Author Topic: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks  (Read 2290 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Crimm

  • Get your unfiltered Bowsette here!
  • NWR Staff Pro
  • Score: 1147
    • View Profile
RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« on: April 14, 2019, 06:39:23 PM »
You know what to do, post your thoughts here.
James Jones
Mondo Editor
Nintendo World Report

Offline pokepal148

  • Mop it up ate my Roomba :(
  • *
  • Score: -9962
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2019, 06:42:51 PM »
Boooooooooo! Boooooooooooooooooooo!

Not to crash this thread or anything but I'll probably start the Forum Retrospective threads for the Oracle games and Crystalis after the RFN episode for Spirit Tracks is posted. It'll probably be Crystalis first and than the Oracle games so we have a nice, juicy, Zelda sandwich. For anyone who doesn't know what forum retrospective is, it's basically this retroactive thread but without the podcast. There's more information on one of the links in my signature.

All I've heard about this game is that people looooove the pan flute but I did play Phantom Hourglass like a decade ago and enjoy it. Oh and retail copies of this game are a bit pricey so the Wii U Virtual Console version of this game is more than worth considering.

First Impressions: the thing I appreciate about Phantom Hourglass is how willing it is to cast aside basically all of the series's tropes and ditch the kingdom of Hyrule to embrace Wind Waker's thematic break from those things in favor of a brave new world. With Spirit Tracks However we seem to be back in a kingdom called Hyrule with a Hyrule castle a princess Zelda. I suppose given the name of the franchise it doesn't make sense to name the princess anything else but keeping the Hyrule name feels not right considering the end of Wind Waker, which both this game and Phantom Hourglass are direct sequels to.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 08:02:44 PM by pokepal148 »

Offline CDavis7M

  • Score: 0
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2019, 06:28:16 AM »
Im a big fan of Spirit Tracks and looking forward to replaying it.

By the way, it looks like episode 174 and 175 from December 2009 have the contemporaneous discussions.

Offline pokepal148

  • Mop it up ate my Roomba :(
  • *
  • Score: -9962
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2019, 04:36:59 PM »
Holy ****, Zelda is dead?!?!?!?!?

Also, **** the Spirit Flute. No seriously, it's remarkable how with one move the game managed to find itself right next to Zelda 2 and Skyward Sword as one of the absolute worst games in the Zelda series. The Train is serviceable enough but the flute feels like a tech demo that you could maybe make a decent 200 point DSiware game out of that has absolutely no place in a Zelda game and drags the whole thing down.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 07:37:02 PM by pokepal148 »

Offline Grimace the Minace

  • Matt Zawodniak
  • Score: 3
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2019, 07:09:53 PM »
I remember liking this game a lot when I first played it back in the day, but the intro has been awfully boring. I haven't gotten to the first proper dungeon yet or anything but this extended tutorial has been insufferable. You'd think for how much time I've spent reading dialogue, Nintendo would've cared to make it more interesting.

Unfortunately though I am at the tutorial for the spirit flute now, and this is how I learned the microphone on my 3DS no longer works. There isn't a single other game that I was using it for, so this was a surprise, but I guess this is where my journey through Spirit Tracks ends. I can say for sure from my brief time though that the controls are awful. Nintendo had not yet understood that it they didn't need to start with a stupid gimmick and then build the rest of the game around it.

Offline pokepal148

  • Mop it up ate my Roomba :(
  • *
  • Score: -9962
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2019, 08:09:00 PM »
Apparently the first dungeon item forces you to use the microphone to use it, which, the moment I saw that I immediately pressed the home button and closed the software out of disgust so I probably have to redo a bunch of content. Did this game think it could do with the Microphone what Phantom Hourglass did with the touchscreen or something?

Offline Lemonade

  • A True Gaming Hero
  • *
  • Score: 11
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2019, 06:04:09 AM »
I guess so?




