Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, for the Gameboy Advance

Presentation

The menus are all very fancy and professional. Your accumulated items are displayed in that unique Zelda way. The dialog boxes could have used a little personality, I suppose.

The story once again involves Princess Zelda in a bad situation, and the hero must fix everything. In this game, a shadowy magician named Vaati becomes champion of some competition in Hyrule. His reward is the right to touch the famous Picori Sword, and of course, once this happens, all hell breaks loose. Before escaping, he makes sure to turn Zelda into stone. It's up to you to cure her, and bring Vaati down.

The Picori are also known as the Minish, a race of insect-sized people. They live virtually everywhere in the world, out of sight from the humans, and yet they love to secretly perform tasks for them. Before Link meets the Picori in person, he finds a strange talking bird creature. The bird is quite a smooth talker, and insists on the two of them pairing up. Funny as it is, Link proceeds to wear the baggy bird as a hat. Their quest has begun.

Graphics

Considering the GBA hardware, the game is visually impressive. Colors are vibrant. Worlds are detailed. Animations are fluid. And there's quite a few nifty scaling effects, especially during some boss fights. No real flaws with the graphics. Definitely in the upper tier for the GBA.

Sound

There are many voice samples for Link and other characters. Sound effects are all accurate. The music isn't as memorable as the other Zelda games. Most of the decent tracks are just arrangements of previous songs. It is obvious that Koji Kondo had nothing to do with this one.

Gameplay

Very similar to A Link to the Past. Visit towns, buy things, learn moves, acquire equipment, explore dungeons, battle bosses, and occasionally earn a key item. Half of your tools are taken from previous Zelda games, like the Sword, Shield, and Boomerang. The other half are new items, with creative functions. You get claws which you can dig with. You get a cape which lets you jump and glide. The Gust Jar is my favorite. It pulls in anything from a distance using a strong current, and then expels it back out like a shotgun. You will find that there are dozens of uses for this thing.

One new element here are the kinstones. Most characters have kinstone pieces, and you will find many as well. As you talk to people, you may notice that they have a kinstone piece which matches one of yours. When two people fuse these pieces together, something "lucky" happens. In truth, this means that something has changed out in the world. A chest can appear, a path can be cleared, a super powered gold enemy can spawn, or it may just give some random person an idea or motive to do something. Basically, the kinstones offer an extra bit of depth to the game, and give you reason to revisit old areas.

Overall

A quality Zelda game all the way through. I beat it and found most of the items, though I am missing a few weapon upgrades that are only found by luck with the kinstones. The game, just like Wind Waker, is a bit too easy. I never died, except one time at the last boss. I did get stuck a couple times on puzzles in dungeons though. It lasted about 15 hours for me and I had fun the whole time. That's all you can really ask for these days.

9 out of 10

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