Spirit Tracks are not only the main source of transportation across the land but are also protection from an evil Demon King. Many hundreds of years ago, the people of the land needed to stop the Demon King from reigning destruction. Since he could not be destroyed, they managed to lock him up in the Tower of Spirits and used the tracks to ensure his captivity. Recently, the tracks have begun to disappear and this has Princess Zelda concerned. When Link visits the castle to obtain his Engineering certificate, he is asked to accompany her to the Tower so she can find out what is going on.
Of course, her heading to the Tower is all part of a diabolical plan concocted by the evil Chancellor Cole. Upon their arrival, Zelda’s body is taken and the Tower is broken up into fragments. In order for Cole to bring back the Demon King, he needs Zelda’s body and the destruction of the Tower and Spirit Tracks. Cole may have Zelda’s body but her spirit was not taken. Link must not only attempt to restore all the Spirit Tracks and the Tower of Spirits but to reclaim Zelda’s body.
Your quest will have you travel throughout the land in an attempt to rebuild the tower. In order to reach the Temples that hold the key to reassembling the Tower, you will have to seek out the help of Lokomos, special people who power the Spirit Tracks.
These Lokomos are located in special Sanctuaries that you must get to first. Once there, you and the Lokomo need to play a special tune to restore the tracks necessary to get to the Temple. To do this, you will use the Spirit Flute, a magical instrument that belongs to Zelda’s family, and play a duet. After the tracks have been restored, your next objective is to head to the Temple to restore power to the Tower of Spirits.
The big selling point for Spirit Tracks is being able travel around Hyrule by train. At first, it may seem like you are extremely limited as to where you can travel. But as you progress through the story, more paths become available and, with that, additional side quests require you to take different routes to reach and complete them. Surprisingly, the Train controls and plays really well. You have the ability to ride at different speeds, attack enemies and uncover other secrets. There is even the ability to upgrade your train make it more resistant to attack.
Combat in Spirit Tracks is identical to that of Phantom Hourglass in that everything is controlled using your stylus and the touch screen. For those who played through the first DS Zelda game, you will feel right at home. There are also a lot of interesting items you will obtain along the way, including a cool Whirlwind instrument and a whip shaped like a snake. The dungeons themselves have also improved greatly over the last game, offering a good mix of fun action and challenge.
Another issue many people had with Phantom Hourglass was the need to play through the Ocean King Temple numerous times. While you still have to visit and traverse through the Tower of Spirits a few times, thankfully, you never have to play the same sections multiple times. Also, each visit to the Tower is unique and has you complete each section in different ways.
This is where Zelda’s involvement in the game comes into place. Although Zelda is a sprit, she is still capable of assisting Link in his journey. While in the Tower of Spirits, Link must collect items called Tears of Light, which allow him to battle the Phantoms patrolling the tower. Once you have collected the three Tear of Light pieces, Link can attack a Phantom. Once a Phantom has been stunned, Zelda’s spirit can enter and take control of it.
This is the only way Link can get through each section in the Tower. While Zelda is a Phantom, you can direct her to create diversions. Link can jump on her back to travel through certain areas or use her as an aide to defeat foes. Controlling Phantoms is surprisingly easy but there will be at least a few moments where she gets stuck. It doesn’t happen too often but it does make the Phantom feel extremely clumsy when it should be able to walk around a corner with ease but gets stuck instead.
Graphics and Sound
Upon first glance, the detail-orientated Zelda fan will notice a lot of familiar looking objects and animations in Spirit Tracks. While that may be true to some degree, there is still a lot of variety in the locales you visit. There are also a lot of familiar foes you will encounter but the new faces that you come across look stunning. Boss battles have great animations too and require a lot from you in order to defeat them.
Another nice touch in the visuals is that, depending on which direction you face, you will actually see the Tower of Spirits on the horizon and its appearance changes as you progress through the game.
Train animations are also really well done. When you’re speeding through a turn you lean in such a way that only one side of the train is actually on the tracks. Speeding and sudden stops also have neat little animations added to give you a better sense your movements.
The Legend of Zelda soundtracks have always been iconic and that holds true here as well. And in addition to being so memorable, the soundtrack in Spirit tracks is also an important part of the game and you will be required to do some performing in it. The Spirit Flute is an integral part of the game and there will be more than a few occasions where you will have to use your DS as the flute to progress. The Spirit Flute also replaces a few items from previous games but works so well that you won’t miss them when you’re pressing your lips close to the microphone to play a song.
Spirit Tracks has a very deep story filled with a ton of side-quests available for you to partake in. If you’re not searching for rabbits or finding treasures to upgrade your train, you will be looking for stamp stations to show off where you’ve been. You can also be hired by citizens to take them to other cities. To do so properly, you will need to follow the posted signs along the tracks and protect them from potential pirates and enemies.
Another addition to the game is the ability to exchange your treasures with people in Tag Mode. If you have some stuff you want to trade with others, simply place them in your exchange cases and trade them. This is great for players who want to improve their train but are missing that one key piece to do so.
Spirit Tracks is an absolutely fantastic way to cap off 2009. With so many great titles this year, it’s fitting that a series so many of us have grown up on is able to keep us entertained during the holiday period. Those who had gripes with the first stylus-controlled Zelda will still take issue but it is not a game-breaker and I found it enjoyable. Once again, it’s the story, interesting use of music and Link and Zelda’s partnership that makes this such a worthwhile title.
+ Riding around in a train is a lot of fun
+ Improved Dungeons offer a good mix of enjoyment and challenge
+ Zelda and Link Partnership is done really well
+ Interesting Microphone implementation (but does feel weird using it in public)
+ Nice side-quests
- Awkward Glitch moments when calling your Phantom
- Those who didn’t enjoy the stylus controls will still be unhappy
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Release Date : 2009/12/07
System : Nintendo DS
Publisher : Nintendo
Developer : Nintendo
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : RP
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