|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nintendo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 7, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Treasures and collectibles are similar to the ones found in Phantom Hourglass, but this time you'll be able to trade them for train parts. You'll also get a Stamp Book you'll use to collect stamps throughout the game. Additionally, there's a weird side quest that will have you catching bunnies while in your missions. Altogether, these side quests are not extremely exciting, but it helps you fulfill those ulterior completionist's motives and extend the adventure. If you were to ignore the side missions, you could probably end the game in about 20 hours, but we all know most Zelda fans like to squeeze their games till the last drop!
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks looks just as great as Phantom Hourglass, with comical character design and fantastically rendered 3D environments and characters, full of details and vibrant colors. The textures are still a little iffy, but there isn't much more that can be done with the DS when it comes to graphics. Luckily, the music really helps to complement the brilliant presentation. It's like a console game in a little package. Every section of the game is accompanied with great tunes, some borrowed from previous games, and some new. Like everyone knows, Zelda soundtracks never disappoint!
As far as controls, don't expect major changes from Phantom Hourglass. That game already had near perfect controls, so why change them? Still, it surprises me that everything is done with the stylus. You just tap and hold where you want to go, and Link will get there; tap the enemies, and Link will attack them; draw a circle, and he'll do a spin-attack - everything is simple and accessible, yet I would like to have the alternative to use the D-pad to control Link. Maybe that would just mess things up, but I kind of miss the classic control style. On the other hand, the stylus just seems to offer the most intuitive controls, plus you can draw on maps and write down reminders for the ongoing quest - very useful indeed.
Spirit Tracks also includes a local multiplayer battle mode for up to four players. Players have to fight for the Force Gems that drop on the stage while avoiding enemies, obstacles, and their own adversaries. The player who collects more gems will be the winner. This MP mode is simple and lighthearted, but it can also be a blast! Wi-Fi play would have been great too, but I'm not complaining.
All in all, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is a great package and also one of the best portable games available this holiday season. It's not quite as lengthy or extensive as a Zelda game for the Wii, but it certainly includes all those elements Zelda fans are looking for: lots of dungeon crawling, puzzles, good storyline, charming visuals, etc. Best of all, you can take it with you on your next trip and even play it with a friend. If you're a Zelda follower, you simply can't miss this game, and if you're not, just make sure you're okay with investing time exploring, talking to characters, and solving puzzles, as that's what the series is all about.
CCC Site Director