The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks DS


Generally favorable reviews - based on 75 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 69 out of 75
  2. Negative: 0 out of 75
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  1. If you like Zelda—if what makes Zelda good for you is the Zelda-y stuff that’s always in these Zelda games—then you’re going to find more of it here. All the charm, all the polish. All the thoughtful puzzles and gorgeous detail. But if you’re looking for something new, you’re going have to wait until the next train arrives. This is another The Legend of Zelda game: The formula we know, the formula we love.
  2. Maybe it's indicative of Nintendo's current business model; making family friendly games that are simple, and won't rock the boat. Yes, they had a winner with Phantom Hourglass, but Spirit Tracks reeks of complacency.
  3. 100
    Zelda fans are going to love this - but the multiplayer mode is a little bit boring.
  4. Vintage Nintendo. Maybe a bit too vintage - Spirit Tracks is, like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a straight rehash, a derivative sequel of the kind the company used not to make, and based on a decades-old template. You could easily mark it down for that. But that would belie the fact that it's also a tighter and more rounded game, crafted with more care, than not just Phantom Hourglass but most modern games for grown-up consoles.
  5. It boils down to this: Spirit Tracks is the most consistently inventive game on the DS, with the best touchscreen controls on the system.
  6. While it's not quite as devastatingly original as Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks is still an utterly essential purchase and comfortably ranks as the undisputed DS event of the year.
  7. We also have mixed feelings about the Spirit Flute, a musical instrument that, when played, reveals secrets. To do this, you'll blow into the DS microphone. While a novel idea, you look ridiculous doing it, on par with playing a game on Wii. We get what Nintendo wanted to do, but there was probably a better way to accomplish that, instead of having players spit all over their systems.
  8. Hyrule is a world where you want to be in. It’s so beautiful, with countless interesting people and exciting dungeons. So it’s no surprise that playing Spirit Tracks is truly a pleasure. The fighting, riding the train or solving puzzles: it’s all great to do. Spirit Tracks is a fantastic new addition to the series.
  9. It’s a quality game as was Phantom Hourglass before it, and even though at times it feels too much like a retread of past games, it remains a thoroughly enjoyable jaunt through Hyrule and puts most other DS titles to shame with its overall quality.
  10. Spirit Tracks continues to take away, even going through the models and rules that define the core of a Zelda game, putting in place a sense of something already seen and played so many times.
  11. If you own a DS, and you agree that touching is good, then The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is for you, and anyone looking to embark on a casual quest that looks and feels good will feel right at home here.
  12. This is my problem: loving Spirit Tracks means excusing failings games in other less-loved series might not get away with. Criticising it, on the other hand, does a disservice to how wonderful it truly is. Which horn do I run into? The answer is: both.
  13. A relative low point in Zelda history but still a hugely addictive and superbly well designed adventure.
  14. Maybe its developers should have paid more attention to secondary missions, as the main adventure is too lineal. But even with that minor flaw the game is very well designed, with great graphics and entertaining playability.
  15. Without question a solid game experience, but you still can't wash off that feeling of the Zelda-franchise getting a little exploited here. As a direct sequel to Phantom Hourglass it does it's job good, but maybe too good since it's almost a carbon-copy of the previous game. The railroads are a new addition of course, and the time-limit is gone, but in all other aspects this is the same game more or less.
  16. The gameplay is also polished and strong as well, continuing to prove the impossible feat of designing a game with a multitude of complex game mechanics all being distilled into stylus-based touchscreen controls.
  17. Like previous offerings in the revered franchise, it brings plenty of new bells and whistles, but is still a mostly recognizable Zelda game at its core.
  18. This is the big launch of DS in 2009.
  19. 95
    The evolution of the series in Nintendo DS has left us open-mouthed, and makes us have great hopes for the next Wii game.
  20. Spirit Tracks is one of the best videogames in the Zelda's franchise and it has probably the hardest puzzles in the series. Although it hasn't the best story and a big longevity, it's a title that will pain you when it starts to end.
  21. 93
    While Spirit Tracks has some obvious deja vu elements and can drag on from time to time, Nintendo's latest pocket Zelda trumps the first game hands-down, delivering amazing bosses once again, now complemented with impressive dungeons, a truly epic challenge in the Spirit Tower, and a substantially longer adventure overall.
  22. 93
    The bold lines, simple colours and innocent aesthetic emphasises the idealism of the Zelda series at its finest: this tiny, wide-eyed boy can conquer unimaginable evil, and his stoic determination can achieve more than even omnipotent deities could manage. These games might be perfect for children, but they're as fine an example of gaming as any adult could hope to encounter.
