The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks is the fifteenth game to be released in the Legend of Zelda series. It is the sequel to Phantom Hourglass, making it the third and final game in The Hero of Winds and A New World timeline branch, also known as the Adult Timeline. The game was released on December 23, 2009 in Japan with international releases arriving in the prior weeks.
It was the second Zelda game to be released on the Nintendo DS, and it improved upon Phantom Hourglass by altering the touchscreen controls and removing repetitive elements brought over from the previous game. Nevertheless, while a commercial success, Spirit Tracks did roughly half as well as Phantom Hourglass with 2.61 million copies sold worldwide.
Development and Release
Spirit Tracks went through various name choices during development, with the focus changing between the Spirit Flute played in the game to the Spirit Train used to travel the over-world. The English subtitle ‘Spirit Tracks’ was finalised before the Japanese subtitle Daichi no Kiteki, meaning “Train Whistle of the Wide World.”
<img class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-1134” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/zst4.jpg” alt=”Spirit Tracks” />Both the ability to control Phantoms and Princess Zelda’s prominent inclusion in the game were decided upon early in development. However, Princess Zelda wasn’t the first choice as Link’s partner in the game. The team was designing a new female character when they realised to exclude Princess Zelda would not be as fun, and the role was filled by her instead. Through her partnership with Link and her abilities as a spirit, Princess Zelda’s character and personality are highlighted better than most of the Zelda games in which she appears.
<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1136” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/spirittrain-250x220.png” alt=”Spirit Train” />The decision to feature a train rather than a boat for a third time largely came from Eiji Aonuma’s wish to have a sense of land becoming clearer as Link approached it. The train did not seem to fit with The Legend of Zelda series, and there was an argument that it should be changed to something else. However, game director Daiki Iwamoto and other staff members convinced the rest of the team to stick with the idea. The result was a game that offered new ways to play while retaining classic elements of the series.
The initial idea was to allow players to lay down tracks in order to maintain the sense of freedom found in both The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. This was scrapped due to the fact that the players wouldn’t know where to lay the tracks, and because certain areas of the game would at first need to be restricted. It was altered by making parts of the track disappear, requiring the player to fix them to advance. The loss of complete freedom was somewhat alleviated by mechanics that allowed players to back up to avoid enemies and obstacles, and to change tracks at certain junctions.
<img class=”alignright wp-image-1137 size-wcsmall” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/250px-Spirit_Tracks_Limited_Edition2-250x178.png” alt=”Spirit Tracks Limited Edition” width=”250” height=”178” />Upon the game’s release only one special edition, exclusive to Europe, was available. It included a copy of Spirit Tracks and two small figurines – Link and a Phantom – packaged together in a tin case.
In a the first Nintendo Direct since the passing of Satoru Iwata, Nintendo announced that Spirit Tracks, along with its prequel Phantom Hourglass, will be available to purchase on the Nintendo eShop for Wii U on the 13th November, 2015.
<img class=”alignright wp-image-1135 size-medium” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/the-legend-of-zelda-spirit-tracks-20091208005935177-199x300.jpg” alt=”Spirit Tracks Touchscreen” width=”199” height=”300” />Like Phantom Hourglass, the Nintendo DS’s stylus and touchscreen are used to control Link in Spirit Tracks while either riding in his train, or during the exploration of land and dungeons. The controls were improved based on feedback by fans and the media, and include such changes as a double-tap to initiate a roll rather than drawing circles on the edges of the screen. Finding parts for the Spirit Train are also easier than finding parts for the boat in Phantom Hourglass. The parts are no longer random, and can be purchased with treasures found in the overworld.
Spirit Tracks’ most notable improvements are the changes in its Phantom-ridden dungeon. While both Nintendo DS games feature such a location, Spirit Tracks eliminates the curse in its Tower of Spirits, thus negating the time limit present in Phantom Hourglass’ Temple of the Ocean King. Safe zones are used only to hide from enemies, and previously cleared sections can be bypassed via a central staircase. Most unique in Spirit Tracks’ dungeon is Princess Zelda’s ability to inhabit the armour of the dungeon’s Phantoms. This allows her to distract other Phantoms while Link sneaks by, and it gives her spirit a physical body to use for helping Link with battles and puzzles.
