Game Review - The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks on Nintendo DS

Written by HyperDebtRay on June 29, 2017 @ 10:53 pm

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is a portable game on the DS that takes place around a generation or so after Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. You've probably already heard this story before as a great evil has been sealed from the land by the Tower of Spirits and its Spirit Tracks. If you haven't already guessed the main mode of transportation is by Train. The game attempts to use unique features that the DS offers but the gimmicks that tie in with the gameplay mechanics will sometimes frustrate the user.

Good:
I thought the puzzles in dungeons were very creative and very challenging, this is what I have come to expect from a Zelda game. The satisfaction that you get when solving these puzzles is a euphoric experience.

Audio and sound were quite good, everything from the sounds of enemies and the train were on accurate and on point.

Boss design and gameplay mechanics were very well done, they provided a satisfying final challenge after slogging through temples.

Bad:
The issue with fighting enemies while on the train is that a lot of enemies are respawned once you defeat them and will respawn at the exact same place making passage through a particular route more tedious than it has to be, especially when delivering (illicit) goods. Additionally there are at times where aiming and firing the cannon can be very inaccurate resulting in misses away from the desired target a meter or two away.

Train UI controls were placed in the correct location, on the bottom screen. However I find that it becomes difficult to target enemies when they appear directly underneath the horn, speed or track switch controls.

The audio as I have stated above is good, however once you travel around the world map a bit you then realize that there isn't much variety to the soundtrack. The majority of the time you will be hearing the bgm while traveling by train which gets old fast.

Gameplay on foot is quite different, instead of being inundated with tediousness on the train you are exposed to a frustrating experience with the stylus. Controlling Link with the stylus is inaccurate and awkward, you will find yourself constantly falling into pits or running into enemies when you really tapped to attack etc.

The other issue is that switching between tools like the boomerang or whip is not seamless, you have to actually tap into the menu and select your desired tool before returning to whatever is was that you were doing. This slows down gameplay, it gets even slower when you actually have to tap the upper right hand corner everytime you want to use it as well as put it away. In my opinion this is not good user experience.

The gimmicks revolving around the musical instrument were a hit or miss. When playing a song through the pipes it was quite easy if only using it for the special songs. It is a different matter when playing for a Lokomo duet. Not only does the game not give you a reasonable enough time to finish your part of the song but there is no indication on when you should start even when the camera realigns itself to your character. Microphone detection is also pretty much garbage and will occasionally miss some on your notes causing you to start your duet all over again. A very annoying experience instead of a musical one.

Graphically this is a mixed bag, I though the environments and textures were really poor. The textures look like they were pulled out of the N64 engine. Although I would have cut it some slack as it is still equally impressive that they managed to render N64 graphics on a small hand held device.

Overall:
I tried to like this Zelda game but I can conclude that this is my least favorite Zelda game to date. Most of the positives that make this game stand out is buried by hours of frustration over the garbage stylus controls or the inane repetitiveness of traveling by train.

I would only recommend this game to hardcore Zelda fans if you can look past all the frustrating segments and gimmicks that the game offers.

For others this is a Zelda game that you will not miss if you decide to skip this and switch to another Zelda on the major consoles.

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Game Information

Platform
Nintendo DS
Developer(s)
Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s)
Nintendo
Genre(s)
Action-Adventure
NA Release Date
December 7, 2009
MVGL User Score
7.2
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