Zelda: The Minish Cap (Game Boy Advance) - Review by Andrew



It's fair to say that Zelda needs no introduction in the gaming world and unless you've been living under a rock or just visiting us from your home planet it is very likely you've encountered Nintendo's green clad hero before. Zelda has been rolled out on numerous occasions and has appeared on every single Nintendo platform going as far back as the beloved Game and Watch. This is the first 'original' outing on the GBA though and while other developers have tried with similar adventures no one has ever quite come close to capturing the sheer playability and immersive gameplay that Zelda offers. Clearly this is something of an optimistic introduction but if the previous outings are anything to go by GBA owners should be in for a treat. So, was it worth the wait?


For those gamers already familiar with the Zelda series there's a lot that?s familiar about The Minish Cap. For starters the game is played out in small sections of a much larger map and the action is all viewed from above. Outside of that though this is an entirely new adventure with developers Capcom straying somewhat from the tried and tested formula to prevent Zelda enthusiasts simply flying through the game. One aspect that is very different is the fact that you'll explore this world in one of two very different forms. One is as your normal self and the other as a miniaturized version thanks to a magical, not to mention very chatty, hat that you've befriended thanks to your rescue efforts when you spotted him (or indeed her) being attacked by some rather unfriendly critters. This hat not only becomes your constant companion but also a great help and most importantly allows you a magical doorway to communicate with the Picori.

The Picori (or Minish as they prefer to be called) are a race of tiny beings that can only be seen by children who are pure of heart and, fortunately, Link. They live amongst the rest of the much larger Hyrules and can only be accessed by a series of portals which are now easily located thanks to the hat. It's these Picori that are at the center of the game?s plot as they originally forged the now fragmented Picori Blade and it's now up to you to gather the various raw materials in order to once again make this most precious of Picori artifacts whole again. Obviously these are scattered across the land and locating them and bring them back is at the core of the game, although actually retrieving them is never as easy as it first appears. Collecting is an essential pastime here and you'll be encouraged to pick up just about everything from hearts (which extend your life) to more essential Kinstones. These are generally found in two pieces and, once fused together, open up secret areas on the map. They are not all essential to the game?s completion but they do offer some much needed longevity to the proceedings.

The constant searching leads to considerable back tracking which, unlike in some other games, is actually enjoyable because there generally seems to be a purpose to your endeavors. To aid you on your quest Capcom have introduced some new and innovative gadgets, which although they may appear completely useless when you first encounter them quickly become invaluable. The highlight of these items is unquestionably The Gust Jar, which allows you to both vacuum and blow a variety of objects, and without giving too much away proves very useful early on in the game. Like the rest of the series there are things to discover and problems to solve around every corner but divulging too much here will simply spoil your enjoyment of the actual game.


Zelda features the kind of control Nintendo are famous for (easy to pick up, hard to put down) and you will quite simply find everything at your fingertips. This is aided by some helpful on-screen tutorials and pixel perfect collision detection. Need we say more?


It's fair to say that the visuals here are almost identical to the previous outings and some areas even look like they've been lifted from the likes of The Four Swords. This is no bad thing though as the overall design of the Zelda universe has always been close to perfect and while you can often pick holes in the gameplay you can?t do the same about how the game looks. The developers have seen fit to take the game that bit further though with subtle effects such as multi parallax scrolling to give a real feel of depth. They've also added some rather neat light sources, which create an incredible atmosphere especially when used to emulate sunrays creeping through a dungeon window. Overall though, a mention must go to the engine?s overall design, which has clearly been updated as you can now have a considerable amount of activity on-screen at any one time with absolutely no compromise in the frame rate.


The soundtrack here is beautifully composed sounding every inch the epic adventure big movie score. The incidental music follows suit providing a suitable backdrop to the in-game action. Also included are a variety of voice samples and while these generally only consist of an abrupt greeting or punctuation of some description they do work extremely well. Clearly full lines of dialogue would be preferable but this approach definitely gives some of the minor characters significantly more depth and personality.

Final comments

The Minish Cap manages to take everything gamers love about the Zelda series and add some new twists to the gameplay resulting in a cart no serious adventure fan should be without. The ease of control, likeable characters, and attainable goals, intriguing storyline and good balance in the gameplay all demonstrate this. It's not without its drawbacks though and anyone who enjoyed the multiplayer aspects of Four Swords will no doubt be disappointed by the lone nature of this latest outing although considering how well crafted the single player adventure is here this is not as bad as it might be. It's also a little shorter than you'd expect and the occasional repetitive nature of some of the sections will infuriate some fans of the series. That said; it looks like Nintendo have done it again and even though Link has now appeared in a fair few games The Minish Cap is likely to guarantee you'll be seeing more of him in the not too distant future. Highly recommended for newcomers and old timers alike.

Pro: High Production Values.
Con: A Little Too Short.
Final score: 9.1


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Boxart of Zelda: The Minish Cap (Game Boy Advance)
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Genre: Action / Adventure
Developer: Flagship
Publisher: Nintendo