GDC 2009: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Trailer Impressions

We take a look at the brand-new trailer for the latest DS Zelda game.

A new entry in the Zelda franchise has been rumored for some time, so it was only a mild surprise today when Nintendo unveiled that it is, in fact, working on Link's next adventure. What did create a stir, though, is that this is not a new Wii game. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks follows on the heels of the hugely popular DS game Phantom Hourglass, and though details are sparse at this time, Nintendo has released a trailer that shows off a few of the new features. There is one concrete bit of information that is sure to delight eager fans, though: Spirit Tracks is set to come out later this year.

The cel-shaded art style from Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass returns in Spirit Tracks. Although Nintendo has not confirmed where this falls in the Zelda timeline, it appears as though this is a sequel to Phantom Hourglass. If true, this would be the first time a Zelda storyline has continued for three straight games. We'll have to wait for Nintendo to fill us in on the plot details, but at the very least, this is an aesthetical sequel that seems to be every bit as charming as the games that preceded it.

As the name implies, Link has now ditched the boat that allowed him to traverse the globe in Phantom Hourglass in favor of a train. In Phantom Hourglass, you were able to draw your course on a map and set sail in the open seas, but things look a little different now that you're restricted to rails. It appears as if the tracks are already laid out across this land and you are able to switch between routes on the fly. Link has always had the ability to travel across the countryside as he wishes--either by walking, riding a horse, or setting sail. It will be interesting to see how things will change if he has to follow the preset tracks the whole time.

Link is decked out in a fancy conductor hat to showcase his newfound vocation, and there are a number of other tiny details as well. When you come to a new set of tracks, a switcher will briefly appear on the touch screen, allowing you to stay the course or move over to a new path. There is also another meter, vertically oriented, that appears to control your speed. It's impossible to know if fuel will be a concern at this point, but there are plenty of hearty trees lining the countryside. A whistle string dangles tauntingly above your head, begging to be tugged to make the world know of Link's newly discovered love of the rail.

Luckily, Link's magic train is armed with a cannon, so any enemy who stupidly wanders near your locomotive will meet a quick end. Like in Phantom Hourglass, it appears as though your aiming is controlled on the touch screen, letting you quickly point at whatever foe dares to cross your path. At one point in the trailer, a skulltula dangles menacingly above the tracks and Link is all too happy to blast it from its sticky throne. At another point, a herd of animals that look like pigs but have the markings of a dairy cow meander in a nearby field, but Link has decided to play the humanitarian and keep these docile creatures alive.

When Link reluctantly leaves his steam-powered hobby, he battles baddies in the same way as in Phantom Hourglass. A new weapon is showcased in the trailer that looks like a pinwheel gun. You can shoot out a miniature cyclone that can stun enemies and grab nearby keys. During another shot, it's clear that Link still has a boomerang in his repertoire. Given that the pinwheel gun is performing many of the tasks the boomerang was accustomed to, it will be interesting to see what new role the boomerang has. Another weapon lets you control the giant metal guards who frequently tormented you in the last game. Actually, you had this ability in Phantom Hourglass as well, but it was restricted to the multiplayer. Here, you can direct the golem to cross fiery paths to flip previously inaccessible switches or battle an enemy while you run away in fear.

Finally, the two-screen boss battles from Phantom Hourglass are making a triumphant return. In the only battle showcased, you square off against a monstrous scarab beetle that has a forked horn sprouting menacingly from his head. Those tough exoskeletons only protect the back of these overgrown insects, though, so Link can slash away at their glowing weak spot by flipping them upside down. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long before Nintendo reveals more information, but at least we'll have to wait only a few more months before the final game comes out. Spirit Tracks is scheduled for release later this year.

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305 comments
stilts214
stilts214

To contradict my earlier statement, the ARE in fact working on a wii-specific Zelda game. However, it will most likely run off of wii motion plus, making it sotra like the wii dragon quest games which didnt work out very well at all. Here's hoping OnLive does everything it says it does :D

darksega50
darksega50

A New Adventure With our Favorite little Adventurer!! Looks Great, gave me goosebumps

bjm1995
bjm1995

hope it isn't for the dsi only I didn't get one

somethin112
somethin112

Looks like hes bout to be a delivery boy

Blisteringidiot
Blisteringidiot

Hmm. I dunno I hope it's as good as the last DS Zelda. Time will tell I guess.

