Critics of Nintendo’s love affair with their new casual audience are quick to claim they’ve been abandoned by Iwata and company, yet here we are only two years after Phantom Hourglass with another fully-fledged Zelda outing. Much like the speedy two year turn-around between Ocarina and Majora, Spirit Tracks reuses many of the assets of its prequel, which given the popularity of chibi Link’s handheld debut, is no bad thing.
The story picks up a few decades on from Phantom Hourglass with the latest princess in Zelda’s bloodline (who has uncharacteristically managed not to get herself kidnapped) gets embroiled in a political situation involving a suspicious chancellor, a banished Demon King named Malladus and the disappearance of the titular Spirit Tracks – a protective network of train tracks that guard the kingdom from evil.
Though it is responsible for gigabytes worth of online squabbling, the Zelda series storyline has never strayed far beyond generic good versus evil template, but that’s not to say it doesn’t tell a fantastic yarn in its own special way. While not a series renowned for its cinematics, Spirit Tracks’ cut scenes are wonderfully engaging, with toon Link’s hyper-exaggerated face capable of expressing a range of endearing emotions that carry the story.