Review by DarthMarth
"Short and easy, but classic Zelda fun."
...okay, I can't think of anything to say here, so let's just get onto reviewing this fine game.
Zelda: MC has some of the best graphics of any GBA game. (Except Golden Sun, of course) They are colorful and excellently transfer the whimsical style of The Wind Waker to 2 dimensions. There are even a few 3-D looking effects, though they may just be excellent sprites. Each land, character, and enemy is distinctly animated, and should remind you of WW's artistical style.
Since I played through most of the game with the sound turned off (to save battery power), this section is tough to do. Of what I've heard, the game has excellent sound effects; characters are just as distinct in sound as they are in appearance. Link has various sound effects for all his moves and weapons. All of this helps immerse you (yet again) in the world of Hyrule, aided by the graphics. MC also has great music; some of the tunes are quite excellent and you can even listen to them anytime with an unlockable sound test.
MC's story doesn't deviate from the stanard save-Zelda formula like Majora's Mask or Link's Awakening. In it, Vaati (yes, from Four Swords) turns Princess Zelda to stone and searches for the Lightforce that will allow him to plunge Hyrule into darkness. As Link, you must repair the Picori Blade broken by Vaati and infuse it with the four elements to defeat Vaati and save Zelda. The plot is mostly predictable, with a few twists. You also get to learn the origin of Vaati, which is quite interesting and increases the score. Still, unlike games like Fire Emblem, MC is mainly driven by the gameplay, not the storyline; cutscenes are few and far between.
MC's excellent gameplay gives new life to classic 2-D Zelda action. Much of the gameplay is similar to LttP; you travel Hyrule, make your way through dungeons, get items, and defeat bosses. This part of the game is much the same, but there are some new twists to the classic formula, such as new items like the Gust Jar, which can suck things in and shoot them back out with powerful wind or the Mole Mitts, which let Link dig through dirt. Another entirely new feature is the game's namesake, the Minish Cap itself. The cap is bizarrely alive; the end has a birdlike head called Ezlo. The cap helps guide Link through his adventure, and plays a bigger part in the storyline later on. It also bestows Link with an important ability: the ability to shrink to the size of the tiny Minish people. While tiny, Link can enter small holes or get places big Link can't, but he must watch out; puddles are vast oceans, raindrops are deadly projectiles, and normally weak enemies are bosses when he's in the world of the Minish.
Another new addition is the Kinstone system. As Link makes his way through the game, he'll acquire many Kinstones, mysterious ceramics that create different effects when you match them up with Kinstoens held by characters or objects in the game. These include opening new passages, summoning rare enemies, or creating treasure chests. Fusing kinstones is almost entirely optional, though it is necessary in a few parts of the game in order to progress. Mostly, fusing is optional, but worthwhile.
As usual, MC has a variety of fun sidequests to pass the time. Kinstone fusion is one; there are also item upgrades to get and many minigames to participate in, many of which yield life-extending pieces of heart and can be quite fun. One of the biggest sidequests is figurine collection. Figurines are much like trophies in SSB:M, as is the process for getting them. You use Mysterious Shells, treasures that can be found or bought, to produce figurines; the more shells you use, the more likely you are to get a new figurine. Though collecting all 136 figurines may seem daunting and not worthwhile, you get several rewards for completing your collection and the figurines themselves are interesting to look at.
The two main drawbacks of the game are the length and difficulty. I managed to complete this game (that means beating it and getting everything, including all the figurines) in only 2 days. Of course, I was playing it nonstop during a car ride during that time, but it's a short game no matter what, and shouldn't last you more than a week or two the the most. About the difficulty: I've always said there's no such thing as "too easy," but MC may make me rethink that. I wanted an easier game after LttP, but this game overshoots "easy" by a long way. Dying is nearly impossible unless you try to do so; none of the bosses (even the final one) or puzzles are too difficult, and it's almost impossible to get lost. If you want MC to be remotely challenging, you'll have to get creative. (Playing one-handed, maybe?)
After beating MC once (which, as I said, won't take long), you probably won't be inclined to play again for a while. It's fun while it lasts, but the game just doesn't last long enough.
Rent/Buy: The Minish Cap is fun enough to merit buying, but it's far too short. You may want to save your money and just rent it if possible; you'll probably have plenty of time to beat it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/18/05
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