Review by Azp2k32

"Mini-ish and Normal-ish, but no Large-ish?"

G'day, I'm Azp2k32. Erm, yeah, enough about me (detailed, no?), this game, 'The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap,' which came out January 10th 2004 (in the USA), the latest part of the ‘Four Sword Saga,' you might say, is a very fun game, with some huge (very time consuming) sidequests (you'll probably do them throughout the whole game). In the game's opening, there's stained glassy looking pictures next to the text (huh? Where's the Link's hat?), making it a bit entertaining, but not much. The way it's presented will remind you of the way Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker's opening was presented. Overall, the beginning isn't too impressive, the game play is much better though.

The gameplay is very fun, and basic, but a bit too easy. Like the Oracle games, you can assign 2 pieces of equipment to the A & B buttons (yes, you do not have to have your sword equipped). R is the action button, you can use it to speak (talk to someone), grab (not used much, but grab an object to push or pull), roll (basically just a faster way to move than walking), and more. If you press L in front of people (or animals like Dogs, Cats, and Cuccos, or Minish) that have something that looks like a thought bubble with a red symbol like a heart or question mark in it, you can try and fuse Kinstones with them. If you have a Kinstone of the same color that fits, you can fuse Kinstones, and something will happen. Somebody might all of the sudden have another idea, or a thorny burried will disappear, or a hole in a tree might open up, or a fountain or something might dry up opening a path, some land might appear, a treasure chest might appear, and more. You are never required to do this (with the exceptions of special Golden Kinstones, needed to continue in the story line). Plus, there's many characters you may recognize from earlier Zelda games, like Anju and the Postman. Also, there's 4 new weapons (one being an optional upgrade, new to my knowledge, and not being able to damage anything). The upgrade makes that certain weapon much easier and more fun to use, but the other new weapons are, in general, lacking (in my opinion).

You basically just hack and slash (or later flip over, blow up, and more) enemies (which, thankfully, there is a good variety of), along with solving puzzles, on your way to your next objective, usually marked by a checkmark on your map, or a symbol of an element (for which you are questing for). There are multiple routes to most places, when there's multiple paths, you must always take the long way at first, due to the other route being blocked by a 1 Link width path, with a hole, and a rock being on the other side of the hole, so you have to push it in from the other side, which you have to take the long route to get to. Once you do that, it becomes much easier to get around. You can get some new sword techniques from people like (most notably) Swiftblade, who lives in Hyrule town. They'll teach you, once you've fulfilled a certain requirement (usually, you need to get a new item to get them to teach you the new technique). Most of these are very basic, such as breaking pots with your sword (Dunno why someone would need to teach you how to break pots with your sword), and the classic spin attack.
One of the more unique features is your new cap. Link is capless until you save some bird headed hat that talks in the Minish Forest. It hops on your head, and using it on certain places (usually stumps and other similarly sized things that have a yellow sparkle about them) shrinks you to the size of the Minish. While Minish sized, the world is huge to you, but you can walk on, or climb up, or slip through stuff you normally couldn't. You can enter those little mushroomy houses, you can enter little holes, etc. Plus, it's the only way to talk to animals. Unfortunately, as everything's so big, grass that normal Link can pass over with ease stops Link, as do heightened pathways, and stairs too. Plus, some animals will take swipes/pecks at you whilst tiny. And (as with the first boss), normal enemies like Chu-Chus become ferocious giant bosses.

Unfortunately, even with this, this game is very easy. I died maybe, 3 times, all on the final boss. Rupees are very easy to get, even without the ones you get from Kinstone fusion, and enemies (with the exception of some of the gold versions) are very easy too. You won't be struggling to find Rupees, you'll be struggling to find wallet upgrades. Usually, I use walkthroughs on games to get through them and not miss anything. But on this game (besides on a couple things, where it wasn't totally clear on where I had to go next), I needed no guide. Although some of the puzzles were kind of hard, I found that after a couple minutes of pondering them it would just come to me. Like, "Ah, now I know what those spaces' use here was! And I don't even need that block!" or something similar. The 6 dungeons (which was a huge disappointment after LttP's 10+ dungeons that were almost all longer than any of these, that also had a secondary game on it with 4 dungeons). The overworld was also very small, smaller than even the Oracles games.

