The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

released on Dec 07, 2009

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is the second Zelda game for the Nintendo DS. The art direction is still cel-shading, but the game have notable changes from Phantom Hourglass with more puzzles and a new mode of transportation by train. You have to draw your route to the next area on the map and then let the train run its course. While the train is moving, caution will be needed to avoid obstacles, animals and enemies on the tracks. In certain dungeons, both Link and Zelda will be playable as they will need to work together to solve puzzles.

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I can't make my mind on this game. I love the highs but also hate very much the lows. It improves (a lot) Phantom Hourglass. Everything good from that game is here: charismatic characters, new amazing and creative gimmicks, soundtrack, cute story. It also follows the same structure meaning you go back to one dungeon multiple times. But the one temple you go back to is way more fleshed out and not annoying to go back to anymore.
Sadly the one big problem is traveling in the overworld. In my opinion it works just fine in Phantom Hourglass but here it's way worse. I don't know if it's just me but I really dislike it. It's slow and they shove a bunch of pointless enemies making it really easy to die. Instead of expanding my interest in Hyrule and giving me any feeling of exploration it becomes a boring chore that just slows the pace of the game for no reason.
Aside from that, I like how instead of making a pseudo open world game like Phantom Hourglass (where you get to choose the order you do the last three dungeons) they went full linear, which is perfect for these smaller games. The final boss is also one of the highlights. The developers, like in the last game, weren't afraid of experimenting and I'm all for that. I finished Spirit Tracks wishing that it was a trilogy and we had one more game with the theme of these two.
I'm conflicted. I don't know if I give this game 4 stars for the great parts in it or if I give it 3½ because of the weak parts. I figured I'd give it the 3½ for the simple fact that I don't feel like replaying or even finishing the side quests.

Spirit Tracks is super unique, and improves on its predecessor in almost every way.
Taking place about a century after Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks follows a new Link and Zelda, in a newly founded version of Hyrule, where the main mode of transportation is trains.
Compared to Phantom Hourglass, this game feels very fresh. It has better dungeons, a more interesting story, and a much more inspired soundtrack than it's predecessor (seriously the soundtrack is so great).
An aspect of this game that is sometimes forgotten is that Zelda herself is your companion, and she is surprisingly one of the best companions in the series. Her character contributes so much to the story, and it's a much stronger narrative than the typical "damsel in distress" storyline that we usually see.
Just like Phantom Hourglass, this game has you revisiting a dungeon multiple times throughout your playthrough. This time it's the "Tower of Spirits". But here's where it differs: there's no time limit, it has more interesting puzzles, and you don't have to repeat any of the floors you've already conquered. It's overall a much more fun and streamlined experience.
The main drawback, sadly, is the overworld exploration. The train gimmick is fun at first, but gets old pretty quick. Even if you're solely doing the main storyline, it forces you to do escort missions a few times, which are super drawn out (the long mission between the ocean and fire temples sucks in particular).
Despite the boring overworld exploration and the padding, Spirit Tracks is still pretty enjoyable, and is a lot more fun to play through than Phantom Hourglass.

by far the worst non CD-i Zelda and this is coming from someone who liked Phantom Hourglass, one of the few games I really disliked even as a child.
The main problem is the overworld traversal is one of the worst I have ever seen in a video game. I honestly think the entire idea behind the game was short-sighted because riding a train from destination to destination isn't an interesting idea, it means you're experiencing the world on-rails and can't hop off at interesting destinations. Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass were both criticized for having barren open worlds but this takes it to another level, with its exploration mechanics feeling like fast travel with extra steps. Additionally the train is not only boring, but frustrating to travel with as the map is scattered with Phantom Trains that move faster than you and kill you instantly if you collide with them. The path they pick to turn is random so often I got killed for what felt like no fault of my own, just because I got unlucky with the path one of the phantom trains took. You can run from them since shooting them slows you down but if you end up facing them you're SoL.
On top of this the dungeons are the least memorable in the series for me, and the story is also one of the weakest and least memorable in the series featuring a "not ganon" villain that looks just like ganon anyways. The only part of this game I liked was phantom zelda was a cute companion.

It's just Phantom Hourglass but with way worse overworld traversal.

i thought this was extremely uninspired, especially when compared to phantom hourglass.