Guild's Spirit Tracks Review

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by Guild McCommunist, Dec 13, 2009.

Dec 13, 2009
  1. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    So, it's the long awaited Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks review, from yours truly!

    [​IMG]

    I was never too fond of Phantom Hourglass. It just didn't give me that Zelda feel. When I play Zelda, I want to feel epic, and epic usually means Ganondorf. I felt epic when I was fighting Ganondorf sword-to-sword in Twilight Princess. I felt epic when I was shooting arrows at Ganon in Ocarina of Time. I didn't feel epic when I was chasing the Pirates of the Caribbean rip-off of a ghost ship with that asshole Linebeck. So, when Spirit Tracks was set to release and as the details of the game started flooding in, I was a little more enthusiastic than I was with Phantom Hourglass. Hyrule, Princess Zelda (not Pirate Zelda), roaming the open fields... In a train? Well, whatever it may be, Spirit Tracks is definitely better than its predecessor, but still encounters many of the pitfalls Hourglass had.

    The plot of Spirit Tracks involves a new Link, 100 years from the events of Phantom Hourglass. So if you were wondering, no, this isn't a straight-up sequel like Majora's Mask to Ocarina of Time. They do, however, give some links (no pun intended) to Phantom Hourglass. For example, in a cutscene in Hyrule Castle, you'll notice a stained glass depiction of Tetra, aka Pirate Zelda. There's also the return of Linebeck, in the form of Linebeck III, an obvious decedent and the game's resident douchebag. Well, the story has this new Link, a graduate engineer in trains, becoming a full engineer by partaking in a ceremony by Princess Zelda. After the ceremony, though, Zelda asks Link to help her by sneaking her out of Hyrule Castle and taking her to the Tower of Spirits, in an attempt to find out what is happening to all the disappearing Spirit Tracks (which are just railroad tracks). However, on their way their, the tracks disappear from under them, and they are ambushed by Zelda's "caretaker", who turns out to be an evil demon. Zelda is "cursed", or something like that, and you and your buddy are knocked unconscious. When you wake up, you find a ghost of Zelda roaming the halls of the castle, and together you team up to get her body back and restore the Spirit Tracks. Yeah... No more Navi or other fairies this time, your backseat driver this time is Zelda. The story itself is a little grander than Phantom Hourglass, which to me just ended up being a Pirates of the Caribbean rip-off (and I didn't even like that movie), but still no "epic" like past Zelda titles. It's a handheld, after all. As for menus, they're easy to navigate for the most part, although being able to switch items on-the-fly instead of pulling up a menu to do so would've been appreciated.

    As for the gameplay, this Zelda just doesn't hold water like it's predecessors. First off, the entire game is controlled via stylus. Ugh... I don't like stylus controls. You can't really make any precision navigation with the stylus, and there's no option to use face buttons. Well, you move by dragging the stylus, which Link will follow, you attack by either tapping enemies (for a lunge or stab) or by slashing the stylus across the screen for a slash. You can also do a 360 spin by drawing a quick circle around Link. The major annoyance I find here is that you can't slash and move at the same time. It's impossible. So instead, you have to stand there and then slash. If you miss, you have to move again, stop, and slash. Sure, you can always do the tapping method, but when you want to hit multiple enemies in front of you or even just want to do a 360 spin, you have to stop. That, combined with the slippery stylus controls, make this Zelda a lot less manageable than its predecessors. Stylus control does work well with some things though, such as being able to write notes on your map (although I still crack out the pen and paper instead) and some of Link's gadgets like the boomerang, but I would have gladly sacrificed those for some traditional face button control. There's also the issue of dungeons. There's not a lot of real mind bending puzzles here. The dungeons are incredibly linear for a Zelda game and the puzzles are clearly tuned down so that casual gamers can do them without going into their mental retardation/drooling mode. Water Temple this is not. For hardcore Zelda fans, you may find yourself disappointed at this. The other major nuisance is, for whatever reason, the abuse of the microphone. The microphone portions can, at times, just be broken. Sure, it can work on some minor things like the fan weapon, but with the sections that involve you playing music on a flute of sorts, it's just fucking annoying. Why Nintendo decided to use this terrible aspect OVER AND OVER again eludes me. Train travel is a major emphasis here but isn't much more but a slightly more compact version of the boat from Phantom Hourglass. Instead of drawing a custom path, you essentially choose where you go on the tracks. You can also change where you go in real time, a feature that was sorely missed in Hourglass when you needed to make sudden course corrections. Train travel is kind of a lazy river boat ride where you see all the French people on the shores (huh?), in that I mean it shows a lot of nice scenery, although there are enemies to shoot as well as changing track direction (if needs be), changing gears (from Reverse, Stop, 1st Gear, and 2nd Gear), and using the whistle to scare off animals. I like it over riding in the boat myself, but it's not a huge plus for the game.

