It’s not you, it’s me. My short and uneventful ride on the Spirit Tracks.

We just moved into a new place — a house! An actual detached house with a backyard and everything! I’m super tired, super exhausted, and super pleased.  Unpacking aside, there’s so much to do — repairs, cleaning, painting, more repairs, buying furniture, planning the garden, etc. etc.  ~happy sigh~

All this is to say that I’ve been out of touch with gaming, and just about anything current, for several weeks now.  (I’m also going to try to keep blogging regularly, but it might be a slow month.) It’s unlikely that’s going to change in the near future; and that makes me a little anxious.   Because the moment I got back on the internet it’s like Mass Effect 3 exploded its juicy awesomeness on ever single game site and blog.

And I don’t want to delight in a single bit of it.

No offense to any of you who have written about it but I WANT TO PLAY IT REALLY REALLY BAD!!!!!!

Ahem — composure…

Not to mention that Skyrim is taunting me every time I walk into the den.  I just know my Imperial warrior is drowning her boredom at one of the local watering holes.  I’m sorry my dear Kallan, the virtual world will just…have…to wait. (So drink up!)

And now more than ever do I miss my DS.  During a previous move it really helped me deal with the horribleness of moving.  It was so easy to turn to for just a few quick rounds of play in and amongst all the chaos.  During that move, the one game I turned to was The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009).

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks cover art © Nintendo (source)

I can’t claim to be the world’s biggest Zelda fan, though I’ve played most of the games since Ocarina of Time and have liked just about all of them.  Sadly, Spirit Tracks (ST) turned out to be my least favorite and one I never finished mainly because I just got bored and frustrated with it.  Yes, it got fine reviews and all, but it was a case of the right game at the wrong time.  Or maybe the wrong game at the wrong time?

It wasn’t you ST, it was me.

I picked up ST in early 2010 on the heels of many repeated playings of Phantom Hourglass, which I enjoyed to the nth degree.  With Phantom Hourglass (and Wind Waker, previously) already under my belt, I was positive that ST was going to provide limitless hours of enjoyment.  I mean, it just replaced boats with trains, and I like trains.  Real, big trains.  They help me get to work and are pretty reliable.  And they played fascinating and pivotal roles in the formation of our nation’s economic, political, and societal structures.

Yes, I like trains.  They are cool.  Here’s a nice shot of a Pennsylvania Railroad K4 locomotive. Probably circa 1940, if I had to guess. (source)

ST’s basic premise involved a version of everyone’s favorite elf, Link, and his efforts to restore Hyrule’s missing train tracks. There are main worlds divided into smaller sections (which are explored via the train), plenty of familiar bad guys, magical stuff, and special items like the “spirit flute” that helped Link defeat some enemies.  Like in Hourglass, you traveled from one destination to the next fighting off unusual enemies like bomb-wielding snowmen.  Also like other Zelda games, there’s a rather complex story involving Zelda, her spirit, and other characters and Link’s quest to save everyone, or some such.  I won’t lie – I’ve never really paid attention to stories in Zelda games.  I’ve always enjoyed the character interactions, finding treasures, and traveling portions of Zelda games more than anything.  Story was never a driving factor for me to play them. (Though I hear Skyward Sword has a pretty good story.  Sure enough, it’s on my forever-long to-play list.)

Having played Hourglass, ST was more of the same — it had the same look and appeal and that was okay.  Enter a world, travel to one section, defeat monsters in a dungeon, find stuff, collect rupees, meet people, and move to next section.  I really liked the game the first few times I played.  I had no problems doing all the same things in slightly different dungeons in somewhat different environments.  Granted, this was during a move, so I had minimal motor control and brain functionality, but ST’s simple, fun, and habitual nature was a good thing.

ST screenshots from thatvideogameblog.com.

And then, we finished moving and had to start life again, which meant re-starting the train commutes to work.  Only this time, life was quite far away from work, which required a pre-dawn train ride every morning.  The afternoon ride was even loooonger.  Since getting my DS, my train rides were my prime handheld gaming time.  I had had a solid couple hours or so each day make some progress on a variety of games.  But this time round, the extra-long commutes proved too much.  I had more time on the train, yes, but I was also very tired, like, all the friggin’ time.  For the first couple weeks, I valiantly tried to help Link restore the Spirit Tracks, but, with general fatigue at play, malaise set in and I found the game really boring.  Every level felt the same, all the enemies looks the same, and I never really got a handle on using the spirit flute.  The game turned into a slog and I just didn’t really care about Hyrule’s missing train tracks or the convoluted story.  I can’t recall just how far I got into the game before calling it quits, but some of the later dungeons seemed unfairly hard, especially the ones that took place in the dark.  Ugh.  Just too damn frustrating.

Sadly, ST marked the beginning of the end for me and my DS.  That far-away move was good in many ways (closer to family and a better environment) but bad in others (the commute was simply soul-draining).  As 2010 trotted along, I picked up fewer and fewer DS games and pathetically tried to squeeze in a little game play whenever I felt capable I ended up giving the thing away.  I really loved my DS for so many years, and every now and then I regret disposing of it.

ST wasn’t a bad game at all.  I was just an exhausted gamer trying to make the best of a less-than-optimal situation.

Still, if I went and got a DS tomorrow, I wouldn’t pick up Spirit Tracks.  Hourglass…maybe…

ST figurines (so cute!) from superpunch.blogspot.com

3 thoughts on “It’s not you, it’s me. My short and uneventful ride on the Spirit Tracks.”

  1. I feel kinda bad for not giving Spirit Tracks my all, especially after having such a great time with Phantom Hourglass. I never tried Oracle of Ages or Minish Cap – I thought about getting the latter when I once scooped up a bunch of cheap GBA games. I like the Zelda games enough, but I’m not a devout follower. Still, I really do think I’m going to have to scrape together $40 soon to get Skyward Sword; I’ve heard so, so many good things about it and our Wii just looks so sad and neglected lately.

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  2. I love the Zelda series, and yet I just can’t get into the handhelds. I played Oracle of Ages on the Game Boy Color and didn’t like it. I gave Minish Cap a try on the Game Boy Advance and didn’t like it, either, so when I got my DS, I didn’t buy any Zelda games. I don’t even know why I keep buying handhelds when I don’t like handheld games that much. Zelda games on the handhelds seem boring and too difficult for me. I got close to the very end in both games, then couldn’t get any farther no matter what. Grr.
    (And yeah, Skyward Sword’s story was pretty good. I felt lots of pain in my soul when I finished that game. Sniff. I miss it so.)

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