The Legend of Zelda is a series that all video gamers should be familiar with. It’s an action/adventure game in which Link, the hero, searches the world for magical items , new weapons, and various other powerups in order to defeat the evil villain at the end. Usually, this is done to save the princess Zelda. Saving the world is less important, which is odd, because Link usually isn’t getting laid.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is for the Nintendo DS, and is basically a mirror image of the Phantom Hourglass in terms of game mechanics and graphics. The music is solid as always, and the storyline is about standard for a Legend of Zelda storyline. An evil villain has captured Zelda’s body, but this time her spirit is free. She now acts as your fairy and can possess phantoms. So far, it sounds intriguing and fun. Getting to play with Zelda is a new twist on the usual expected adventure. And the game is fun, but there are some problems that I don’t think can be overlooked.
Travel in the Legend of Zelda games has always been free. While it was semi-limited in the Phantom Hourglass (you could only go places you had maps for), there is absolutely no freedom in Spirit Tracks. Since your major mode of outer world travel is a train, you are always on train tracks. You can never get off of the train and walk. This makes no sense and really pulls away from the immersion. Not only that, but you have to dodge other trains, and your train is slow. Going across the Zelda world feels like a chore, and that’s a new thing that I’m not fond of. It also makes the world feel extremely small.
Second, controlling princess Zelda is a pain in the ass. You are using the stylus to control yourself and the princess, and it just doesn’t work out fluidly. Fighting monsters with both Link and Zelda at the same time feels clunky. It would have been much better if Zelda could’ve been controlled with the d-pad, so that you could more easily manage both. You usually end up taking damage while drawing lines from the princess to the monster, since you aren’t moving during that time.
Another highly annoying factor is the overuse of the microphone. (Any use of the microphone is overuse.) The Legend of Zelda series has always included a musical instrument, but we never had to blow into our controllers to use them. They also added a fan item which requires the microphone. Using this item in combat is obnoxious, and much like controlling the princess, you will most likely get hit while using it. I hate the microphone. Everyone hates the microphone. I know it’s innovative, but it’s still really annoying.
Overall, the game isn’t bad. It still has the Legend of Zelda feel that you’ve become accustomed to, and will definitely provide hours of fun. But, it has to compete against the rest of the Legend of Zelda series. Phantom Hourglass consumed me. I played it nonstop until I beat it. I find that I only play Spirit Tracks in small bursts, and I’m not excited to continue, because of the train track travel. Even still, it is a solid game and probably better than most that you’ll play.