Plot Synopsis: 8/10
As the game starts, Link is, as usual, a youngster just going about his fairly mundane life. In this particular instance, he is training (no pun intended) to become a train engineer. However, not as many people use the train, these days, and there are some who feel that it is pointless to continue certifying new engineers to drive the trains. Also, the tracks that the trains run on are slowly vanishing.
Just as Link is graduating, and getting his certification from Princess Zelda, Zelda is attacked. The attack causes her spirit to leave her body, which is unceremoniously hauled off by her attackers.
Link is one of the only people who can still see and communicate with Zelda's spirit, and so they decide to work together to reclaim her body and stop those who attacked her. While doing so, they learn that the vanishing railroad tracks have actually been serving as a device to keep a particularly evil being locked away from the rest of the world, and that they must be restored in order to keep the world safe. Of course, the ones who attacked Zelda are also the ones causing the tracks to disappear. And so, the quest begins…
I'll give the plot an 8 out of 10. There's only so many ways you can have Link save the world from an all-encompassing evil. However, I did appreciate the fact that, at the beginning of the game, we see Link in the process of establishing a long-term career for himself, instead of just being a seemingly aimless youth, as in most games in the franchise.
Game Play: 9/10
The control scheme is essentially identical to Phantom Hourglass. The player uses the stylus to move about the screen and attack. While it does take a little bit of getting used to, once you get the hang of it, it's like riding a bicycle. The inventory screen is also controlled entirely by the touch screen, making it far easier to navigate than by using the directional pad and two other buttons to either confirm or cancel. When using the spirit flute, as you will often have to, in the game, the player simply blows into the microphone to play the note, and move the flute back and forth with the stylus to determine which note to play. Personally, I felt that this was a well thought out use for the DS's capabilities.
I'll give the game play a 9 out of 10. Nintendo didn't limit themselves to a control scheme that would have been exactly the same on a Game Boy, but they didn't go overboard, making it overly complicated, either. The controls were different, but still easy enough.
The graphics, in Spirit Tracks, are done in the same visual style as Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. Admittedly, it has been a while since I played Phantom Hourglass, but I didn't notice any drastic differences in quality between it and Spirit Tracks. The animations ran smoothly, and there were no glitches to be seen. Spirit Tracks' graphics earn themselves a 9 out of 10.
The music is on par with the rest of the franchise. Very well orchestrated, and always appropriate for the mood of the scene. Some of the classic sound effects that serve as one of the franchise's staples also make a return. Finally, we do not have the annoying repetition of Navi yelling "hey!", or Midna's constant yawning. I give the audio a 9 out of 10.
Overall Score: 8.75/10
The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo's biggest, most popular franchises. As such, they don't half-ass anything, when adding a new game to the franchise. Everything looked good, and came together well. The story was well-written. Overall, another great addition to the Zelda franchise.