More Reviews
REVIEWS NBA LIVE 15 Review
Yes, NBA Live was horrible last year. But this year's entry is a vast improvement. Just give it a try.

Dungeon of the Endless Review
A roguelike that’s equal parts charming and challenging with a turn-based twist.
More Previews
PREVIEWS Resident Evil Revelations 2 Preview
Capcom returns to the episodic format that entertained us in the first game of the sub series published on Nintendo 3DS and followed with a console release. What will Claire and company uncover this time?
Release Dates
NEW RELEASES Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Release date: 11/04/14

Assassin's Creed Rogue
Release date: 11/11/14

Far Cry 4
Release date: 11/18/14

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Release date: 11/18/14


LATEST FEATURES Xbox Downloads October 2014 - Updating Each Week
Microsoft's Xbox One console continues an Xbox Live revolution started over a decade ago. Here's hoping Summer of Arcade makes it to the platform next year.

PlayStation Download October 2014 - Updating Each Week
Sony's PSN platform had new games each week along with free offerings for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Take a look at the weekly additions for October.

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP LinksOcarina This is another article from Blistered Thumbs I wrote, back from the dead after being buried in the way-back machine. I posted this back in April of 2013, and many of the issues present seem to be prevalent right now in some cases, namely the decrees of sexism and misogony. Considering current...

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Review

Blake_Morse By:
Blake_Morse
12/07/09
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Action 
PLAYERS 1- 1 
PUBLISHER Nintendo 
DEVELOPER Nintendo 
RELEASE DATE  
E10+ Contains Mild Fantasy Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Stoking the engine.


Before embarking on the latest Zelda adventure, one must clear both minds and thoughts of any predisposed ideals of what a Zelda game should be, and reach a zen-like state of clarity. You must let go of your concepts of how one should play a game bearing such a name and prepare for a enlightening new vision. Yes folks, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is a not your mother’s 8-Bit type of adventure. It’s something new and different.

click to enlargeNot that it doesn’t have everything one would hope for or expect from such a long running, popular franchise. But if I could paraphrase one of my favorite Tarantino films for a moment,”They got the same stuff there that they got over here, only there it’s just a little different.”

You’ve still got boomerangs, dungeons, bombs, arrows, a Princess Zelda and some octorocks (or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof) but this doesn’t play out in the same way, so to speak. For starters, you’re a Thomas the Train lovin’ engineer elf boy this time around, a distant relative of the same Link from the Wind Waker game. You don’t play an ocarina, you play a pan flute. And the princess is not trapped in a castle, so to speak.

Spirit Tracks not only follows Wind Waker in spirit, but also in looks. It’s the cutesy, cartoony world of Hyrule for this adventure. And some people are going to love that and some are going to not be as pleased. Me? I’m not such a fan of the Chibi cuddlyness, but even I have to admit that this game looks bright and runs smoother than some games that I’ve played on the PSP. Whether or not you’re into it from an art school standpoint, this is still one of the best looking games out for the DS right now.

Gameplay-wise, Nintendo has taken some interesting risks, some of which pay off big time and others that become mundane after too much repetition. The one that seems to work best is the companionship of a Spirit Zelda throughout your journey.

click to enlargeCertain levels will have you controlling both Link and a giant armored guardian possessing Zelda. Maybe it’s just me, but the whole leading around a girl angle and solving level-based puzzles thing gave me a healthy dose of Ico nostalgia. And while the puzzles do make for some of the most intriguing and frustrating-but-in-a-good-way moments, at the same time they’re not without their own problems.

The stylus-only control system, while key to every single aspect of gameplay, much like it’s Wii counterpart, is a captive of its own physical limitations. Controlling two characters at one time, sometimes not even on the screen together, can become a tad bothersome, especially when touching anywhere on-screen, other than on the princess herself, gives you control of Link. I feel into quite a few pits of fire thanks to that one.

The other major twist is the all the traveling along the train tracks you do. Rail riding plays like a violent version of Pokemon Snap, where instead of taking photos of cute little creatures, you blow them up with cannonballs. Much like the sailing in Wind Waker, it gets old after a bit. Not everything you’ll do as a conductor is boring, but I could imagine being on a car trip, playing my DS, and reaching my real life destination before Link gets to  the one in the game. Obviously this is a bit of an exaggeration, but delivering cargo and keeping passengers happy by offering them a smooth ride sounds about as fun as it actually is. Which could be a lot…if you’re dream is to be a ticket taker on Amtrak.

click to enlargeCruising around like a tiny Ringo Starr or George Carlin may not be the best game mechanic ever and definitely plays more towards Japan’s odd fascination with trains (what isn’t Japan obsessed with?), but it’s worth having the patience to see them through because what I would consider the real meat and potatoes is well worth the time put in on the tracks.

Dungeon levels are clever, but usually not so clever as to hinder progress and definitely succeed in making you feel smart and accomplished in certain places. Some may have you putting the DS down and walking away for a while, but you’ll feel like you deserve a cookie or a gold star when you finally figure it out.

For everything that you may or not like about the angle that Spirit Tracks takes with the The Legend of Zelda franchise, you’d still have to admit that, while perhaps not the most essential title in the long series featuring the pointy eared protagonist, it’s still a fun time and very well executed game. If you’re looking for something to play on the road while on vacation, or hiding away from society in a bomb shelter until Christmas blows over, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks makes as good a companion as a Ghost Princess. Hmmm…Ghost Princess…I wonder if Disney would buy that movie…


A- Revolution report card
  • +A fun take on Zelda games
  • Clever puzzling
  • The princess is your travel companion
  • Just plain fun
  • Stylus control issues
  • Ridin’ the train too long

More from the Game Revolution Network




comments powered by Disqus

 


More information about The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks


More On GameRevolution