  23. It's not quite as lengthy or extensive as a Zelda game for the Wii, but it certainly includes all those elements Zelda fans are looking for: lots of dungeon crawling, puzzles, good storyline, charming visuals, etc. Best of all, you can take it with you on your next trip and even play it with a friend.
  24. A superb quest that doesn't rewrite the rules but delivers another engrossing Zelda adventure. If you own a DS, buy it.
  25. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is everything its predecessor was and more.
  26. Not a huge leap forward for the series but a wonderful game nonetheless. Enjoy. [Christmas 2009, p.91]
  27. Spirit Tracks is an absolutely fantastic way to cap off 2009. With so many great titles this year, it’s fitting that a series so many of us have grown up on is able to keep us entertained during the holiday period. Once again, it’s the story, interesting use of music and Link and Zelda’s partnership that makes this such a worthwhile title.
  28. A superb game and one of the best DS games this year. The dungeons are top-tier, entertaining affairs, and the train is fun to ride around in as you journey through the interesting game world.
  29. 90
    Despite not straying far from the proven template, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks has genuine improvements over its predecessor and shows that the series is still the king of adventure puzzlers, console or handheld.
  30. Spirit Tracks addresses all of the shortcomings of Phantom Hourglass and delivers a brilliant experience. It hasn't done much to change up the established formula, but it's still a solid adventure that ranks as one of the better outings in the series.
  31. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks may not feel like a real new chapter of the series, but the important improvements over Phantom Hourglass make this entry easily one of the best games ever on the DS.
  32. Walk in with the realization that it won't be perfect and you'll have a fantastic time
  33. Another great entry in one of gaming’s most prolific series. It’s not without flaws, but it also offers some of the most fun handheld gameplay this year.
  34. Riding the train is a tad slow-paced, but thanks to some great puzzles and a whole lot of enjoyable side quests, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is yet another great Zelda that will keep your DS running for quite some time.
  35. Spirit Tracks' exciting new mechanics and classic gameplay make it one Zelda adventure that has got a full head of steam.
  36. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is a solid, if uninspired, addition to the franchise. Everything's been tightened up a bit from Phantom Hourglass, but not a lot has been done to make the game really stand out.
  37. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is a good Zelda game. Its fault can be found in the similar gameplay structure of its predecessor. Still, the experience is something unique and teaming up with princess Zelda it's extremely fun.
  38. Nintendo delivers a new epic adventure, and even if the train sections are quite boring, puzzles and dungeon design greatly entertain the player.
  39. In my tenure as a game critic, I haven’t come across a game that fluctuates between highs and lows as frequently as Spirit Tracks. I often found myself taken aback by an amazing puzzle, only to be bored to death on a train moments later.
  40. 80
    The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks brings little new to the franchise, and that would be fine if what it did introduce wasn't tedious and clumsy. The train is an abomination. And, while there are good puzzles and fun dungeons, everything seems a little tired, brief, and empty.
  41. 80
    A list of each small nuance would make for a pretty boring review, so as superficial as it is we've given away as little of the story and the temple-to-temple action as possible. Much of the joy is discovering it all for yourself.
  42. Spirit Tracks is the weakest title in the series. It isn't a bad game, but it symbolizes a need to retire Link before his career is tarnished.
  43. Your 15th trip through the barren Hyrule countryside sums up not just dodging trains in Spirit Tracks, but basically the entirety of Spirit Tracks.
  44. 90
    Spirit Tracks features some of the best labyrinths and inventive bosses in Zelda history.
  45. 80
    The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is an excellent addition to Nintendo's celebrated franchise and a great way to close 2009.
  46. Though parts of Spirit Tracks are a little disappointing, most of those low points are offset by its terrific puzzle design and a great, fun story that feels noticeably different from the standard "save the princess" saga that series fans are used to seeing.
  47. 70
    Aside from the travel issue, Spirit Tracks is, in every way, a better game than Phantom Hourglass. Sadly, the travel gets so frustrating later in the game that it really drags the whole thing down.
  48. 100
    The sights, the sounds, the characters, the environments, they all combine to make a game that may not represent as much of a move forward as its predecessor, but represents a high watermark in both handheld gaming and video games in general.
  49. A fun time and very well executed game. If you’re looking for something to play on the road while on vacation, or hiding away from society in a bomb shelter until Christmas blows over, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks makes as good a companion as a Ghost Princess.
