The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap – GBA Retro Review
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is one of the uniquest and more interesting Zelda titles out there, because it is one of a few that is developed outside of Nintendo. Capcom took the helm here, and they created a truly amazing world where Link has to use a special ability to shrink down to nymph size for much of the game.
Well, there is a speculation that The Minish Cap may return some day as an HD remake, so I thought it would be fun to go back and review the original GBA title.
So how does The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap hold up today? Does this GBA classic still hold water? Or is this a Zelda title that needs to be shrunken down and forgotten? Let’s find out!
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap follows Link and Zelda in a fun world where regular size Hyrulians live alongside bug-sized beings called the Picori. The Picori Blade was crafted by these adorable creatures, and legend claims that the sword is capable of incredible feats.
The story starts off with Link being awoken by Princess Zelda to attend a festival in town, and the blacksmith gives Link a sword to bring with him as a prize. Well, as is always the case, the festival does not go as planned, as Vaati has won the tournament and is trying to claim his prize: The Picori Blade. Before he casually claims it, though, he shares a bit too much information, so the kingdom begins to defend the sword only to find themselves being beaten to a pulp by Vaati.
Link and Zelda try to stop him, but Vaati destroys the Picori Blade, turns Zelda to stone, and knocks Link out as he makes his escape. This sets up Link’s mission to restore the Picori Blade, save Princess Zelda, and defeat Vaati! As far as Zelda games go, The Minish Cap is a simple and effective story that is quite interesting throughout. Vaati is a solid villain, and the Picori are excellent additions to the Zelda lore.
Gameplay in The Minish Cap is nearly identical to previous top-down Zelda titles where Link needs to battle his way from one location to another collecting items and abilities that will allow him to progress and eventually collect the stones he needs in order to restore the Picori Blade. The Minish Cap even introduces some fun items to the Zelda world, including the Gust Jar and the Mole Mitts, among some classics like the boomerang, Roc’s Cape, and Pegasus Boots.
This time around, however, Link finds a “hat” named Ezlo, and while wearing Ezlo, Link is able to shrink down to the Picori size at certain trunks, rocks, and pots. Doing so will allow Link to access tiny areas and even solve unique puzzles where you need to find ways in and out as tiny Link en route to unlocking items, areas, etc. The shrinking mechanic is the main focus of The Minish Cap, and although Link is weakened in this state, it is a ton of fun moving around and dodging different obstacles from the point of view of someone ant-sized.
The puzzles in The Minish Cap are mixed, in my opinion. The shrinking puzzles, for the most part, are fantastic! Since that is the main mechanic, Capcom clearly put a lot of effort into it and making it fun. However, there are moments in the game where you are expected to find something or talk to someone with very little direction or understanding, which can cause the player to wander aimlessly looking for a wall to blow up or someone tucked away somewhere. Still, the puzzles are fun, though, but some of the overworld puzzling can be annoying.
Another unique thing about The Minish Cap are the Kinstones, which are these half-coin-looking items that you find throughout your journey. Since you only find half, locating someone in the world who has the other half is a nice little side-quest itself. These individuals are located by a question mark over their head, and when you press L, you will interact with them to fuse Kinstones that unlock something fun in the overworld.
Dungeons and bosses in The Minish Cap are pretty solid, although there are not a whole lot. There are six in total, with a mini-dungeon included as well, and none of them are super-long. However, the puzzles within are excellent and make great use of the shrinking mechanic and various items you will acquire, and the bosses at the end of each dungeon are challenging and loads of fun. Honestly, these are all great dungeons, but I wish there were a couple more just to strengthen the overall experience.
Finally, what is a top-down Zelda game without lovely graphics and excellent sound? Well, a Zelda game, and The Minish Cap is no different. Capcom got all of the assets they needed to make this feel like a legit Zelda title, and they really put in some amazing work to show their love for the franchise and to the fans. This is a proper top-down Zelda title in every way, from the look and feel to the sound and music. This is nothing short of amazing.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is one of those interesting Zeldas that tends to get underappreciated. However, this is a fantastic Zelda title that has truly stood the test of time, and it plays just as good now as it did when it released in 2004.
Another lovely point for single player fans out there is that The Minish Cap takes roughly 15 hours to clear, with even more hours if you are a completionist. This is one of those titles that will keep you busy for quite some time, and it is enjoyable all the way through, except for some of those transitional puzzles in the overworld that can be confusing.
To me, The Minish Cap is one of the most underrated Zelda titles ever. It may not be as polished as some of its siblings, but Capcom really impressed in this entry with some truly amazing decisions, mechanics, and unique items. It is absolutely worth hunting down a GBA or GBA player to play this one, or we can just continue to hope it gets a proper HD remake in the future.
Either way, this is a worthy Zelda title that should be experienced by all fans of the series, from the largest to the Picori-sized players.
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.
An amazing Zelda title
Unique mechanic and fun items
Top tier dungeons and bosses
All the wonderful graphics and sound you want in a Zelda game
Some overworld puzzles can be very confusing