Friday, November 6, 2009

Spirit Tracks: Screenshot Analysis

Quite the busy day. Next to a new trailer and infos about the story Nintendo released new artwork and a couple of new screenshots for Spirit Tracks. You can find the artwork and most of the screenshots over at ZeldaUniverse or on the official Nintendo sites. The artwork includes pictures of the new characters including the evil chancellor, who wears two hats to hide his horns. And the old lady on the "railchair" is from a new tribe, some locomotive people. But let's take a deeper look at some of the screenshots (don't read on, if you don't want to be spoiled about anything):

These screenshots show the train section in the beginning of the game (from the new trailer). There's a time limit and it probably has something to do with the vanishing of the Spirit Tracks. I guess, you only will have so much time to reach the tower until the tracks disappear. A cutscene in the trailer even shows how the tracks vanish under Link's train. See how the other tracks are greyed out? Those are probably already gone. Restoring the Spirit Tower then will cause the tracks to reappear and that way you can explore other regions of Hyrule. It works basically like getting new sea charts from the Ocean King Temple, just with rails coming out of nowhere. And I think, it's a pretty cheap way to force the overall game course. I was hoping, that the railsystem would lead to a more open and non-linear exploreable Hyrule, but again Nintendo has found a way to make their new Zelda game linear. Still, Phantom Hourglass gave you the possibility of exploring the last two parts of the sea at once and even play the last three normal dungeons in any order, if you managed to beat the third and fourth part of the Ocean King Temple in one attempt. Maybe there's something similar with the Spirit Tower and you can make play multiple parts at once if you're good. About that, there are two interesting screenshots of the Phantom gameplay as well.

What's so interesting isn't the lower screen, but what can be seen on the map. There are safe zones, multiple Phantoms, a small display of the current floor number and the Tears of Light. You have to collect three Tears of Light in order to strike down a Phantom. That part probably works like classic Ocean King Temple stealth action. I've always wondered, why there where safe zones shown in the older materials, but this pretty much explains it. The first screenshot even shows a second Phantom, while Zelda already possesses one. I wonder, how the two will react to each other. Will Zelda be able to destroy the other Phantom? Or can she at least somehow protect Link from it? Or does she like Link has to run from it, because the other Phantom can destroy hers (which wouldn't be awesome)? Or is it a spare Phantom in case your current one gets destroyed or lost? Well, the Phantom doesn't have a health meter, but that doesn't mean it can't get trapped or destroyed. (Update: You can actually use one Phantom to distract the other.)

Last bunch shows a scene from the castle and what I believe is the new Hyrule Castle town. The castle section at the beginning of the game involves stealthing AGAIN. You have to control Zelda and sneak her around the guards, while Link distracts them. He does that wearing their clothes, which happen to be the classic green hero tunic, so they mistake him for one of theirs. However, I don't do jumping jacks of joy because of this. I mean, how many sneak through the castle garden sequences did we have since Ocarina of Time? Oracle of Ages and The Minish Cap both did have one for example. Not talking about all the other stealth sequences like the Gerudo Fortress, Deku Castle or Subrosian stalking. But thankfully the new main dungeon won't be all just stealthing but taking control over the invincible enemies.

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