    Graphically and audio wise, it's that top-notch stuff you'd expect from Zelda. It's got a Zelda-esque score and the cell-shading here looks great. For those who say "OH IT LOOKS WORSE THAN HOURGLASS!" I say, "What the fuck are you smoking?" I'm fairly confident they run on exactly the same engine. It looks exactly the same. In fact, I would say this looks better, mainly because there's the beautiful Hyrule countryside versus water, water everywhere. Anyway, this graphics look great for the DS just as a whole. There's, of course, no framerate drops or the like and everything is well rounded. No graphical glitches or anything, a truly polished game. The audio is the expansive overtures that Zelda was made for. The hacking, slashing, yelling, and groaning sounds are all pretty good too.

    Overall, Spirit Tracks is not all too good for a Zelda game, but in the realm of all games, "a bad Zelda game" is better than most other games. Stylus controls are quite annoying, dungeons are easier, microphone use is annoying, and there's a hand full of other small nuisances along the way. The game still isn't broken by any means, but it just isn't as good as other Zelda titles. It still looks beautiful and has a great soundtrack, though. Overall though, it's just not a great Zelda title at all.

    Presentation: Not an epic, Ganondorf-stomping storyline like other Zelda titles, but definitely better than the "chase the Black Pearl" one of Hourglass. It really stretches to catch that feeling, though, even if it doesn't quite reach it. Menus are nicely laid out, although a better quick access to items would be appreciated. 8/10

    Graphics: The cell shaded world of Zelda again looks wonderful on the DS. The Hyrule countryside, as well as other locales, look a lot better than just lots of water everywhere. Models look nice and there's no problems with the graphics here. I would even say this looks better than Hourglass. 9/10

    Audio: A nice Zelda soundtrack. Lots of grand overtures and the traditional Zelda sound effects. I would have liked some more classic Zelda tunes, like Hyrule Field from Ocarina of Time or the Song of Storms (I have them both on my iPod [​IMG] ), but this will do. 8.5/10

    Gameplay: Definitely not a strong Zelda title. Stylus controls are not nearly as smooth as D-Pad/face buttons, outside of a few items, excessive microphone controls are annoying, dungeons are dumbed down to appeal to the general audience. Microphone controls can be just plain broken when playing songs, which you have to do time after time. Train travel is better than boat travel, even if it isn't as free roaming. Still, it's a Zelda title that won't impress. 7/10

    Lasting Appeal: It's typical Zelda adventure length, although the linear and shorter dungeons make the game shorter. There's also sidequests to do, if you wish. If you can get used to the fidgitty stylus controls, you can enjoy this title for quite a bit. 7.5/10

    Overall: 7.7/10

    ZOMG NOT A 10/10! DISCUSS!
     


  2. B-Blue

    Member B-Blue im a slut

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    Wait until you get to the sand temple and floor 30 of the tower of spirits.



    I don't like this review. [​IMG]
     
  3. Jaems

    Member Jaems GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Your scores average out to an 8/10

    Looks like you went with a 7 just to start somethin in a forum full of Nintendo fanboys. [​IMG]
     
  4. Raika

    Member Raika uguu

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    [​IMG]

    I kinda agree with this review, but I kinda disagree with it at the same time.
     
  5. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    Gameplay and Lasting Appeal heavily outweight Graphics, Audio, and Presentation. The game can be ugly as fuck but still play like a beauty. The game can also, on the other hand, be absolutely beautiful but be boring as sin.

    As per the whole "quick menu" thing that was brought up, I liked in previous Zelda games having menus quickly mapped to a button(s). Like in Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask, assigning buttons to the C-Stick. And in Twilight Princess having items mapped to the D-Pad. It's better than pulling up a menu every time.

    EDIT: Also, if I wanted to piss of fanboys, I would have given this game a 4/10 and been like "BOOO ZELDA SUCKS THERES NO GUNS NO SHOOTING ITS NERDY BOOO!" 7.7 isn't a bad score by any means. It's higher than what I gave Kingdom Hearts 358/2.

    Also, you can't ignore that stylus controls are really quite annoying. That's what put the nails in the coffin of this being a great game. That and the other flaws I mentioned.
     
  6. Uncle FEFL

    Member Uncle FEFL OBJECTION!

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    I love the stylus controls. I think people hate PH an ST because they want a great console game, not a handheld.
     
  7. B-Blue

    Member B-Blue im a slut

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    What is this mad talk about assigning buttons and shit!? This is the DS we're talking about! Let's see how many buttons are there:
    [​IMG]
    (Yes, it's pink. GET OVER IT!)
    1- D-pad
    2- A
    3- B
    4- X
    5- Y
    6- R
    7- L
    It will not work!
    Also, the N64 controller doesn't have a C-Stick. (You mean C-Pad)
     
  8. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    Zelda worked fine on the GB/C and GBA, which had the 8 buttons (GB/C) and 10 buttons (GBA). The DS has 12 buttons (Left, Right, Up, Down, A, X, B, Y, L, R, Start, and Select, not including the Power Button). What if they put all the action on the top screen, slash with B, lock on with L, use item with X or Y (which is still 2 item slots) and use the touch screen for changing items, taking notes on the map, etc.

