The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap Review
The Minish Cap executes the classic overhead Zelda formula with great precision and delightful whimsy.
- Classic Zelda gameplay and flavor will please fans
- Lots of new items and abilities
- Dungeons are full of tricky puzzles and tough enemies
- Great visual style.
- A little on the short side if you don't undertake side quests
- Very similar to past games.
If you've been clamoring for a brand-new Zelda adventure that fits in your pocket, you can stop making a fuss now. Link's newest portable appearance, The Minish Cap, is here, and it executes the classic overhead Zelda formula with great precision and delightful whimsy. The basic gameplay is fundamentally identical to that of past games in the series, but the Zelda model is so entertaining, you can hardly call that a negative. The game is a little on the short side if you just plow through the main dungeon progression, but there's a vast array of optional side quests to undertake, and Nintendo and Capcom have also done a great job of coming up with new items and abilities for Link that fit right in with the standard Zelda structure.
Capcom, you ask? Relax--the company's Flagship studio developed the Game Boy Color Zeldas, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, and it handled the porting duties on 2002's GBA version of A Link to the Past. Flagship definitely has Zelda chops, and they're put to good use in this newest adventure. In The Minish Cap, Link is once again appointed the savior of Hyrule when a wicked sorcerer named Vaati turns Princess Zelda to stone and sets off looking for the legendary light power that will give him dominion over all the peoples of the land. Early on, Link will come into possession of the eponymous cap, a sentient piece of headgear that bossily instructs him on how to complete his quest. Link's quest to restore Zelda and stop Vaati will be aided by the minish, a race of tiny, powerful (and cute) beings whom only children can see. You'll find portals hidden throughout the game that will shrink Link down to minish size, which will help you solve puzzles, find secret items, and generally see the world from a new perspective.
To stop Vaati, you'll have to gather the four sacred elements--earth, water, fire, and wind--and infuse an ancient broken blade with their essences. The quest for these four elements provides the impetus to seek out and plumb the depths of four ancient temples, each of which is a massive, complicated dungeon in the classic Zelda style. Multiple floors, a unique item in each one, a boss at the end--it's pretty standard stuff. There are a couple of nonelemental dungeons to pad the lineup, and all six are chock-full of devilish puzzles and fearsome enemies (many of which return from previous Zeldas). None of the dungeons are too hard--if you've played Zelda games before, you'll generally know how to approach the puzzles, even if you have to think about them for a while--but each one gives you a nice sense of satisfaction when you finish it.
The items you'll pick up to aid your adventure are a mix of Zelda mainstays and new, interestingly designed tools. In addition to the standard bombs, boomerang, bow and arrow, and so on, you'll find items like the gust jar, which can suck enemies in or blow puffs of air out; Pocci's cane, which shoots a bolt of energy that can flip enemies and items upside down; and Roc's cape, which lets you jump and even fly for short distances. As you'd expect, the level designers have found all sorts of ways to integrate the many items into the game's puzzles, and you'll find uses for each and every one of them right up to the final climactic battle.
Another interesting new mechanic that harks back to last year's Four Swords Adventures allows you to create identical copies of Link using glowing tiles on the floor. These copies will attack when you attack and maintain their formation based on which tiles you activated them on, and again this mechanic is used extensively in some of the game's puzzles to create some interesting brainteasers. Finally, you'll gain a bunch of extra sword-combat abilities if you seek out the appropriate trainers, who will teach you how to perform a downward thrust, a rolling stab, a spin attack, and so on. Some of these simply come in handy while fighting the game's tougher enemies, while others are actually used in a few of the puzzles. All the variety definitely spices things up.
- Player Reviews: 382
- Game Universe:
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (GBA, SNES),
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, GC),
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC, WII),
- The Legend of Zelda (NES),
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES, FDS, GBA),
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (WII),
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS),
- The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS),
- Link's Crossbow Training (WII),
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)
- Number of Players: