The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap - Staff Review  

Link's Shortest Adventure Yet
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

8-20 hours


Rating definitions 

   Hyrule is in trouble yet again and, naturally, Link has to save the day. This time around the object Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap focuses around isn't an Ocarina or anything like that, but a talking cap that allows him to shrink down in size and interact with the Minish people, enter tiny dungeons, and explore other places he wouldn't normally be able to. Of course, being small also makes even the weakest enemy into a mighty adversary.

   To aid him in his battle, Link has the usual array of weapons and tools with a few additions such as claws and a jar that can vacuum just about anything or shoot air out at high speeds. He also has a sword that allows him to split up into several versions of himself to do battle or solve puzzles. While many will likely be sad to hear that the equipment system from the Oracles has been removed, all is not lost. Minish Cap features several excellent bosses.

   Despite the fact that just about any enemy should be able to squash him in his shrunken form, this is actually one of the easiest Zeldas yet. Most enemies and bosses simply do not pose a threat, even if the player neglects to search for additional heart pieces. Even if they do search for them, most are easily unlocked by combining coins with the townspeople. There's not as much need to search every nook and cranny like in its predecessors.

Another adventure begins Another adventure begins

   The interface is also very good, both in and out of battle. The controls don't have any real problems and the menus are well done. When players first turn on the game, they are given a quick reminder as to what they were doing or where they were going. The dungeons are even designed so that players don't have to run through several rooms they have already completed every time they save and quit. Conveniently placed locked doors and teleporters make it very easy for Link to access any place he has already been. The only real interface problem is with the Four Sword's abilities. They way they are set up is a bit cumbersome, especially compared to how user-friendly they were in the one player mode of Four Swords Adventure. One other annoyance is a machine that dispenses collectable figurines. Getting them all is a very slow and tedious process simply because of the process involved. Luckily, this is entirely optional and doesn't effect anything else. There aren't any real localization problems either, though there wasn't much story to localize.

   The story is the most neglected part of the game, but it's still pretty good for a member of the Zelda series. As usual, there are only a few major characters with the usual cameos from other games in the series such as Ocarina of Time. It's also possible that the story may also be hurt by the length of the game.

   Link's latest quest is very short, in more ways than one. A gamer that is somewhat familiar with puzzles from other games in the series would have little problem completing the entire game in about eight hours. Of course, there are quite a few sidequests to boost that total quite a bit. Players that hunt every last item will likely spend closer to twenty hours.

At least he's better than Navi... At least he's better than Navi...

   While the story isn't very original, the game as a whole is. This is partially due to Link's new tools, especially the gust jar, but it's his hat that's the real bonus. A talking hat that allows him to grow and shrink is quite original, especially with all of the interesting things Link will experience in his shrunken state. This includes tree seeds that he can crawl around on and water, normal enemies that become giant bosses that are fought in creative ways, and tiny paths opened by combining special coins with villagers.

   The music is pretty good, though not particularly special. It combines various remixed background tracks from other games in the series with a few new ones. Since the game is very fast-paced and has a reasonably sized soundtrack, none of the background music becomes repetitive either.

   The visuals, on the other hand, are much better than the music is. Despite being for the GBA, its graphics are essentially on par with those of the Gamecube's Four Swords Adventure. Everything is beautifully animated and the enemies that are large enough in size are generally well detailed. Overall, a beautiful job.

   Minish Cap may be one of the shortest games in the series length-wise, but it features excellent dungeon design that is almost always enough to make up for that. Most of the bosses are also of high quality. While the story is a bit neglected and the adventure may not last very long, it's high in quality while it lasts.

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