I got the game back when it was new, but stopped playing after the first temple for some reason. I'm hoping to finish it this time

Offline ejamer

  • Low man on the Triforce Totem
  • Score: 20
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2019, 09:01:31 AM »
I enjoyed Phantom Hourglass. It's hard to claim that repeating the trek through one dungeon over and over was a good design choice... but the touch-based controls worked well enough, extending the Windwaker universe was fun, and there ended up being enough great moments to carry the whole thing. I still remember being impressed with the final boss.

Unfortunately, I'm not loving Spirit Tracks. The locomotive conceit is fine, but in practice having to adjust your pathing to avoid enemies while traveling on the train is very tedious. Use of the microphone is mildly obnoxious (although I'm not as concerned as others seem to be). The setting also just isn't as much fun - at least not early on - and every time I pick up my DS it's a struggle to find motivation to keep playing.

I'm still very early in the game (just finished the first forest temple) so maybe there is room for this to turn around - but these minor issues are building up and giving me a poor first impression of the game.
NNID: ejamer

Offline adadad

  • Score: 3
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2019, 01:20:28 PM »
Believe it or not this is my first time ever gaming on a DS. Maybe it's the novelty, maybe it's time and distance from similar Zelda games, maybe it's the dramatic changes to the formula Breath of the Wild brought about, but I've been enjoying the earlygoing of Spirit Tracks. I'm sure had I played Spirit Tracks close to release, I would've been a lot less patient and the drawn out intro would've frustrated me no end. As it is I've enjoyed taking the train to the castle and all the drama there, Chancellor Cole's devilish manner, the introduction of the possession mechanic, even the escort/stealth mission with Zelda...! I'm now moving up the central tower. Promising stuff. I look forward to putting more time into this.

Offline Lemonade

  • A True Gaming Hero
  • *
  • Score: 11
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2019, 07:16:12 AM »
Snow temple is now complete (the second one). Overall, I'm enjoying the game. I like the world and dungeon design from what I have seen so far. I also like how you can draw on the map.
I think my only real complaint is the forced touch controls and that you can only equip one item at a time. It makes quickly swapping between items quite annoying. As for the touch controls, they work but when you want to be more precise in your movements or attacks, like in a boss battle, it just plain feels bad.
Besides the novelty factor and trying to appeal to less experienced players, I don't see any reason why this control scheme should be forced on all players. It would be so much better if it has normal button controls, like almost every other 2D Zelda.

Another thing I like is the graphics/art style. For a polygonal 3D DS game, it looks pretty nice. Or nice until it zooms in on any of the characters.

Offline ejamer

  • Low man on the Triforce Totem
  • Score: 20
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2019, 07:24:01 PM »
..., I don't see any reason why this control scheme should be forced on all players. It would be so much better if it has normal button controls, like almost every other 2D Zelda.  ...

At roughly the same spot (just about to start the next temple) and have the same opinion.

A lot of this game seems to be targeting inexperienced players, given the low overall difficulty and very linear/obvious direction provided so far. Combat is very loose and limited - perhaps the reason that hearts are so plentiful and damage so small. However, I think that making a game aimed at inexperienced and/or new gamers and then making the controls significantly looser and less appealing than a normal Zelda game seems like an odd decision. Maybe they won't know enough to find the controls really poor..?



Also, asking the player to speak in the microphone on the DS is terrible. I was playing in a public place earlier and arrived at a village in the third land type... and two of the characters there wanted me to speak clearly into the microphone. The first asked my gender, eye color, and some other minor details. The next wanted me to tell her she was cute. Nope. Turned it right off. I'm not shy about gaming in public, but this was more than I was willing to endure. I did try later, at home... the DS didn't seem to interpret my response correctly, although didn't give any feedback about what was wrong.

I'm ok with limited use of gimmicks, but forced use of the microphone does NOT work for me.
NNID: ejamer

Offline pokepal148

  • Mop it up ate my Roomba :(
  • *
  • Score: -9962
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2019, 07:44:18 PM »
..., I don't see any reason why this control scheme should be forced on all players. It would be so much better if it has normal button controls, like almost every other 2D Zelda.  ...

