This game is kind of a unique one among the handheld The Legend of Zelda games. Not only does it look more fluent in its animations (especially when compared to A Link to the Past) but also sports the same kind of style as did the Wind Waker, another game with a controversial style which scared the shit out of loyal fans when it was introduced.
There are a lot of reasons why many gamers don’t consider The Minish Cap to be a standard LoZ game or even worthy of being one among the bunch, much like Links Adventure is, but I can’t say that I feel the same about this game.
So far, without having played much of Links Adventure, Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker andTwilight Princess but much of the other games, I can without a doubt say that this game is my favourite among the bunch. It’s so great that I’m going to do a standalone review for it even before creating the Top 10 GBA games list! And here we go!
#?: The Legend of Zelda – The Minish Cap
This game is awesome in every meaning of the word. It boasts great gameplay, music, sound effects, replay value and a solid and interesting story that’ll keep you hooked.
The story is simple but contains a lot of twists. You’re just another Link who has to save Zelda, your childhood friend and also your Princess, from the ice crystal to which she’s been banished by the nefarious Vaati. But you’re not alone this time, as you’ll wear Ezlo, a wizard that has been transformed into a cap which looks very much like Link’s trademark cap, on your head. Your task is to put your heads together to try to stop Vaati in his evil plans of world domination, Ezlo contributing with his wisdom and magic and you with your courage and power. It’s a match made in heaven which also leads to a lot of comical situations since Ezlo sports an attitude and you’re the silent type. What an odd pair!
Chances are that you’ll shun this game if you’re a LoZ purist in very much the same manner that you shunned Wind Waker, but since both games in most manners resemble, feel and play like the others of the same overhead style you’re basically just being stubborn and not open to new takes on old franchises (it’s not like in Pokémon where everything looks the same but still plays the same no matter how you twist and turn the game if you see through the gimmicks). And now that I’ve probably incinerated some internet angst among some readers (if I even have any) I’ll continue with my solid arguments on why the game rocks.
There are two things that you’ll notice as soon as you start a new game:
First of all the game fully utilizes the graphical powers of the GBA (as opposed to A Link to the Past which mainly is a touched up , but awesome, 16 bit game) and it looks amazing!
Secondly the cutscenes through which you’re told the story of this game are very pretty and have vivid colors. They resemble old glass mosaics, much like those in churchs and other older religious buildings, and really breath life into the mythos and Legend of Zelda.
(You see what I did there? Incorporating the franchise’s title into the sentence? Oh, am I ever so witty!)
From Zeldainformer.com, screens from the actual intro screens.
The overworld looks very good and you’ll really catch the mood of the areas you’re visiting. The animations are fluent, contain a lot of animation frames and improve the feel of the action you’re experiencing.
Sounds & Music: 10/10
Catchy tunes with new music and classic Zelda tunes mixed together make for a very good recipe for acoustic success. The most memorable of the new tracks is the one during the boss battles which really sets the mood and increases the serious tension that comes with them. The most memorable “old” track is the Dark Hurule Castle theme which is mixed with the same song in A Link to the Past in mind.
I’ll start by saying that this game is significantly easier when compared to the other LoZ titles. For me this is an attribute which I welcome though.
Otherwise the game plays in much the same way as other titles with a solid control and great feel but with the greatest new feature being the ability to transform into Minish size, with Ezlo as the spell caster, to get past certain areas, access new ones and get hold of key items and other helpful stuff. This might be where a lot of people are iffed. To each his own though, but I think it’s an interesting and fun feature.
Another thing is that Link on certain tiles can charge his swords to clone himself, one clone for each Essence infused in the White Sword, and use it to progress in the game. After charging the sword you’re also able to make the Spin Attack when releasing the charge button. A couple of bosses also require you to clone yourself (not your Wily, mind you).
Another feature that I really enjoy, and I mean really, is the addition of the new Sword Techniques. They add to the variety of gameplay and are in some instances even mandatory for progressing in the game. My favourite is the Spin Attack, especially when you’ve learned to make the charge time less and the spin time higher as it will make plowing through the enemy masses and defeating the bosses easier. And it feels so good.
You also have to fuse Kinstones with some characters to progress in the game and to unlock beautiful features that’ll make your quest easier (you can skip most of them though). Although this mostly is a tedious process these fusions will lead to more Rupees, two larger wallet sizes, two larger Bomb Bags, two larger Arrow Quivers, more Heart Pieces, Mysterious Shells (to trade for figurines) and last but not least the Mirror Shield (though you won’t be able to use it until after defeating Vaati which defeats the purpose of getting it unless you crave a 100% finished game).
Replay value: 10/10
The game is worth replaying so much that I instantly opened up a new Save File to play after defeating Vaati. That itself nicely summarizes everything I have to say in this column. It has never happened to me before.
There are some stuff that aren’t present in the European Version of the game:
- The final Big Bomb Bag for 600 Rupees in Stockwell’s town shop. You’ll do fine with just one of the upgrades though.
- If you don’t fuse with Eenie the first time you speak to him, and leave the area, then that fusion is forever lost unless you start a new game. And since that fusion is required to get the Mirror Shield in the Goron Side Quest it really sucks. So make sure to have that specific Blue Kinstone when you go south of Lon Lon Ranch!
- The final whirlwind to reach the Goron’s Cave near Lon Lon ranch is missing but it’s perfectly possible to reach the ledge on the roof of the cave as long as you keep pushing Link against the ledge’s right side.