Initial Thoughts on Spirit Tracks

By Ice

Good news Zelda fans! I was able to pull out Spirit Tracks and spend a little time on it. From what I've heard from some of you, you have some reservations about whether to pick this game up or not. After playing for a little while, I've typed out some initial impressions for you that may help you decide. This is just a streaming-thought review, from one old Zelda fan to another.

To start out with, the first thing I always notice is the music. You know me. Well the music is adequate ... it does the job. The samples are pretty good for a DS game. I like the different variations on Zelda's Lullaby ... they're pretty interesting.

The story is interesting, clever, enjoyable, and fairly original. I like it, and the cutscenes are pretty nice too. People who insist on having a unifying timeline to the series may have a slightly easier time with this one than others, but there are a few uncomfortable details that will make it somewhat impossible to fit cleanly. That's nothing new, though.

The characters, in particular, are pretty cool and colorful. You already know some of them from past games ... and Cole will remind you of the Happy Mask Salesman. Keep an eagle eye out for details that connect the game to Wind Waker.

This is the biggest drawback for me, probably ... the stylus control. I'm not really a huge fan of it. I don't like using it exclusively. It makes certain puzzles and battles difficult. It's used in some unique ways though, and I can definitely see why they do it this way.

The graphics are really sharp for a DS game. I know some people are tired of the "Celda" look, but it works fine.

I haven't encountered anything terribly challenging yet. I feel like I'm just going through the motions and it's more of an interactive storybook. Getting past the guards in the courtyard was a little annoying and took a couple tries, even though it was clear what to do. I'm sure the challenge will ramp up later in the game, at least to a degree.

The train element is actually kind of neat. I know some people were moaning and groaning when they saw the trailer that showed Link riding it through Hyrule (or whatever land we're in now). I read lots of "oh brother"s. Don't worry ... it's not as jarring as it looks ... it actually fits into the world quite nicely. Another unique element is your "helper" ... it's not a fairy this time.

Overall: I like it enough to keep playing. I'm not very far and I don't think it's hit its stride yet. I have a feeling it'll turn into a collection quest but I may be wrong. I hope they don't keep holding my hand through everything, haha. A lot of the recent Zelda games have been built from recycled parts, but this one has enough twists and interesting characters to earn merit. Like I said, I'm annoyed by the stylus but that's probably just the RSI in my hand talking.

If you were on the fence about the game, I hope I've been helpful. Now go earn your engineer certificate!

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