  50. All together, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks doesn't quite knock one out of the ballpark, but it's still a better game than Phantom Hourglass for the much needed changes to the Spirit Tower / Ocean King Temple mechanics.
  51. 91
    Like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, it's a direct follow-up to a recent release that exceeds its predecessor in every way. And while it may not hit the soaring heights of Mario's latest, it's a fine game in its own right.
  52. But like the train you conduct, much of Spirit Tracks feels rigidly stuck on rails.
  53. 80
    While it isn't perfect, Spirit Tracks does enough things right that you won't regret persevering through the initial sluggishness. Once the game picks up momentum and speed, it packs a locomotive sized punch, one that doesn't reinvent the wheel but still manages to do the storied franchise proud.
  54. Another excellent portable Zelda title in almost every respect; Spirit Tracks will keep you entertained for a good while just don't expect huge leaps and bounds in terms of innovation.
  55. I know that it is almost certain that all the Zelda fans are going to buy all the titles related to the saga. I just ask you not to make the mistake of seeing "Spirit Tracks" as just an extra portable title. "Link’s Awakening" is enough proof that these versions are worthy enough and have distinguished the series since the beginning.
  56. 90
    It may not be completely flawless, but The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is definitely one of the DS 'must own' titles of 2009.
  57. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    Link saves Zelda and drives the train – need to hear more? Ok – great look, great sound, great playability and great fun all the way! [Issue#187]
  58. Another little masterpiece from Nintendo, similar but better than Phantom Hourglass. If you have a DS, just buy it.
  59. Edge Magazine
    Spirit Tracks' aging tricks continue to carry you cack into the narcotic realms of pure ritual, until you're deep in the caverns yet again, holding the magic yellow boomerang once more, and wondering what quirky brilliance it will bring with it this time. [Christmas 2009, p.92]
  60. 80
    In summation, it looks great, the music is wonderful and no matter how frustrated the player gets with any one puzzle, it's an enjoyable enough experience that they won't want to stop until they've finished it.
  61. games(TM)
    It's a fine submission in a long run of fabulous games, but not one that will swing Zelda in a brand new direction. [Issue#91, p.108]
  62. Nintendo Power
    If you like Zelda games, you were going to buy Spirit Tracks no matter what. But rest assured that you will not only be getting another fine Nintendo DS installment, but one of the series's best handheld titles to date. [Jan 2010, p.82]
  63. Games Master UK
    Despite echoes of Hourglass, Tracks emerges as its own game. And a delightful one at that. [Christmas 2009, p.58]
  64. Nintendo Gamer
    Peril, puzzles, laughs and rabbits - everything you'd want for a cracking Christmas romp. [Christmas 2009, p.42]
  65. Pelit (Finland)
    An overall improvement over Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks proves itself to be one of the best games on DS. [Jan 2010]
  66. Spirit Tracks is a solid experience in a familiar world. Fans of Zelda can really do no wrong by getting this game.
  67. A perfectly solid representation of Zelda. The puzzles are not easy, despite the cartoon appearance of the main character, the characters are interesting, the controls work well, and the story is adequate.
  68. A new entry on the series, a new success. The Legend of Zelda is one of Nintendo's greatest franchises, and there's no doubt that it deserves it; Spirit Tracks is a huge game, beautiful, with an incredible cooperative gameplay and many things to do.
  69. Not the epic dimensions as in the former The Legend of Zelda games but it is a great game, not only for fans of Zelda. The simple and innovative controls also are also fitting for young players.
  70. Nintendo have really mastered this series and The Legend Zelda: Spirit Tracks is a prime example of this that features two popular gaming characters from this interesting mythology.
  71. The Spirit Tracks is a must own title for all those with a Nintendo DS.
  72. Excellent level and character design, superb graphics (for the DS), sumptuous music, incredible longevity, good multiplayer and some good elements of innovation: you name it, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks has it! Just go and buy it!
  73. Don’t let some minor quibbles prevent you from playing this very enjoyable chapter of the Zelda series as Nintendo effectively brings together several gameplay ideas together to form a great game overall.
  74. 88
    For me, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks definitely belongs in the world of Hyrule. It fits in perfectly with the other adventures of cell-shaded Link and that makes it a tad easy. Zelda-fanatics don’t need to worry, because there’s plenty of challenge to keep you occupied for a bit. Unfortunately, that means digressing from the storyline, something you’ll automatically do in a Zelda-tale. This lengthens the life of Spirit Tracks, but nevertheless it’s a short (but powerful) adventure.
