You have a very important mission ahead of you... I will wait here. That's what we princesses have always done. From what I understand, it's kind of a family tradition.
— Princess Zelda
The fifteenth game in The Legend of Zelda series, Spirit Tracks was released in December of 2009. It is an indirect sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, taking place over a hundred years after the events in that game and starring a new Link and Zelda. For the most part, controls are similar to its predecessor. However, there are several new features introduced for this game. Firstly, the player can take control of Phantoms (like those in Phantom Hourglass) to aid in combat and solving puzzles. The second major change is that this game takes place on land, not the ocean. Link controls not a ship, but a train.A long time ago, in the land of the Lokomo people, a great evil called the Demon King was fought and sealed in the ground. The chains binding him stretched the entire length of the land, and ended up the basis for a railway system. Since then, a new Kingdom of Hyrule was founded in the land (by the Wind Waker/Phantom Hourglass Zelda), apparently coexisting peacefully with the native Lokomo. In the present day, Princess Zelda is once again a reigning monarch in charge of a functional kingdom, rather than the TsundereLittle Miss Badass of the prior games. The story opens with Link, an apprentice engineer, needing to attend his presentation ceremony in which Princess Zelda will appoint him as a Royal Engineer. She does so despite the annoyance of her Obviously EvilChancellor, Cole; secretly, however, she requests Link's aid in investigating why the Spirit Tracks are disappearing. Almost as soon as Link sneaks the princess out of the castle, the Evil Chancellor shows up and casts some sort of spell that separates Zelda's soul from her body. While the villain takes Zelda's body for himself, her soul stays with Link, and they team up to put her soul back where it belongs. Besides playing Exposition Fairy, it is Zelda herself who can possess the Phantoms and help Link in dungeons, being this the first time in the series where the player gets to control the titular princess.It is the third Zelda game so far to have a rating that is not the default E (it's rated E10+). The first two were the T-rated The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Link's Crossbow Training, although the latter is a spinoff game.
This Game Provides Examples Of:
Action Girl: One of the few canon Zelda games to have Zelda actually DO something other than stand around for most of the game that's actually playable. The game actually makes fun of this. When Zelda is told that her body is being kept at the top of the tower (and why), she frantically grabs Link by the front of the shirt and borderline-psychotically orders him to go and save it. She adds that she'll remain behind to wait for him ("From what I understand, it's kind of a familytradition!") before being informed that she'd have to help him out also.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: 15 (of 20) stamps in Niko's stamp book unlocks the train conductor's outfit you wore at the beginning of the game. That's right, his reward is clothes that you already owned.
Animated Armor: The Phantom really is an enemy and will attack Link until he allows Zelda's spirit to possess it.
Anti-Frustration Features: The train will flip to the direction you want to go when exiting a station, portal and some caves in order to avoid having to go backwards and manually turning around. Interestingly, this is also done in the Dark Realm if you decide to back into a portal.
Badass Adorable: Phantom Zelda. Even the other Phantoms observe that she's adorable, although they don't quite know why. The little round pink eyes that appear in the usually empty space beneath Phantom's helmets are more than enough to qualify her.
Big "NO!": Zelda does this when she finds out what Chancellor Cole is planning to do with her body.
Bittersweet Ending: Link and Zelda kill Malladus and save the day once again, but all the Lokomos, including Byrne, disappear. One of the three Multiple Endings also gives off this vibe, due to hinting that Link left Hyrule.
Body Snatcher: The plot is kicked off by Chancellor Cole stealing Zelda's newly-soulless body.
Body Surf: How Zelda takes control of the Phantom.
Bonus Boss: Dark Link in the final level of the "Take 'em All On" minigame.
Boss Subtitles: Pretty much a prerequisite for 3D Zelda titles. The "boss name, then title" format from Phantom Hourglass is reused (eg., "Stagnox, Armoured Colossus", "Fraaz, Master of Icy Fire", etc...)
Climax Boss: Byrne. He's fought just before Malladus finally possesses Zelda's body.
Clothes Make the Legend: Link's tunic and cap yet again, this time justified by being the uniform for the royal guards, and Link has to dress up as one to sneak Zelda out. Interestingly, US-version dialogue indicates that no one seems to find the outfit very flattering; one guard calls it "goofy-looking," and when Link puts it on Zelda comments that "It works...I suppose."
Continuity Nod: Tetra appears in a stained-glass window; Niko mentions how Link reminds him of someone he used to know when he was younger; you can obtain the shield from Phantom Hourglass at one point, and so on...
Anjean is made of these.
Zelda desperately notes, during her freak-out, that it's pretty much the required job for the Link in each generation to rescue his corresponding Zelda.
You visit Linebeck's grave at one point in the adventure.
