The first 90 minutes of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

When Spirit Tracks was first announced, you could feel the wave of fanboy revulsion reverberate throughout the internet. “Link on a train?!” was a subject line in about a billion emails, texts and forum posts, and we have to say even the GR office was abuzz with incredulous fervor. Today, having essentially seen the first 90 minutes of the game (and played through the first dungeon), we can safely say Spirit Tracks is every damn bit as good as Phantom Hourglass, if not even better.

Oh, we have reasons for this claim. Chief among them: Zelda is with you throughout the entire adventure.

Above: And she’s a g-g-g-ghost! 

For the first time, Zelda will tag along and aid Link in various ways instead of the usual Navi-like fairy. We’re not privy to the full extent of her power, though right off the bat she can possess the powerful knights that roam the dungeons. Once she’s inside, you can direct her to distract other knights or solve various puzzles.

Above: Zelda-knights will glow pink, presumably because she’s a girl 

The question is, how did Zelda get this way? Why does Link have a train? Is Ganon the villain, or is it someone new? Well, now we can answer most of those questions, and it’s best if we start from the beginning.

The first 10 minutes

Spirit Tracks takes place about 100 years after Phantom Hourglass. So yes, this is a new Link, a new Zelda and a new kingdom named Hyrule (that looks nothing like the last Hyrule, naturally). This time, Link’s an apprentice engineer for the royal railroads, mere minutes away from undergoing his final acceptance ceremony to become a true railroad tycoon. As exciting as that may sound, it’s more of a formality, as the railroads are slowly disappearing from Hyrule. Link’s merely there to receive his title from Princess Zelda, then be on his way.

Above: Pomp, some circumstance 

As you leave, Zelda whispers in Link’s ear. She wants you to come to her quarters later, as she has something she wants to discuss with you. Before long, a shadowy figure bursts out to interrupt the moment, a man introduced as Chancellor Cole. Turns out he kinda runs the show in this new Hyrule, and judging by his devilish features and disdain for Link, it’s clear Cole is up to no good.

In Zelda’s quarters, you learn what the railroads really are: a series of shackles that lace the planet and hold an ancient evil captive. While they do act as transportation, their main function has been keeping this sinister being from running wild again. The tracks all converge at the Tower of Spirits, which is precisely where Zelda wants you to take her. Since Cole isn’t keen on Zelda leaving, or of Link driving her around, they’ll have to sneak out Solid Snake style.

Above: Even the townspeople have noticed 

Now donned in a typical green tunic, you take control of Link with the stylus and touch screen just as you did in Phantom Hourglass. The only major difference we noticed was Link’s roll, which is now a double tap on the edges of the screen instead of pushing the stylus all the way in one direction. It’s a simple streamline, but effective.

Now though, it’s time to bust out of Hyrule.


  • XBLsponge - November 17, 2009 7:30 p.m.

    aww, look at the angry midget with two hats, how can he possibly be evil? besides he looks like a leprechuan and even better he has two hats so that means you get twice the gold (or ruppees)yaaaaay!!!
  • Cyberninja - November 8, 2009 10:57 p.m.

    unless the train messes the game up i can see it getting a 8,9,or 10
  • Conman93 - November 7, 2009 9 p.m.

    This is my No1 christmas game along with Crack in Time. This over modern warfare anyday @sausagelozenge YES!!
  • protospasm - November 7, 2009 7:22 p.m.

    I for one can't wait for the standard thematic dungeon exploration tied together with a quirky overworld exploration mechanic. Also, in this incarnation, I hope that Tingle's made of glitter and cuckoos gang rape you. You know, updating the classic and all that... (Any word on Multiplayer, like the Knights vs. Link WFC game?)
  • GameManiac - November 7, 2009 4:03 a.m.

    Seriously, what the hell is that guy hiding with TWO hats, devil horns? The two hats thing alone is enough to not trust that guy. looking foward to this game.
  • 510BrotherPanda - November 7, 2009 1:31 a.m.

    Wait, I thought that vitality thing plugs into the wiimote, does that mean you'd need two wiimotes? Humans don't have 4 hands, guys!
  • Cwf2008 - November 7, 2009 12:09 a.m.

    I agree alwaysbetondukelombardi (damn thats a mouthfull), we should have to use the WiiD glasses, Wiimote, Nunchuck, Wii motion plus, balance board, DS connectivity, and vitality sensor, but in a particularly dickish move Nintendo will force you to put in a friend code everytime you take the train. The best part is you dont know the Friend Code!
  • AyJay - November 6, 2009 10:58 p.m.

    Why isn't this game A LOT more hyped? Glad to hear that we won't have to trek through the same massive dungeon over and over, because that was my least favourite part of LoZ PH.
  • oufour - November 6, 2009 10:28 p.m.

    i agree sausagelozange. man, i need a DS bad now.
  • BluePikmin - November 6, 2009 10:10 p.m.

    What can I say, never trust a person wearing two gravity defying hats.
  • alwaysbetondukelombardi - November 6, 2009 9:44 p.m.

    No SausageLozenge It should be a 2D game BUT YOU HAVE TO USE 3D GLASSES!!! (it'll be called WiiD glasses for use with your Wiimote, nunchuck, Wii motion plus, balance board, DS connectivity and best of all the Vitality sensor)
  • SausageLozenge - November 6, 2009 8:26 p.m.

    I want the next Wii Zelda to be cel shaded. Anybody here with me?
  • DEFAULT - November 6, 2009 6:07 p.m.

    "his butt is oh so soft" .....

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