With the incredible popularity of both the Legend of Zelda series and the Game Boy Advance, bringing the former to the latter would have seemed to be a natural decision for the maker of both, Nintendo. However, the first Zelda release on the GBA was a re-release of the SNES game Link to the Past with the addition of a brand new multiplayer mode. But now, a completely new entry in the series has finally arrived in portable form with Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. The game starts when Link goes to Hyrule castle to watch the end of an annual sword-fighting tournament. The event's winner has bulldozed his competition like nobody else has ever done before. However, he immediately turns Zelda to stone during the award ceremony and then sets out to find a mysterious light-force that will allow him to conquer the world and make everyone his servant. Link then sets out to stop him, bringing his trusty sword and shield in tow as usual. He soon discovers the talking Minish Cap in the forest, and ends up bringing it along with him as a matter of convenience. Minish Cap is a return to the two-dimensional gameplay that has populated the majority of the entries in the series up to this point, even though it has been absent on most of the recent console Zelda games. Everything is viewed in a top-down perspective, while different items are assigned by the player to the A and B buttons. Your goal in the game is basically to locate and then complete the various dungeons that are found around Hyrule. Doing so usually amounts to an incredible amount of puzzle-solving and quite a bit of combat with the various enemies that are scattered across the land. The hat itself is generally used to provide some rather vague hints from time to time, and usually just supplies some funny dialogue. However, it is also used for the very important ability to shrink yourself to a miniature size so that you can explore the tiny world that goes unnoticed by human eyes. Shrinking down allows access to tiny little areas that normal people would not even be aware of. Not only that, but it allows Link to communicate with the Minish, a tiny race of creatures that can only be seen by children. Changing size is a very significant part of the game, and it leads to some memorable sequences that are a bit unlike anything else that's been seen in a Zelda game. Since a lot of the game relies on puzzle-solving, you'll be expected to find and learn to use several different tools that will help you make it through all of the different areas. Among them are the Gust Jar, which allows you to use air currents to push and pull objects. Then there's the Cane of Pacci, which allows you to flip objects over. Link will also find more familiar items such as the Roc's Cape and the Pegasus Boots. Since only two items can be equipped at once, you'll often find yourself switching between two of them to get a job done. Still, this is simple enough that repeatedly switching weapons won't become too much of a pain. The game also does something new and rather unusual with the Kinstone system. Kinstones are odd colored circular stones that have been broken in two. Collecting one half of a Kinstone will set you off on a quest to find someone with the other half of the stone, so that you can fuse them into one piece. Fusing the two will cause something to happen somewhere in the game's world. It might cause a treasure chest to appear, or it might allow access to a new area. Sometimes it just rewards you with another Kinstone, which can be a little aggravating from time to time. Collecting all the different Kinstones can be rewarding if you feel like putting the time into it. It's normally not a requirement to perform a number of different fusions, so you're free to use the system at your leisure. The game's graphics are quite lovely, and seem to have been created specifically for this entry in the series. It would appear that absolutely every object in the game has been redrawn for this title, meaning that everything has a fresh look to it. Character sprites do seem to be a bit bigger in this game than they have before though, which may strike veterans of the series as a bit odd. Still, it's not as if the graphics look too big or out of proportion with each other. The game has a very fresh and engaging look to it. Everything is brightly colored and clearly defined. Characters all animate very well and have a fine look to them. Pretty much everything with the game's visuals works very well, and you'll probably end up enjoying all of the different visual surprises that the game has. Sound is another strong point of the game. Anyone familiar with Zelda games will recognize some songs from previous entries in the series. Most of the new tunes hold up just as well as the old ones, and it's a lot of fun to hear the music in these games. The sound effects seem to suffer just a bit from overkill with the voice samples. Link has a single cry that he repeats over and over every single time that he swings his sword. This can easily get on your nerves, especially considering that it wasn't really necessary to add it to this game. You can just ignore it and go about your business however, so it doesn't ruin the whole game or anything. Sound is quite strong overall, since most of it's greatest flaws can be ignored rather easily. Overall, Zelda: The Minish Cap is another strong entry in the Zelda series, even if it is a bit short. It comes with fewer dungeons than most series fans are used to, which may be a bit of a disappointment for some. Still, what is there is quite strong and almost anyone can enjoy this game for what it is. Fusing Kinstones can also extend the game's life a bit, though that won't add a terrible amount to the game's length. The vast majority of your time with this title will be spent completing the main quest, so once that's over you won't find much else to do with it. But that main quest is a lot of fun and is more than enough reason to invest in this excellent Game Boy Advance title. If you have a GBA, there's absolutely no excuse for not buying Minish Cap.
Other Helpful Reviews for The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
It may be a little Premature, but I am willing to bet that this year’s Gameboy Advance Game of the Year has debuted a mere 10 days into 2005. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is one of those rare titles tat blends ele... Read Full Review
The Good: Classic Zelda formula is familiar, but changed enough to deliver a fresh new take on the series; amazing graphics, some of the best on the GBA; balance of shrinking to Minish size and staying regular size is pe... Read Full Review