The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
|The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks|
North American box art
|Series||The Legend of Zelda|
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Japanese: ゼルダの伝説 大地の汽笛 Hepburn: Zeruda no Densetsu: Daichi no Kiteki, The Legend of Zelda: Train Whistle of the Wide World) is an action-adventure game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS handheld game console. An installment in The Legend of Zelda series, it was released worldwide in December 2009.
Like its prequels The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks features a cel-shaded art style. Link, the protagonist of Spirit Tracks, travels across the game's overworld using a cannon-equipped steam train much like the steamboat in Phantom Hourglass. The player is also able to control Phantoms,:23 and play an instrument known as the Spirit Flute.:27
Spirit Tracks continues its style of gameplay from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, in which players use the stylus to control Link and use his assortment of weapons, items, and vehicle albeit with a few game play tweaks. The game is divided into an overworld, which Link traverses using the Spirit Tracks, and towns and dungeons which he travels by foot. The player alternates between moving about the overworld/underwater and exploring towns and dungeons in order to complete the game's main story, but may opt to take in side quests for further rewards. In both the overworld and dungeons, the player is able to make notes on their current map as an aid in puzzle solving, for further reference, and continuing the story.
In the overworld, Link is able to direct his train across land, with the ability to control speed and forward or reverse direction, to turn at track intersections, and to blow the train's whistle to scare animals off the tracks.:30 The player is able to automatically set a route for the train by drawing on the map, though not all locations are immediately available. Later, Link is given a cannon that he can use to defend the train from attacks. Link also eventually gains a cargo car, which he can use to move goods between towns. Some missions require Link to transport a passenger along the rails, and require the player to keep the passenger happy by following the signs along the side of the tracks in order to complete the mission.
As the game progresses, the player opens more of the map. In towns and dungeons, the player controls Link using the stylus, directing the character where to go. The stylus is also used to perform attacks and dodges and to select items such as bombs and a boomerang, used for combat and puzzle solving. Certain items, in particular Zelda's pan flute, require the player to blow into the DS's microphone to simulate playing the instrument. In the case of the pan flute, completing songs can unlock new songs with magical properties, reveal hidden secrets, heal Link, or restore more of the Spirit Tracks. In certain dungeons, the ethereal Zelda can inhabit Phantom Guardians that patrol the levels. Once Zelda has possessed one of these, the player can direct the Phantom along a stylus-drawn path or to attack a creature, to help, or simply follow Link. Several puzzles of the game may require the player to manipulate Link and the Zelda-possessed Phantom to complete a goal. In towns, the player can have Link speak to its residents, buy goods at local stores, and learn helpful tips.
Unlike The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks does not feature Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection multiplayer. However, up to four players can play via DS Download Play, using only one game card, and one game system per player. This multiplayer mode is non-canonical, as all four players play as different Links, each with different-colored tunics (a style used in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures). Each player attempts to collect as many Force Gems (of varying sizes, value and number) as possible within a set time limit. Opposition includes the other players; a varying number of non-partisan Phantoms, who will attack any player on sight; and the play stages themselves, with environmental hazards. Results of the most recent game played will show up on a bulletin in most in-game towns and cities. "Tag Mode", an item trading system, is also available between local players.:37
Spirit Tracks features major changes from Phantom Hourglass. While Phantom Hourglass required the player to traverse through the entire dungeon again and again, Spirit Tracks uses a spiral staircase to access upper floors (although the game still features a central dungeon). Also, unlike Phantom Hourglass is the lack of the "curse" that the hourglass protected Link from for a limited amount of time (although the safe zones are still used to hide from the phantoms).
The game is set in the land of New Hyrule, a new kingdom founded by Tetra, some point after the events of Phantom Hourglass. An incarnation of the protagonist Link, an engineering apprentice ready to become a qualified train engineer, travels to Hyrule Castle to receive his engineer's certificate from current incarnation of Princess Zelda (Tetra's great-granddaughter/descendant). Although Zelda's adviser, Chancellor Cole, believes the ceremony is pointless, as the Spirit Tracks that make up the train systems around Hyrule are slowly disappearing, Zelda continues with the ceremony. Once finished, Zelda secretly gives Link a note to meet her in her quarters later and a warning to not trust Chancellor Cole. There, Zelda implores Link to help her escape the castle and take her to the Tower of Spirits with his train, where she believes the mystery of the disappearing tracks can be solved. To sneak out of the castle, Zelda gives Link the Recruit Uniform (with the same design as the Hero's Clothes from The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass) of the castle guards to blend in, distracting them while Zelda sneaks past.
