The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Review

Nintendo’s evergreen hero doesn’t veer too far off track in this spectral sequel.

By Rupert Higham, December 12, 2009

The ever familiar inventory sees the tried and tested (bombs, arrows and boomerangs) sit comfortably alongside the innovative (the blowing-controlled Whirlwind/Spirit Flute or the environment-altering Sand Wand) and the retooled (the hook shot-like Snake Whip) and as is the law in Zelda games, have multiple uses and puzzle-solving applications. Puzzles appear to have upped the head-scratching ante since Phantom Hourglass with a number of devious obvious-only-when-you-know-how situations appearing to halt your progress. 


This dramatic chase through an underground train tunnel is one of the early highlights.

Spirit Tracks has thankfully addressed the infamous repetition of the timed Temple of the Ocean King in Phantom Hourglass. There is the monstrously huge 29 floor Spirit Dungeon that must be returned to between the five main dungeons, but there is no repetition involved and you have all the time in the world to solve it with the aid of the good princess herself. Zelda’s possession of the phantoms allows for some mind-bending puzzles and unlike many other failed examples of controlling more than one character, it actually works very well and adds an interesting dimension to problem-solving. 


Princess Zelda is a formidable ally and is essential to get Link through the epic Spirit Temple.

At six dungeons deep and lacking the huge volume of side quests enjoyed by its predecessors, Spirit Tracks isn’t among the biggest Zelda games and I can’t shake the feeling that another 6-12 months of development time could have expanded the game beyond the formulaic one dungeon per quarter world map into something a little more befitting of Zelda’s epic scale. 

Spirit Tracks is still such a polished and wonderful game that its faults are only relative to other entries in the series and is therefore still better than 99% of all handheld games out there. It is another master class in how to utilise every trick is the DS hardware book and worthy of carrying forward the Zelda name with pride, demonstrating that no matter how familiar the core features are, there is still room for innovative thinking. After the cool reception the ultra-conservative Twilight Princess received, this kind of hardware-driven rethink may be just what the Wii version needs if the series is to stay on top.

8 out of 10

Need further clarification? Check our scoring guide, dummy.

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11 Responses to “The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Review”

  1. Someone says:

    You guys screwed up.

    “At six dungeons deep and lacking the huge volume of side quests enjoyed by its predecessors, Spirit Tracks isn’t among the biggest Zelda games”

    It has way more sidequests than Phantom Hourglass and Twilight Princess. How can you give out a review if you don’t know what you’re talking about? I’m disappointed.

  2. Rupert Higham says:

    Seriously? Okay, this took me around half an hour so it’s not exactly comprehensive. Please feel free to add any to the Spirit Tracks section if you think I’ve missed anything out, which was not intentional. Please excuse the ugly formating, but this is copied from MS Word.

    Spirit Tracks:

    • 50 x rabbits
    • 20 x force gems
    • 13 heart pieces
    • 20 x stamp station
    • Treasure x 8
    • 40 parts for train
    • Minigames – Take ‘em all out, sword, training, rope race, goron target, pirate hideout arrow

    Phantom Hourglass:

    • 11 x sand of hours
    • 60 x gems (power, wisdom, courage)
    • 31 x treasure maps
    • 13 x heart piece
    • 6 x golden frogs
    • fishing quest
    • Trade Quest (6 parts)
    • treasure x 8
    • 40 parts for ship
    • 2 costumes
    • minigames – cannon game, shooting gallery, harrow island digging, sword training, maze island

    Twilight Princess:

    • bottles x 4
    • howling stones x 6
    • 45 x heart piece
    • 24 x golden bugs
    • Fishing quest
    • Cave of Ordeals (50 floors)
    • 3 x costume (not just superficial either)
    • 3 x bomb bag
    • 60 x poe souls
    • 20 x cat chatting
    • Minigames: Yeti snowboarding, rollgoal, Plumm’s river trip, Iza’s river rapids, goat herding, archery training, moblin jousting, goron sumo, star game

    Am I missing something here?

  3. josiah says:

    dont forget the sword skills on ph and st

  4. josiah says:

    oh and i dont know if you care but there are also three different type of quiver on tp but those are just upgrade wich ther are on ph and st to

  5. Rupert Higham says:

    Yeah, thanks josiah. The sword skills are present in all three games (TP gives you the rolling back attack, shield push, etc) and all three games feature quiver and bomb bag quantity upgrades.

  6. some person says:

    i found most zelda games to be far to easy they should realy make a incredibly hard zelda game but they were still all a fun afew days of my life

    • someperson says:

      yeah but twilight princess is long but ds or dsi games are very short but i dont know why.

  7. yoshirider82 says:

    i had to do walkthrough on tp

  8. some person says:

    that is vary sad

  9. someperson says:

    I got the legend of zelda spirit tracks for christmas as well as mario bros bowsers inside story. And two things came to my surprise that 1 link started in a train uniform and you dont get your legendary tunic from the old hero of Hyrule, witch we never figured out what happened to, you got a ordonary soldier uniform? and 2 you have zelda always at your side except for the brief running to the ceramonie to become a full engineer and when that wierd loking guy with the two hats captured her and knocked out your captain. Other then that it is a great game but the castles are sooooooooooooooooooo short and soooooooooooooooooooo easy.

  10. Brush says:

    Speaking of Bowsers Inside Story – have they reviewed that here, tis a great game.


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