The rest of the touchscreen controls mostly work really well. Like Phantom Hourglass, the game ignores the face buttons in favour of the stylus, which controls everything from Link’s movement to the cannon strapped to the front of his new steam train. Although it doesn’t happen much, there are rare times when the system feels imprecise. And this leads to ultra sweary frustration when the game demands precision movement during certain temples.
Above: The Tower of Spirits' puzzles demand stylus ninjary
If the thought of the trains mentioned above conjures up imagery of middle-aged men that wear anoraks and scribble stuff down in notepads, don’t worry. Zelda’s take on trainspotting lets you kill monsters with a giant cannon on the front of the hero’s steam engine.
Unlike Phantom Hourglass’ relatively passive boat travel, Link’s locomotive trips are hugely interactive and offer a succulent slice of meaty gameplay. Battles against baddies where you fire cannonballs with the stylus, bits where you have to strategically switch tracks to avoid demon trains, or even moments where you use the whistle to scare off rabbits; it’s all brilliant fun and it all demands your full attention.
Above: Striking a blow for arachnophobes everywhere
World in your hands
The world itself, though similar to its predecessor in terms of art style, actually has more in common with the legendary Ocarina of Time. Spooky forests, acres of picturesque grassland and a fiery desert realm mean Spirit Tracks feels fresh next to the last game’s retread of Wind Waker’s locations.
The open-world train sections, though brilliant fun, are really just a means to an end. That end, like all Zelda titles, is the game’s temples. Full of puzzles that often test your grey matter more than a four hour stint on Brain Training, they remain the driving force behind the series’ appeal. And it’s the thrill of exploration inside these often labyrinth-like complexes that constantly keep you going.
Above: Solving Zelda's puzzles is as rewarding as getting a gold star from that one hot teacher you had at school
Fun to explore or not, the format you use to progress through the dungeons is as well worn as a ten-year-old pair of trainers. Like the Metroid games, the action is all about items you need to find to open up new areas. Really, we should be bored stiff of a mechanic that’s being doing the rounds for 20 years now. So thank all your gaming gods Spirit Tracks’ inventive new weapons (including a personal tornado machine and a snake which acts as a whip) breathe some new life into the old formula.