The first Zelda I ever played was Link's Awakening on my old black and white Game Boy in the early ā90s. Then last year I reminisced by getting hold of a Nintendo 64 and playing 1998ās Ocarina of Time. Horsies, swimming and all.
There were a couple of games for the GameCube over the years but they passed through the world without me ever hearing of them. And thereās only one for the Wii. So thereās probably been a lot happening in the land of Zelda in the last 10 years.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is the second Zelda for the DS and the 17th Zelda game in total, so theyāre not doing too bad, really. For an old-school Zelda player like me, Zelda on the DS was a bit of a novelty. Controlling the game solely via the sylus was strange at first. I didnāt know how I was going to cope. But give it a couple of minutes and Iād forgotten all about it. You can whiz round the screen with Links like lightening.
The look and feel of the game havenāt changed from the last DS game. And itās pretty much the same as the original Zeldas ā map, sword, quest, crates, puzzles. But in Spirit Tracks thereās more. Links travels by train, uses new weapons and DS items and has a travel buddy. His new buddy, Phantom, is a suit of armour that accompanies Link around the game. You control Phantom by touching his icon then drawing a route around the screen. You command Link by tapping on him and dragging him across the screen with the stylus. The other screen on the DS is taken up by the map, which, like the previous game, you can draw notes on to.
Phantom can walk through fire or lava, and Link can jump on him to manoeuvre past such dangers. The Phantom can be left alone while you concentrate on Links, slashing his sword by double clicking, picking up crates and throwing them. And if heās lost, just click on the āCallā icon and Phantom comes running. To see where Phantom is, click on his icon; to go back to Links, tap back on his icon. Phantom wonāt fight your battles for you, but heāll carry Link across a burning floor or block him from harm.
Travelling around by train, Link determines which track to take and how to manipulate the trainās speed. Link has to plot the best route through moving obstacles to get to the end of the line. While on board, he sometimes has to sound the whistle to scare animals off the tracks or fire off a cannon at attacking enemies.
Iām definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the full Spirit Tracks and playing all the way through. It will be fun for Zelda newbies, but also satisfyingly different for the old-schoolers. Having a new character to manipulate in Phantom brings new opportunities to the franchise and in-game possibilities that havenāt been there before.
- By Kat Ryan
The Good: The new mechanics introduced with Phantom.
The Bad: Too similar to past Zelda's? Nah!
The Ugly: Phantom - he can walk through fire or lava!