Phantom Hourglass was a first for the Zelda franchise as it followed on from where The Wind Waker left off. The game proved to be a huge success despite some frustrating repetition as you had to keep fighting through the same dungeon in order to progress. Spirit Tracks takes Link away from the ocean and puts him in a little steam train which delivers a similar experience to sailing around the land, only now you’re literally on rails.
This time you’re actually playing as a different boy who dons the green garb to defeat an ancient demon. The Spirit Tower has been destroyed and it’s up to you to restore it along with the Spirit Tracks so everyone can move about the land again.
If you’ve played the previous game you’ll be right at home as it’s identical in terms of movement and combat using the stylus. Dungeons have a fresh feel however because the spirit of Zelda is now with you and can possess knights for some brand new puzzling using teamwork. Thanks to her new ability she can also teleport around the dungeons and help Link in many other ways.
The game basically has the same mechanic though. You go back and forth between the Spirit Tower and other locations to collect glyphs that open the land and let you get further into your quest but this time everything feels a lot more varied.
Link also has a new whirlwind ability and uses his panpipes to awaken statues and summon birds amongst other things. The trouble is, you do feel a bit of a fool on the bus when asked to blow into the microphone and there’s no button to substitute this! Link also has a whip which he can use to hit enemies and swing around and this new ability really is a lot of fun to use.
Driving the train can get a bit boring at times but thankfully later in the game you can warp between locations to shorten the commute.
With a long single player experience well over 15 hours and a multiplayer mode in there too, this really is one of the best games to come out on the DS this year. Spirit Tracks gets 9 out of 10.