• The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks


  • Action Adventure


  • Nintendo


  • Nintendo

Release Date:

  • December 7 2009 (US)


  • Nintendo DS

Box Art Credit:

  • Wikipedia

Systems Used:

  • Nintendo DS Lite

On Wikipedia:

We were all pretty skeptical (well, at least I was) when we read about The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, which featured Link riding around in a steam-powered locomotive. But it was a Zelda game. Was The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker a good game after all despite the weeping and gnashing of teeth after the switch in art? Yes. Yes it was.

The screenshot's a bit cut off, but yeah, circles.

Following that was the DS sequel, Phantom Hourglass, which was a decent (if kinda forgettable) portable quest, but I'm afraid I can't say the same thing for Spirit Tracks (or "Spirit Trash" as I may refer it to as here). I played the game the whole way through, and I went away feeling like it was a drag. Besides the unsurprising reveal that the beady-eyed chancellor with two green hats was evil (and those hats cover up horns, of course), there were a number of things that made ST the weakest Zelda game I've ever played (I've never played Majora's Mask, just for what it's worth). Here's what I came away with, a year or two after finishing it (or did I finish it in spring 2010? I don't even know anymore!) and not trying to specifically look up details. In no particular order...

      • The dungeons were unmemorable. There was the "fire" dungeon and a few of the other stock dungeons, but there were only maybe four (which is lame, standard is eight), and the inventory you had just wasn't all that varied or special. There wasn't even an item I remember that was both unique and kind of useful...I seem to remember that The Minish Cap had the Gust Jar, for instance, but there wasn't anything here that I really remember except maybe the Boomerang, which you can draw paths with on the DS, but isn't that unique (probably because it was in Phantom Hourglass).

      • The overworld was boring. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time you could wander the countryside, see day and night, and all that jazz (on a horse!) while The Wind Waker did the same thing on the open sea, Phantom Hourglass made up for that (no day/night cycles, see) by drawing a course on the lower screen, which was cool at first but boring later. Spirit Tracks reduces that even further by having set tracks (literally) in the boring most layouts imaginable: a series of essentially rectangles at right angles to each other. They attempt to shake this up by having a set of evil trains (yeah, I know) patrolling around, often forcing you to reverse course as soon as the music changes (you'll learn to fear that music).

      • Seeing as the overworld is reduced to what is, in essence, a boring mini-game, and seeing as you are riding is a train, the way for upgrades is not by seeking that one thing out but fetch quests. I didn't even do most of them for heart containers, but absolutely everything was a series of fetch quests. This involves talking to people, taking them on a train ride or two, and several other things, like collecting things. None of these are very fun: at least the Triforce Charts quest was kinda fun, but even if you know what you're supposed to do, none of them were very interesting. This left an incredibly bad taste in my mouth and was what absolutely ruined the game for me.

      • The storyline trips over its own timeline. Yes, the Zelda timeline is problematic, but Spirit Tracks is a special case. It follows Phantom Hourglass, which was a continuation of The Wind Waker, which was a distant sequel to Ocarina of Time. So far all of these line up. However, Spirit Tracks keeps Niko (the annoying little pirate on Tetra's ship in The Wind Waker and has a small role in Phantom Hourglass), who is now aged into an old man. But there's also "Linebeck III", the grandson of a main character from Phantom Hourglass, who apparently has the traits of his grandfather pre-character development and comes with a stupid little hat, but then the storyline also goes into this whole "long ago ancient evil sealed up" song-n-dance that we've heard dozens of times, forgetting that it was not too long ago that the Zelda and Link from The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass arrived on this land just less than two or so generations ago. And if Niko is still alive, then clearly it didn't happen all that long ago. They also apparently ignored the old King's talk about how true Hyrule, the Hyrule that was finally destroyed by the seas in the end of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker cannot be recreated. Except THIS Hyrule comes with goofy train/person hybrids. The only way out of this confusing way of thought is if the land pre-existed before Link and Zelda, which in that case, would put Zelda and Link as usurpers of a rail-based kingdom, which opens up a lot more questions than it answers.

      • The game's instrument is tedious to use and probably the most gimmick-based instrument ever. It reminds me of the worthless "toys" in WarioWare: Touched! which I'll get to another time.

Now that we've gotten all those unpleasantries out of the way (including some not covered), there is one thing that I do like, and no it's not the writing, which tried to be clever and tongue-in-cheek, which it kind of failed on. Not unlike the Phantom Hourglass there's a quasi-dungeon with parts you unlock over the course of the game, but unlike Phantom Hourglass there's ways to skip the parts you've done, and you get to fight them with Zelda. That's right: Zelda is not kidnapped, only her body, and her spirit is with you most of the game. She can then, in this part, inhibit the body of one of the Phantom Soldiers (they may be called something in this game, it's been a while, remember) and can solve puzzles with you. And while there's no Cuccos to slice up, you can give Zelda a few whacks with your boomerang or sword and see what happens when you do it enough times.

Despite all of its problems, it still feels like a Zelda game in many aspects, but honestly, I can't recommend it.

March 29 2015

The screenshot is from Zelda Informer which has a very positive view of it.