Review by haruman

"Minish Cap proves bigger isn't better!"

The Legend of Zelda series is definitely up there as one of the best known and greatest video game series to date. With the large overworlds, challenging dungeons, many sidequests and a wealth of items and weapons to use, it's no surprise Zelda games are highly rated by many, including me.
So when I heard, very recently I might add, about a new Zelda game for GBA, I instantly knew I had to buy it, even if the concept of a talking hat and shrinking Link was rather strange...

Gameplay: 8
If you've played any Zelda game before, you'll be right at home. If not, then it's just as easy to control. You can assign any 2 items to A and B, use the D-pad to move in any direction, press Start to open up the menu and Select is a help option. The R button is the main 'action' button in Minish Cap- you can roll, talk, open, pick up, throw, grab, push, pull, shrink and do more with it.

Ah yes, shrinking. You see, not far into the game, you'll come across this handy fellow called Ezlo- a talking hat- the Minish Cap to be precise. With his aid, you can shrink down to miniscule size at certain points and reach areas you previously thought were inaccessible. Most of the time, you'll be watching a two pixel high Link wander across the screen, climbing into cracks or dodging perilous puddles, though occasionally the view will change to show the sheer scale of the world around you. Raindrops suddenly become a hazard, and twigs will tower above you.

Link's inventory has been bolstered by many new items, including the Gust Jar, which sucks in/blows out wind/enemies/objects. The new items give a real feel of uniqueness to the game, and you'll use them all in more than just the dungeon you find them.

On the subject of dungeons, they tend to be missing that Zelda charm. They're just so small (which I suppose may have been meant by the developers, looking at the theme of the game) and allow journeying and discovery not to the scale in any other LoZ game. Some of the puzzles are pretty cool, such as one involving a minecart, but the enemies can be taken down in a matter of sword strikes and the bosses are huge disappointments, usually being beaten within a minute or two.
All in all the gameplay is good fun, but can do with a lot of improving in certain sections.

Story: 7
Save Zelda, blah blah blah. Kill the bad guy, yeah, yeah. If you've played a Zelda game before, you'll sort of know what to expect, though there is a nice twist or two somewhere in there. The characters in the game are all pretty lively with different personalities and whatnot. Unfortunately, Tingle and his red nosed brethren make an appearance, slightly lowering the respect I had for this game. All respect to Zelda games, but the story can never really be up to Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy standard, can it?

Furthermore, and I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, I found myself constantly taking time off from the story to complete the many sidequests, most notably the Kinstone one. Kinstones are small, round, well... stones, that have been split in half and scattered over Hyrule. Many Hylians, Minish and even the Goron have other pieces of Kinstone that, when the L button is pressed next to them, can be put together to reveal over 100 secret areas, which contain pieces of heart, rupees etc.
Personally, I believe the story fits the game quite well.

Graphics: 9.5
Ludicrously sexy. A mix between Wind Waker and Link to the Past, with a bit of Four Swords Adventure thrown in. Bright, vibrant colours and shapes leap out from the landscape, enemies and, of course, Link himself. Waterfalls, forests, mountains, Moblins- all look superb. Bosses are particularly well done, it's just a shame the difficultly level of them couldn't have been upped as well. The .5 coming off from the score is just me being really nitpicky and saying how there are simply too many shades of green in this game. You'll see what I mean.

Sound: 10
Brilliant. For the GBA, the sound in this game is amazing. Opting for more 'classic' Zelda themes rather than getting some new ones together was a good move, believe me. Catchy overworld theme, great music everwhere else and superb sound effects have convinced me to give the sound in Minish Cap a well deserved 10. I particularly like the chicken noises, though the odd HYAHHH, AHHH, and HUUHH are great too.

Play Time/Replayability: 8
It's one of the shortest Zelda games I've played, but great fun in that time. The Kinstones sidequest adds hugely to replay value, as it's never certain which Kinstone piece you'll actually find, and the mini-games in town are entertaining. Another plus is that you'll have that sudden Zelda urge to go and find every piece of heart in existence, complete every sidequest possible, and be thankful you don't have to sail for 15 minutes to actually find them.
I can see myself continuously playing this game; it's fantastic.

Buy. Now. Unless, as at the time of writing this, you happen to live in North America. In which case either import from Europe (yay), or wait. It's well worth it.
Rent it if you want, because Minish Cap is by no means a huge game, but I bet you would come back for more.
I assure you that you will love this game if you've loved other Zelda titles.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/28/04

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