Review by AceWhatever
"A half-decent cash-in..."
When we last left our hero Link, he was dangling on the edge of some dangerous cash-ins in the form of a port of his 10 year-old SNES adventure with a multiplayer mini-quest mode tacked on, a widely received but highly debated Gamecube outing, and a game based on the previously mentioned mini-quest which was an annoying attempt to market the GBA-GC connectivity feature. By now our Hero of Time(tm) wishes he could use the Master Sword(tm) to go back and fix up some of the mess. Unfortunately he'd have to contend with Nintendo lawyers, chronic paradoxes, the time police and his own power-hungry father Miyamoto. So instead he decides to sit back and pray that his one-time handlers Capcom can set things straight. After all, they were responsible for his GBC Oracle adventures. Anyway, in the latest chapter of the Hyrule chronicles, Link is up against Vaati (no idea on whether he's related to Four Sword's Vaati), an evil purple(?) skinned dude who pulls a Medusa on poor Zelda (Princess Peach always gets off easy just being kidnapped. I wonder why...) and sets out to gather "unimaginable power" in his havoc-causing rampage. Our boy in tights must gather the four elements of nature to charge up the legendary...Four Sword(?) and face down the annoying upstart. And I thought the Master Sword(tm) sounded lame...While this isn't the long anticipated (by me at least) "Quest for Storylines" I've always wanted, it'll suffice for now.
2D all the way, baby! The classic overhead view returns to show us a bright, colorful and wonderfully animated world. Link's cartoony proportions, while a bit awkward on the 'cube, are a perfect fit for the GBA's screen.
Zelda fans will get a kick out of the classic tunes, from the eternally looping Hyrule Field music to the opening chests and discovery sound bytes. So maybe they recycled Link's cries and yelps from the older games, but that's the least of anybody's care.
Control & Interface: 7/10
My biggest gripe with the old Game Boy Zelda's has always been the limiting two buttons assigned to your inventory that forced you to constantly open up the menu every 2-3 minutes in a dungeon. This, sadly, has not been addressed in Minish Cap. You still only have two buttons for your equipment, and while the L button is reserved for the new Kinfusing feature, the R is just a complement to the A button and houses an utterly useless roll move. Even SELECT which could definitely have had some sort of useful function, is limited to giving you cryptic clues on where to go next. A perfect waste of two good buttons. The menu screens remain unchanged.
Gameplay & Replay: 6/10
Here's the usual Zelda stuff: You explore an overhead map, talk to people for clues, solve puzzle -heavy dungeons while gaining a new tool that gives you access to more places on the map, repeat until you off the final boss. The new stuff: Joining the rupees and heart containers in the collectable department are seashells (used to gamble for pointless figurines) and Kinstone pieces . These are used by talking to certain people with the L button and, when matching the correct pieces, open up new areas, make treasure chests and new enemies appear, and on occasion open up new areas on the map to progress the story. Finally we have the new gimmick of the game: The Minish Cap itself. You shrink yourself down to size and explore areas that you couldn't as human- sized Link (although it turns once harmless creatures like chicks and cats into deadly predators). This, coupled with new and old items make for a very fun experience. So in order to reveal the shortcomings of this title, I'll compare to Capcom's previous effort: The Oracle series for GBC. The two Oracle carts had 8 difficult dungeons apiece, a brilliant swapping system, tons of secrets, HUGE maps, and bosses that'll have you tear your hair out trying to figure out their patterns (A big thumbs up goes to Oracle of Ages' 8th dungeon boss). Minish Cap, on the other hand, has only 6 marginally challenging dungeons, a few frustrating mini-games, a map I could draw accurately to the tree purely out of memory, bosses that almost flash their weaknesses in your face (save for the very last one), and no replay value whatsoever! The game can be over in less than a week of playtime, and not in the happy giddy kind of mood you get when you finish a Zelda game. I may have tolerated this short game streak in the last two GBA Metroids, but for a Zelda game it is INEXCUSABLE!
By now most Nintendo biased magazines are drooling their mouths dry as they play this and won't hesitate to crank out an A or 8/10 review (And I'll bet anything that EGM will give it game of the month award when they're done with Halo 2, GTA: San Andreas and Metroid Prime 2). But for those of us who are neither fanatics nor well-funded, nothing justifies purchasing Minish Cap save for it being the only decent GBA game to come out in a while. Rent it, enjoy it while it lasts, then thank me for my penny saving tips...OK, scratch the last one.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 12/06/04
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