While en route to the Tower of Spirits with Link's engineering teacher and former soldier Alfonzo, the tracks they are on disappear, nearly causing the train to tip over. As Link and Zelda watch, the Tower breaks into pieces, hovering above one another. They are ambushed by Chancellor Cole, revealing himself to be a two-horned demon, and has a henchman named Byrne. Alfonzo and Link are unable to protect Zelda from Byrne's power, and Chancellor Cole uses dark magic to separate Zelda's soul from her body. Cole and Byrne then take her body and depart, leaving Link unconscious.
Link wakes up in Hyrule Castle, with both he and Alfonzo having been rescued. After leaving the room, Link sees Zelda's spirit floating into the castle and goes after her. After trying to call on the castle guards for help, who, like everyone else, are unable to see her, she floats to her chambers. Not knowing that Link has followed from behind, the two finally see each other. Zelda tells him they must go to the Tower of Spirits through a dangerous underground passage after retrieving the Spirit Flute, a magical pan flute that has been passed down from generations of the royal family, from her quarters before leaving. When they arrive at the lobby of the Tower of Spirits, they are met by Anjean, a Lokomo (a servant of the Spirits of Good) who is the previous owner of the Spirit Flute (Anjean gave it to Zelda's ancestor Tetra to help protect the kingdom), and can see Zelda's spirit form. She explains that many years ago, the Spirits fought the evil Demon King Malladus, and in the end, he was imprisoned deep beneath the earth. The Tower of Spirits and the Spirit Tracks that connect to it were built to contain Malladus, but with their disappearance due to Chancellor Cole's involvement, Malladus will soon be able to escape, using Zelda's stolen body (containing the dormant power of the Spirits) as his vessel. Horrified and panicking, Zelda then demands to know how to prevent the Demon King's return, to which Anjean replies that the Spirit Tracks have to be restored by retrieving and completing several ancient rail maps (one for each of the four realms of Hyrule) from the above floors of the Tower to restore the Spirit Tracks. Then, the Tower must be linked up by the Spirit Tracks to four different temples, one in each of the four known realms. When Zelda tells Link to get moving while she waited in the tower lobby, Anjean tells then that "ascending the tower alone is impossible," meaning that Zelda will have to accompany Link. She reluctantly agrees after the Lokomo reminds her that "this kingdom is your responsibility." After saving Link from a Phantom (a Tower of Spirits guardian), she realizes that by collecting three Tears of Light and then having Link attack the Phantom from behind, she can possess the Phantoms to help Link within the Tower of Spirits.
With the help of Zelda and the other Lokomos, Link restores the Spirit Tracks and most of the Tower of Spirits. After obtaining the final rail map, Byrne shows up to kill Link. Anjean shows up as well, revealing that Byrne is also a Lokomo that went rogue at a young age. This information shocks Link and Zelda, and Anjean teleports the duo down to the lobby before having an apparent battle with her former apprentice: Byrne. After restoring the Tower of Spirits and the Spirit Tracks to normal, Link and Zelda go back to the tower, There, they are blocked by Byrne, who had apparently defeated Anjean. The two overpower him and reach the top of the tower, where both Malladus's spirit and Zelda's body are located. Malladus successfully enters the vessel, and, knowing that Byrne was a servant of the spirits, attacks him when he asks for the great power he hoped Malladus would grant him. It is shown that he is not yet used to his new vessel, and leaves with Chancellor Cole on the Demon Train.
Anjean and a now-reformed Byrne then direct the two to find two artifacts they will need to find and defeat Cole and Malladus: the Compass of Light and Bow of Light. After retrieving both, Anjean gives Link the Lokomo Sword and joins Link and Zelda as they head for the Dark Realm where Cole and Malladus await. In the Dark Realm, Link battles the Demon Train, Cole and Malladus, securing Zelda's body and destroying the Demon Train. As Zelda prepares to rejoin her spirit to her body, Malladus attempts to possess her body again, but Byrne interferes and helps Zelda rejoin her body. Malladus instead destroys Byrne. Without a vessel, Malladus takes over Chancellor Cole against his will, completing his resurrection. However, Cole's body is unable to contain Malladus' spirit for long, though he vows to destroy the world before he is completely rejected. Once again, Link and the restored Zelda work together to defeat Malladus with Zelda's magic, the Bow of Light and the Lokomo Sword, destroying the entity along with Cole forever.
