For those that braved the line, Nintendo showed off three demos of the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. They were a dungeon scenario, a train, demo, and a boss fight. And if you happened to still be on the show floor at the end of the day on Thursday, you could knock out all three in one fell swoop. Luckily, I planned on taking the red eye out of town, so I can tell you about all of them.
Before going into the specifics of the demo, it should be noted that the game uses the same control scheme as Phantom Hourglass. If you’ve played that, you’ll feel right at home in Spirit Tracks. If not, you’ve got some learning to do. Link is completely controlled with the stylus. You drag it to move him, and you tap on enemies to strike.
I started things off with the dungeon. It begins with Link and a phantom, similar to the ones seen in Phantom Hourglass. By using the stylus, Link could draw a path for the phantom to move and interact with enemies and switches. Aside from being useful in taking out some monsters, the phantom was also instrumental in puzzles due to his resistance to fire. In one case, the phantom blocked pillars of fire for you, and in others, he carried you through pits by acting as a controllable platform.
Halfway through, Link picks up the Gale Boomerang, and it allows him to push keys over pits and through fire. Most of its use, and the problems with it, shows up in the next demo, the boss fight.
Of the three demos, the boss fight is by far the easiest. You square off against a bug that produces some kind of foul mist from its rear end. The strategy is not hard to discern; smack its rump. Not surprisingly, this isn’t enough to finish the fight. Soon the bug takes flight, begins spitting exploding pill bug monsters, and periodically dive bombs Link. If hit once, these new foes curl into bombs, but if you hit them twice, they explode. The answer is equally obvious as the previous round; use the boomerang to lift up the bombs when the bug dives in on the player. In practice, this sounds easy, but since you have to use the stylus, it’s harder than it should be. The boomerang shoots out in a straight line in front of Link, and from what I could tell, you can’t simply rotate Link. You have to face the right direction and then select the boomerang, a task that would be infinitely easier with more traditional controls.
The final demo showed off the train, and for all intents and purposes, it handles a lot like Link’s boat in Phantom Hourglass, except the track is set and you can change your speed or even go in reverse. Bombs can be fired by tapping on the screen, and Link can sound the whistle by pulling a chain. For the most part, the whistle had little use, but it did scare off friendly animals without having to blow them to smithereens.
The path has several switches, and the player has to navigate the track. This is very easy, but the later sections of the track had some other trains. You have to be careful which way you went; if you hit another train head on, you die. Though it sounds kind of complicated, it was very easy to maneuver around all of the other trains without having to slow down or go in reverse.
When you get to the end of the path, Link runs into a big stone Gohma looking monster, and you have to shoot it in the eye with bombs. This was actually kind of hard; as the fight went along, the boss got faster and harder to hit. Fortunately, I managed to kill the boss just before it was about to claim my last heart.
All in all, this is more of the same action we saw in Phantom Hourglass. If you liked that game, you’re going to find a lot to like here. If it wasn’t your cup of tea the first time, you’re probably not going to be won over by the new additions.