Posted by: zsaberlink | February 13, 2010

My Opinions on Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Recently, I have noticed numerous articles discussing the latest game in the Zelda franchise, the Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. These articles generally mention how this game appeals to them much more than its predecessor, Phantom Hourglass. While I have not finished the game, I currently agree with these sentiments. As such, I would like to explain some of the reasons that I have enjoyed Spirit Tracks so far as well as comments about portions of the game. This blog post will contain some spoilers about the beginning of the game and some gameplay mechanics, so be forewarned.

First, I would like to say I really enjoy the music in the game. This made an impression on me as soon as I started the game, as I quickly started humming the title screen music. While I was enjoying that new music, I also decided to watch the entirety of the short, but cute intro movie. For me, the music plays multiple roles while playing a game. When a story is being told and actions unfold on the screen, music often can sway a player’s emotions. Good music generally helps set a mood that fits the game and made me feel emotionally attached to both the story and its characters. Such music also kept me entertained during the less interesting parts of the game. In this case, I’m talking about the train rides. Although after some time the train rides themselves were not very interesting, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the train music itself.

Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Intro

While I’ll admit the story was relatively simple, the premise immediately was different in the fact that Zelda temporarily “died” and turned into a ghost. Of course, the immediate goal at hand was to restore Zelda to her body. However, considering the usual stories of Zelda games, this was a nice change of pace, and the villains looked like they could lead to an interesting tale. The initial setup was great and made me interested in what would happen next. I’ve mentioned the beginning of the story as a strong point, but I’ll say that the pacing afterwards is not as good. Only after you complete a set of 4 main dungeons and visits to the Tower of Spirits do you get any progression in the story at all. At this point I was happy to see plot progression, but disappointingly realized I had already completed about 75% of the game before this occurred.

The main reason that I and many others liked Spirit Tracks more than Phantom Hourglass was because of the dungeons and their puzzles. While I admit I don’t remember Phantom Hourglass too well, I remember clearly that I was very bored after the first two dungeons. These dungeons were far too simple, and it almost seemed that they were simplifying the game in order to compensate for the precision lost due to touch-screen controls. Both these dungeons had very few enemies, and their puzzles were nearly nonexistent. The second offender was the fact that you had to repeat portions of the Ocean Temple far too many times. This repetition also hurt the experience of the game. Finally, I felt the sailing was too simple and also boring. Eventually Phantom Hourglass did pick up so that I did like the game by the end, but these three factors hurt the game and how much I enjoyed it. On the other hand, Spirit Tracks started with a much more traditional and challenging dungeon. Afterwards, the dungeon’s enemies and puzzles progressively got more difficult. I’ll even admit that I was initially challenged or even stumped by a couple puzzles throughout the game so far. In addition, they eliminated the repeating portions of the “returning dungeon”, making it a much more enjoyable experience. While I still did not think of the train as a perfect traveling mechanism, it was definitely more interesting as I could also observe the detailed environments of Hyrule.

While I did enjoy these puzzles, I’ll admit I did not find too many amazing uses of the weapons in the puzzles. Link applied ice and fire to his boomerangs very much like shooting arrows in Ocarina of Time. While I admit I liked the concept of freezing water to make a path, I saw that as an obvious progression once they decided to allow for a “freezing boomerang”. The whip was essentially used to pull and throw things, in addition to swinging like Indiana Jones. I found these portions fun and probably the more creative uses of the weapons. I have not had the time to use the weapon in the current temple too much, but the weapon seems like an interesting concept.

Overall, I liked the Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks because I felt that I was getting a much more polished and complete experience, which was complemented by the pleasant new music.  This post turned out a longer than I expected, but I hope you enjoyed the read. Hopefully this either gives you insight into the game or maybe sparks some discussion about the latest entry in the Zelda franchise.




  1. You more or less hit all the high points here- otherwise, Spirit Tracks lacked a lot of the Zelda magic. Instead of an actual overworld, we get a five-minute minigame every time you want to go somewhere. You’ll never, for instance, see a rock formation that looks unstable, and then come back later with the Pegasus Boots to uncover a secret cavern with a heart piece inside- rather, you already see where all of the available locations are, and the so-called “exploration” boils down to taking a right or a left. Force Gems expanded the overworld for a few more secrets, but there wasn’t anything really spectacular, and whatever there was was just obvious- new train tracks go straight to it. It’s like the problem with Kinstones in MC- you don’t so much find secrets as much as unlock them. Exploration being the soul of the series, ST left me feeling unsatisfied with the tiny and unimmersive world.

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