2w-sephiroth
2w-sephiroth

We need a "real" Zelda on the wii. This spirit tracks makes me shake. Gives us a Zelda that we can rock and roll.

electro57
electro57

Maybe they should concentrate on a Zelda game that actually breaks from the standard 'rescue the princess while blowing flutes and playing with bottled fairies' for once.

stilts214
stilts214

but if they arent working on a wii game, Zelda is now dead.

Darkriku666
Darkriku666

ya'know they're probably working on a wii game, just be patient, we'll probably get more info about this and info about a wii zelda game during E3 That said, I can't seem to remember when E3 is, anybody care to help me freshen my memory

stilts214
stilts214

Also, we have to remember the Miyamoto said that "[twilight princess] will be the last zelda game of its kind" does that mean that this is where one of the greatest franchises ever made is headed? The rest of zelda could be, as xxRJxx said, damn handheld crap.

stilts214
stilts214

Ok... how low can they go? Raise your hand if you think nintendo has hit rock bottom,,, hopefully onlive will save nintendo from itself :\

xxRJxx
xxRJxx

i want a wii version. damn handheld crap

Dante200X
Dante200X

battousai611 said:The Cube version may have released first, but Nintendo was also releasing a LoZ game pretty close to a brand frickin new console. Sounds like an intense business strategy... Actually the Wii version was released first (for some unknown reason). And yes, TP on the wii was a port. The game was specifically delayed from being released on the gc at the time so they could put the motion controls (and flip the game) for the wii version. But IMO, that was a total doosh move on their part to put a so called exclusive, new LoZ game that was supposed to be on the gc onto the wii BEFORE the system is was designed for.... It was bad enough that suddenly they were porting it to the wii but it somehow came out before the gamecube one. I just wonder "WTF?" any time I think of that. It was a nice business strategy for them and the wii, but it was pretty lame IMO...I hope no other company ever does that again with a high profile game.

Darkriku666
Darkriku666

Just something I want to add in real fast for who say that the train doesn't fit into history 1: It's a fantasy game 2: The past zelda games had even more mechanical stuff in them, like in the GBC game, those blade things that would follow you around

battousai611
battousai611

Actually, Zake's right... The Wii version was a port. They were working on the Cube version of Twilight Princess long before the Wii version. The Wii version was flipped from the original so it could match the way the majority of players would use the Wiimote. The Cube version may have released first, but Nintendo was also releasing a LoZ game pretty close to a brand frickin new console. Sounds like an intense business strategy...

mini_mario
mini_mario

thought about it. actually, im convinced. what you'll do... It'll be... Pretty Un-Pretty.

Darkriku666
Darkriku666

Actually Zakedestiny, you can't really call the Wii game a port on account that it came out before the gamecube game Also, they are probably working on a Wii game, I predict an announcement at E3 infact

Zakedestiny
Zakedestiny

Also, if this game is only DSi compatible, I'm going to... well... I'm not entirely sure but it won't be pretty and will probably involve monkeys, a sausage, and a cheese grater. ...think about it for a minute...

Zakedestiny
Zakedestiny

Is it really too much to ask for a console Zelda game any time soon? I love me some Phantom Hourglass as much as the next guy, but the real treasures of the series are the ones for the main consoles. Twilight Princess was a frickin' amazing game, I loved it, but it was really just a port of a Gamecube game. I want to see what the Zelda team can do with a fully dedicated game for the Wii. Instead we get two cell-shaded Zelda games in a row for the DS. I'm sure Spirit Tracks will be a blast, just like Hourglass, but I can't be the only one here who's just the tiniest bit irked that they seem more excited to be making the DS games than the Wii ones. Give me some awesome console Zelda, please!

beny_pimpster
beny_pimpster

to so_hai lol haha save the world from the evil charcoal company or something hehe

so_hai
so_hai

Is Ganondorf the controller of a large coal company?

JaredTrotterboy
JaredTrotterboy

just as long as they don't start putting guns and or cars in the Zelda series I'm totally fine with it all. Zelda's still my favorite game of all time =) I still play Majora's Mask, Orcarina of Time, Links Awakening, etc.

G_Child
G_Child

It all looks very odd, bowing to Zelda in a conductor's suit and riding a train. But as always, the music is awesome and the gameplay looks legit, I'm buying.

zeldafreak7
zeldafreak7

Continuing from my last comment, I think that guns will eventually come to the picture. Okay, I don't, but it would be interesting. A train shooting a cannon at dangling spiders isn't as fun as a train being gunned down by mobsters.

zeldafreak7
zeldafreak7

Looks... different. The zelda games seem to be getting closer to today's society with every game. From walking, to horses, freakin' boats, and now it's a freakin' locmotive! Next thing you know, they'll come out with The Legend of Zelda: Soul Highway 90.

