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• Legend of Zelda – The Minish Cap

developed by Flagship (Capcom)/published by Nintendo/2005.01.10
1 Player/Cartridge (3 save slots)/GameBoy Advance

The Legend of Zelda – The Minish Cap continues the collaboration between Capcom and Nintendo established with the Oracle games on GameBoy Color.  What makes Minish Cap exciting is the combination of the new shrinking game play mechanic and a return to colorful 2d graphics.  Featuring entirely new tilesets and character sprites in the vein of Four Swords Adventures, Minish Cap is one of the last 2D Zelda games released.

A Wrinkle in Zelda’s Mythology Appears

The story starts off with a beautifully rendered set of stained-glass images representing the Legend of the Minish.  The Minish are a lilliputian race that only children can see, whose world is opened only once every one hundred years.  And as you might have guessed the centennial event is about to begin, but something goes terribly wrong when a sorcerer named Vaati appears and turns Princess Zelda to stone.  Link must set out on an adventure to reverse the spell, and along the way he encounters a magical green cap with a crotchety bird for a head!

The minish are said to be the ones who hide items throughout Hyrule, such as the rupees Link finds hidden under rocks or in the grass, so in that way they make a good addition to the Zelda universe.

Diminishing Game Play

Like the Oracle games that preceded it, game play centers around this new magical item, the Minish Cap, which allows Link to change his size.  Whereas in the other Capcom developed Zelda games he could change the time or seasons, in Minish Cap he can shrink down to the size of an insect to explore the secretive world of the Minish.  Virtually every single area contains dozens of secrets that are only noticeable if one is looking at them from the perspective of a Minish.

There are only 4 major dungeons in the game, along with only a few mini-dungeons.  This makes for a shorter quest, and is probably the only aspect of the game that players will take issue with.

Four Swords, Items, and Secret Moves

Link will find multiplier tiles which, when activated with a powered-up sword generate phantom Links.  These extra Links will disappear if they touch an obstacle or enemy, so careful maneuvering will be required if they are to serve their purpose (often to simultaneously hit a series of switches, or push blocks too large for a single hero to move).  At times these duplicates must be used to defeat bosses, testing a player’s pattern recognition and reflexes.

Adding to Link’s usual arsenal of items is a magic wand that can flip objects in the environment (such as pots, which act as portals between the regular world and that of the Minish).  There’s a vacuum-like windbag which can suck or repel enemies and objects in the environment.  The mole mitts are perhaps the most interesting tool, serving as both shovel and bulldozer, sort of like the mole suit from Little Nemo Dream Master (a Capcom classic).

Along the way Link will encounter several legendary swordsmen, who will teach Link a new move.  These add an extra flair and power to Link’s standard repertoire and are worth seeking out, even if some of them aren’t very useful.

It’s not the size that counts

Minish Cap, while shorter than most Zelda games, continues the series’ longstanding tradition of quality.  The 4 dungeons and extensive overworld feature a rich number of Minish-related puzzles and secrets, and the boss encounters are some of the most original yet.  I do question the removal of the multiplayer Zelda minigame, 4 swords – since it was included in Zelda A Link to the Past on GBA.

Still, with the new and improved 2D graphics, remixed themes from the classics, and a refreshingly original take on this well-worn franchise, Minish Cap delivers the goods on the go.

Quick Run Down

PROs:

  • Excellent 2D graphics
  • Good use of big/small theme

CONs:

  • Shorter than the average Zelda
  • No 4 Swords multiplayer

One Sentence Review: A bit on the short side, but the big/small theme gives a unique spin to the adventure.
One Word Review: Mini!

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