A lot of this game seems to be targeting inexperienced players, given the low overall difficulty and very linear/obvious direction provided so far. Combat is very loose and limited - perhaps the reason that hearts are so plentiful and damage so small. However, I think that making a game aimed at inexperienced and/or new gamers and then making the controls significantly looser and less appealing than a normal Zelda game seems like an odd decision. Maybe they won't know enough to find the controls really poor..?


I mean, people seem to like Skyward Sword so it's not like that direction hasn't had some success for the series.

Offline Lemonade

  • A True Gaming Hero
  • *
  • Score: 11
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2019, 03:34:56 AM »
I agree about speaking to the game is weird, I just saw that bit with the girl asking if she is cute. There were other people around me at the time, so I didnt say anything. Having to blow the mic is bad enough.

I also had a lot of trouble unlocking the door that you have to draw two diamond shapes on. I tried it a few times and it didnt work, so I thought maybe I had the pattern wrong, so I looked up and guide and I had the correct shape, the gake just wouldn't accept my drawing of it. I tried it a few more times and it eventually worked

Offline Mop it up

  • I'll eat my cat
  • Score: 116
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2019, 09:25:32 AM »
Overall I liked Phantom Hourglass, but my main complaint about it would probably be the controls. While they're serviceable, a touch screen is just never going to be as precise and accurate as buttons. It's a bit of a shame, as I think a combo of buttons and touch could have worked pretty well; use buttons for basic Link controls, and use touch for items which is good for them.

That means going into Spirit Tracks, I already knew my main issue wasn't going to be addressed, although making roll a double-tap as opposed to drawing a quick circle helps greatly reduce accidental activation of it. The train isn't so bad once the cannon is put onto it, I think I prefer it to the sailing in Phantom Hourglass, though it's probably still no replacement for foot traversal. I thought PH had pretty good dungeons and that seems to continue here, and so far it's made pretty good use of controlling a phantom in the tower.

The infamous pan flute isn't as bad as I was expecting, though it took me a bit to figure out the best way to get it to work consistently. Still, even when it does work it isn't something fun to do, so it definitely detracts from the game.

This is actually the last main Zelda game I had left to play, so it's nice to finally get around to it. Though, I had a sealed copy, and I have a feeling that may have had more value than playing it does...

Offline ejamer

  • Low man on the Triforce Totem
  • Score: 20
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2019, 10:13:15 AM »
... Though, I had a sealed copy, and I have a feeling that may have had more value than playing it does...

Hahaha... ouch!
 ;D

I've still got a few Zelda games to go (notably Skyward Sword and whatever the 3DS sequel for Link to the Past is called) but am getting close. It's nice that a 3DS gives you access to most Zelda games all on one console though.

I'm curious how people feel this ranks in the pantheon of portable Zelda games.

Right now I'm still playing, so not confident in giving a rating... but there have only been a couple that I enjoyed less. (That's not as bad as it sounds though; most portable Zelda games have been pretty solid.)
NNID: ejamer

Offline Mop it up

  • I'll eat my cat
  • Score: 116
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2019, 11:32:30 AM »
The only Zelda games I haven't played now (not counting CD-i games) are the Four Swords ones, mainly because I never had the opportunity. Oh, and Hyrule Warriors, if that counts.

It's too early to rank Spirit Tracks, but at the moment I'm thinking relatively low, but maybe above Phantom Hourglass. But yeah, I think just about any Zelda game is at least good, so a low-ranking one is still a game I liked.

I agree about speaking to the game is weird, I just saw that bit with the girl asking if she is cute. There were other people around me at the time, so I didnt say anything. Having to blow the mic is bad enough.

Also, asking the player to speak in the microphone on the DS is terrible.
I whispered close to the mic and it picked that up fine, so you could try that, though I guess that may still not be inconspicuous enough in public.

Offline ejamer

  • Low man on the Triforce Totem
  • Score: 20
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2019, 09:27:50 AM »
So I'm at this awkward point in the game. Just opened the way to the fire temple, but instead of pushing forward have gone back to unlock a bunch of stuff that was missing. At first, this was entertaining enough - it's nice to see the maps expand as you open up more and more pathways, and I like rocking my dragon-themed train - but after multiple hours of running silly fetch quests the charm of chugging across the same landscapes over and over has worn extremely thin.