After the battle, Anjean reveals that she and the other Lokomos are leaving the kingdom and entrusting their duty to protect it from Malladus now complete to Zelda. Anjean also reveals that Byrne is not dead, but only a newborn spirit which will be restored many years from now. Anjean, Byrne's spirit and the other Lokomos then ascend into the heavens, as Link and Zelda watch, holding each other's hands.
Before Link and Zelda hop onto the Demon Train, the latter asks him about his future. There is a slight difference in the post-credits scene depending on the option chosen. It begins with Zelda writing a book, with the Teacher accompanying her. If Link decides to continue being a train engineer, the princess will hear the Spirit Train whistling and greet her savior as he navigates through the Forest Realm. If Link remains a swordsman instead, then Zelda will see him practicing his combat abilities, although he's accidentally injured in the process. Finally, if Link is unsure and skips the scene, then the final scene will show Zelda continuing with her work. But in any case, when the epilogue ends, the game screen aims at the sky to indicate that the whole story is finally over.
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks was directed by Daiki Iwamoto and produced by Eiji Aonuma. Half of the staff responsible for its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, was involved in this game's development. While Aonuma was a regular director of The Legend of Zelda series, he works in the role of a producer for the Nintendo DS Zelda titles. Due to the quick development time of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time which took noticeably more time to complete, Aonuma commented to the development team that they could complete Spirit Tracks quickly. Where Majora's Mask took a year, Spirit Tracks was completed in two. Its Japanese subtitle is Daichi no Kiteki (translated to Train Whistle of the Wide World in English). One of the earlier subtitle ideas was "Pan Flute of the (something)"; however, they found that it would both be too long and would be inappropriate, since the pan flute isn't a main item of this game. They settled for Train Whistle in place of Pan Flute, which allowed them to use a subtitle that embodied both the train theme and the pan flute, the latter being a whistle. They had difficulty in determining what the "something" in the title should be. The English title Spirit Tracks was decided before they had finalized the Japanese name. Upon examining it, they determined that since spirit means soul, they could call it Train Whistle of the Soul. However, the team felt that it sounded too creepy, with Aonuma suggesting it sounded "haunted", not in keeping with its premise, which Aonuma describes as being about "running a train across wide-open spaces". They asked for suggestions from the staff, and as a result, they came up with the current Japanese title. They decided to call the pan flute "Whistle of the Wide World" afterward; it was named "Spirit Flute" in English. They also named various areas in the games similarly, using "Wide World of the Ocean" as an example.
The graphics were chosen, similarly to Phantom Hourglass, as a result of the decision that toon shading would be best to deliver the games. Aonuma commented that with realistic graphics, it would make the characters poorly scaled to their surroundings, adding that though possible, it was not ideal.
Iwamoto felt that Spirit Tracks should not be too "The Legend of Zelda-like", citing an argument that occurred that the train was not a good fit for the series. This argument had several people wondering if the train should not be changed to something else. However, Iwamoto and others convinced the staff to stick with the idea. Aonuma felt that the team had created new ways of playing, while retaining several elements from the series. Aonuma commented that because the puzzles were designed by a designer who was formerly a programmer, they felt different to him. The multi-player mode was included due to long-time series director Shigeru Miyamoto's enjoyment of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords.
At an early stage in the game's development, the team decided to focus on the ability to control a Phantom, an enemy character that appears in the Wi-Fi battle mode of Phantom Hourglass, and have it work cooperatively with Link. In questioning why an enemy character would work together with Link, the team came up with the idea that a second character would take control of the Phantom; Zelda was ultimately chosen because she was "an interesting and appropriate character". A survey conducted in the United States signified consumers preferred more independent female characters, including Zelda's alter egos Sheik (from Ocarina of Time) and Tetra (from The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass). Iwamoto also expressed an interest in making Zelda "a more integral part" of Spirit Tracks. As a result, Zelda actively adventures alongside Link in spirit form, in sharp contrast to the damsel-in-distress role she fulfills in some earlier installments in the series.
Regarding Tetra, Iwamoto chose to exclude her in this game due to her prevalence in previous games as a partner to Link. In deciding the partner, he came to the conclusion that the partner should be female since they would be adventuring together. While they began to design a new character, they figured that not including Zelda would not be as fun; as a result, Iwamoto asked permission to use Zelda, which Aonuma allowed him to do. The Spirit Flute was brought up early in the game's development. Because the microphone capabilities were featured so prominently in the game, the team decided to incorporate it into the flute. Aonuma felt that the inclusion of Zelda as Link's partner in both storyline and gameplay was his favourite part of the game, commenting that Spirit Tracks highlights her personality and characteristics better than other titles in the series.
