Review by Osafune2

"Nintendo and Capcom triumph again!"

I absolutely adore Zelda games, and Link's various portable outings have been no exception as of yet. The Gameboy Color games Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons were two of the best portable Zelda games if you ask me and they were developed by the fantastic Capcom, of whom I am already an immense fan of due to the Resident Evil series. On Gameboy Advance I very much enjoyed playing their port of the classic Zelda: A Link to the Past so when I heard Capcom were developing a completely original and new GBA adventure for Link I was understandably very exciting and rushed out to put in a pre-order as soon as I could.

When I finally got the game I put it into my GBA SP and fired up and the first thing that hit me was the graphics; they are just so good for the GBA. Whilst not entirely realistic, they are both charming and vibrant and the character sprites are very well designed and animated and it really gives personality to them past the dialogue, which a lot of GBA games fail to do. The environments and the characters are very colourful and fantastically well rendered that simply putsall other GBA games to shame and you can tell Capcom were meticulous in getting it just right so kudos to them, it really shines in this department. You could complain that it steals the stylings from the Four Swords mini-game included with ALttP on GBA but that doesn't bother me because it looks great.

The storyline is reasonable, but I never expect an epic novel of a storyline as far as Zelda is concerned, it is a variation from the old "Ganon kidnaps Zelda, and you rescue her" formula. Basically there are these mythical beings called the Picori or Minish that visit the human world every 100 years and the humans hold a grand Picori festival in honour of that visitation. This year just happens to be that year in the 100 and the Picori are said to be descending from the heavens or the magical pixie land where they live and leaving pretty gifts and whatnot and the humans are making quite a festival of it. Things go slightly awry however when the Sword fighting champion Vaati turns Zelda into stone along with breaking the ancient Picori Blade and unleashing evil and monsters into the land of Hyrule. Also, the Picori only show themselves to children so naturally they send Link on a quest to restore the blade and heal the Princess.

I always love Zelda games, playing them is an absolute joy to me that is unrivalled by any other series and any other console and the Minish Cap is no exception, while not especially long or difficult, and while it doesn't compare to ALttP or Ocarina of Time, it is still a great game to play through and one I would recommend time and time again. One of the coolest things about this game is that Capcom have introduced a plethora of new items to Link's arsenal, which is very refreshing to have items other than the old Hookshot etc at your disposal.

Items such as the Gust Jar, which sucks up items from a distance and can shoot them back out and the Mole Mitts, which allow Link to dig holes are wonderfully imaginative and great fun to use. Items aside, the biggest new gameplay feature is the ability Link has to shrink down and become Minish-sized with the aid of Ezlo, a strange talking hat and some mystical portals in the form of tree stumps and other inconspicuous flora and fauna. This adds a whole new level of depth and dimension to the puzzles and it is charming to visit the little villages the Minish have set up among toadstools and on bookcases and in the rafters of buildings etc.

There is a particularly notable section in the game that has you shrinking down and climbing to the rafters of a house and pushing down several library books that your normal-sized self returns to the library to allow you access to the Minish Librarian. While this gameplay feature is great, arguably the most important one suffers in my opinion; the dungeons. The dungeons in this game seem rather lacklustre, and while imaginative they are all relatively easy and there are few head scratching moments, even the Temple of Droplets which is a water based temple is easy, and the water temples on Zelda games are notoriously hard to navigate, look at the Great Bay Temple on Majora's Mask and the Water Temple on Ocarina of Time and you will see what I mean.

The good thing about the dungeons are the bosses, which are all absolutely brilliant and inspired thanks to the shrinking system, I do not wish to spoil it but there is one boss that requires you to shrink down and climb inside to attack the weak spot, I loved all the bosses in this game and they better most other bosses in any other Zelda game. The final boss is also a great battle, something which most other Zelda games lack, I am looking at you Wind Waker! The final battle here is great fun as it employs a lot of shrinking as well as cloning using the special Picori sword to clone Link and it actually feels like an achievement to defeat it whereas on other Zelda games Ganon or whomever you may be battling is merely a formality at best.

Outside of the dungeons, there is a few gripes, while there are some fun features like Kin fusing, where you fuse special stones with some people to open up a secret passage ways that lead to heart pieces etc. Or it will make a special enemy appear or something. The problem is that the game seems to rely on this, I wanted huge sidequests to undertake to get items, and I was annoyed when all you can really do is fuse with people to open up a cave somewhere, you tramp all the way there and get either a Heart Piece, Rupees or another Kin stone. What is the point in that? Sure, it's a great idea but it is over-used and isn't executed very well, it's very easy to get twenty Heart Containers in your energy meter, so you needn't worry about dying too much. Oh, and don't get me started on the waste of time that is the figurine collecting "sidequest" all you do is donate these
mysterious shells and get a random figurine out of a dispenser, you need to get 100 to get an item, it is just a pain in the neck instead of being fun.

Despite some of the sidequests annoying me as well as some aspects of the kin-fusing system, the gameplay gets very high marks overall. Now for the music and sound, now I do not know about you, but I think the music in this game is absolutely fantastic, for a videogame. I actually found myself humming the theme from Hyrule Town, which is uplifting and really creates the atmosphere for a bustling market town. In the Minish Woods is has a slightly ethereal sound to it and obviously the overworld theme is brilliant. The music seems to fit whatever scene and feeling the game needs to convey which is an astounding achievement for a portable game, now you may be thinking I am crazy when I sing the praises of the music in this game but I adore it, and I am a heavy metal fan. The sound in this game is also good, Link makes noises as he swings his sword reminiscent to the Wind Waker, there is a swishing noise as you travel through grass and realistic sloshing through any water or swampy areas, there are no noticeable annoyances in this compartment.

I would recommend this game to absolutely anyone who wants an engrossing and charming game with fairytale qualities, also to any Zelda fan, that goes without saying. Despite a few minor gripes this game is great fun with good imagination, great graphics and music. Buy it now, it is one of the best GBA games released as of yet and once again emphasises the fruitful relationship between Capcom and Nintendo.

Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Story - 7/10
Gameplay - 8/10

Overall - 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/28/06

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