When The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was released the Game Boy Advance was making way for Nintendo’s new handheld, the Nintendo DS. Due to the timing sales were less than favourable, but this is by no means an indication of the excellence that Capcom managed to capture in this unique adventure. The Minish Cap is everything you would expect from a overhead Zelda classic. The gameplay formula is similar to that found in A Link To The Past yet has plenty of additional features to make it interesting and fresh.
Our hero, Link, has once again found himself in the situation of the young underdog who is tasked with saving Hyrule. Only this time his adversary is a disturbed sorcerer, named Vaati, who has turned Princess Zelda into stone and is on his merry way to consume the light power in order to take over Hyrule. Link quickly comes across the titles Minish Cap. It’s a talking bird-like head piece that at first seems to have a bad attitude as he commands Link to do services in a dictator-like fashion. The rest of the games plot revolves around the ‘Minish’ who are an unseen race of tiny gnome-like characters. What makes them so special is that they can only be seen through the eyes of a child. You’re in luck! Link happens to be one. Equipped with the Minish Cap Link is able to shrink down to the size of the Minish in order to solve various puzzles and access previously unreachable areas. This mechanic is what makes The Minish Cap truly unique and lets you see the world like never before in a Zelda title.
The standout factor as far as the level design as well as presentation are concerned is the intricate attention to detail. Having Link shrunk to his new minuscule size has allowed the developerss to have a field day in Links new fantasy world. Giant acorns and tiny secret lairs give you a feeling of a ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ world, to which the puzzles are suitably translated. The art style is colourful and for lack of a better word… ‘cute’. The realm is undoubtedly that expected in a Zelda game… with a fairy tale-like twist.
Your primary task is to collect the four primary elements, water, fire, earth and wind and combine them with your sword. These can be found across six dungeons that once again contain clever and unique boss battles. In this respect Zelda titles rarely disappoint. None of the dungeon levels are overly difficult but still manage to maintain a different twist on what has become ‘that typical Zelda formula’. In addition to the elements there are also numerous Kinstones to collect. These appear in the form of small tablet-like relics that have been broken in half. When presenting these Kinstone halves to the character of Hyrule one can often match up the pieces allowing plenty of new elements to be unlocked in the game and ultimately the best way to power up Link. This missions are clearly side quests, without which the game would feel rather short and hollow.
The audio is comprised of the old classics as well as new triumphant pieces which have since become classics in the Zelda universe. Link’s high pitch yelp is of course present as well as a variety of other deep, piercing sound effects. If anything this game probably has the best audio to be found in any Game Boy Advance title. It always adds to the mood and feel of the overall adventure.
While The Minish Cap isn’t the lengthiest title in the Zelda series Nintendo and Capcom have created a real gem that has been overlooked by most and needs to be played by any Zelda fan or newcomer to the series. The game held its own as a handheld title and is now available on the Wii U home console for everyone to enjoy again. If you are considering buying a classic Virtual Console RPG adventure title for the Wii U this should without a doubt be number one on your list.