I'm still a bit torn on using the train in place of a traditional overworld. Frankly, a lot of the standard overworld traversal in Zelda games has been lame - but there's still something about having my movement be so limited that is restricting my enjoyment of the game. It's often gotten to the point I just plug in a route and then set the DS aside without watching unless I hear audio cues for an enemy or event.

At this risk of having spoilers posted, how much of this fetch question nonsense is actually needed? Outside of the ice delivery, I'm not sure anything else has actually been valuable for progressing the game - it's mostly been about satisfying my own completionist tendencies.
NNID: ejamer

Offline Mop it up

  • I'll eat my cat
  • Score: 116
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2019, 12:17:32 PM »
As far as I can tell it's all just side stuff you can do for extra rewards like money, treasures, and heart containers. I don't think any of it blocks off main game progression.

I have mixed feelings about the train travel as well. On the one hand I appreciate trying out new ideas in games so I like that they did something different. But, after a few rounds of ferrying passengers it doesn't feel varied enough to keep on doing it. I've been trying to think up more ways to make the traveling more interesting, but I'm not really sure what would be the best way to improve it. If they tried to cram in more enemies and events and things, it would probably make the spaces feel too cramped. I'm starting to wonder if train travel just can't be that engaging of an idea for a video game, but maybe someone else has some better ideas?

One problem I have is that there aren't enough warp points on the map and they often get opened up after they would have been useful.

Offline pokepal148

  • Mop it up ate my Roomba :(
  • *
  • Score: -9962
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2019, 01:18:55 PM »
I think it says a lot that the only other Nintendo games I can think of that use the DS/3DS microphone's theoretical ability to recognize words are Animal Crossing New Leaf and Nintendont, which both use it for incredibly optional functions that you can easily get by in the game without ever touching.

Offline Lemonade

  • A True Gaming Hero
  • *
  • Score: 11
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2019, 12:58:20 AM »
Ocean temple is now done. I had to look up a guide because my first attempt, I missed a step and got stuck and then died.

I like the whip as a tool/weapon. I'm not sure if it was also in Phantom Hourglass. I would like to see it again in a new Zelda
« Last Edit: May 09, 2019, 02:39:40 PM by Lemonade »

Offline ejamer

  • Low man on the Triforce Totem
  • Score: 20
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2019, 04:33:00 AM »
Finished off the game last night, and have some quick takes based on my experience (with spoilers hidden for those still playing):

* Riding the rails is a nice novelty, but becomes increasingly time-consuming and annoying as the game progresses. Sure, you unlock new paths and warp points, but they rarely save significant time and all too often have the opposite effect - giving you remote areas you needs to drive through at least once.
* Optional content and side-quests aren't nearly rewarding enough. Some of this is tied into finding the overworld tedious, but it's also because upgrades in this game just aren't empowering or interesting. The player is often asked to do a lot of work for little reward, and without much in the way of story justification. I tried to get invested in solving problems for people... but eventually gave up. There just wasn't a good enough reason to spend literally hours on lame fetch quests
* Sub-weapon selection is pretty good in this game! I like the whip, although find it might be a bit underused. and blowing in the microphone to create little tornadoes is kind of fun. The sand wand is also pretty cool and creates some nice sense of verticality in the game, although is another case of a power that could have been used more in my opinion.
* The last boss is absolute garbage. It combines everything that isn't fun about the game into one long and awkward battle: escort mission, precision touchscreen controls in combat, DS microphone, and then more teamwork battle...  I really like it when the DS Zelda games have big, bold bosses that span across both screens. The last boss in Phantom Hourglass was impressive, and some of the earlier bosses in Spirit Tracks were pretty decent too. But this final boss was garbage - hot, steaming garbage that almost convinced me to just put the game away and call it quits because the whole encounter just wasn't fun. One upside: the train challenges going in to the final boss were kind of rewarding.

