Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap


This has to be the spiritual successor to my all time favorite Zelda game, Legend of Zelda: Windwaker.

Sure, Phantom Tracks was a direct sequal, with the cell shaded little kid running around in 3-D, but there are alot of enemies that were pulled direcly from Windwaker and dropped in to Minish Cap, in full sprite based glory.

It was ton's of fun to wander around and see 2-D representations of my favorite 3-D enemies.

While this game couldn't help but look like a cartoon due to it's 2-D nature there were alot of similarities between the art style of Minish Cap and Windwaker, and you had a companion along who would talk with you, but that is where the similarities stopped.

This game...hmmm. I liked this game.  Very few games, when I reach the end, do I say "I wish there was more." Typically games frustrate me so much when they ramp up the difficulty at the end that I'm just happy to be done with it all. When I got done with this game, I sat back, said "that was fun" and "I wish it was a bit longer."

This is it!  This is the whole map! So tiny, so perfect.
But the shortness of it leads me into my next point. The world was small. Unlike current Zelda games, where we have to have 120+ hours of story line, and 600+ side quests, this game world was small. Which allowed me to be able to remember where all the Mole Mitt doors were, or where I could float to once I had the cape. So if it had been longer, the world would have had to been bigger, and so, even the negative of wanting more (which is the best negative a game could receive) is still a positive.

The game mechanic of shrinking yourself and unshrinking yourself was cool. I've already said how I hate when there are two "states" in a Zelda game because it just makes it that much more complicated to remember where all the bonus areas are. I suppose I should change how that's worded. I don't like when you warp between two different worlds or maps. In Minish Cap you were on the same map so it was more about just seeing how to get across it, rather than shifting to a whole new world, or moving in time, where the map would change once you popped into that new "state."

The boss battles were fun.  No, they were more than fun. They were down right imaginative. The one that immediately comes to mind is the battle where I was fighting this mask and hands as normal sized Link, and once his hands were disabled, I would shrink down, and enter behind the mask and that's where the real boss was.  It was so fun, and all the switching back and forth was not a chore or a mechanic to elongate play, there was a point to it all.

The art style is very Windwaker
The art was amazing. It was cartoony, and lived in the same vein as Windwaker, but was unique enough to make the world feel fresh and new. Sure we had all the same locations, like Hyrule Castle and Lon Lon Ranch but they felt fresh.

I still got that sense of discovery that I had with the original Zelda, there were even a few times when I was just lost as to where I should go next...which was good and bad. I don't think you should ever be required to look stuff up on the internet because you just don't know where to go next. Write your script better, or put some icons on the map or whatever, but at the same time it forced me to wander around Hyrule which made it seem like more of a living, breathing, immersive, place.

Combat was smooth and varied. Much like Windwaker I always felt like I was in complete control of the combat. Darting in and striking an enemies weak point, or sitting back and firing arrows from afar.

I liked the addition of the roll move as an escape maneuver. Additionally they never locked you into a really tight place where using the roll was impossible. I hate when game developer give you a mechanic, and you use it the whole game, and then to make something harder, they just start taking away mechanics you have used.  It's not actually harder, they just started limiting your abilities. Thankfully they didn't do that here, and the roll made you feel like you were in control of the combat and could dodge out of the way of things easily.  That way when you died it was just your own fault, not the fact that the controls sucked.

There were two downsides to this game. The first being the music. I'd blame the hardware and just chalk it up to the chip inside being not so great, but they managed to release Final Fantasy 5 and 6 on the GameBoy Advance and that music was just as good as it was on the Super Nintendo.

So why did the music composed for the actual system it was on end up sounding so flat and dull and the "emulated" Final Fantasy games sound just as good as they did on the SNES? I don't have an answer. I have to imagine that technology got better and smaller, so the music should have sounded better, richer, and longer. But it didn't.  Just skip around in this movie below and you will see what I mean. The music and sound effects just grate on my ears rather than adding to the game play.


The other downside was the overall gameplay itself. Team Zelda has stated that they always try to bring the best possible experience to the hardware the game comes out on. This means that really...Zelda games are tied to the hardware they were released on. What did the GameBoy Advance bring to the table?  Left and right shoulder buttons on a handheld system...that's it! Not like how the DS brought stylus input to the user, or how the 3DS brought glasses free 3-D.  Everything that we had on the GameBoy Advance we already had that on the Super Nintendo, so really, this game plays exactly like Link to the Past.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just...a slight disappointment. Seeing as how Link to the Past usually clocks in just under Ocarina of Time on most top ten lists, I can say that Minish Cap is fun, but it's not new. I suppose that was the other feeling I got once the game was over. First it was  "That was fun" then it was "I wish there was more" and then it was "...but that was exactly like Link to the Past, so I can just go play that I guess."



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Ben Gorski is the author of the insanely popular life-stream blog hunka.net. His first video game system was a Sega Genesis but has since played and enjoyed everything from the 8-bit NES to today's PC triple A titles. He grew up playing games and designing websites, as well as dabbling in 3D animation and video production.

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