The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Updated Hands-On

We dive deeper into Link's latest adventure on the Nintendo DS.

As with our previous look at The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, if you're not particularly interested in reading some slight spoilers on Link's latest adventure in Hyrule, then you're probably better off skipping this update. We're jumping into some of the plot and gameplay details that occur after completing the first dungeon, as well as taking a look at some of the puzzles that await. With that out of the way, we'll continue with Link as he completes the Forest Temple dungeon and makes his way back to the Sprit Temple on his train.

Link needs to go back to the Sprit Temple so he can revive the sprit tracks that lead to the other temples within Hyrule. In this case, he specifically needs to find the map that opens the tracks to the Snow Temple located far in the northwestern corner of the map, but to get to this map, he has to go through a smaller dungeon within the Spirit Temple (up the staircase from the previous dungeon where the Forest Temple map is located) to retrieve it. Once inside, Link and Zelda have to use some of the same tactics as in the previous dungeon where Link must find the three teardrops to power up his sword, as well as attack the back of one of the phantom knights before Zelda can take control of it. Once that's done, the pair finds some new obstacles that weren't present in the previous section, namely massive fire pits that Link can't cross without some help.

Fortunately, when Zelda takes control of the phantom armor, she has no problems walking through the fire. So, the new trick you learn is that Link can ride on top of the phantom's shield while it walks through these hazards, preventing him from taking any sort of damage and enabling him to get through parts of the dungeon that were previously inaccessible. Additionally, this same trick comes in handy when defeating some of the new enemies, such as little imps that ride atop indestructible statues, as well as retrieving keys in hard to reach places. There are also portions in this dungeon where you have to use Zelda in her phantom armor as a barricade against fire-spewing statues. Eventually, the two make their way to the end of the dungeon and retrieve the map the opens the tracks to the Snow Temple.

But as Link and Zelda make their way back to the train and head toward the snowy peaks of Hyrule, their train comes under attack by new creatures that do some serious damage to the train. Fortunately, Alfonzo helps out and suggests the two head back to the starting village of Aboda so he can make some modifications to the train that'll help deal with these enemies. While Alfonzo's busy, Link ventures back into town to speak with Niko who hands Link a stamp book. You can get stamps from different areas of Hyrule by finding some small podiums where stamps are dispensed, and if you manage to get all the stamps, Niko says he'll give you something special in return.

You can find stamps at various locations around Hyrule.

Making his way back to the train, Link discovers that Alfonzo is done with the train modification, which takes the form of a cannon not too dissimilar from the one on Link's boat in both Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. To use it, you simply tap where you want to fire and a cannonball flies out. It's very easy to use and makes short work of any foes that get a little too close to the train, but you can also use it to destroy boulders and other objects scattered in the surrounding scenery as you travel. With their new weapon in tow, Link and Zelda once again head toward the Snow Temple.

As with most things in the Zelda universe, it's not as simple as going from one point to the next. It turns out that the entrance to the Snow Temple tracks is blocked by a massive door. The only way in is to head to Anouki Village to see if the Anouki have a solution to the problem. But, of course, the Anouki have their own problems and ask Link to help solve them before telling him how to gain passage through the door. The puzzle here involves making three pairs of Anouki to form patrols that protect their village, but the Anouki have individual preferences on whom they want to be paired with, so you have to play close attention to their personal requests. Once you have all of the information, you report back to the village chief and assign the pairs. If you don't get it right, you can go back to speak with all of them again. But once you do match them up, the Anouki open the door to the tracks so you can proceed with the journey.

The train trip inside the tunnel that opens seems straightforward until a massive crablike creature appears and gives chase, but it's not all that difficult to deal with this creature. Thanks to the train's new cannon, you can fire cannonballs repeatedly at the crab's massive, single eyeball. If you happen to miss and not take it down, the crab will get close to the train to inflict damage. After the relatively brief confrontation on the tracks, Link and Zelda make their way out (and after a brief side trip to play the pan flute) only to find that the rest of the tracks leading up to the Snow Temple are engulfed in a massive blizzard.

Like the earlier Forest Temple segment, if you draw the wrong train route on your map and get lost, the game simply kicks you back out to the entrance. We got lost a few times before giving up and heading back toward Anouki Village to see if its residents could help. Unfortunately, they didn't really have any direct answers but they knew of someone on the far eastern side of the area that possibly knew the proper path through the blizzard. Finding this character involves travelling to his abandoned station where he left a map, which indicates that he travelled to one of three points to photograph trains passing by on the tracks. And sure enough, by travelling to one of these three points, you see him sitting trackside snapping photos of trains as they pass. Once Link tells this character of his predicament, he hands Link a map with the proper path to the Snow Temple (which you can also draw onto your own map).

