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The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Super Review

AT A GLANCE
  • The brilliant, silky smooth stylus controls
  • Ingenious puzzles that will challenge even Zelda diehards
  • Epic boss battles that fill both screens
  • Some puzzles solutions can be overly vague
  • Backtracking in temples
  • Finishing it and leaving your DS to get covered in dust again

This is a reason to buy a DS for those who don’t have one. And an excuse to find/dust off/unbox the handheld for hardcore gamers who do.


Above: Time to root around your sock drawer for that DS

Just process that for a second. We all know Nintendo’s little machine is shovelware central just now. But Link’s disarming, consistently clever RPG adventure, which is chock-full of ingenious puzzles and bosses so big they sometimes fill both screens, is honestly good enough to convince you to buy one. No mean feat for a game about a kid who rides trains in green pyjamas for 20 hours.

The story bit

But before we tell you exactly why this is one of the best DS games of 2009, lets get the plot bit out of the way first. Set a generation after its predecessor Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks sees you explore a completely new world with your favourite elf-esque, tunic-clad hero. Unlike previous games, though, Princess Zelda is no longer the useless damsel in distress.

Y’see, about an hour or so into the game, the usually dainty royal figure becomes somewhat of a badass ghost, after Chancellor Cole, the game’s chief evil-doer, exorcises her soul from her body.


Above: The latest Zelda and the Exorcist are pretty similar, though you definitely murder less priests in the former

The need to kick evil’s ass rises once again, then. And soon after, Zelda’s spirit joins Link’s quest as a handy co-op partner (more on this later). The pair subsequently travel the land to find Zelda’s body, so they can stuff her soul back into her regal corpse. But although the dialogue always charms, the story is just window-dressing in the lengthy puzzle-intensive journey that follows.

What really matters, especially on such an under-powered handheld, is the touchscreen controls. And this is where Spirit Tracks becomes essential, thanks to an intuitive control scheme that uses every one of the DS’ unique features with a real confidence and grace.


Above: Best this bug by blowing rocks into its face with the mic

Simply put, it handles beautifully. Whether it’s a puzzle where you pair off Eskimo-style creatures with the use of notes you draw on your map and view on the top screen or the train sections (where you can pull down an on-screen chain for a thunderous whistle); the controls continually slap a smile on your face.

Blowing in the Wind Waker

The best use of the inventive stylus-only controls centre around Spirit Tracks’ gadgets. Like the Gamecube title that so heavily influences its art style, the most important is a musical instrument. Here, it’s the Spirit Pipes, a magical item you control with the stylus and microphone. It works like this. You pull it up to Link’s mouth on the top screen and then blow into the different coloured pipes to compose melodies. These often open doors or reward you with new items and are essential for progression in the game’s puzzle-heavy temples.


Above: Jammin' - Zelda style

What’s amazing is it actually makes you feel like you’re a musician. Alright, you won’t exactly feel like a concert pianist. You can’t escape the fact you’re just someone who looks like a bit of a twat as they blow into a piece of plastic. But the sense of tangible interaction with the console is hugely enjoyable, if a bit fiddly thanks to the overly sensitive mic.

More Info

Available Platforms: DS
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo
Franchise: Legend of Zelda
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

37 comments

  • GamerGamer - August 17, 2010 12:36 a.m.

    I thought this game was way too easy.
  • Triforce - January 19, 2010 10:01 p.m.

    this is one of the best Zelda games there is. I was reading game informer and they said it would be a waste of time buying this game. Only because there were no rumors about it, and everyone was waiting (and still is) for the Zelda game for the Wii console. They guessed it would only make a 4 and it makes a 9!
  • secretsearcher - January 18, 2010 1:03 a.m.

    I'm just starting this game. Glad to hear it'll be worth my time.
  • Meap - January 11, 2010 10:14 p.m.

