Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks [GAMES]

Happy to say--or more accurately relieved--that I finally finished The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks on my Nintendo DS.  The original Legend of Zelda was the very first game I bought for my Nintendo when I was a kid, and I loved it--that shiny gold case still stands out in my memory.  I assumed that when I bought Spirit Tracks I'd be getting an evolution of the same thing: action-combat, some light puzzles, a few bosses, whacking trees with a wooden sword to discover secret stairways, all that good, relaxing stuff!  Instead, I discovered a surprisingly difficult puzzle game with several extremely clever but occasionally frustrating mechanics.

The puzzles, at least for me, were pretty hard and involved in spots--and I played through the first few Professor Layton games without much difficulty.  The clever mechanics include a sort of blowgun you use to push some creatures and objects around by blowing into the DS' actual microphone; a device to turn sand into temporarily solid raised bricks to reach otherwise inaccessible areas; bombs; boomerangs; the possession of certain enemies to get them to help you solve a puzzle, and more.  A feature of the game periodically is having to play a song on a pan-flute, which also operates by blowing into the microphone.  The song you're supposed to play is denoted by matching the color of notes with the colors of the pipes in the pan-flute: for someone color-blind like me, this was simply not going to happen without help.  Fortunately, I managed to compare walkthroughs that listed the colors of songs with a forum post that listed, from left to right, the colors of the pipes on the pan-flute.  By mentally numbering the pipes from left to right, I was able to eventually proceed by playing a song of numbers.

I say I finished with relief because, for almost all of the game, I occasionally got stuck on puzzles but never had too much difficulty with the action/combat aspects of the game.  There were a few bosses I had to try multiple times to figure out the trick or pattern, but that's normal.  Then came the final boss, and I couldn't even get close to winning.  Whilst close to throwing the game out the window, I looked at a walkthrough which revealed there was a special combat move I needed to do that I either never knew I had or never used and completely forgot it existed.  After learning that, and getting more help on a song, I finally made it through the final encounter.

According to the game, I've been playing Spirit Tracks (extremely off and on) since at least April 2, 2014.  I think my verdict, if asked, would be that it's a game I respected, but not necessarily enjoyed.

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