Link and Zelda have to work together in the Spirit Temple.

With the aid of new directions, Link and Zelda finally make it to the Snow Temple. And as you might suspect, many of the puzzles in this dungeon revolve around ice and fire. But this is also the dungeon where Link acquires the boomerang, which functions much like it did in the Phantom Hourglass. You can make Link either throw out the boomerang as he normally would, or you can trace a path for the boomerang to follow. This becomes vital for solving puzzles in the dungeon--particularly ones where Link must throw the boomerang through fire or ice torches. The fire torches help reveal secrets buried in the snow and weaken ice enemies while the ice torches create ice bridges on water and weaken fire enemies.

In fact, creating ice bridges also becomes an integral part of the central puzzle in the dungeon where Link must bring three different types of bells into the main area of the dungeon. Also, hitting these bells in specific order with the boomerang opens new passageways that eventually lead to the room with the master key and the final confrontation with the dungeon boss--a foe that has the power of both fire and ice. With the two torches (fire and ice) in the room, you can probably guess how the boss is defeated, but at a certain point, this boss destroys both torches, making the battle a little more difficult than it initially appears.

So, we've seen a few new elements come into play throughout the course of a few hours. Now that Link's train can defend itself, travelling seems a little more interesting. Seeing how the Snow Temple's puzzles incorporate some of Link's new tools and abilities definitely has us eager to find out what the other dungeons hold. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is scheduled for release on December 7.

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The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

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Discussion

69 comments
dawnofhero
dawnofhero

The realistic-looking Link is the best. If they can make Mario 64 DS, then they should consider making Ocarina of Time DS.

linkman3
linkman3

Ive played it and all im saying is the game isnt long enough

qwerttyyyy
qwerttyyyy

Great game... still playing it. I'm stuck on one of the flute parts... those are the only parts i hate...

Shicezor
Shicezor

I`m 23 I bought it, played it, finished it and loved it, what else do you want? I too was skeptical over the train but it passes away as soon as you play it and the story is almost as good as Wind Waker. The music is alot better than Phantom Hourglass aswell and the bosses are a bit harder.

Kristjands
Kristjands

this game was good, better than phantom hourglass, but the series is moving away from what made the games really great and thats the world overview. no longer do you control link on the world map but you control a train, don't get me wrong i like it but i'd like to see a game where you can run around the world map as link and get on your horse and gallop wherever it is your going

linkman3
linkman3

take back what I said this game is pretty cool, graphics better than phantom, but story aint as good

linkman3
linkman3

cant wait til the 15th Im getting it for b-day

CeltQueen
CeltQueen

This one is definitely one of the best Zelda! I love the train!

Kingzant1
Kingzant1

Cant wait for Christmas! Ive seen videos, it looks like a fun, long game. This is the first game(I think) where Zelda has a extremely huge role in the series.

Wolflink001
Wolflink001

I was blown away by this games intro! Better than Phantom Hourglass? I think so!!!

BonEcho
BonEcho

This game looks soooooooo awesome I already have Phantom Hourglass and it's a good game I hope this one is more challenging and longer

jorgeurantia
jorgeurantia

GREEEAAAT GAME....! GREAT GREAT, BETTER THAN ITS PREDECESSOR! IT'S SPIRIT TRACKS!

darknut79
darknut79

Maaaaan, can't wait for this game to come out! Just one day left! I just hope it's more challenging than Phantom Hourglass- I'm a hardcore gamer, especially when it comes to Zelda games, and that game took around 5 days to beat. Anyway, I can't wait!

artsterisyours
artsterisyours

the spirit temple: every time u add a piece you instantly transport tom the new part of the dungeon,therefore skipping the already completed parts. :P

mariostar0001
mariostar0001

@wario96, Zelda didn't die, she's just wearing the phantom armor. Or so it appears.

supershyguy65
supershyguy65

Its a dungeon in PH that you must go through many times throughout the game.

MaskedLink
MaskedLink

I haven't played Phantom Hourglass yet. Should I before I play this? Also, what is this "Temple of the Ocean King" that everyone seems to hate so?

lukas1051
lukas1051

As long as I don't have to play the same dungeon 8 times, it's all gooood...

greenarcher02
greenarcher02

i wonder why they changed the english title to spirit tracks instead of literally translating the japanese title?

music_ian423
music_ian423

do you seriously have to go through another annoying repetitive dungueon OVER AND OVER again in this game??? waste... of money!

dontcare5454
dontcare5454

Wii motion plus I hate you sooo much Nintendo! Never again will I buy a Nintendo product.

