Will Zelda Spirit Tracks be any good?

As the release date for the new Zelda game on the DS, “The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks”, comes ever closer, the question many are asking is “Should I bother?”.

We’re forgiven for our skepticism. After all, the last Zelda release on the DS, “Phantom Hourglass” was, well, too gimmicky. Shallow plot. Repetitive gameplay. And most importantly, too short. I, and many other traditional RPG fans and Zelda fans alike were left disappointed.

But, instead of analyzing what we didn’t like about Phantom Hourglass, I’m going to take a guess based on the information out there about the latest offering.

So, what do we know?

Cel Shading

Personally, I really liked WindWaker (for the uninformed, this was the Gamecube Zelda offering). I liked the style, I liked the gameplay, and I liked the cel shading. I liked the difficulty and length of the game. I liked everything about it.

My thoughts aren’t shared with the entire Zelda community though. But, putting those scathing comments about the cel shading aside – there are hardware restrictions that make the “Twilight Princess” styling somewhat too ambitious for the DS. So, unless the designers go for the old Gameboy style, cel shading is probably going to make me happy at least.

Not to mention, this is touted as the sequel to Phantom Hourglass and Wind Waker. That in itself implies cel shading is appropriate.

Storyline

I worry. I worry a lot. About the storyline, that is. Phantom Hourglass lacked so many things, but most of all, plot depth.

We know that the story features a new Link. That’s not unusual. We’ve had more Links than James Bond actors. I think. Probably.

We know that Zelda features in this story heavily. We know she accompanies Link. I feel that’s a good sign.

We know a few other odd pieces about the storyline, the when, the where. Perhaps not the how or why just yet.

Yet we still know so little about the plot. So I worry.

Gameplay

So we know that there’s a train in the game, and we know that we navigate somehow using the stylus. This kind of gimmick also worries me. The best zelda games don’t have gimmicks. They have gameplay. The boat in Phantom Hourglass is all too familiar when compared to the new images we see of the train. I really hope that Nintendo have at least included the same level and length of gameplay that we’re used to in the other handhelds like Minish Cap or the “Oracle” games. A glimmer of hope is in the official trailers, where you see hints of puzzles not unlike those in the old Gameboy titles.

I hope they paid attention to the criticism of the gameplay depth and repetition of Hourglass. Most of all, I hope they have paid attention to the criticism of the length of Hourglass. And, I hope they have less of the time pressure stuff that was in hourglass.

Final thought? There’s a lot of hope in this article. I hope this is a good game that will appeal to all us long term Zelda fans. I just wish there was a bit more to go on than hope.

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