"Nintendo has released the first new GBA Zelda, but does it live up to it's predecessors?"

The Zelda series is considered one of the greatest video game series of all time. Knowing this, I'm sure Capcom knew the gaming world had great expectations of this "Minish Cap" game they were making. Did they succeed? Of course, that's an opinion, so read my review to decide for yourself.

Story: 7/10
There have been many arguments over just how the Zelda timeline progresses. And with Nintendo constantly creating new "Links" and different worlds for him to travel through, it may never be cleared up. While the Minish Cap's story doesn't make any direct contradictions to the previous Zelda games, it doesn't exactly sort anything out for us and if anything it creates more questions. We find ourselves controlling the same blonde Link from The Wind Waker and the Four Swords games, living with his Grandfather in Hyrule. Just a few minutes into our quest we meet young Princess Zelda (well, one of them). The two of them travel through Hyrule's market and meet up with ye olde King of Hyrule. Shortly thereafter, the winner of the annual swordplay competition shows up to seize his reward, a chance to hold the legendary Picori blade! It was passed down for many generations after the ancient people of Hyrule received it from the Picori, a race that is now nothing but myth to most Hyrulians. The champion of the contest this year is none other than...Vaati! The villain of the two Four Sword games (for GBA and GCN)! I know what you're thinking, but don't worry, they didn't let a giant evil eye into the contest. Here we see Vaati before he became a crazed monster, similar to Ganondorf's appearance in OoT. The grey-robed wizard wastes little time before shattering the Picori blade and then turning poor princess Zelda to stone! The journey begins for Link when the King asks him to meet with the hidden Picori people, have the blade repaired, and save Zelda in the process!

Capcom did a decent job with the plot and anyways, you don't play a Zelda game for it's story.

Gameplay and Controls: 9/10
This is the most important part of the game, at least in my opinion. The game uses the same kind of setup as the Oracle games and Link's Awakening. Most of the weapons and items you get can be assigned to either the A or B button, while the others have a permanent effect (such as flippers allowing you to swim). These controls work very well as you make your way through fields, dungeons, and houses.

The game works like almost any other game of its type: Get a couple new items, fight through a dungeon, fight the dungeon boss, repeat. All the areas are quite diverse with their own obstacles and enemies though, so this never seems to get boring or repetitive. There are a few new gadgets for Link to mess around with (Gust Jar for example), but they've kept the basics too (Bow, Bombs, Roc's Cape). The addition of things like being able to shrink to complete some tasks and being able to spilt into up to 4 "Links" to open passages really adds to the thinking aspect of the game, so even Zelda veterans will find new challenges here. To be honest, I can't recall any truly mind-boggling puzzles in this game though.

The dungeons, while perhaps lacking in numbers, are all well designed and make use of the item acquired within them quite well. There are only 5 true dungeons to explore however, with the usual psuedo-dungeon before the final battle. The game tries makes up for it's lack of dungeons by having small one-room treasure niches hidden every 10 steps in the overworld, thanks to kinstones.

Kinstones halves can be found pretty much anywhere, and come in different colours and shapes. Throughout the game you will meet many people, most of them will have a kinstone half of their own just waiting to be fused with a matching piece from your personal collection. Fusing these stones can have many different effects from creating golden monsters that pay out huge cash when killed to creating a new cave to explore. Whatever event happens, it usually opens up a new item for you, be it a heart piece, a large rupee, or another kinstone.

I really enjoyed playing the game and working on the many sidequests that are available, even after defeating the last boss. While it may not be the best Zelda game ever made as far as gameplay goes, it is certainly an above average quest.

Graphics and Music: 9/10
This game looks and sounds great. The character animations are smooth and detailed, and I didn't run into any graphical glitches during my play through. The game contains many classic Zelda tunes plus some new ones that fit in well. You may find yourself humming a couple of them! All that stopped it from getting a 10 is that a lot of the sprites are re-used from the Four Swords GBA game.

Length and Replay value: 6/10
What hurt this score the most was the lack of dungeons. Capcom could have at least added one more to make it an even 6. Still, if you forget about that problem, the game offers plenty of sidequests and even a few extra items to get after beating the last boss. One of which is the figurine collection. Basically, you give shells that you collect on your quest to a guy in town and you get a random figurine. There are 136 to collect in all, and it takes way too much time to talk to the guy over and over to get them all, but one of the rewards for having all of them is a heart piece. Want that full 20 heart health meter? You have to spend an hour buying all the figurines -_-. NOT FUN.

Okay, minus those two troubles, the game does last a while if you get all the kinstone fusions and stuff. After I was done with it though, I didn't really feel like playing it again. Not for quite some time at least.

Overall Score: 9/10
Yeah, I know that's not an average. You aren't a math genius for figuring it out, smart guy. I gave The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap that final score because while it may lack length and a deep story, it delivers on the Gameplay. That has always been the most important part of a game to me.

Buy or Rent: Buy
If you're going to get this game, I recommend buying it. You might be able to finish it in one rental, but that means that you would rush through it and miss out most of the great sidequests and extras that Capcom has put into this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/23/05

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