The Legend of Zelda: Spirit tracks has Link hopping aboard a train to experience his journey and bring him to a whole new adventure. It is designed as a follow up from the last Nintendo DS Zelda series, Phantom Hourglass, which I thoroughly enjoyed. To be honest it instantly has a very similar feel to the last game, and itâ€™s filled with puzzles, mysteries and tasks. In this adventure we see Link travelling around the world as he tries to stop the resurrection of Malladus, the demon king.
After a visit to the castle, poor Zelda’s body is taken and is used as a vessel. Unfortunately this leave’s Zelda’s spirit roaming around in the form of a ghost. SheÂ bonds with Link throughout the game and pops out occasionally to make you aware of what you’re supposed to be doing so you donâ€™t feel so alone.
As Link you will be visiting the ‘Tower of Spirits’, which is a building in the middle of the world, and from here you can get to the four realms. Once you have eventually received your map you set out on your journey to the these areas.
Roaming the halls of the tower, you will come across Phantoms. These beings are dangerous and can kill you with one hit, so be careful. Gathering gems will allow Link to attack these Phantoms and Zelda can possess them, giving her a body. Once Zelda is suited up,you will have the chance to try and solve puzzles using teamwork. There are actually more than 20 floors to this tower, giving the player plenty to explore.
You will notice the train tracks that simply connect to all the points in the world and you will be using this train to travel all around the world on your adventure. Guiding your train around the tracks you will encounter oncoming trains on the track and animals. Basically you have to change tracks and stop when you can to avoid impact or collisions.
Spirit Tracks is mostly played with the stylus, you tap on an enemy to attack them, hold down on the stylus to move around and make useful notes on the maps if you forget a few things. The boomerang can beÂ useful to quicklyÂ fight off enemies from a distance.
There are a number of side tasks to do such as helping a passenger who wants to get from one place to another or helping out the rabbit guy who will reward you with cash and bonuses for discovering any wild rabbits you may find while exploring the world in your train.
There is a multiplayer option to Spirit Tracks. The battle mode allows up to four players to run around small areas to gather gems. The player with the most gems wins. It’s very easy to get knocked in this stage as there are ghosts and traps which will cause you to drop all those valuable gems. The game also offers a trade mode, which enables players to trade their treasures with nearby Spirit Tracks players while you DS is in sleep mode. The treasures can be used also for the train upgrades that are available, so be sure to hunt down specific treasures for this particular task.
Visually the game is very similar to Phantom Hourglass. Linkâ€™sÂ face coveys some emotions, although it still worries me why he has to spin round every time he finds something. The game carries on the cutesy graphics that we have now come to expect, toon Link at his best. I felt that the game seemed quite laid back and slows down a little while your being attacked on your train. It was very easy to navigate through the dungeons and there is a good supply of combat. I liked the fact that Link could control the train and that was determined by manipulating the speed. It’s a game that makes you think ahead of time as you plot out where the best route is to avoid obstacles. Using the onboard cannon you can attack enemies while on the train or pull down on the whistle cord to scare animals off the tracks. Link can also use a selection of new items and weapons including the Whirlwind which is simply used by blowing into the microphone and that will shoot a small whirlwind at whatever he is facing at the time. The boomerang is useful for flick switching and hitting enemies. As you progress through the game you will pick up a mystical pan flute.
Link collects a lot of nice items along the way that can be viewed in the â€˜collectionsâ€™ section, these include wood heart, stalfos skull which is an eerie aura artefact, star fragment which apparently fell from the sky and is said to be a piece of the star and a rather valuable bee larvae which can be sold for quite a bit. During your journey you will be given a stamp book by Niko who will stamp it in every area you visit. Collect train parts and give them to Alfonzo who will give your train a complete overhaul. Make sure you collect the three tears of Light as they actually power up your sword. I had much delight running behind the enemy and killing him from behind. Touching the pink whirl at the bottom of the screen enables you to direct the phantom, you just slide the stylus to draw the specific route you want the phantom to take.
Although in this game they have swapped out the boat for a train, it still had the same feel about it. You have toÂ remove the four MacGuffins from the temple, but you canâ€™t do that until you have visited the Tower of Spirits in which you have to obtain a glyph and then you have to find a magical guardian. It can be a little annoying having to return to the Tower of Spirits, but you donâ€™t repeat the levels. With the Tower of Spirits, the dungeons, towns, outposts etc, this game is much larger than the last and offers a huge collection of puzzles. I liked the idea that you are able to posses and control a phantom. Itâ€™s still a highly addictive game and very well designed even if the pace of the game seems much slower. Fans of Zelda will take an instant liking to this solid game title and itâ€™s a worthwhile investment in the Zelda franchise.