Thursday, February 4, 2010

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

I didn't beat Spirit Tracks. I came close, but quit near the end. There were a few problems with it. First, there are only four major dungeons. Second, there are only about four special weapons and then the songs for the Spirit Pipes. Third, getting anywhere is a bit of a pain in the butt.

First, let's examine the dungeon problem. If you add in the four trips to the Tower of Spirits (which I don't), you find yourself doing about eight dungeon-ish activities. That's nice, but it just seemed like Nintendo skimped. For instance, you used to receive Heart Pieces for various activities. Now you receive whole Heart Containers for seemingly mundane tasks. That sounds great, but it means that there's less to do. Consider: In Link's Awakening (for the Game Boy!) there were eight dungeons with heart containers and weapons in each. There were 12 Heart Pieces, 25 Secret Seashells, a trading game, and all sorts of other goodies. You could spend hours just looking for secrets.

Now, in Spirit Tracks, they have the Bunny Rescue and you can shuttle people around in order to open up more tracks in the world. It's nice, but completely unnecessary. You find enough stuff just lying around that you don't need to go out of your way to find more secrets. Other games it was darn near essential. Is that a good thing? Depends. I think it is.

Second, the limited amount of special weapons helps and hurts. It means that no weapon is wasted. You're not going to get a weapon that will help you in one dungeon and then become useless from there on out. You'll find puzzles throughout that use the weapons you acquired at the very beginning. That's nice, and I'm not complaining about that. I AM complaining about how few there are. Sure, you can say that using Zelda in some of the Tower dungeons constitutes a weapon, but it really doesn't. She's just someone who helps you, not necessarily a weapon. If that's something that bothers you like it bothers me, there you go.

Third, I like the train. I like it a lot. However, I don't like that it's maximum speed is "grandma on barbiturates after a hip replacement." It can take five minutes to get from one side of the map to the other, and along the way you have to fight the SAME enemies, take the SAME turns, and do the SAME stuff to get there. Plus, the DS really shows off the lack of graphical prowess by the repeated textures in the trees and some of the dull-looking sprites. I think the train is a fine idea that would have been better suited to a system that could make it look a lot prettier.

Is Spirit Tracks bad? No, not at all. It's a fine game. Maybe we demand too much out of Zelda games, but when every game in the Zelda series is so good, getting a game that's a "B" feels like a "C," especially in comparison to some of the dizzying heights this series is prone to.

Final Rating: B

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