When a new Zelda game is announced you just know that something great is on the way. Spirit Tracks feels so familiar yet so new and refreshing at the same time. Every dungeon you visit requires you to find a weapon which you will use to progress through that dungeon before finally figuring out how to use it against the boss at the end! But it’s the way you get there that’s new, sure some of the classic weapons are back like the boomerang and bow and arrow but there are some new weapons which uses the DS’s technology nicely. One of the early weapons you pick up requires you to blow into the microphone to use the weapon and then there is a pan flute which you play also by blowing into the microphone, little touches and attention to detail like this are the reason Zelda will always be loved by fans.
The game plays so easily with no problems at all and the graphics really push the DS to its limit, everything looks so perfect and nicely polished off.
Like all the other Zelda games the story follows Link (who you will name whatever you choose) who has just become and engineer working on the trains, this will become your method of transport throughout the game. Using the train to get around is a nice touch but like the sail boat in the Phantom Hourglass and The Wind Waker it gets boring fast, little things happen along your journey like being attacked or being forced to redirect but sometimes you just want to get to your destination quicker. Also along the way there are boulders which you can blow up (once you acquire the bombs early into the game) which hold items like replenishment hearts or rupees but some are hiding rabbits which will start a mini game to capture it with a net.
The control for the train uses the stylist to change the speed and also change the track direction the way you are going, but tapping anywhere else will rotate the train which you can accidently do when trying to slow down the train.
The puzzles along the way are great and fun to work out some might even take you some time to work out. The boss battles at the end of the temples are spectacular especially Cragma in the fire Realm which is a really enjoyable fight.
In the Spirit temple Zelda can inhabit Phantom Guardians that patrol the levels after Link successfully attacks them. Once Zelda has possessed one of these, the player can direct the Guardian along a stylus-drawn path or to attack a creature, to carry Link safely across dangerous fields, or to simply follow Link. There are different Phantom Guardians which you will need to use for different puzzles.
There are lots of side quests that you can take part in which normally includes Link to transport a passenger along the rails, and require the player to keep the passenger happy by following the signs along the side of the tracks, such as slowing down for tight turns or blowing the train’s whistle, in order to successfully complete the mission. You don’t have to do these but certain sub quests will open up new tracks, shortcuts and items which includes extra life hearts.
The game is easier then the Phantom Hourglass so having a full health meter isn’t necessarily needed but it is fun getting the most out of this game. The best handheld Zelda game since Link to the Past came out on the Gameboy.