Aonuma suggested that they not use a boat in this title. Because he wanted to retain the sense of seeing land become clearer as Link approaches it, he had to find an appropriate replacement for the boat. He cites a book called "Senro wa tsuzuku" (The Tracks Go On And On), a book loved by his son, for inspiring the inclusion of a train. He discusses how in the book, children construct railroad tracks, also doing things such as creating tunnels or bridges when they find mountains or rivers. Aonuma felt that this book felt like it would fit with the series, though he did not tell the other developers about it. He later suggested that they use a train, and allow players to lay the tracks themselves. However, the latter idea was described as a "nightmare" by Aonuma, due to how players would not know where to lay tracks and how the story had to restrict players from going to certain places. Developing the train travel system took roughly one year to complete. The mechanic was fixed by making it so that the train tracks were always there, but had disappeared, requiring players to repair them. The development team's reaction was mixed; while some found it fun to expand them, others thought that doing such a thing may result in a loss of freedom in the world exploration. In order to allow players to avoid obstacles or enemies on the tracks, the team included a feature to allow players to go in reverse and switch tracks.
The music in the game was composed by Toru Minegishi, Manaka Tominaga, ands Asuka Ota. Minegishi wrote the main overworld music and shared the work on field, character and event themes with Tominaga. Series sound composer Koji Kondo contributed the ending theme, while Ota was responsible for some of the music in the multiplayer mode.
When it was revealed, the fan reaction to Spirit Tracks was stronger than the reaction to the Nintendo DSi reveal beforehand. In his impressions, IGN's Craig Harris found the storyline to be "compelling" with an "interesting premise". He felt that the gameplay was much like Phantom Hourglass, and the plot was enough to get him "jazzed" about Spirit Tracks. IGN UK's Emma Boyes, in her impressions of the multi-player mode, commented that how players can lose the majority of their Force Gems in one hit makes the mode have tension and balance. She called the single and multi-player modes a "huge amount of fun". IGN's Mark Bozon commented that it had a lot of "déjà vu" as well as several great additions to the series. He commented that the controls for Princess Zelda were simple, though her "constant chatter" and "slow movement speed" caused the game to slow down at some parts. However, he felt that it was overall a good addition. IGN commented that Spirit Tracks was set to be a "worthy sequel" to Phantom Hourglass. In discussing its potential appearance at E3, IGN's Craig Harris felt that if a playable demo wasn't featured for it, Nintendo would show an "absolutely epic trailer that will bring fanboys to tears in the same way the company did with Twilight Princess in 2004". They awarded it Best Action game for the Nintendo DS at E3 2009, as well as runner-up for best DS game E3 2009 and best handheld game at E3 2009.
GameSpot's Sophia Tong commented that it was "well on its way to being a worthy sequel" to Phantom Hourglass, adding that the ability of the characters to "convey the mood" of the game was well-done enough without using voice acting. She also praised its improved visuals over Phantom Hourglass. Fellow GameSpot writer Tom Mc Shea commented that it looked as "charming" as its predecessors. Crave Online's Erik Norris called it "hilarious and awesome". He praised the change from sea to land, calling it a "guaranteed must-buy". GamesRadar's Brett Elston questioned the inclusion of train travel, considering how much criticism sailing received. However, he noted that it would be a strong addition to the series, though only if they were "no more obnoxious than sailing". In his hands-on of Spirit Tracks, Eurogamer's Christian Donlan described the train travel as "natural", calling the railways a "perfect fit" for the cel-shaded world of Spirit Tracks. He called it "another chunk of simple delight; another sweet-natured adventure". It was nominated for best-of-show at the 2009 gamescom.
The Daily Telegraph included it as one of the top 20 most anticipated games of E3, calling its cel-shaded visuals "beautiful" and "innovative" touch-screen controls. Ars Technica's Ben Kuchera praised it for how it exudes a "very pleasant mood and feel". He adds that he has always anticipated it, but the Phantom and train mechanics give it a "flavor of its own". He also commented on the E3 2009 trailer, stating that fans of the series will "be in heaven". Kotaku's Stephen Totilo criticized the use of the microphone for items, specifically the "Whirlwind" item, commenting that it would make it difficult to play on the subway with dignity. In his "sneak peek" at Spirit Tracks, Toronto Sun's Steve Tilley called it one of his "must-have" video game for the holidays, calling it both "very Zelda-y" and "very fresh". The Independent's Michael Plant called it "hotly-anticipated". Wired named it the third best portable game at E3 2009, with Gus Mastrapa praising it for its "killer dungeons" and "challenging puzzles".
