10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Criminally under rated by the gaming press,
This review is from: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo DS) (Video Game)
If Metacritic has thought us anything, it's that gaming journalists have a herding instinct. The last Zelda DS game was almost universally praised for it's brilliant controls and all of it's Zelda-on-the-go goodness. Then the wind changed. Now it's the done thing among critics to complain about back tracking and repetition across the Zelda series so this has dominated the reviews, opinion pieces and feature articles that I've read in the last year that discuss this game. Very odd, because Metroid-vania games are all about back tracking and most FPS games or God of War clones seem to be constructed out of kits in an ikea warehouse. And yet critics ignore this and hand out 5 star reviews to the most pedestrian trash. But I digress....
My point: this little gem of a game has the miss fortune of being released at the height of a Zelda back lash in the press. So forget what the journalists are saying and just play the thing; it's brilliant!
The development team have clearly learned from most of the short comings in the previous Zelda DS title (Phantom Hour Glass): the story is more engaging, riding the train works better then the boat system, a lot of the back tracking is optional and the treasure hunting is less onerous. There are some flaws: the vehicle up grades are as pointless as before and yet again you get access to the last dungeon when you've only seen 2/3 of the game world (meaning you suddenly have to go on a lot of side quests if you want to see everything - many of the quests are closed to you until the penultimate dungeon has been completed, so you really can't do them until the very end). Once the final boss is within my grasp I just want to beat it, but I know that it'll be a long time before I come back to the game once I've completed the story, so I find myself jumping through hoops in trading quest after trading quest which I would have enjoyed much more had they accrued earlier in the game. Also, the battle mini/multi player game is back and is as uninspiring as last time. Note to Nintendo: Zelda didn't need this for 20+ years, so what changed?
So why still give it 5 stars? Because whilst not perfect, it really is a wonderful game and a must for DS owners. The puzzles are ingenious and the characters are full of charm. The pacing of the first 2/3's is spot on. The control is so intuitive that I have stopped noticing it, and the music is brilliant. It may not be as good as Ocarina of Time, but then what is? As it stands, this game is a special one and has reminded me of why I liked gaming in the first place: it's fun, it makes you think and it can capture your imagination.
In short, if you are even slightly interested in this game then you really ought to get it. It's got that Zelda magic that has made the series one of the crown jewels of video games. If you have never played a Zelda game or an adventure game before then you are in for a treat you won't forget in a hurry.
In fact, I am jealous of kids who get to play this as one of their first gaming experiences. They will have many happy memories, were all I have are dark recollections of 'Way of the Exploding Fist' and 'The Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles game'. Urk.
There, I think that'll do.