A classic 2D Zelda adventure.

User Rating: 9 | The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap GBA
The GBA provided a home for classic 2D gaming when home consoles had mostly moved into the flashier realm of 3D. Its one original Zelda game is a reflection of this and has proven to be as good and enduring as any entry in the series.

For those familiar w/ the series, there are no surprises here. Zelda gets turned to stone and Link has to travel the earth to several dungeons to collect items in order to free her. While this is nothing new, Minish Cap still provides plenty of unique elements while keeping the classic Zelda gaming mechanic in tact.

For starters, this is a major step towards the cell-shaded look of Link's two adventures on the Nintendo DS. The sprites are larger than in the GBA version of A Link to the Past and colors are brighter, lending a more cartoonish look. The overall art-style is quite charming and suits this adventurous tale quite well.

The major unique element though is Link's ability to shrink to the size of a Minish--a diminutive race of people who coexist w/ the full size people of Hyrule--which allows him to access new areas. This feature is used extensively in both puzzle solving in dungeons as well as accessing new areas in the overworld map. It is also used rather extensively in boss battles--which was unexpected but a nice surprise.This dynamic combined w/ classic Zelda gameplay combine to make for an experience both unique and familiar at the same time.

Compared to earlier 2D Zelda adventures this is rather on the easy side. This is actually rather a good thing is it means gamers can focus on puzzle solving and exploration rather than retrying frustrating sections over and over. Once you've figured out the trick to most bosses it normally takes only one or two tries to actually defeat them (and in more cases than not just one). That said, the puzzles presented here are clever enough that the game still feel satisfying.

In the end, there is nothing any Zelda game provides that this one does not. It's yet another subtle twist on a familiar story and gameplay mechanic and a very good one at that. If you like adventure, you'll like Minish Cap.