Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA)

It's easy to have very high standards for a Zelda title. After all, we've been playing the Miyamoto opus for 20 years. And when Nintendo Power placed nearly every Zelda game ever made in its top 200 Nintendo games of all time, I was hardly surprised. Eight Zelda games in the top 40. Three in the top five. It's not the best "best" list in the world, but one thing is spot on: Zelda games are just that good. And when it comes to Minish Cap, the gameplay, storytelling, and overall aesthetic thankfully live up to the legendary Zelda franchise.

Unlikely Hero Needed to Fill Floppy Green Hat

The premise is nothing earth shattering. You play the role of an agile, sword-wielding youth who must save Hyrule and the Princess Zelda from the evil machinations of a power-hungry sorcerer who's after the Triforce en route to world domination. Sweet. The clever addition that really makes the game is the addition of the magical Minish Cap, a wisecracking and chatty floppy green hat that not only guides your hero, but also allows Link to shrink down to the size of the tiny, elf-like Minish. In essence, you get two worlds in one: the regular Hyrule overworld and the various homes, caves, and secret places of the Minish.

The gameplay is nothing revolutionary, but it's certainly a well honed version of the typical Zelda game. Link carries a sword that is gradually "levelled up," as are his sword techniques, bow and arrows, boomerang, and bombs. There are also some clever new items:

The gust jar sucks up nearby air (and some enemies), then releases a strong gust of wind (or the enemy). In lovely, physics-defying Zelda tradition, the gust jar can be used to propel small watercraft.

To be continued...