Review by Phange
"A solid GBA title with some flaws"
The Legend of Zelda series has proved itself on every major Nintendo platform except for the ill-fated Virtual Boy. The reason for this is fairly obvious: the adventures are long and involve lots of thought-provoking puzzles. While the console iterations have always received preferential treatment over the handheld ones, oftentimes the handheld games wind up being more challenging and puzzle-oriented. Capcom took this idea to a new level with Oracle of Ages, and I expected a similar route for Minish Cap. While Minish Cap does indeed have some very ingenious puzzles, it doesn't fully utilize their potential. Despite this disappointment, the game is a rousing success on the GBA and for good reason. Link and his surrounding territories have received a fresh new look akin to the Wind Waker-style cel shading. While this doesn't change the gameplay, it does provide a good outlet for some of the fantastic new features that Capcom included in Minish Cap.
Easily the most noticeable difference in Minish Cap is its graphics. Minish Cap is beautifully rendered, with characters so smoothly animated that oftentimes they look 3D. Capcom fully utilized the GBA's transparency and scaling modes, creating an atmosphere previously unseen in the 2D Zelda games. Everything from the lush foliage to the vibrant water is clearly a labor of love.
While the game makes an effort to use new music whenever it can, it's fairly obvious that Capcom preferred the classic Zelda themes over their own compositions. That said, the new music is very well composed and reflects the general high standards with which this game was produced.
Gameplay is the most important feature of any Zelda game. Minish cap tries to abandon the classic Zelda mainstays such as the hookshot and the magic system, and for the most part it succeeded, which is unfortunately both good and bad. The lack of a magic system is very disappointing especially disappointing, although most Zelda purists would argue that Link rarely ever runs out of magic in other Zelda games. Minish Cap revives the Ocarina simply for teleportation purposes, so much less emphasis is placed on it compared to games like Ocarina of Time.
One of the more interesting changes to Minish Cap is the world wap, which is divided into oddly-shaped segments. While this can initially look very cool, it causes some confusion when you're trying to figure out how to get from one map segment to another. The world itself is disappointingly small, and oftentimes you'll never return to a segment unless you're retrieving something a "Kinstone Fusion" has created. The Kinstones are discs in which one side fuses to its appropriate other half. This is done by offering to fuse with a Non-Playable-Character. Like the worldmap, the Kinstone idea sounds interesting but is fairly mundane. To top off my complaints... the game is too easy. There, I said it.
Minish Cap is a great game that lacks realization. The puzzles had the potential to be extremely challenging and inventive, but they simply weren't. The world map could have been interesting, but it wasn't. The Kinstones could have been a fun concept, but there were too many people to fuse with. All that said, Minish Cap is still a fantastic game and a very good Zelda game in its own right.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/12/04
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