The Ends of the Earth station has puzzles for Master, Tempered and Golden puzzlers. Those are the names of the sword's upgrades in A Link to the Past.
Convection Schmonvection: Link can ride on top of Phantom!Zelda while she walks through lava and neither are any the worse for wear.
Copy Protection: Copied/pirated versions of the game don't display the train controls, making riding the train very difficult indeed.
Cosmetic Award: Beat Alfonzo's training record of 900 hits and you get a rare treasure, and the guards call you "Captain". Not much, considering you can get the treasure other ways so all you really have is the honor of their respect and that's it.
Covert Pervert: Zelda gives off this vibe when handing Link his "disguise" in her room early on in the game.
Zelda: "Please get changed so we can leave. ...Oh! I-I'm sorry. I'll look the other way."
Cursed with Awesome: Princess Zelda. She is cursed into being a ghost. This gives her, among others, the ability to hover (which she openly enjoys in the trailer), turn into a fairy-like orb of light and, most importantly, possess the deadly Phantom-soldiers.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Chancellor Cole, who decides to skip the elaborate plots and just separate Zelda's soul and steal her body himself. Also Fraaz, boss of the Snow Temple, who at one point of the fight will simply destroy the summoning torches you were using to break his defenses.
Snapper, the miniboss you get the whip from, later appears as just another enemy. It is very satisfying to whip him to death with the weapon you took from him. The Geozard, a heavily-guarded enemy, is also made short work of after you can use the whip to remove its shield.
The Heatoise in the Fire Temple. After you get the Bow and Arrow from the first one, two more show up, and your new weapon can be used to eliminate them in short order.
Devour the Dragon: Near the end of the game, Zelda gains her body back, leaving Malladus without a host. Malladus then resorts to Plan B and steals Cole's body for a power boost.
Disc One Final Dungeon: Floors 18-24 of the Tower of Spirits. Link and Zelda make it to the top of the tower, only to have the villains escape on the Demon Train. It wasn't helped by the fact that they averted Interface Spoiler (in the menu screen and, to a lesser extent, the maps), so the existence of a fifth dungeon was a major surprise.
Dishing Out Dirt: The Sand Wand has this power. With it, Link is able to raise sand so he can rise to higher spots, move or stop heavy objects, walk over quicksand, attack sand-based enemies, etc. It's very versatile.
Eleventh Hour Superpower: Let's just say this is what happens when Pac-Manteams up withSuper Mario Bros.. The first portion of the final fight has you eliminating every Evil Train on the map by hunting each of them down with the Tears of Light. Grab one of them and pull down the whistle to have an extreme boost in speed and invincibility to boot. What's even better is that switching directions and the speed are practically conserved while under the Tears of Light, so you can go backwards and still have the same speed.
The Force Gem sidequests which don't involve transporting items from one place to another instead require you to transport people from one place to another without taking too much damage during the ride.
Big Keys in a few dungeons are electrified and Link can't carry them, so Zelda (in Phantom armor) carries them instead — but then you have to protect her from Keymasters who try to take the key back.
Phantom!Zelda in the first part of the fight with Cole and Malladus has to guide Link to the front of the train, while Malladus!Zelda shoots a laser beam.
Alfonzo, Link's teacher and master, bears a striking resemblance to Gonzo, Tetra's first mate in The Wind Waker. He's descended from him, which would make this an example of Generation Xerox as well, along with Zelda ("Legacy-Expy" of Tetra) and Link ("Legacy-Expy" of his incarnation in Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass]]).
Malladus is a giant blue pig-thing who possesses Zelda, looking a lot like Ganon in the older Zelda games.
Family-Unfriendly Death: Byrne gets shocked to death moaning in pain by Malladus. This likely contributed to the E10+ rating.
Feed It a Bomb: The carnivorous Fire Baba plants will readily swallow Bombs, blowing themselves up in the process.
Fetch Quest: By the trainload, literally. Your train eventually gets a freight car, and you'll be using it frequently to keep NPCs happy (and earn items).
Friendly Playful Dolphins: This game has yellow dolphins that swim alongside the train while it's going over water. They squeak and jump out of the water when you blow the whistle, and they are adorable. If you keep blowing your whistle, they give you hearts to heal your train.
Ghost Fiction: Princess Zelda is a Cute Ghost Girl for most of the game, the Bigger Bad Malladus is a demon whose spirit is sealed via the titular Spirit Tracks, and the Tower of Spirits is quite literally the central location of this entire plot and Hyrule itself.
Glowing Eyes of Doom: On Zelda-possessed Phantoms. Despite being pink, they still look quite badass, especially when in one of the dark rooms.
Gosh Hornet: When Link learns to roll... and is instructed by the game to roll into a tree with a giant beehive clearly hanging from it.
Guide Dang It: A few, but the worst offender is finding the person who provides the Force Gem for the Pirate's Hideout.
