When noone believed anymore that “it” could happend, it did: At the end of his keynote-speech at this year´s Game Developers Conference, Satoru Iwata announced The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks for the Nintendo DS.
Taking a look at the released screenshots and the reveal-trailer, Spirit Tracks seems to be a direct sequel to Phantom Hourglass. The visuals are exactly the same, the controls are, too. In terms of story, the flood introduced in TWW seems to be gone. The biggest difference is Link´s transport vehicle: A train. Yeah, Link gets control over his own choochoo-train. Just like in PH, where you drew the path of your boat, you´re now drawing the way on the touchscreen and the train follows these instant-tracks. Not only is the game´s title referring to those train tracks, it´s also about the power Link has over some enemies: He can gain control of an enemy and then, again by drawing a line, have him going around as he wishes. He can even let one enemy fight for him against another one.
As great as a new Zelda always is, i´m not excited for now. That´s maybe because i absolutely didn´t enjoy Phantom Hourglass. And Spirit Tracks looks, if you´re honest, like a mission pack, rather than a new game. Controls are the same, visuals are the same, and gameplay in general appears to be the same. From what we can see, the dungeons start looking like copy and paste-works. And although the game takes place on land, there won´t be an overworld. You travel from point to point by train, that´s it.
Many people will love this game, but as a long time Zelda-fan i feel kinda sad. Once, Zelda was known for its risk-heavy experiments. Zelda 2 was nothing like Zelda 1. OoT took the big step into 3D. MM kind of went towards 4D. TWW chose a very risky visual style and changed the overworld design of 3D-Zeldas. PH showed that Zelda works on the NDS. But ST doesn´t look like it will be anything close to “risky”. And it also doesn´t have the “epic, nostalgic” feel that TP offered. Instead of this game, i´d loved to see EAD go for a whole different gameplay-style…maybe showing that a real 3D-Zelda can work on NDS, too.
I´ll play the game, eventually, but my hype is as low as possible.