Choo choo!

April 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Games, Music, Recommendations and Reviews | Leave a comment
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The power of a train whistle is extraordinary. Scares away enemies, opens up portals, speeds up your train like crazy…

So with Phantom Hourglass done not too long ago, of course Spirit Tracks would come next. This was a very good game and entertaining and was able to expand on many of Phantom Hourglass’s good points, but nevertheless, it was still basically the same thing. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but for those expecting something completely different, this was not it.

Still, there were plenty of cool things to keep me amused (even if my beloved hammer was nowhere to be seen…)

Let’s set the mood with some music, shall we?

Nostaligic, isn’t it?

I just want to start by saying that Zelda music is always good but I think this is the first time since playing Ocarina of Time that I actually paused before clicking during speech to listen to the music. I obviously did it for Zelda’s lullaby but I found myself doing it often enough that it was noticeable. In short, this game has awesome and memorable music. Byrne’s theme, the overworld theme and the two temple themes are some that come to mind right now. Koji Kondo and his crew never fail to amaze me.

The whole idea of trains was first very strange to me and took some getting used to, but I found it to be quite fun. It was definitely a creative replacement for the boat from Phantom Hourglass.

I will also admit, I didn’t really know what to expect from this game and any real connection/similarities to its predecessor so when I got into the Spirit Tower and I saw the first pink ball of smoke, I was so scared. NOT PHANTOMS! (How I didn’t get the hint from “Spirit” Tracks, I don’t know. It was a stupid moment.) Thankfully, there is no time limit, so getting hit by a phantom can’t reduce the non-existent time limit, and it’s one of the few places where Zelda is surprisingly useful. Oh did I mention Zelda’s spirit follows us around? Yeah there’s no fairy this time, but she still does turn into a ball of energy… So it’s basically the same thing. But this Zelda, compared to many others, has an actual personality. Tetra had spunk but lost most of it when she realized who she was. Anyway, Zelda actually helps you quite a bit in here and in cool ways. She can possess Phantoms. Yeah, you heard me. POSSESS THEM! She can distract other phantoms, kill enemies, walk on spikes and LAVA and let you ride on her shield. She does have flaws, but still! The main objective is eliminating the Phantom problem and she does solve that. YES.

Other than this addition, there are a couple others that are quite cool and use more of the DS’s potential. First off, there was more with fire+boomerang and ice+boomerang puzzles and abilities. I’m pretty sure we’ve used fire to melt stuff before but using an ice flame to create an ice bridge? That was quite cool. There was also a lot of cool uses for the microphone. The whirlwind item was interesting but more importantly, the Spirit flute was awesome. The first instrument that you actually play! You have to blow into the mic to make a sound and move over the pipes with the stylus, similar to how you’d play a harmonica (or actually a pan flute… right.). This was SUPER cool. And how the fortune teller would say different things depending on what you said for your eye colour and zodiac sign? That was some pretty impressive voice recognition. It wasn’t perfect, obviously, but it worked quite well. I was impressed.

They replaced the grappling hook with the whip but thinking on it, the grappling hook could do everything the whip could and more. Another addition was the sand wand, which could raise the sand for a short period of time which you could walk on, or use to move big blocks around for puzzles. A little weird, but interesting nevertheless.

My one complaint is that there was something of a priority issue here. You know there’s something wrong when a piece of treasure, despite being ultra-rare, is harder to get than a heart container. How is treasure more important than life?
(The case can be made that this piece of treasure helps you get the ultimate set for your train which increases your train’s health by 2 hearts more than any other set… but who really cares about that? Especially when all the important bad guys ONE-SHOT you anyway?)

And one other question. How is it that in this time, Linebeck III is alive (and is the spitting image of his great grandfather) while Niko is still alive? And we’re told that Zelda’s ancestors came to this land over 100 years ago (that ancestor being Tetra). So seriously, how is Niko still alive? Are you telling me he’s nearing 120?

But anyway, part of the problem for me right now is that Spirit Tracks had so many similar things to Phantom Hourglass that I can’t completely separate the two and compare them. And I don’t know if that’s a good thing. What I do know is that was a fun game and it was very enjoyable, minus the rabbit hunting. (Stewpid wabbits)

Random Quote: First, I lose my body, and now I look like a heap of scrap metal! – Zelda, after possessing a Phantom for the first time.

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