Head Pet: Playing the Song of Birds near one of the small pigeons will cause one to roost on your head, staying there until you change screens or pick up an object, but staying even if you start pulling spin attacks.
Heel-Face Turn: After Cole betrays him, Byrne ends up helping Link, Zelda, and Anjean. Of course, the Face-Heel Turn he did out of greed was what got him working for the Big Bad in the first place.
Internal Homage: Remember the episode of the Zelda cartoon where Link's spirit was separated from his body and his soul guided Zelda so that his body and soul could be reunited? Hmm, interesting little role reversal we have here...especially interesting, since we find out that only Link can see spirit-Zelda (apart from the Lokomos, anyhow). Just like only Zelda could see spirit-Link in the cartoon. In the cartoon, the given reason for this was that Zelda was in love with Link... Wait a sec...
The final boss's final form is very reminiscent of Ganon, what with being a demonic blue warpig with a red mane. The Demon Train also resembles Ganon.
The final boss battle is very similar to that in The Wind Waker in that Zelda is running around and shooting Light Arrows at the villain, while Link serves merely as a distraction and how Link ends the battle with forehead-impalement on Malladus's part, just as his predecessor finished off Ganondorf. The key difference is that this time, you actually control which way Zelda goes and when she shoots the arrows. Also, she can't accidentally hurt Link with them, like she could in The Wind Waker.
May or may not be intentional, but the symbol for the Ocean Realm bears a striking resemblance to an hourglass...
In the Phantom Hourglass, you needed to collect the Sand of Hours. The Ocean Realm is also the location of the Sand Sanctuary and Temple.
You travel to forest, snow, ocean and mountain, with a large tower standing in the middle. There's some differences, but the resemblance to Termina is hard not to notice. Also, one of the songs you learn is called the Song of Healing.
The whip is known as the "rope snake." In several games in the series, the snake enemies are called 'Ropes'.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The guy who runs the Rabbitland Rescue really, really loves bunnies (although he also says that the bunnies want you to shoot bombs at the rocks they hide behind) ...so much so that he left his wife behind in Castle Town with no indication of where he went. When Link brings her to see him, she's angry at first, but relents and decides to stay and help him take care of the bunnies, since it makes him happy.
"I will wait for you here. That's what princesses have always done. From what I understand, it's kind of a family tradition."
Also the kid who tells you about the trade system, remarking at the end that she has no idea what it means.
When fighting (or rather, fleeing for your very life from) the Roktite, Zelda will cry out "Why hasn't this tunnel ended yet?!", noting how implausibly long the tunnel is.
Large Ham: Malladus, who, despite getting barely 3 lines in the whole game, manages to still be almost hammier than Ganondorf himself. Malladus' very first spoken line in the game was "RELEAAAAASE MEEEEEEE!!!"
Late-Arrival Spoiler: The Reveal of The Wind Waker gets spoiled before your first dungeon crawl (somewhat indirectly, but still). So if you plan on playing that game for the first time and want to be relatively unspoiled, then wait to play Spirit Tracks until afterward.
In a sense, Hyrule itself is a Legacy Country. This game takes place on a new continent discovered by Link and Tetra and named after the country that was destroyed in The Wind Waker. It seems different enough, however, what with the trains and all.
Averted with Niko. While some characters like Alfonzo seem to be Expies or descendants of Wind Waker-era characters, Niko appears as an old man in Link's village, with a pictograph of himself circa Phantom Hourglass on the wall.
The Postman. This is the third game where a postman comes to deliver mail directly to you.
MacGuffin Escort Mission: Most of the Force Gem sidequests involve transporting fish/ice/lumber/iron/cuccos/a highly breakable vase from one location to another.
Money for Nothing: Once you find Linebeck, you can sell the many pieces of treasure you've picked up to him. Earlier in the game, this doesn't quite result in a Money for Nothing situation, since good treasure is rare, and there's still plenty of nice items to spend cash on. Later on, however, once you've bought the major necessities and have accessed the multiple minigames that hand out rare treasure like candy, the game clearly reaches this point.
Multiple Endings: Three, although they differ only very slightly from each other, depending on the answer given to Zelda's question shortly before the final battle. The game lets you save directly before this, so you can play again to see each of them without having to redo the entire game.
The Phantoms talk in ALL CAPS and end every sentence WITH A PERIOD.
"YOU SEEM CUTER THAN USUAL. WHY."
"SOMETIMES IT'S LONELY BEING SO ELITE."
"MY TORCH IS THE LATEST IN TORCH TECHNOLOGY."
There's a sign written like this in the Tower of Spirits (written by the Phantoms):
"PHANTOMS LIKE US LIKE THE DARK."
