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'Spirit Tracks' disgraces classic 'Zelda’ series

Sometimes, one gets to play a game that is brilliant. Sometimes, you get to see a game with style so impeccable, so impetuous that you must salute the noble men and women who made it.

And other times, you get to play a game like “The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks.”

I don’t know where the series went wrong. In a series filled with adventure — a series that spawned some of the finest games of all time (“The Legend of Zelda,” “Ocarina of Time,” “Majora’s Mask”) — how did we come to this? “Spirit Tracks” isn’t even offensively bad like “Twilight Princess” ... it’s just bad. This game is so relentlessly mediocre, even a hipster couldn’t enjoy it.

“Spirit Tracks” starts you, as classic protagonist Link, off in some small village that you never visit again. After that, you go to some castle, get your degree in train handling, some stuff happens, and the bad guys kidnap Princess Zelda’s body (ew?).

Ugh, even summarizing it brings back the memories — memories of valuable time being wasted on inane tutorials, of people I don’t care about saying stuff I care even less about. Is this how Nintendo plans to win over “casual gamers?” With insipid tutorials and passionless design?

Overall, my memories are of my time being taken for granted.

Compared to the rest of the series, this game falls embarrassingly short. Remember the first “Zelda?” There were no insults there. You could have gone most of the game without even knowing you could get a sword. Nothing was handed to you. There were no cheap victories and no cheap losses. The game was straight with you.

That is not the case with “Spirit Tracks.” The game is so busy trying to cover its own behind, it forgets the reason I put it into my DS in the first place; it forgets to be any good.

The only reason I’m not giving this game an even worse recommendation is that it’s clear that the men and women who made it aren’t complete morons. Every now and then, you get a taste of something good — a hint at a concept that could really kick the game into high gear.

But then the concept winds up getting so watered down that you forget what you were even hoping for in the first place.

And that’s as good of an end as this game deserves.

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