Overall, I can only think of one portable Zelda game that I enjoyed less than this game: Oracle of Ages. The game started off slowly and didn't really impress early on. Some of the novelty won me over during the mid-game... but then wore thin far too quickly, and by the end of the game my opinion had once again soured. Despite the game doing some interesting things, having a bad start and end is just too much to overcome...

So yeah, not sure what to think about Spirit Tracks overall. I guess that it's good to have finally played through so that now I can try to sell the game? Hopefully prospective buyers don't read this comment first though, because I wouldn't recommend that any of my friends spend the time/effort to track this game down.
NNID: ejamer

Offline Mop it up

  • I'll eat my cat
  • Score: 116
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2019, 09:44:34 AM »
I seem to have enjoyed the game more than you have, ejamer. I like that the dungeons had more of a focus on puzzles than anything, it makes them stand out from other games in the series. Both the last temple and tower sequence in particular were really clever, and in general the two-character tower sections worked pretty well. The train sections do feel lacking, though, and the pan flute stinks.

I actually quite like the final sequence in the game, it was surprisingly epic for this title! The sword part you mention though was a bit tough, but I think part of the reason for that is that the game doesn't really have stimulating sword fighting prior to this fight, and so it never prepares you for this moment. I still got it after a couple of tries though.

I guess that it's good to have finally played through so that now I can try to sell the game? Hopefully prospective buyers don't read this comment first though, because I wouldn't recommend that any of my friends spend the time/effort to track this game down.
Just sell it to a collector, they're not buying things for playing purposes!

I like the whip as a tool weapon. I'm not sure if it was also in Phantom Hourglass
Phantom Hourglass used the grapple hook from Wind Waker, which had a similar application as a tool to swing across gaps, but was a bit more clunky otherwise.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2019, 09:49:02 AM by Mop it up »

Offline ejamer

  • Low man on the Triforce Totem
  • Score: 20
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2019, 10:14:16 AM »
I agree; the dungeons were pretty good in this game! I would have liked some slightly harder puzzles - there was really only one thing I remember getting at all stuck on - but each of them felt unique and fun. It left me wishing there would be more.

Initially I hoped there would be a "dark version" or something of each temple you need to revisit... nope, pretty close to a "what you see is what you get" situation. Revisiting the tower in between each normal temple padded out the game, but (except for the last level in the tower, which was excellent) didn't feel as tightly designed as the normal temples.

My complaints are much less about the dungeons than about the interconnecting content, which seemed underdeveloped considering how much time it soaked up.
NNID: ejamer

Offline CDavis7M

  • Score: 0
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2019, 05:27:08 PM »
I played and beat Spirit Tracks 2 years ago. So instead of running through the game again, I am collecting items and powerups in the post-game.

Bottom line -- this is a DS-ass Zelda game whether you like it or not.

The touch controls work well, actions are smooth and predictable. Microphone control is a little clunky but all of the songs have continuous sequences (you know, like if you were playing an actual instrument). I think only the last duet song requires any sort of skill to play. Items are easy to use with the L-button. Drawing notes on the map is fun and unique. Giving the obligatory woo woo! -- pulling on the train horn with the touch screen as you leave the station is a blast. The pointing mini-games while traveling haven't got old yet. It's all perfectly "DS" and "Zelda" at the same time.

Spirit Tracks does everything the DS can do and it does it well, and better than Phantom Hourglass. Some people wish for optional button controls, but that would have diluted the full DS-experience for everyone. We have the most unique Zelda the DS could offer. Let's be thankful for that.

Anyway, back to transporting people and Cucco's for me.

"Come on! Let's hurry, Link!"
"Aye aye!
"AAAAALL ABOOOOOARD!"

Offline Lemonade

  • A True Gaming Hero
  • *
  • Score: 11
    • View Profile
Re: RetroActive 44: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2019, 12:34:36 AM »
Im now up to the fire temple. I kind of think the game goes for longer than it should. Im ready for it to be over, but I looked at a guide and there is still a lot left to go