KillerOttsel
KillerOttsel

From horses to boats to STEAM boats and now a train huh. seems like its alot about what hes riding

MrSaturn33
MrSaturn33

lol, yeah, i can imagine toon link driving around in a ferrari and picking up chicks XDDDDDDDDDD

the_danny
the_danny

now a train next zelda a car :) :P

Omegaman007
Omegaman007

I was excited for this until I watched the trailer. Looks like more of the same. Unfortunately like every other zelda lover I'll still buy it. I still think it won't be as good as Phantom Hourglass.

Sonic7777777
Sonic7777777

Gotta hurry up and play phanotm hourglass!!

sechedgehog
sechedgehog

minish cap, four swords and four swords adventures are different timelines... four swords and adventures takes place a hundred years after -_-'

AntoniustheGrey
AntoniustheGrey

It looks just like the last game. They even used some of the old character models for some of the enemies. It's going to be worse in my opinion because you are on a train which limits your movement...oh yeah and it's just a train which is probably the least cool form of transportation-unless you are a railfan.

skatrbub54
skatrbub54

This looks like it will be fun when the game is completed but I kinda wanted to see a console one. I like the cel shading too but some of it on the DS looks kind of ugly

ExireHG
ExireHG

This is disappointing, but not because I don't own a DS. Zelda deserves to be on a prime console, the ones on the little handhelds don't live up to the expectations of 'real' Zelda games. I am quite disappointed.

chinchilla177
chinchilla177

dnteatyellwsnw, yeah i agree. but if you watch the trailer i think its only when youre in the train. and i have never really enjoyed these games. but phantom hourglass was amazing. so i'll probs end up with this game too

dnteatyellwsnw
dnteatyellwsnw

I'm pumped, but all I want to say is...I hope that stupid conductor outfit is an option and not a must. We better be able to keep him in his green tunic at all times. That stupid shirt is the most embarrassing thing I've ever seen, lol

widdowson91
widdowson91

Phantom Hourglass was a fantastic addition to the Zelda franchise and my collection, yeah it wasn't hard but it was still good. The control scheme was perfect and had to be because if just one thing was wrong then the whole game would have felt a mess, so I just hope Spirit Tracks can carry this on and improve on Phantom Hourglass's 2 flaws, the games length and difficulty.

Xplode_77
Xplode_77

I'm a huge Zelda fan, but I gotta say it looks gay But the new weapons and dungeons look cool, if this is going to be a great game its going to have to follow up older Zelda puzzle type gameplay

BLuFAlc0n
BLuFAlc0n

How about the Mario game? Is it going to the Wii or DS?

nirobu
nirobu

game hasnt even come out yet, why is everyone assuming the train will be bad?

Marcus315
Marcus315

Looks great, I can't wait for Taxi Link and Combine Havester Link.

belmont67
belmont67

If the game plays well and has a somewhat ok storyline, I won't care if i'm driving a train around. I'm always open to new ideas.

Nexus_of_Sanity
Nexus_of_Sanity

Good lord- WHY THE TRAIN?! Every other aspect of the game looks quite good. The dungeons look interesting, and there's an array of new items to join the old classics. I guess it's going to be very similar to Phantom Hourglass in terms of dungeons and stuff; but I quite enjoyed PH, so I'm alright with that. A good formula does not need to be revised I guess. And they might have actually improved on it, as the Temple of the Ocean King, or anything like it, will (hopefully) not feature in this game! HOWEVER, they got rid of the worst part of PH- the sailing (Nintendo should have learned from the Wind Waker's experience that sailing sucked, but oh well)- and they replaced it with something even worse. A F***KING TRAIN?! Completely butchers the game by including something as stupid as a train. That was a stupid, brainless move, and it's really going to cost Nintendo. I mean honestly, what were they thinking? It doesn't really matter anyway, cos it looks like it'll only be available for the DSi (I have the very OLDEST model of the DS actually- the one before the Lite). Although the rest of the game looks good, I cannot imagine what insanity provoked Nintendo to include a steam train in a Zelda game...

Cool_Ninja55
Cool_Ninja55

I have always been a fan of Zelda games I really like wind waker and twilight princess i thing i will rent this one first cause its for the DS