E3 Hands-On Impressions of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Cooks, mathematicians and sports teams all employ a powerful weapon to achieve success in their chosen fields: formulas.  Much will be said from E3 2009 and beyond until well after the launch of the Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks.  A lot of it will probably not be flattering.  Nintendo has found a graphical and stylistic formula on the Nintendo DS that is both successful and fun.

At Nintendo’s booth this year at E3, I was able to avoid the long wait times associated with playing an anticipated title like The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks and go hands-on for the entire demo.  The demo was split into 3 parts: Dungeon, Boss and Train.  

As the Dungeon playable piece opened I took note of the use of the same graphical style and sound of Phantom Hourglass.  Already, I could hear the moans of the Zelda haters (you know who you are) about how “it’s the same thing.”  This same “Windwaker” style graphics are functional and visually impressive on the DS.  You begin the level with a new friend, a Phantom from Link’s previous adventure.  You are able to switch to either character in order to position them to solve puzzles including using the Phantom to block fire or cross pits of lava.  Being able to call the Phantom to you from off-screen ensures you are not tied to him and are able to explore at your leisure. 

Spirit Tracks Dungeon

The Boss fight was what I admit a typical Zelda boss fight.  You receive a new secondary weapon, the Whirlwind.  Before you enter the final chamber, you face one enemy that is a blue worm that when struck turns into a spiked ball that you can use the whirlwind to blow into objects that cause it to explode.  These simple clues indicate that you will have to use a combination of the spiked blue ball and the whirlwind to defeat this boss.  In truth, I appreciated these simple clues to help me with this demonstration.  The flying beetle was easily defeated and I used my new found skills to help the demonstrator from Nintendo understand how to defeat the monster himself.

Spirit Tracks Boss

It looks like the Train section will replace or enhance the features previously covered by the sailing.  You can speed up, slow down or stop the train.  You have a whistle you may employ to implore cows off the track.  Lastly, the cannon attached to your engine clears all enemies, birds, rocks and exploding barrels in or around your path.  Your real competition is a trio of enemy trains riding the tracks attempting to drive you off the road.  The tricky part is that while there is a pattern to them, they are faster than you are and you must account for their speed.  

Spirit Tracks Train

Overall, this demo played just like Phantom Hourglass.  That is a positive in my book.  The demo wasn’t long enough to spoil any of story while giving you a strong taste of the graphics, sound and game play.  Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks looks to become yet another positive first party experience on your Nintendo DS or DSi.  To me, Spirit Tracks is the double stuffed Oreos to Phantom Hourglass’s original Oreos: same great taste with just more of the filling.