In the side quests department, this game is loaded! There's a couple to upgrade your arrows, and bombs, enlarge the amount of rupees and arrows/bombs you can carry, and that's only the smallest part. Remember those Kinstones I was talking about earlier? Well, there's like, 100 fusions you can do with people (some people multiple times). Refer to a few paragraphs up for a bit more detail on these. Then, there's another-figurines. You'll find ‘Mysterious Shells' during your quest. These can be taken to a guy named Carlov on the west side of Hyrule Town (across the river), and given to him to have a chance of a (new) figurine from a little vending machine (similar to the trophy system in SSBM, think of the Mysterious Shells as Coins). There's over 130 different ones.

When you start the game, the following is given to you as the story by the game: "A long, long time ago... when the world was on the verge of being swallowed by shadow... the tiny Picori appeared from the sky, bringing the hero of men a sword and a golden light. With wisdom and courage the hero drove out the darkness. When peace had been restored the people enshrined that blade with care." Basically, you are the Master Smith's grandson, and Princess Zelda comes to your house to take you to the yearly Picori festival (you also have to bring the blade your grandfather made to the minister so it may be presented to the festival's winner). Then, you go to the castle to see the winner of the swordsman's competition (or something). A guy called Vaati has won it (you may recognize his name from recent LoZ titles, the multiplayer game packaged with A Link to the Past's port to GBA, The Four Sword, and 2004's Four Sword Adventures for the GC). By winning the tourney, Vaati has earned the right to touch the Picori Blade. He says something, attacks the guards that attack him (it was an evil something that he said, something about the chest containing the thing he seeks), and brakes the blade, and opens the chest which is filled with evil. He stones Zelda (yes, her clothes are stoned, perverts), and examines the chest to find what he's looking for. He becomes very disappointed, as it ain't in there. Haha, I laff at thee. Then, since only kids can see the Picori (Picori=Minish)(just like how Trix are only for kids), you get stuck on the quest to repair the Picori blade, and are sent of to the Minish Woods to look for the Picori. Overall, the story is excellent in my opinion, and there are some semi-surprising plot twists (none that shift your focus from trying to save Zelda to eroding her or anything that drastic).

The graphics (which I'm far from an expert on) are very nice for a GBA game, in my opinion. They're very smooth looking, and are very detailed. The sounds are very nice sounding, and many of them I recognize from other Zelda games. Plus, there is a sound test you can unlock (don't ask me how).

Play Time/Replayability-6
This is where the game falters. As mentioned before, the dungeons (and puzzles) are very lacking. There are very few dungeons and they are very short, even without the walkthroughs. The new weapons aren't that fun either, like previously mentioned. The optional upgrade is very nice, and 1 of the 3 new weapons is fun, but the other 2 are just plain boring. 1 of them can't even hurt anything!

I'd say that it would probably take about 16 hours to get through the game the first time (walkthrough less), or at least it did for me. Got it on Friday, the 14th of January 2005, finished it (as in, beat the final boss, not beat all the sidequests) Sunday, January 16th, 2005. With the sidequests, It'd probably take ( I haven't done this yet) over 30 hours with a walkthrough (maybe even 40). Who knows, you might feel like playing it over again by the time you get all the figurines and Kinstone fusions.

Final Recommendation-
Woah. Never thought the review would end up this long. Don't think I've even written anything for school this long. 0.0 Anyways, my recommendation on where to buy or rent depends. If you're a hardcore Zelda fan, get this (course' if you're a hardcore Zelda fan, you're probably not even thinking of consulting a review, and are probably reading this for fun), I don't think you'll be disappointed. For everyone else, it depends. This game isn't very long without sidequests, but if you're planning to do the side quests, by all means buy it! If, for some reason, long sidequests aren't your thing, and you're just gonna go through the story, I'd recommend renting it.
Overall, averaged out (seriously, average it out, I ain't just making this up people), I give this game an 8 out of 10.

Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/19/05

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