Review by Archmonk Iga
"An enormous Zelda title in a tiny cartridge."
A couple months ago I decided to replay Twilight Princess just for the heck of it. I played the crap out of it, MUCH more than any other playthroughs that came before it, and at this point half of me is saying that it is my favorite Zelda I have ever played. So fifty-something hours later, I still needed more Zelda. Since there was nothing really left to do in Twilight Princess, I dusted off my Gameboy Advance and put in The Minish Cap. This Zelda was the first handheld iteration of the franchise I had ever beaten, and after this amazing experience I know that it won't be the last. It looks simple and basic, but Minish Cap is a Zelda game through and through, full of loads to do in an enormous world. If you're looking for a huge game in a tiny package, then Zelda fan or not, this game is a must-play.
Minish Cap reintroduces us to Hyrule in many ways, though its story leaves much to be desired whether you compare it to other Zelda titles or not. An evil new villain named Vaati turns Zelda to stone, and with the help of a microscopic race called the Picori, Link must find the four elements to make everything right. As I said, Vaati is evil and that's about it. The best part of this cast would have to be Ezlo, Link's smart-talking sidekick who spends most of his time on Link's head (he's a green hat, you see). This odd duo of the silent yet courageous Link and the sassy spunk of Ezlo make for some humorous moments in a Zelda storyline that feels a bit empty otherwise.
Minish Cap is a colorful and vibrant GBA title filled with detail no matter how big or small the area is. When Link shrinks, certain areas are zoomed in and provide an interesting new treat for the eyes. Certain screens can get very busy with no slowdown whatsoever, all while staying true to the sprite-based Zelda style. Minish Cap is certainly one of the prettiest games for the GBA.
Many Zelda classics are redone with GBA-quality audio, and as exciting as they may be at first, the tracks themselves are so short that they will be looping over and over again before you know it. It does get stuck in your head, but only because it's so damn easy to remember. For some it may be annoying, but for others it will be nonstop Zelda-music glee. Characters are also voiced with cute little grunts, and hearing Link yell ya! every time he swings his sword actually does not get old. It's like they took all the great voice work from the N64 Zeldas and shrunk them down to miniature size. Worked like a charm.
Minish Cap largely stays true to Zelda staples. You've got the enemies, you've got the tough bosses and dungeons, and you've got loads and loads of areas to explore or stumble onto. Link's tools are fun, though not quite as cool as his gear from any of the console titles. He can also learn new techniques with his sword from dojos around Hyrule, yet most people will be just fine with the simple swing that you start off with. As a whole, Minish Cap may not be too challenging for Zelda veterans, but it will still surprise you now and then.
What makes Minish Cap stand out as its own Zelda game is in two very cool additions. The first one is in Ezlo's ability to shrink Link down to miniature size. When Link is tiny (and I mean TINY), you will be able to explore certain areas that are otherwise unreachable. And as you get further and further in the game, access to various pint-sized locations will become available. Zoomed-in views are very cool, and the fact that you will be fighting off vicious fruitflies to save the world is pretty hilarious.
The other cool new element of Minish Cap is in its Kinstones. During your adventure you will discover pieces of these stones, and attempting to fit them with other citizens' Kinstones grants Link good luckmeaning secrets, hidden areas, and bonuses are opened up. There are loads and loads of Kinstone matches to find, and they alone can make the game twice as big.
Minish Cap is a true Zelda game that both honors the series' legacy and offers players a very fun new experience. It is tiny yet enormous at the same time, and its two unique tweaks to the classic formula truly make it something special.
The Minish Cap can be beaten in under 20 hours if you just want to play through the dungeons, but expect much more of your time to be put into it if you want to find and accomplish everything. The game's biggest surprise isn't in the Kinstone fusing or Link's ability to shrink, but rather in the sheer scope of everything it makes available to you if you're willing to put in the effort. This is one of the biggest games to be found on the GBA, and all your time spent with it will be well worth it.
REPLAY VALUE: 9/10
Minish Cap is tiny in many ways, but it is also quite grand. A beautiful world in the palm of your hand, some big (and small) gameplay twists, and loads and loads of replayability make the Minish Cap a necessity for anyone who loves this wonderful series.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/19/13
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (US, 01/10/05)
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