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The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks has been well received by critics, holding an aggregate score of 87 and 86.92% at Metacritic and GameRankings respectively. This makes it the 19th highest-rated Nintendo DS game. Nintendo Power called it one of the best handheld The Legend of Zelda titles, commenting that fans of the series would get it either way. Games Master called it "delightful" in spite of how similar it was to Phantom Hourglass. NGamer UK called it a "Christmas romp". Games(TM) commented that while it was a "fine addition" to the series, it didn't do anything new for the series. IGN's Mark Bozon commented that while it can "drag on from time to time", praising it as superior to Phantom Hourglass as well as praising it for its bosses, dungeons, and challenge. Computer and Video Games' Mike Jackson commented that while it "doesn't rewrite the rules", it was "engrossing". He also called it an exception to the DS' library in 2009, which was otherwise not exciting.
Official Nintendo Magazine's Fred Dutton agreed with it being familiar, calling it a "wonderful game nonetheless". 1UP.com's Jeremy Parish commented that it "doesn't simply coast along on its legacy", calling it a "fine game in its own right". Game Revolution's Blake Morse called it a "fun take on Zelda games", as well as praising how Princess Zelda accompanies Link. However, he criticized the stylus control issues and when the train rides take too long. Eurogamer's Oli Welsh called it a "tighter and more rounded game" than both Phantom Hourglass and even "most modern games for grown-up consoles". He also commented that the environments are "sometimes shockingly basic", while the characters were "so detailed, so expressive, so exquisitely animated". GamesRadar's Dave Meikleham called it "one of the best Zelda games yet", calling its control scheme intuitive. He adds that the best use of the DS' controls were its items, specifically citing the Spirit Pipes which make use of the DS' microphone. Fellow GamesRadar writer Brett Elston praised the overworld theme, commenting that it put him in an "adventurous mindset", as well as calling it similar to the overworld themes of Phantom Hourglass and The Wind Waker.
Nintendo World Report's Neal Ronaghan praised the addition of the train and the quality of the dungeon designs, though criticizing the lessened exploration and control issues, though he specifically praised the Phantom controls. PALGN's Jeremy Jastrzab commented that while it doesn't stray from its predecessor much, it features "genuine improvements" over it, citing specifically the flute as a major addition to the gameplay. However, he commented that it wasn't right for a portable game. GameTrailers commented that it "addressed the shortcomings" of Phantom Hourglass, calling it "one of the better outings in the series". GameSpy's Brian Altano praised the game's dungeons and bosses as "some of the most imaginative" in the series. He also called it "one of the series' shining moments". However, he criticized the train travel, saying that it makes backtracking tedious. GameSpot's Randolph Ramsay called the dungeons "exciting and well-designed", while also praising its side-quests, boss fights, multi-player, and Phantom gameplay, which he says "adds new depth to the series". Video Gamer's Wesley Yin-Poole praised the controls for Link and Zelda, as well as the visual quality of the characters. However, he criticized the train mechanic and its "tired features", commenting that the series needs changes to structure and gameplay rather than visuals.
Game Informer's Andrew Reiner commented that he has not seen a game that "fluctuates between highs and lows as frequently" as Spirit Tracks. He called it his least favourite title in the series, praising its controls, while also praising the inclusion of Zelda's effect on the gameplay. However, he criticized Zelda's character, describing her as "teenage-angsty Hannah Montana than the calm-yet-troubled princess I knew in previous series iterations". He added that this makes the adventure "taken off course". In a second opinion, fellow Game Informer staff member Phil Kollar similarly called the game mixed, comparing its reception to the NES video game Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. He adds that while glad that Nintendo did something different, it hurt the game more than it helped. RPG Fan's Kyle E. Miller commented that he went into Spirit Tracks with "low expectations", expecting a similar reaction to Phantom Hourglass, which he described as "far from amazing". However, he still found the title disappointing due to the train mechanic, which he states was a "foolish" idea by the developers to build a game around. He adds that while the dungeons and puzzles are good, it all feels "a little tired, brief, and empty", calling it "most likely the series' worst entry". Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann also found it disappointing in some ways, though he added that the flaws were offset by "terrific puzzle design and a great, fun story that feels noticeably different from the standard "save the princess" saga that series fans are used to seeing".