    ...Or they could have kept crappy stylus controls and used D-Pad or ABXY to assign to items. Nintendo just neglected essentially any support (except for pulling up the menu) to the D-Pad. What about just moving with the D-Pad/ABXY and slashing with the stylus?
     
  9. Uncle FEFL

    Member Uncle FEFL OBJECTION!

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    They actually should have had an option for different configurations. I agree with you there (though who wouldn't?).
     
  10. B-Blue

    Member B-Blue im a slut

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    I still prefer the stylus controls. They're better and more comfortable.
    I mean think about it, you control the whole game with ONE hand!
     
  11. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    Yeah, I've got two of them. It's called making the most out of life. Odds are I'm not gonna masturbate while playing Zelda.

    Also, you need the other hand to hold the DS. Why not just add a few buttons that could easily be reached by that hand? This is just common sense stuff that Nintendo passed over in favor of a more "newbie friendly" interface.
     
  12. B-Blue

    Member B-Blue im a slut

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    I use my super powers to hold the ds.
     
  13. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    The fact is Nintendo should have made the microphone better or this wouldn't be an issue. People shouldn't have to fiddle around with how hard they blow to make the game work. The game should compensate for that. And even then, the amount of pointless songs you have to play through this bluntly awful interface is more than there should be. Why didn't they just use some type of stylus controlled way to play music? Or do something like the Ocarina in OoT and MM? There's not even clear cut instructions on how to blow into the mic. It doesn't say "Hold the DS away from you". I kept failing at songs because I put my face right next to the mic and blew and it went all choppy. It took me at least 15 tries to find out the right way of doing it. It's, simply put, a fucking awful way of doing the music portions. A rhythm based minigame, akin to EBA/Osu would have worked a lot better.
     
  14. B-Blue

    Member B-Blue im a slut

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    Fine, you win.
    I'm not gonna argue about this review anymore.

    Truce?
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    NEVVVAAAAARRR!

    Just kidding. We each have our own views on the game and that's completely fine. There's plenty of reason to like this game, it isn't a bad game at all.

    EDIT: To clarify, I accept your truce [​IMG] We can agree to disagree, and I respect your opinion and views.
     
  16. Beware

    Member Beware GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    While I do believe there should have been configurable controls, I enjoy the stylus controls most of the time. Also, the lasting appeal is pretty great. You can upgrade the train and eventually lay your own tracks. It takes quite a while to get to that point in the first place, then there's a very large overworld to explore.

    And my final qualm is over the story: I believe they did a pretty great job with it. A large portion of the Zelda community believe Ganon/dorf has gotten stale and over played over the years. I believe they did a great job creating meaningful characters and an intriguing villain in spite of that.

    I also believe they did a very nice job developing Zelda's personality. The glaring example of this that always pops into my head when I think of that is a scene towards the beginning when you first get to the Tower of Spirits. Zelda is freaking out about her body, but trying to tell Link he had to be noble and save the princess, as it were. I thought that was very well written and really was a pretty nice foreshadow of Zelda's attitude and the general atmosphere of the game from there-on-out. The ending was also IMMENSELY satisfying. The bits of story involved are also quite dark and intriguing in general.

    While I feel your reviews in general are pretty well done and objective it just seems like there was a lot of the story driven bits that you didn't take fully into account.
     
  17. blackdragonbaham

    Member blackdragonbaham GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    it isn't a bad game, the only thing that is very annoying or disappointing are the pseudo conversations that should suggerate that the player have a choice where none is:. typical zelda and pokemon illness
    the controls improved compared to ph:.
     
  18. outgum

    Member outgum Pokemanz Master

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    Hmmm, Yes, i definatly agree with your Review, as a zelda game... it did kind of let me down, I havent Played Phantom Hourglass, And i never will, If its anything like Spirit tracks, i wouldnt want to touch it with a 10 foot pole now, I found it as one of those games that... you can only play once, and once your finished, your finished, ive helped about... 10 people with there save files doing songs for them, and that nintendo caused a epic fail when they did the whole mic thing, Stylus Controls were gross, and music was... ok, considering it had some good originals in there!

    With your 7.7 mark, i personally think around a.... 6.5-6.8 Due to the fact of the Mic SERVERLY dragging it down for me, and the Long train rides of utter boringness, Stylus controls, and lack of instructions really O_O Especially as you said, finding the correct method to blow.

    So really, i dont have a strong opinion to this game , and it does scream "ZOMG ITS A ZELDA GAME!" to me
     
  19. chrisman01

    Member chrisman01 GBAtemp Fan

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    HOLY. CRAP.

    The world is ending!! We just had a peaceful argument resolution on an ONLINE FORUM!!!
     
  20. Guild McCommunist
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    Member Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    I was kidding, if you didn't notice. I accepted his truce. We each have our own views and they're exactly that; views. He liked the game a lot, I didn't. No big deal. We can agree to disagree.

    Sorry if my comment came off as me being an idiot.
     

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