Obviously Evil: Cole. At least Zelda has her suspicions, but they're not nearly as strong as they should be.
One-Hit Kill: Unusually for the Legend of Zelda series, the Dark Trains and Armored Trains will cause an instant Game Over if they hit your train, regardless of how fast they hit you or what condition your train is in. The situation is reversed when you get the Tears of Light in the endgame, only to reverse itself again if you run out of Light before killing them. The dynamic is extremely like Pac-Man.
Princesses Prefer Pink: When Zelda possesses a Phantom, it turns pink. The cutscene of the first time this happens even shows Phantom Zelda with glowing pink eyes.
Promoted to Playable: The first (and so far, only) time in the core series where the player gets to control Zelda herself directly by making her possess phantoms. Played straighter in the Final Battle, where the player gets to control her in her own body.
Psycho Strings: The music that plays when you meet the Dark/Armored Trains.
Also, Chancellor Cole's theme.
And when the Roktite gets closer... and closer... AND CLOSER...
Punch Clock Villain: The Phantoms in the Tower of Spirits, who actually aren't supposed to be villains at all and normally wouldn't be attacking Link. The dark power of Cole and Malladus causes them to incorrectly perceive him as a threat.
Link's hometown is Aboda Village, "abode" being another word for "home."
This is also very true of the Japanese version. Some are rather obscure, though: Byrne is "Diigo", which comes from the popular-with-Japanese-railfans D51 locomotive, while Cole is "Kimaroki", referring to a specific arrangement of locomotives and specialized railcars used in the past to clear snow off the tracks. A third is Shirokuni (Alfonzo), who is a reference to the C62 locomotive, the fastest and most powerful passenger locomotive of Japan's steam era.
All of these applies to the English version of the game. Even more Punny Names can be found in the other versions.
Puppy Love: As mentioned above, it may be implied (albeit VERY strongly this time), but the romance between Link and Zelda in this game comes in this flavour. It gets specially obvious in the finale.
Rail Enthusiast: Ferrus, the resident Fanboy in the train-covered world. You meet him a few times in the main adventure, in which he gives you helpful hints about the next temple, and he's also a part of a few sidequests in which you can fufill his dreams of going underwater and meeting Alfonzo. Oh, and you can hit him with the cannon.
Red Right Hand: Chancellor Cole has a pair of horns hidden under his twin top hats. Less conspicuously, he also has reverse-coloured eyes, with black scleras and white irises. For some reason, however, his eye color is normal whenever he shows his demonic traits...
Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Since Byrne was "once the servant of those disgusting spirits", Malladus blasts him instead of granting him the power he signed on for.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: This is just about the most active and helpful a Princess Zelda has ever been in this series, second only perhaps to Tetra, who wasn't raised as a princess. After initially demanding that Link do the usual job of a Link and rescue her (body), she consents to follow Link and help him in every way she can. That includes pulling double duty as an Exposition Fairy and acting as Link's invincible armored partner in the Spirit Tower. During the final battle, she's a formidable fighter on her own, outside of the armor, and the credits show that she's not above doing the important bureaucratic work that comes with being royalty, either. For reference, Spirit Tracks is the first (Nintendo-published) Zelda game in which Zelda is playable.
Samus is a Girl/Monster Is a Mommy: Stagnox, the first boss, a giant beetle that most players just think of as genderless, is explicitly made to be female in her trophy from Super Smash Bros. 3DS, and the mooks she summons turn out to be her own larvae.
Sealed Evil in a Can: The Demon King Malladus. He's such a big evil that his binding chains were big and long enough to form the basis of New Hyrule's railway system.
Sequential Boss: There are three phases to the final boss fight (four or five if you include the Demon Train or the six armored cars beforehand, but you can save after those battles).
Trains. You can't be an engineer without what essentially amounts to a knighting ceremony.
And as the Esoteric-Goron claims, engineers have a special "aura" allowing them to feel the presence of one. It's like engineer is another word for "really awesome person" in New Hyrule. In the immortal words of Alfonzo: "You sure you don't mean legendary warrior? I've never heard of a legendary engineer."
Spin Attack: With the obligatory upgrade from Niko once you collect all 20 stamps.
Stealth-Based Mission: A variation in which Link's iconic green outfit is also that worn by castle guards, so Link can run around in plain sight of patrols; it's Princess Zelda (whom he's escorting) who must remain hidden.
The inverse logically occurs (in a downplayed manner) during the Tower of Spirit dungeons — Link generally needs to avoid patrolling Phantom soldiers, but Zelda (possessing Phantom armor) can walk around freely.
Tagalong Kid: You can saddle Beedle with one, the same kid from Link's home village who conned him into rolling into a bee-infested tree. It's necessary to get a Force Gem from the kid, but even more so, it's hilarious to see Beedle's reaction when you bring him into the store.