    I always got stuck in the Ocean temple beacause of the time limit, I kinda suck at DS games. So, I like this game way more cuz i can take all the time i want. Plus, its a pretty cool twist having princess Zelda not being such a damsell in distress. But, Zelda is still the one with bad things happening to her. I just find that kind of offensive to girls cuz we can be really helpful. I mean, y cant a guy be the damsell in distress next time.
  • PhantomRose96 - January 5, 2010 2:07 a.m.

    This is one of the best games I've ever played. I've got a solid gold train thanks to that cheap-ass Linebeck the third. Seriously, I've traded him atleast 10,000 rupees worth of treasure. Entirely worth it though.
  • onyxfyre1 - January 3, 2010 12:29 a.m.

    When windwaker came out I thought it sucked. cartoon link looks stupid compared to original link. I still like ocarina of time majoras mask and twighlight princess. Sometimes i even play the original game. why dont they make any more of those?
  • GameMaker282 - January 1, 2010 5:20 p.m.

    Thanx Your A Real Life Saver !!!
  • SCRubS77 - December 29, 2009 8:56 p.m.

    As embarrassed as I am to admit this, this will be my first Zelda game.
  • SushiemanX - December 13, 2009 3:47 a.m.

    ...Um, since when did the DS start collecting dust?
  • Cogglesz - December 12, 2009 6:05 p.m.

    damn so right indeed, my ds hasn't been played in 3 months and i only got it 5 months ago. for some odd reason i found the previous zelda for the ds unplayable, it just done my head in for some reason, i might give this one a go sometime and see how i get on ReCAPTCHA : 25 Sumo's
  • TomMishkin - December 12, 2009 5:55 p.m.

    Yesterday night before going to bed I started the Ice Temple; it was about 2 o'clock, and I found myself incapable of putting the DS down until I finished it. I was absolutely CHARMED by the amount of great ideas they poured into it - last time I remember having that much fun with a Zelda temple was with the Eagle's Tower in Link's Awakening. Oh, and of course the Water Templein OOT. Or possibly that's what I think out of enthusiasm and the pleasure of a new, great Zelda game to play, but who cares? I'd still advise everyone to at least give ST a try. Only complaint is with the slow pacing of the first train sequences, but then again, fast travelling was never Zelda's strength, so who cares.
  • wiiandxbox - December 12, 2009 4:19 a.m.

    OMG onother zelda game lukley they listen to fans complaints and improved it alot more then phantom hour glass kirby
  • Iriscal - December 10, 2009 10:55 p.m.

    >covered in dust again What? I have Phantasy Star Zero and Etrian Odyssey 2. My DS will NEVER collect dust.
  • Spybreak8 - December 10, 2009 5:07 a.m.

    Hmm if you bought PH do you get a discount on ST lol. I don't understand why they'd want to have ANOTHER temple that you ALWAYS have to go back to. Time limits set aside, didn't they learn that's what people DISLIKED about the last game?! Interesting new weapons, the India Jones whip like snake thing sounds cool along with seeing some of that wind gameplay on youtube. I'll have to add it to my list of games after I buy ME2 haha.
  • Cyberninja - December 9, 2009 12:07 a.m.

    so glad this is good but i was going to buy it on saturday anyway
  • jackthemenace - December 8, 2009 8:37 p.m.

    if this is better than phantom hourglass, i HAVE to get it! i love the toon link style, probably more than i love the realistic version (i'm a child at heart)
  • GameManiac - December 8, 2009 7:35 p.m.

    "Finishing it and leaving your DS to get covered in dust again" I just bought an R4 SDHC, so I doubt that My DS Lite will be collecting dust for long long long long long long LONG time.
  • Visual217 - December 8, 2009 2:12 p.m.

    I remember Wind Waker a couple of years ago, i always loved playing that as a kid. I have a DS, but i dont use it, and with all these new games coming out for it that are ACTUALLY GOOD, i might consider getting a couple
  • Samael - December 8, 2009 6:35 a.m.

    Hmm...I wish Brett had reviewed this...still a good review.
  • solidsnake_5552000 - December 8, 2009 2:39 a.m.

    To bad I don't own one.

Showing 1-20 of 37 comments

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