An Open Apology to Nintendo

Nintendo HQIt takes a hell of a lot of courage to admit you were wrong about something. We know that feeling all too well, don’t we? We like to be right. We have strong stances and opinions on subjects, and most the time there is little to nothing that will make us change our minds and admit being wrong. Well, I want to apologize openly to Nintendo. I doubted you when it came to Spirit Tracks. I felt it would be one of the worst games in the series, and would hold zero interest to me. Of course I love Zelda, so I would of bought the game regardless, but who knows if I would have even gave it a chance.

My initial impressions back at GDC 2009 were not those of glee. I was pretty upset, admittedly. That’s even putting it mild. I was outraged at Nintendo. Not only did we not get a Zelda Wii trailer, we were handed what appeared to be a quickly thrown together Phantom Hourglass sequel as an excuse to say “we did give you a core game this year”.

It’s no secret that Phantom Hourglass was aimed at a crowd that mostly did not include myself. That is not to say Phantom Hourglass was a bad game. It was rather enjoyable for a stand alone DS title, but it was also just didn’t appeal to the Zelda in me. It felt like Linebeck was the only character in the game designed to give core gamers a thrill, and I honestly didn’t like him. The game was far too easy, the story itself was pretty weak, and lets not even get into the Temple of the Ocean King. There were redeeming factors of course, but the negatives to me just made this one of my constant cellar dwellers in terms of my rankings of the Zelda titles.

spirit tracks official artwork

That being the case, it’s rather easy to understand my outrage at seeing Spirit Tracks. It wasn’t that the game would be bad, it’s that we got it before even getting a Zelda console announcement. Twilight Princess came out in 2006. Phantom Hourglass came out in 2007. It was clearly the time for a console announcement. Instead, we were greeted with a PH sequel and a Link riding a train. Forgive me for this, but here was my initial reaction: “Link is on a train? This the worst damn Zelda game in history.”

The previews of the demo that ensued didn’t really make me falter too much on those thoughts. Adding in the fact you had to blow into a mic to use an item, and it mimicked the control scheme of Phantom Hourglass (I really was not a fan of the touch controls) it only furthered my hate towards the game. Nintendo didn’t help either, not revealing anything new about the game for such a long time. To me, it felt like they knew the game was rushed and just a “tide me over till Zelda Wii” thing and thus they didn’t really want to highlight it.

Boy, was I dead wrong. From here on out be warned, as spoilers may leak in. It started really with our own Nathaniel Coughran’s viewpoints on our exclusive ST demo preview. I say, it may have been one of the single most unbiased reviews of the demo to date. It didn’t really get me excited or anything, but it was bit of a shocker to see that some of these gameplay elements may have been tainted in my mind by the numerous reviews that mostly bashed the demo.

Link Official Art from Spirit Tracks

Then, last night, Nintendo hits us hard. New trailers revealing so much stuff my mind was blown. This was only furthered today as we discovered the story behind the game. Needless to say, my jaw dropped. The train overreaction seems like a distant memory. Zelda is finally involved heavily in the game, even to the point where you get to control both her and Link. The whole Phantom being a good guy finally got explained as to how to works, and it was confirmed that this land is indeed the “New Land” they talked about finding at the end of Phantom Hourglass.

The story itself is enough to make me like the game. If you couldn’t guess, I am big into story when it comes to Zelda. I felt before that Twilight Princess may have been the greatest story ever told. I may stand corrected with Spirit Tracks. So far, all the characters revealed have a clear purpose, arguably a personality even. You see a world in trouble, and it may not even be Ganondorf… it’s just a Demon King that was at the land before we even showed up. The tracks have an actual meaning to the game outside of just pure transportation. Honestly, I could go on and on about the excitement that Spirit Tracks is bringing me.

What I am trying to say here, in the end, is I am sorry Nintendo. I was wrong. Spirit Tracks may indeed be exactly what I wanted in a Zelda title. I was quick prejudge it, basing it on the surface alone before being able to dive in. While I have yet to play the title, I can already safely say it’s going to be a lot better than many of us thought it would be. I am not saying that this game is for everyone, but I will say that this game is definitely for me. Thank you, Nintendo. You have shown me the light at the end of the train tunnel, and it’s beautiful.

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