  75. 80
    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.

Awards & Rankings

#2 Most Discussed DS Game of 2009
#2 Most Shared DS Game of 2009
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 251 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 63
  2. Negative: 6 out of 63
  1. Jun 9, 2011
    Huge improvement over Phantom Hourglass. Improved DS Stylus control, better story - Princess Zelda is the best companion you will ever have inHuge improvement over Phantom Hourglass. Improved DS Stylus control, better story - Princess Zelda is the best companion you will ever have in a Zelda game and is actually funnier, difficulty is a bit more balanced but just not there yet (Nintendo should stop catering for casual gamers on difficulty, it's like they might cry if they keep dying or can't do it and this was a huge setback for Phantom Hourglass. A challenge would actually benefit them) and a more reasonable handheld length. Though the train travel is actually more tedious than the sailing in Windwaker and Phantom Hourglass, it's actually nice to travel on something new in a Zelda game. Full Review »
  2. Oct 21, 2012
    I hated Phantom Hourglass. The over world sucked, the music was bland, the puzzles were insultingly easy, and the plot was an excuse. So whyI hated Phantom Hourglass. The over world sucked, the music was bland, the puzzles were insultingly easy, and the plot was an excuse. So why does this game get a perfect ten from me? Because it did just about everything right. Admittedly the over world wasn't as good as in the 3D Zelda games, but it's still a vast improvement. The music offers some of the best tracks in the entire franchise, such as the Sacred Duet and the Overworld theme. The puzzles were easily the best out of any Zelda game, making it a bit more of a puzzle game than an action-adventure title. Finally, the plot was probably the best in the series, involving many great characters with a lot of life to them(Especially Zelda and Byrne). This game is different than other Zelda games, but as we established with Majora's Mask and Skyward Sword, different doesn't mean bad. Full Review »
  3. Aug 13, 2012
    I don't know how they did it, but they managed to screw up a Zelda game, and royally at that. I will admit many of the Zelda series can beI don't know how they did it, but they managed to screw up a Zelda game, and royally at that. I will admit many of the Zelda series can be rather samey, given how many of them are out there, but they are usually enjoyable none the less. This addition is not. It is terrible, and not worth your time or money.
    Where to begin? Basically, if you take everything you love about the Zelda series, and flush it down the toilet, and you will obtain the Spirit Tracks. Overworld exploration, a staple of the series, has been eliminated entirely, replaced with the Spirit Tracks and a train the runs on them. Essential you ride a train between several points on a map, each representing a location you can visit in the game. Riding the train essentially boils down to selecting the correct direction when you reach various intersections, and just waiting otherwise. Poor choices at intersections essentially amount to more waiting. Simply put, the trains do little more than waste time whenever you want to transition between maps, and are a horrible substitute for the overworld map found in most installments.
    Next is the controls. Crippled is the only way to describe them. Rather than use the D-Pad for movement and the buttons for the sword and items, the stylus is used both to move link and to attack enemies. Both actions are carried out by clicking on the appropriate portion of the screen. Accidentally click just to the side of a monster, a you will walk face first into them rather than strike them with the sword. It only gets worse with items. One of the first you get fires tornadoes. You first have to select it with the stylus, then select the direction with the stylus, and then blow on the microphone to fire the thing. Its awkward as hell to operate, you can't move the character while doing so, and background vibrations, such as the motion of the car, can cause the thing to unintentionally fire. With a sensible control scheme, just about anyone would find much of this game a cake walk. Much of the difficult in playing this game arises from the terrible control scheme, not the puzzles or challenges. These controls wouldn't even be acceptable on a indie title written in somebodies garage, the fact that they made it into a Zelda game is inexcusable.
    I found the dungeons and puzzles to be dull and uninspiring. The aesthetics are terrible. The dungeons all appear rather similar, and exploring them gets boring rather quickly. The puzzles simply are not interesting. The unique dungeon delving mechanic in Spirit Tracks involves an AI companion that you give pathing instruction to. The companion move rather slowly, so a lot of time will be spent just waiting for the AI to move around. The companion probably doesn't waist as much time as the bloody trains, but its still more unnecessary waiting.
    The short of it is that you have a game with crippled controls, two mechanics that just waist the players time, and nothing to really see or do that justified putting up with these problems. You really are not missing anything by skipping this installment. Don't trust the positive reviews, too many people are willing to give any installment in this series a past. Their are far better uses for your entertainment budget.
    Full Review »