I'll admit it, I'm a sidequest-junkie. I just love collecting items like hidden seashells, golden spiders, masks, rings, figurines and even ship parts. And I just love discovering all the secrets of a game. Next week the newest installment of the Zelda series, Spirit Tracks, will arrive on the shelves and we know little so far what sidequests we will get.
The Nintendo Power magazine mentioned "wooden hearts" and "dragon scales", but I believe those items are simply part of the treasure collection, the same system, that we already got in Phantom Hourglass, just with twice as much items. Treasures are basically rupee-replacements, since they are mostly traded for rupees, and you find them randomly. Even their value is randomly chosen when you start a new game file, so basically every player will have a different set of values for their treasures. An item, that isn't worth much in your game and which you'll find very often, could be very valueable and rare for another player. And vice versa. This is were the trading in the multiplayer mode comes in. The exception are the golden items, that are always rare and always have the maximum price.
The Official Nintendo Magazine is more accurate concerning this topic, here's the quote:
[Spirit Tracks] is rammed to the gills with side-quests, secret areas and collectables. We won't give too much away here but there are rabbits to be hunted, passport stamps to collect, passengers to ferry around, new moves to learn, train upgrades to track down, secret routes to be opened up and much more besides.
I'll be totally honest here, when I'm saying that none of this sounds too exciting. The train upgrades were expected, though it was mentioned a couple of times by now that this won't work like the ship parts in Phantom Hourglass. That you will ferry passengers around was also one of my first guesses, since the train does have a passenger wagon. The passport stamps are collected by Niko and the rabbit hunting will be done on train, Link will throw a net after them and this is probably some weird replacement for the fishing from Phantom Hourglass. Ah yeah, Heart Containers are back according to TSA. Speaking of, TSA mentioned in his article a Savage Labyrinth / Cave of Ordeals like minidungeon in Hyrule Castle Town, where you fight through floors full of enemies but also the bosses from the game. But this one will be seperated into levels, so it hopefully will be not as long and boring as the Cave of Ordeals. Because I seriously wouldn't want another 50 stories filled with repetition minidungeon.
And what still bugs me is the artwork with the photographer (see picture above), because the odds are, that this has something to do with the DSi camera. But as long as this stays a gimmick and isn't required for anything else, I'm okay with it.
Surely by now it's hard for Nintendo to come up with new and fresh ideas for sidequests and collectables, but we will see next week how well Spirit Tracks is performing in this category, as well as in all other categories.