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Written by  :  John Murphy (11)
Written on  :  Aug 21, 2022
Platform  :  Nintendo DS
Rating  :  2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars2.6 Stars

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Not what I was looking for in a Zelda game

The Good

The graphics are fine. The game borrows from the same general aesthetic as Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass before it. In fact, Zelda and Link look basically identical to their Wind Waker counterparts with Zelda wearing even the exact same outfit that she had in Wind Waker.

The overworld map was interesting with train routes magically appearing after completing a dungeon. I also enjoyed the visual of Link’s train chugging around the map. There were also some beautiful backdrops to behold while traveling around the world. Even though you are stuck on a train, most of the standard Zelda habitats are here: ocean areas, underwater areas, grassy areas and desert areas. The character and enemy designs are also well done for being on the DS.

The Bad

I was super stoked to try Spirit Tracks. The visuals, after all, were similar to Wind Waker, which is up there as far as one of my favorite Zelda games ever. Unfortunately, I just did not like this game.

The game originally released on the Nintendo DS and so the graphics are not stellar. There are a lot of pixelized and jagged edges. There's not as much depth and shadow effects as Wind Waker and the animations are not quite as fluid. I overall still enjoyed the visuals, but the flair that made Wind Waker such a joy to behold is basically missing from this entry into the series.

There was also a surprising lack of humor in this game. I recall laughing out loud at some of the slapstick humor in Wind Waker. Spirit Tracks has very little of this. Or, maybe due to the DS limitations, the humor just did not come across.

The requirement to use the stylus for EVERYTHING in the game was frustrating. Movement was not fun at all because I had to keep the pen on the screen to move.

I also believe that the use of the stylus makes this game a part of a completely different genre than other Zelda games: it’s basically a puzzle game. The Legend of Zelda is an action-adventure series with RPG elements. Because of the choices made in Spirit Tracks, I think it’s more of a puzzle game with light action-adventure elements. And that is the main reason I did not enjoy it. I have nothing against trying new things to add a fresh spin to something. However, I am not a huge puzzle game player. I don’t hate puzzle games, but I tend to gravitate toward games that have a story to tell, games that immerse the player into the character they are controlling. I was never immersed in Spirit Tracks. Everything felt like a puzzle, and this includes movement and combat.

The game is also literally on rails. To move around the map, Link must follow the rails on his train. I get that this is what the development team set out to accomplish but it really made me feel like I was limited in what I could do. After a certain point, Demon trains also appear to antagonize Link. These trains cannot be destroyed and a single tap from them means Link is dead and the game reloads. Not until the very end of the game is Link given the ability to destroy these trains. It was a very frustrating experience.

The Bottom Line

This is not a bad game, but it is a sub-par Zelda game, in my opinion.

I will praise the game for its music and the visuals.

If you like puzzlers, then this game may be fun for you. As for me, I will never have any interest in playing this game ever again.

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