Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)

Posted in GBA,Reviews,RPG by Shawn Wallace on 21 2005f April 2005

The Minish Cap is a 2D adventure on today’s hardware and, frankly, I can think of few other RPG titles that even come close to the quality, fun factory, and sheer enormity “When it comes to classic gaming, you need look no further than The Legend of Zelda series. From the very beginning it has been synonomous with adventure, danger, innovation and just all around solid gameplay. From A Link to the Past to The Wind Waker, you can rarely go wrong with a Zelda game. The Minish Cap simply furthers this mantra, bringing an old-school style RPG to the GBA.

Cap finds you, again, as the boy Link. His best friend, Zelda, the King’s daughter, has come under some hard times. Namely, she’s been turned to stone. Your task is to recover four elements that will enable, through some mystical hub-bub, her to return to her rightly state. But things never go as planned. I mean, if they did, you’d have a five, six hour adventure, tops. Instead, Cap takes you through a richly created world (one that seems far too large to be on the GBA) that never gets tiring. To be honest, there’s little more to the story. However, just as that famous philosopher Lawrence P. Noisewater said, “”it’s not in the destination, it’s in the journey.”” He couldn’t have been speaking more directly about Cap.

One of the reasons I’ve always loved the Zelda series of games is they seem to be about adventure first. Sure, combat, puzzles, dialog, they’re all important to a well-rounded RPG. Zelda’s focus on making you feel like you’re part of an epic adventure spanning sprawling environments has always been the draw for me and Cap delivers. To be honest, when I first viewed the world map, I was initially disappointed. I was sure there was no way this game was going to have any depth as far as locales but I quickly found I was wrong. The map is broken up into various settings, such as swamps, mountains, forests and… well, I don’t want to ruin it for you.

As you progress through the game on your quest for these four elements, there will be about a metric crap-ton of missions for you to participate in along the way. Some are required, some are optional. You could, conceivably, just do the required missions and buzz through the game fairly quickly but what’s the fun in that? This game is so deep you’d be doing a disservice, not only to the game but your yourself, if you didn’t take the time to talk to every NPC, cut away every bush and destory every rock. There’s always something going on that usually leads to bigger and better things.

Another major feature to Cap is the Minish. What’s a Minish? Think diminish and you’ll be on the right track. There’s a race of magical little people (not like midgits… I’m saying little people) that exist in Link’s land. They have origins that date back long ago and, as you proceed further into the game, you’ll discover just how vital they are to the entire story arc. But that’s not the best part… you get to transform into Minish size! That’s right, you’ll shrink right down, enabling you to float on leaves across small bodies of water (which seem huge when you’re a Minish) to reach your goals, sneak into tiny spaces and do all kinds of things ‘big people’ just dream about. Like getting chased by baby chicks… no… really. You get chased by chicks. And cats.

But I digress.

You’ll also have the opportunity to fuse kinstones with NPC’s. Kinstones are basically these little half stones you find in various places. They come in various colors with various cuts in them. A large portion of the NPC’s in the game are willing to fuse with you and, when done successfully, a little surprise it in store. Sometimes it’s simply a cave with a hundred rupees and sometimes it’s much more. Be sure and fuse with everyone you can, it never hurts to expand your coinbag (or your weapon cache).

Even though the classic gameplay of Zelda is all here, Cap introduces plenty of new toys, enemies and abilities in your quest to de-stonify Zelda. Take, for example, the Roc cape, which allows Link to jump and even soar like a bird for a short distance. Then there’s the gust jar, a ‘weapon’ with the power to suck in enemies and then shoot them back out as ammunition. As far as abilities, you’ll also get chances throughout the game to add new attacks to your arsenal, giving you plenty of methods in which to deal out your brand of swift and dirty justice. Okay, I made the justice part up… but the new attack types help to add diversity to the combat as the game progresses.

The game’s controls are reminiscent of classic Zelda, allowing you to bind your A and B keys to variuos weapons and tools in your inventory. If you’ve played any of the old school Zelda games the controls will be very familiar to you. The game’s transition from area to area even uses the same methods used in older Zelda games. Talk about throwback.

The look of the game fuses the old school Zelda with some of the fairy tale affectation of the Zelda Gamecube game ‘The Wind Waker’. Everything within the game is richly detailed but keeps the feel of a well-executed SNES title. Colors are vibrant and used with a satisfying variety. As far as the audio, you’ll notice some Zelda days from the days of old mixed in with some new themes as well. The sound was one area where I was just astounded at what can be done with the GBA. When I really got into the game and heard some of my favorite old tunes along with the sounds of Hyrule Town and some of the combat, I was transported back to the old days of A Link to the Past. A wave of nostalgia washed over me and I knew, right then, we had a real winner on our hands with Cap.

If you own a GBA you owe it to yourself to pick up this title. The game is a 2D adventure on today’s hardware and, frankly, I can think of few other RPG titles that even come close to the quality, fun factor, and sheer enormity of Cap. Tarry not; go out right now and pick up this game.



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