<img class=”alignleft size-wcsmall wp-image-1146” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Legend-Zelda-ds-puzzles-431-250x174.jpg” alt=”Spirit Tracks” />The Spirit Train is a versatile mode of transportation despite being locked onto fixed tracks. Like the boat in Phantom Hourglass, parts can be swapped out to increase the train’s heart meter. A cannon, earned later, allows Link to attack enemies while a train whistle can be used to clear the tracks of idling animals. The Spirit Train can also transport passengers and supplies vital to side-quests, which open up secret sections of tracks to places otherwise undiscovered. New tracks to other parts of the overworld are opened as the story progresses, and warp points allow Link to transport to specific areas if they’re activated by the train whistle as it approaches. The Spirit Train even goes underwater at certain points, but it is no match for the undefeatable Dark and Armored Trains that patrol the overworld. One collision with these enemy trains is an instant defeat, which adds a puzzle element to traveling through some areas of the overworld.
Many items in Spirit Tracks are carried over from previous games while the Sand Rod, Whirlwind, and Whip are introduced for the first time. These items, along with the Spirit Flute, are controlled through a combination of the Nintendo DS’s touchscreen, microphone, and buttons. Paths can once more be drawn for items such as the Boomerang, and for Princess Zelda when she inhabits a Phantom’s armor. The upper screen is again used as a map, and it is vital for helping to avoid the dangerous Armored Trains and Phantoms.
Trivia and Facts
<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1140” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Train3-250x141.jpg” alt=”Smash Bros Spirit Tracks Stage” />The Nintendo 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. features a Spirit Tracks stage that takes place on the Spirit Train. Link can be seen driving the train in his Engineer’s Clothes. If any incarnation of Link is being used to fight, Alfonzo will be driving the train instead.
The Spirit Train’s crest is a modified version of the Triforce Crest. The triangle within the design is upside-down to remove its association from the story of the Triforce.
Some rejected train ideas included an airplane train, a train that resembled a sailboat, and a Tingle train.
No matter where the player is on the overworld, they can always see the Tower of Spirits at the heart of the realm. The tower itself, as well as many of the main and secondary characters, went through several designs before being finalized.
In a late scene before the game’s final battle, Princess Zelda asks Link a question about his future when all of the fighting is over. Depending on the player’s answer, one of three slightly different scenes will play after the credits roll.
Spirit Tracks continues a century after the events of Phantom Hourglass, on the continent called New Hyrule. It takes place in a time known as the Era of Hyrule’s Rebirth, and chronicles the events surrounding the Demon King Malladus’s resurrection.
Spirit Tracks Backstory
During the Era of the Great Voyage, Link and Tetra travel the seas with the latter’s band of pirates in search of a continent that would become New Hyrule. Upon arriving to the new land, they discover the Tower of Spirits and the Sages of the Lokomo tribe who maintain the Spirit Tracks from within the land’s four temples. The tracks draw power from the temples and act as chains to hold in check the Demon King Malladus, who was sealed away by the gods in the distant past. With these tracks in place New Hyrule was founded with a network of railroads as its lifeblood, and the Royal Family’s line is begun anew. A century later, during the reign of Tetra’s great-great granddaughter, the Spirit Tracks begin to disappear and rumbles of evil sound.
Spirit Tracks Events
<img class=”alignright wp-image-1139 size-full” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/175px-Cole.png” alt=”Chancellor Cole” width=”175” height=”258” />When pieces of the Spirit Tracks start vanishing across the land, Princess Zelda suspects her fishy advisor Chancellor Cole may be behind it. She enlists her friend Link and the engineer Alfonzo to investigate the Tower of Spirits, and Link sneaks her out of the castle to journey to the tower via train. Along the way, the tracks disappear and the train crashes. Chancellor Cole appears with an assistant named Byrne, a Lokomo who gave up serving the Spirits of Good for more power. They attack the trio to give the Demon Train enough time to break apart the Tower of Spirits. Princess Zelda’s body is taken into the Dark Realm via the Demon Train to serve as a new vessel for Malladus, but her spirit remains behind. She greets Link in this form when he later wakes up in Hyrule Castle, where she gives him the Spirit Flute and asks him to take her to the Tower of Spirits.
