Ah Zelda, the time tested series only surpassed in infamy by one fat plumber and his inept brother. If you, like many others have been waiting to get your grubby coke stained mitts on a new Zelda game or simply are in desperate need for something to tide the time over until the GameCube version hits local shores, you are in luck.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is here.
A joint development project between Nintendo and Capcom studio Flagship (developers of handheld Zelda titles since the Oracle series) Minish Cap serves up a top notch gaming experience. And despite the fact the game lacks a desirable length itâ€™s possibly the best top-down Zelda title to date. It is fair to say that the gameplay basics are very little different from that of the recent Link to the Past remake or The Four Swords. But as the final product proves, thatâ€™s no bad thing at all.
As with most Zelda titles The Minish Cap has a completely isolated storyline from the rest in the series. This time our hero, henceforth referred to as â€˜Linkâ€™, finds himself on a quest to find the Picori, a race of people that look like a cross between Papa Smurf and a randy aphid. The Picori people (also called the Minish) are the midget sized key in saving Princess Zelda who has been turned to stone by the evil Sorcerer Vaati. Since only children of pure heart can see the Minish, and Link was conveniently on hand when the incident happened, he is sent on his merry way to save the world, the princessâ€¦ or something like that. But waitâ€¦ weâ€™ve covered the Minish, now what about this Cap? Thatâ€™s where it starts to get a little bit, not Zelda. Early on in his adventure Link befriends a cursed talking hat, who has the ability to shrink Link down to the size of the Minish at certain points around the world. How convenient.
As the game goes on you will find yourself traveling throughout a total of six dungeons. Four of them are directly connected to the games main storyline and the other two, while not concerned with retrieving the four magical elements, are compulsory and bulk up the games playing time somewhat. Each dungeon is filled with the expected array of levels, puzzles and of course the obligatory end Boss. None of the dungeons are particularly hard, but at the same time there are a few spots in which you will find yourself having to sit back and think about a certain puzzle or where to go next.
In regards to combat The Minish Cap contains the Zelda standards, with some new inventions thrown into the mix. The expected sword, shield, boomerang and bombs are all there, as well as some original contraptions such as the Gust Jar, which sucks in enemies, rocks or any thing else standing in its way or Rocâ€™s Cape, a play on the more familiar Rocâ€™s Feather, which allows you to float short distances. And as with all Zelda games once again, each of the weapons are incorporated into puzzles, with each one having a particular dungeon in which they are related to.
Taking elements from The Four Swords developers Flagship have included the ability to at times make identical copies of Link. Using particular tiles scattered around some dungeons and areas of the map a doppelganger comes to life and these can be used to dispatch bosses, enemies, or in some cases are necessary to complete certain puzzles. The â€˜modeâ€™ could have been expanded on further for sure, but as it stands now it still makes for a nice extra.
Speaking of extras, Minish Cap introduces players to kinstones. These broken pieces of coloured medallions are spread around the countryside in chests, under rocks, in long grass and under old menâ€™s wigs (probably) just waiting for you to find, or steal them. Nigh on all of the fine people in Hyrule country, humans and Minish included have at least one kinstone piece of their own. If you find someone with an identical half and fuse the pieces a range of things can happen. Treasure chests can appear somewhere on the map, new paths can open, characters can change, or in some cases new items can be acquired. As well as the previously listed, rupees, heart containers and the like can also be acquired from fusing.
Graphically The Minish Cap is beautiful. You will be hard pressed to find many other Game Boy Advance games with such detail and quality presentation. Characters and buildings alike are presented cleanly and itâ€™s obvious that animators have taken their time with each and every model. However itâ€™s the â€˜shrunk downâ€™ Links world in which the games artists really shine. As mini-Link youâ€™ll find yourself walking over desks, through dirt, around â€˜giantsâ€™ and the art direction in these areas is particularly excellent. In short the art in Minish Cap is a combination of traditional Zelda, and childhood whimsy.
Sound is presented to an above average level. Anyone whoâ€™s played any previous Zelda games will immediately identify with most of the musical arrangements contained in the game. These fit in perfectly, although some of the new tunes are less than perfect. Sound effects are done well, with Link shouting his trademark cry upon a swing of the sword, rocks smashing with a clunk, the clank of your shield and so on.
When it comes down to it, any Zelda fan, any adventure game fan, hellâ€¦ anyone with a GBA should own this game. If you donâ€™t have it already go out now and buy this game, if you donâ€™t I will set the Rumour Monkey loose on you, and I havenâ€™t fed him since February the 15th. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is a traditional Zelda game at heart, but with so many new elements in the mix thereâ€™s no chance you will think youâ€™re playing another series re-hash. Thanks to the DS this could easily be the last 2D Zelda title ever released, so as such it is your responsibility to purchase this wonderful game and fill some fat Japanese businessmanâ€™s pockets with your dirty, probably stolen, money.