Review by RageBot
"A great game, albeit in Minish proportions."
So, after a dozen of different gaming experiences, some very good, some less and some are on the CD-I, Link makes his way portable again, and this time on the GBA. What makes this game different from the rest? And is it better than the rest? Well, looking at the score and the title, you already know. And let me tell you, the score could be a whole grade better, if it wasn't for the game being only so many hours long, a flaw that strikes almost every GBA game.
Less than two months ago, this game was the earliest period playable of Hyrule history. Putting Skyward Sword aside, this game tells you of a race of little creatures called the Minish, who gave the Hylians two gifts: The Picori blade, capable of banishing evil, and the Light Force, which is actually the Triforce, but it's never seen in the game, although it's mentioned many times.
The villain is called Vaati, a powerful Minish sorcerer, who wishes to achieve domination, similar to Ganondorf Dragmire. He is a rather active villain, seeking to hinder your progress while taking control of the king. In that way, he's similar to Veran from the Oracles games. With the help of Ezlo, who is Vaati's former master, turned to a hat by his rebellious student, Link sets off once again to save Hyrule. This journey, however, is going to change his perspective forever, while going through five brand new dungeons.
Before continuing on, I must again mention how untidy the Timeline is. If the Triforce came down to the surface, how come the Minish brought it from the sky? I understand that the Four Sword is a different sword entirely from the Master Sword, but why does Link use the Four Sword, if the Master Sword was forged before her? My only explanation is that the Minish existed on Skyloft, but because Link wasn't a kid, you couldn't see them. They forged a new sword, and brought it, along with the Triforce, to the surface of Hyrule, guided by either premonitions or a prophecy. However, it is obvious Nintendo didn't think it all through, once again.
Anyway, this game's gimmick is size issues. The Minish are as small as insects, and to reach them, you must shrink yourself. There are portals all over Hyrule. They are distinguished by a small crack in their surface, and they glow when you get near. With the help of Ezlo and his spells, Link can shrink to Minish size. When you're small, all of your inventory is small too, so none of your items become unusable. However, the landscape is treated differently. For example, pavements become steep mountains, small ponds are now as big as oceans, and little cracks become bottomless pits. The enemies you fight are insects, consisting of beetles, flies, caterpillars and scissor beasts. There are two dungeons you progress through as Minish only, and they feature bosses such as Octoroks and Chuchus, normal Zelda enemies, that now look like colossal monstrosities.
When it comes to sidequests, the main thing you collect is Kinstones. They come in many shapes and colors. Some people in Hyrule possess Kinstone pieces themselves, and you can fuse with them. A successful Kinstone fusion can spawn chests, open up small places that may contain goodies, bear golden monsters that give you heaps of rupees upon defeat, and make bean stalks grow rapidly and climb to the sky. Your rewards vary from rupees to item upgrades, to pieces of heart. In fact, you can complete three whole hearts from Kinstone fusions alone.
The other thing that you'll want to collect, is seashells. There's a guy in Hyrule town who likes to collect them. You may gamble on seashells for figurines. There are 130 of those figurines, and they all represent characters and enemies you encounter through your quest. An enemy's figurine will not be available until you defeat that enemy. Once you finish the game, six additional figurines are made, and if you collect them too, you'll gain access to the last piece of heart. That means for the first and only time in Zelda history, you cannot finish the game with 20 hearts. You can collect 44 pieces of heart, plus one very secret, whole heart container. That is the only heart container in Zelda history since the very first game, not to be collected at the end of a dungeon.
You can learn new skills by visiting dojos. There are four trainers, one of them teaches you four skills, and there are three hidden trainers, each of them teach you one skill. You learn the spin attack, the ability to break pots with your sword, and sword beam on full hearts, among other things. You can also fuse with the hidden trainers to find three extra trainers, who improves the skills you've learned, instead of traching you new abilities.
The thing that disappoints me the most with this game, is the near-total lack of mini-games. Ever since Ocarina of Time, every Zelda game is loaded with mini-games, from shooting galleries to races to item trials. This game only have three mini-games: A cucco chase game that consists of ten stages, and is very easy; A gambling game that is pointless until you're using an emulator, and a battle simulator which is basically a time attack against a horde of enemies. Lame. Another problem lies in the difficulty, or lack of. Everything only takes a quarter of a heart from your life bar, and the enemies are pathetically easy, except for darknuts, which are rare, and wizzrobes, that you don't encounter until the fifth dungeon.
Again, I save the presentation for last. Nintendo takes the grand prize once more. This game looks terrific. Some of the enemies, such as moblins and darknuts, are larger than life itself, and look more threatening than ever before. The music's quality is very good for the GBA, but the tracks themselves are not exciting at all. There are, however, some tracks taken straight for the first game. You don't expect them for the first time, and then you're struck by a nostalgia attack that only Nintendo can deliver.
This game is great as a GBA game, but not so much as a Zelda game. There are many Zelda games better than it. On the go, however, it is the best original Zelda game you can play, but that still doesn't matter much, because A Link to the Past is also available on the GBA.
Final grade: 8.1/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/04/11, Updated 01/11/12
Game Release: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (US, 01/10/05)
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