Review by essellAY

"Give this game a cookie!"

The Legend of Zelda series has been around for quite a while, to say the least, but it is by no means a tired out concept. Since the first game on the NES to the remake of A Link to the Past on Gameboy Advance, there hasn't been a single bad game and the series continues to redefine itself with every new release. As always with such a prominent series, The Minish Cap was surrounded by great expectations and anything less than an instant classic would have disappointed most; fortunately, it managed to deliver to its audience something better than could possibly have been anticipated.

The gameplay stays true to the previous games in many ways, but adds several new elements which each borrow slightly from other Zelda games. The most obvious example of this would be the ability for Link to shrink himself to the size of a Minish (a species of thumb-sized fairies) which allows him to reach areas which would have been inaccessible at full size. While this obviously borrows from the same idea as the time-warping/season-changing in Oracle of Ages/Seasons, it adds a whole new dynamic to the idea which takes a while to get used to, but becomes a staple part of the game quickly and is enjoyable and incredibly original at the same time.

The controls will be familiar for veterans of the series but still take a while to pick up, mainly because of the combination of the controls for the original SNES games and for the Gameboy games. However, it only takes about an hour of gameplay for these controls to sink in and then they're everything you could want: they're responsive as usual, easy to use once you've gotten used to them, and there really aren't any improvements that could have been made.

The difficulty is nothing new for the series: there are more puzzles this time through, and the new features of the game mean that these puzzles are similar to ones which have been used in previous games, but the new items brought in for this game make them feel fresh and are enough to keep any gamer on their toes, and some are enough to drive many people to the very edge of their patience. However, this only adds to the immense sense of fulfilment you get almost every time you finish an area in this game.

The life span is another one of this game's strong points: it will take a good many hours to beat the game on your first time through and there's plenty of scope for replaying the game through more than twice due to the usual Heart Pieces and other extras to be found. The gameplay has so much to offer that it really doesn't get boring, and even without the puzzles to figure out there's still so much to be enjoyed in this game.

The storyline begins with Link simply delivering a sword to the winner of a contest to celebrate the 100th year since the last time the Minish visited the village. It quickly progresses from that into a quest to save the Princess Zelda from a curse put on her and the usual adventure to search for artefacts to save the day and defeat the villain ensues. This storyline isn't by any means a new concept for the series and it feels slightly tired.. but it's still got enough originality to it to keep you interested, and it's most certainly not a bad storyline for a game of this style, as it drives the gameplay along nicely.

The graphics are breathtaking. This is only Link's 2nd adventure on the GBA, but the environments look much sharper than in LttP and offer a much more sophisticated-looking world. The characters in the worlds, NPCs, Link and the monsters all look much more 3D and better designed than in the previous games and it's quite a wonder that such good graphics can be found on a handheld console. The sound is, as usual, enchanting. It keeps with the mood of the game well at all times and sets an atmosphere well. The sound effects and especially the noises Link makes when he uses his sword and when he rolls get very tiresome quickly, but they're not so annoying as to make anyone want to lose the game's sound completely just to avoid them.

This game is worth buying for both avid fans of the Legend of Zelda series and for those who haven't played a game like this before; even people who have played Zelda games in the past and disliked them should at least rent this, as it is possibly one of the best games ever made. This is an instant classic which no gamer should go without and is definitely worth buying; you won't regret it for one second.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/30/04

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