With the tracks gone, Link and Princess Zelda go to the tower via a secret tunnel in the back of the castle. At the tower, they meet Anjean of the Lokomo tribe. She tells them that the Spirit Tracks can be repaired by finding the Rail Maps within the Tower’s heights. With each section of tracks returned, a temple can be reached where the power of the Spirits Tracks in each region can be restored. Link and Princess Zelda set off in search of the first map, and Princess Zelda learns she can possess Phantoms to help Link. After their success Anjean grants Link the Spirit Train to aid him in his travels, and urges him to seek the first Lokomo in the Forest Realm.
By restoring the power in the four temples and playing a duet with each of the Lokomos, Link succeeds in restoring power to the Spirit Tracks. The last step is to lock Malladus under the Altar of the Demon King at the top of the Tower of Spirits. On the climb up, Byrne challenges Link and Princess Zelda, but is defeated. He retreats, and they continue their climb to the top where they discover Malladus’s resurrection is a success, and he now inhabits Princess Zelda’s body. Byrne appears and asks for the power that Malladus once promised him. Malladus refuses and attacks Byrne for once being a servant to the gods that had imprisoned him. Chancellor Cole and Malladus escape to the Dark Realm on the Demon Train.
<img class=”alignleft size-full wp-image-1141” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Lokomo_Sword.png” alt=”Lokomo Sword” />Link and Princess Zelda take the unconscious Byrne back to the Spirit Train along with Anjean. The Lokomo tells them of the Bow of Light that can be found in the desert. It is the last option they have to defeat Malladus. They obtain it only to remember they have no means of entering the Dark Realm. However, Byrne speaks up and tells them of the Compass of Light hidden beneath the Altar of the Demon King. With its power, all places linked to the Dark Realm are revealed. Link and Princess Zelda return to the Tower of Spirits to find the compass, after which Anjean gives Link the Lokomo Sword–a weapon full of energy.
<img class=”alignright size-wcsmall wp-image-1138” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/amoured-train-250x192.jpg” alt=”Demon Train” />Not far from Link’s home, he and Princess Zelda find a portal to the Dark Realm. They engage in a battle against the Demon Train, halting it and allowing them to board where they’re met by Chancellor Cole and Malladus. Anjean bestows Phantom armor to Princess Zelda’s spirit, and with it she helps to shield Link from Malladus’s attacks. They advance across the train cars’ roofs, fighting Chancellor Cole along the way, to where the Demon King waits. Princess Zelda grabs her possessed body, and Link shoots the Bow of Light. The sacred arrow splits Malladus’s spirit from Princess Zelda’s body, and the Demon Train crashes into Hyrule.
<img class=”alignleft wp-image-1149 size-medium” src=”http://zelda-timeline.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/150px-Tower_of_Spirits_New-132x300.png” alt=”Tower of Spirits” width=”132” height=”300” />The time Princess Zelda has spent out of her body makes it difficult for her to reenter it. Byrne tells her to focus her power, but his interference costs him his life when Malladus uses magic to destroy him. Malladus next possess Chancellor Cole’s body and takes on a beast-like form to destroy Link and Princess Zelda. The duo work together against Malladus until Link is able to deal a final blow to Malladus’s head with the Lokomo Sword. Malladus bursts into light, and with his defeat the world returns to normal.
Anjean meets Link and Princess Zelda, and assures them that Byrne will eventually be reborn. She also reveals that the Lokomo no longer need to protect mankind on behalf of the gods. The Lokomo leave the earth for the heavens, taking Byrne’s spirit with them, and Princess Zelda promises to watch over the land in their absence with Link’s help.
Spirit Tracks’ Legacy
Spirit Tracks concludes the Adult Timeline with New Hyrule returned to a time of peace by the game’s end. It could be said that the Adult Timeline has the most prosperous conclusion to date given the fledgling kingdom is only a century old with a promising future ahead of it after Malladus’s defeat. But while destiny was put to rest at the end of The Wind Waker, the lineage of the gods carried in Link’s and Zelda’s bloodlines is not yet exhausted. Thus, there is no telling what new destiny may find the future generations.