GamePro's Aaron Koehn praised it for its use of the DS' capabilities, calling the game's offerings a "deep experience". However, they criticized it for taking too long to get going in the beginning and for doing little to differentiate itself from Phantom Hourglass. RPGamer's Adriaan den Ouden praised the gameplay, commenting that it was "refined" from Phantom Hourglass; however, he criticized its travel as "slow and tedious", also calling the side-quests "weak delivery subquests". Ars Technica's Ben Kuchera, however, praised the train travel, calling it a "solid length" game and praising it for its touch screen usage. He did however criticize it for its slow beginning and lack of innovation. Stephen Totilo praised the characters and towns, commenting that the characters have "good senses of humor". He also praised the train travel, commenting that while it feels long to use the train sometimes, it can be fun if players multi-task. He called it one of the five best-looking games for the DS. However, he criticized some aspects of it, specifically its flute item, which he says can be unusable if players are playing on a train for instance. IGN UK's Matt Wales called it a "stunningly presented package", praising the graphics as "packed with personality". He called its soundtrack one of the "franchise's best audio offerings in ages". The Daily Telegraph's Nick Cowen called it both one of the best DS games of 2009 and the best video game for all ages of 2009, calling it "challenging and fun" and "chock-full of side-quests". The Daily Telegraph also included it as the ninth best Christmas gift for teenagers, while Cowen and fellow writer Tom Hoggins included it as their honourable mentions in their top 10 list of video games for 2009.
The Guardian's Adam Boult commented that while it wasn't a "huge leap" from Phantom Hourglass, it is "brimming with innovation", strongly recommending it. While he admits that train travel seems restrictive compared to Phantom Hourglass, these restrictions are eventually "put to good use", making traveling an "engaging challenge". Fellow The Guardian writer Greg Howson found Spirit Tracks to be enjoyable, though criticizing the execution of the Spirit Flute. He listed it as his second favourite DS game.
USA Today's Jinny Gudmundsen called it an excellent game for kids who "enjoy the intellectual challenge of puzzles inside a captivating fantasy story filled with interesting characters". She also commented that kids are able to control both a hero and a heroine. The Independent's Rebecca Armstrong called it "endlessly inventive" with "new features galore", citing its usage of the microphone for items. She also called it "pacy, absorbing and very, very playable".
Awards and nominations
Spirit Tracks was nominated for best handheld game in the Game Developers Choice Awards. It was given the GAME Award of 2009 in the BAFTA through a reader's choice nomination. Nintendo Life named it runner-up for best Nintendo DS game of 2009, and its readers chose it as their runner-up for best game of the year. It was nominated for several DS-related awards, including best action game, visual excellence, sound excellence, best story, best multiplayer game, and game of the year. It was the readers' choice in every category except for best multiplayer game. IGN, however, named it only one of the runners-up in all of these categories.
Spirit Tracks ranked second in its debut week in Japan, selling 291,496 copies. The next week, it fell to third place, selling approximately 126,000 copies. It fell to fifth place the following week, selling approximately 49,000 copies, and falling to eighth place next week, selling approximately 22,000. For the first half of 2010, Spirit Tracks ranked as the 14th best-selling game in Japan, selling 376,054 copies with total sales at the time at 696,995.
Forbes' Brian Caulfield anticipated that Spirit Tracks would strengthen DSi sales for December. IGN predicted that DSi sales would remain steady, due to Spirit Tracks in part. Nintendo listed Spirit Tracks as a title that will have appeal to a wider age group in its financial report. Former Nintendo employee Cammy Dunaway used Spirit Tracks as a show of its holiday contenders in 2009. Spirit Tracks was anticipated to be the best-selling video game of December 2009 in North America by video game sales analyst Michael Pachter. GamePro predicted that Spirit Tracks would be the fourth best-selling game of December, expecting sales in excess of 725,000 copies. For its debut week, it ranked number one for Nintendo DS games. It retained its position in the following week. Spirit Tracks debuted at 12th place in the United Kingdom's video game sales chart. It was the fourth best-selling DS game in the UK. During the financial year ending March 31, 2010, Spirit Tracks sold in excess of 2.61 million copies.
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Anjean: [to Zelda] What if you went with him, my dear? [Silence. Zelda slowly turns around.] / Zelda: ...Me? Go with him? But I'm not sure how much help I'll be in this state. / Anjean: Well, my dear, this kingdom is your responsibility. You mustn't ever forget that. I'm sure you'll find a way to help out somehow.
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