The Legend of Zelda : Spirit Tracks

SpiritTracks

I usually do not play portable games unless I am unable to play “normal” ones; there really is no good reason for it other than me liking the format of traditional console (or PC) gaming. That being said, Spirit Tracks – like its predecessors filled with extra content and long playtime – is the kind of game that fits the format, and it is a bit disheartening not liking it more than I do. I remember feeling the same way about the Phantom Hourglass.

Speaking of the Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks has a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses. Art is so-so except for the animations which are great. The quirky humor is funny and sometimes brilliant. The time spent getting between places by boat/train feels completely wasted – in Wind Waker the simple reason for this was to remove loading times, but there really is no excuse for these sessions on the DS. The controls still feel like the biggest issue.

In fact, the issue with the controls should be elaborated upon. A lot of puzzles in the game are a bit to illogical to be fun to solve, a lot of enemies are a bit to tricky to defeat to be intriguing to fight and in general a lot of the game require a bit too much precision to allow the player to pass. This is perfectly normal for a Zelda game – for any action-adventure game in fact – but usually controlling the protagonist is such a joy in itself that you do not mind much. With the stylus and microphone, even though a lot of work has obviously gone into it the controls are not smooth enough to make the experience flow and it quickly devolves into frantic scratching when the precision is not enough to solve a problem. The microphone controls are just as bad this time around (and does not work at all in certain environments).

On the one hand I wish Nintendo would just stop slapping control gimmicks on concepts that work well already (especially since they have proven time and again that they can innovate in level design alone) and on the other I know that there are games that use innovative controls for marvelous results. Spirit Tracks does little to innovate or change the things done in Phantom Hourglass though, and to me the DS-specific controls are a great step backwards for the playability of Zelda games.

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Posted on Apr 25/11 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »