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Platform

DS

 

Genre

Action Adventure

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Nintendo

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

December 2009

 

 

- Familiar, fun gameplay

- Controlling phantoms is neat
- Get to drive a train

 

 

- Colliding with other trains too much can be repetitive

 

 

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)

Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess (Wii)

 

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The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Score: 9 / 10

 

zelda-spirit-tracks-1.jpg (24080 bytes) zelda-spirit-tracks-4.jpg (20122 bytes) zelda-spirit-tracks-5.jpg (20017 bytes)

 

It's only been a couple of years, but already Nintendo have put out a second Zelda game on the DS.  Interestingly, Spirit Tracks is also a direct sequel to the last portable Zelda game, Phantom Hourglass, taking place 100 years later.  That being said there are a lot of familiar elements to be found in this game, but Nintendo has added just enough new stuff to keep things interesting.  It's this combination of the fresh and the familiar that makes Spirit Tracks so good.

 

With the game taking place a century after Phantom Hourglass, players will come across the descendants of characters or aged ones from that game.  More importantly, though, is that the demon king Malladus is trying to break free of the Tower of Spirits that has imprisoned him over the last 100 years.  To break his chains he must remove the spirit tracks that have been laid across Hyrule, and that its inhabitants have been driving trains along.  This has resulted in the spirit tracks mysteriously beginning to disappear.  Link looks into this early in the game along with Princess Zelda, and discover that her advisor, Chancellor Cole, and his associate Bryne, are to blame.  When confronted, Link is rendered unconscious, and Zelda is attacked such that her spirit is seperated from her body.  When Link recovers it turns out that he can see Zelda's spirit, so the two set off to stop Cole, and restore the tracks.

 

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With Zelda accompanying Link as a spirit, this allowed Nintendo to introduce the key new gameplay feature present in Spirit Tracks: the ability to control phantoms.  These are powerful guardians of the Tower of Spirits, and take a while to learn how to use.  This takes some getting used to, especially during boss fights, as players will need to make the phantoms and Link each

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perform specific tasks simultaneously to get things done, requiring players to frequently switch between controlling one or the other on the fly.  It can be a bit difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, the whole thing is pretty fun, and frantic.

 

Dungeons themselves are as well laid out as ever, with the usual assortment of puzzles, and important items that need to be tracked down along the way.  Players will make regular trips to the Tower of Spirits so to get new maps that can open new spirit tracks to far off lands.  The constant back and forth doesn't feel too bad largely because players aren't required to repeat anything while making multiple trips to the tower.  The dungeons, at their core, are just good, solid Zelda fair.

Driving a train along the spirit tracks can be the most fun of all.  As players drive along, they'll toot their horn to get animals off the tracks, and fire their cannon at incoming enemies.  The basic controls are very easy to learn.  The biggest challenge will be avoiding the demon trains that also ride the rails.  A collision with one of these will force players to the beginning of a route where they must try again to reach their destination.  Going from point A to B has multiple routes available that players can choose from when approaching line switches.  Players can see on a map above where all of the demon trains are, and need to decide when and where to switch lines so to get around them unscathed.  It's fun trying to predict, but a little annoying to get sent back after a collision.

While figuring out how to work with the phantoms takes some doing, the overall game isn't terribly difficult.  It's just hard enough not to feel like a push over, and that's fine by me.  Spirit Tracks is a solid experience in a familiar world.  Fans of Zelda can really do no wrong by getting this game.

 

Mr. Nash
January 31, 2009

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