Review by andymancan1

"Zelda. Pure Zelda. ON THE GBA!!!"

PROS: Amazing GBA graphics and animations; a handheld port that still manages to keep the classic Zelda feel but the newer-style feel keeps you entertained; cool new items; many fun things to do; easy-to-learn controls; great boss battles; basically everything

CONS: _____ (you can fill in the blank with absolutely nothing)

If I could think of one thing to say about The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, I would say this: Best. GBA. Game. Ever.

As always, you're some blonde-haired green-clothed kid named Link who has a crush on Princess Zelda, who also has hair yellower than one of those Hummers. There's this festival and you and Zelda go together, and before you can kiss her she gets turned to stone by the winner of a sword-fighting content. (OK, I made up the love affair part...) This is Vaati, the evil sorcerer from Four Swords. Yes, you have to go out and kill this guy. Your dad is a sword craftsman and puts together a makeshift sword for you. You meet this green thing in the woods, Ezlo. He serves as your cap and can turn you into the size of an ant. This adds a new dimension to the Zelda universe. You can converse with the Minish once you eat the Nut of Minish Talking (or whatever it's called). Basically, you have to use this power to find and kill Vaati, and your quest takes you all over the magical land of Hyrule. You'll eventually get a better sword, which can slice through enemy intestine pretty quickly.

Since Capcom got the Zelda licensing, we have not only seen this new villain, but several other new things as well. This game has plenty of new items. There's the Cane of Pacci, which lets you flip things over, the Mole Mitts, which allow you to dig like in Dig Dug, as well as several other toys- classic and new- to play around with. You can choose which thing to equip here with the A and B buttons. You can choose which one your sword is on, which is cool. The rest of the controls flow pretty smoothly, too. The R button is the action button, and Select and the L button are used, too. This game makes use of every GBA button (except the power button because this game is addictive), which is not something we see very often.

Did I mention the awesome graphics in this game? They are magnificent for the GBA. They make use of every color possible on the handheld, the animations flow well and everything looks amazing. The forest, the swamp, the volcano, and the ice temple, are all amazingly done. Everything looks incredible. Period. Also, the classic Zelda music is present here, but the feel itself is a mix of new and old. The game still manages to keep the classic feel that Zelda fans adore, but takes that in a little different direction without going too far. The result couldn't have been better, and this game is worth picking up even if you don't like the new villain and plot because it still is reminiscent of the console ports of the Zelda series.

A new addition to this game is fusing kinstones with the other people that populate Hyrule, as well as the Minish. You'll occasionally find kinstones in treasure chests or in enemy remains. Fusing these kinstones will make a chest appear somewhere or make something cool happen. You know if a person wants to fuse if a thought bubble appears above their head. Just press the L button and bam!, you're fusing kinstones. You have to have the right kind to do it, which makes this interesting. You likely will have the kind you need because kinstones aren't that hard to find, although some are rarer than others. You'll have no problem finding anyone to fuse with, so you'll never run out of opportunities. But you'll have to use your kinstones wisely, because you might be unable to fuse with somebody at times.

Of course, the usual Zelda things are here, too. Rupees, pieces of heart, magic power, and everything that you'd expect is here and, as usual, doesn't take away from the game itself. Now, what would a Zelda game be without its freedom? This game has several side quests that you can do, which usually will reward you with a piece of heart, rupees, or even an item. You can do the classic Cuckoo capturing like on Ocarina of Time (my sister [who isn't much of a gamer] would play that over and over again for an hour because she loved it so much), which is still entertaining and profitable here. In fact, it's the exact same girl (Anju) that wants you to do it. There really aren't many other recognizable characters here apart from Link, Zelda, Anju, the castle guards, the figurine guy from Wind Waker (you don't have a camera so you have to win them in a raffle once you find the guy using the weird blue shells you find), and the Tingle brothers. But the rest of the characters all fit in the game well, and Ezlo is quite the good companion. He acts like Navi, Tatl, or The King of Red Lions. He'll give you insight and tell you where to go next, but he won't tell you how to kill enemies. You even need to use your head to find out something's weakness. You need to use your sword to find weak walls here, too, so you can blow them to smithereens. The bombs here actually work quite well, better than you'd expect. You can throw them and blow up a good-sized area, so stand back. The sound effects here are all nicely-done. They're similar to those of Wind Waker, and fit into the game very well.

The dungeons here are all classic Zelda-style. You'll need to push crates, kill enemies, use the new item you found in there, fall through holes correctly, and find keys to open certain doors. Much logical thought is required here, and it all runs smoothly. You'll need to solve puzzles in order to get these things, especially your new item. The puzzles are a bit repetitive at times, but this is the GBA. They're allowed to do that because the handhelds can't handle everything that the consoles can. Everything here is purely Zelda and it's a wonderful experience to go through each dungeon, and the entire game itself. You'll want to go through these over and over again because they're so wonderfully done, just like those of the series' console ports. Of course, what's a dungeon without a menacing boss at the end? The GBA severely limits what boss battles are available, but the bosses here are incredible. Capcom and Nintendo did an excellent job developing these, and it really shows. These battles aren't easy, and will usually require use of the item you found in that dungeon, and maybe something else. There are six dungeons here, and that's enough to keep you entertained as you go through the game. It'll take 12 or so hours to get through the game and all of its side quests, which are completely worth playing. And since this game has replay value because it's so fun, this game is a must-own for the GBA.

Overall, this game is likely the best handheld game I've ever played. You can see why the PSP didn't stand a chance in the first place because Nintendo already had been making excellent handheld games for years, and this truly is one of the best ones they've made (and Sony can't make a good PSP game for crap). The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is an involving game that will make you hungry for more after you've already played it, and it's even beautiful the second time through. It's a perfect handheld game. You know what this means. A 10 out of 10.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/10/06, Updated 08/14/06

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