PsychoKristoph
PsychoKristoph

Puzzles are looking intriguing the more they release footage.

2mike23
2mike23

im a huge fan of zelda and link

ASK_Story
ASK_Story

Previews and Nintendo is saying that this will be more challenging than PH. I hope so which is why I'm looking forward to this one now. Also, I hope the game is a lengthy and satisfying adventure. I hope it's at least 15+ hours.

zwgiantsfan
zwgiantsfan

looks great im a huge fan of zelda and link, but don't own phantom hourglass but looking at everything said about both games, im gettin spirit tracks

hydn631
hydn631

Hey superzone you need to do some research because though one of the worst there are some loz games you probalblly havent even heard of.

Superzone
Superzone

Phantom Hourglass is my least favorite game in the entire series. Looks like Spirit Tracks is going to be more interesting though. And hey, it's freaking Zelda, so I'm getting this no matter what.

This_is_Patrick
This_is_Patrick

So, the Spirit Temple is the same thing as the Temple of the Ocean King? Why did Nintendo do this? Most people hated having to go back to that temple, especially with the unbeatable knights, and the time limit. If they took out both of those, I may not mind going back to the same temple over and over again.

left4right
left4right

i am welling to trade my ps3 for this.

Lukestar624
Lukestar624

oo looks good. gonna get it, but im starting to get the impression that itll reuse the spirit tower like the temple of the ocean king. for me, this was a major turn off, and i didnt relly like phantom hourglass. ill just have to wait and see if it has the same problem.

Oyeboy94
Oyeboy94

@superfakerbros I kinda think so too...I didn't wanna say and be wrong.

mariostar0001
mariostar0001

Playing as Zelda is good, but TLoZ isn't a main series for me, I can barely afford many other series I'm interested in (Actually I can't afford them), plus my Mom doesn't like the series too much for some reason she hasn't told me yet, at least so my brother says as she's never said anything to me about it.

Indiscrimi
Indiscrimi

Finally, no more sailing. And it appears that they've figured out that time limits on stealth sections are NOT FUN.

Barnman2205
Barnman2205

Funny... they didn't name the character with the map. And there's only one character I can think of who knows alot about maps. Please! NO MORE TINGLE!

skatrbub54
skatrbub54

i cant wait for this game i wanna play more zelda oh yea to oyeboy i think the graphics for oot and mm are better

fudawg45
fudawg45

If I played handhelds, I'd be all over this one. It looks phenomenal! Triple bonus points for using the Wind Waker art style. Love it

Oyeboy94
Oyeboy94

This looks really interesting...I've seen some people complain about it O_o the graphics look just as good as the N64...and the story sounds really cool as well. I can't wait for the Zelda on the Wii...they've said almost nothing about it.

totalgamemaster
totalgamemaster

The new ST site is fantastic x3 I'm SO siked for the Spirit Flute addition... looks like they're really drawing on Ocarina of Time for the gameplay hooks. This is going to be filled with such a cool retro feeling x3 EDIT: I'm 18 as well. Don't be afraid to be a child at heart, bro.

nameless_99
nameless_99

woooow ... looovely really .... twilight princes was the last Zelda ive played , and this one looks like its gonna b the next one :)

suatjasari
suatjasari

This sounds very good, I can't wait!!!!!

jacobuj
jacobuj

@Supabul Two words. Wii Music. Also am I the only one who thinks Zelda games don't need some gimmick to be fun.. I mean I don't want to sail... I don't want to be a wolf... and I'm pretty sure I don't need to ride a train to have fun playing a Zelda game. So why does every one have to have some sort of gimmick!? /shrug

Supabul
Supabul

Do Nintendo ever make bad games

Moloch121
Moloch121

Unfortunately this will be probably be the only reason I'll keep my DSi ever since phantom hourglass I couldn't find a game on the DS that is anywhere near as fun it just bothers teh hell outta me!

kpuff
kpuff

I was a little skeptical at first because of the train, but this looks pretty good. :)

Skithien
Skithien

Young, children? Really? I'm 18 and I still love all of Nintendos main game franchises, especially Legend of Zelda. This game looks like it will be a lot of fun too. I like the idea of have a phantom on my side. And I hate all the people who are saying that its stupid to have a train in the game, what do you want Nintendo to do, not add anything new to the games?