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

Started by Nightcrawler, January 18, 2015, 06:49:09 PM

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The Minish Cap was a pleasant surprise in some areas. I had written off the Zelda franchise for a number of years not agreeing with the directions Nintendo decided to go with it after the SNES and GBC outings. Although, the Minish Cap was always a possible exception to this. I had wanted to play it since it carried over a number of elements from the earlier Zelda games I enjoyed. Unfortunately, I never owned a GBA back then, and never got a chance to play until recently.


Normally, I am unimpressed by the low resolution of the GBA, and 2D to be found there is often second rate. I notably double cringe at the inferior low-resolution SNES ports found on the platform. However, Minish Cap was neither of those cases. It was some beautiful 2D sprite work regardless of its resolution. I think its graphics have to be amongst the best produced for the system. The sprite styling was a blend of the SNES/GBC styles of the past meeting the later Gamecube Windwaker style. Everything was so colorful and detailed. The animations had more detailed frames than any of the previous Zelda games. The whole graphical presentation worked for me and I declare it top notch!


We have another standout here. In a sea of normally below par sounding GBA music (again a double cringe on the SNES ports), there are a few notable standouts and Minish Cap is one of them. A number of remixed tunes from A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time can be found here. There was even a remix of the dungeon theme from the original Legend of Zelda. Also, the iconic Zelda main overworld theme can be found in this game. It is rockin' as always. I really wish Nintendo hadn't cut that theme out of many of the later games in the series. It's just not a Zelda game without the main series theme!


This is probably the last game of the series that retained the 2D bliss, tool getting, puzzle solving, exploring fun that got me into the series to begin with. The combination was right on the money here. A recipe for fun was made. As some people note, the game is a little scaled down in tools, and length. However, what's wrong with a shorter game if it means less artificial fluff and more solid fun? I had no problem with the length and had a fun time throughout. The puzzles, while sometimes on the easy side after all these years, were still fun. The challenge level was good with me and I never found myself becoming frustrated with the dungeon layout, or difficulty.

There were also plenty of secrets to discover and places to go. However, I think there was too much focus put on Kinstones. There were far too many, and I didn't like how secrets and places could only be discovered after fusing enough. That meant constant backtracking after unlocking each little bit. I liked the days of old better where all the places and secrets were there and it was just a matter of exploration and the right items to find them. I'd go exploring and there would be nothing to be found because I didn't do the right kinstones yet. Then, you'd think you unlocked something, but find it was only partially unlocked and several more kinstones were needed. At the end of day, at least you could end up unlocking the majority of it on your own. That says something these days where some 'secrets' are so convoluted that hardly anyone would be able to figure it out naturally for themselves. I got all Kinstones but 16 on my own. I had two hearts remaining as well, so I didn't find all the heart pieces. I think I probably would have without having the kinstones piece mealed out 100 times over. I got tired of going back to areas not knowing if it was fully, or partially unlocked when I left.


One other thing I wanted to mention was story. Unfortunately, this was a negative for me. As most people know by now, Nintendo convoluted the Zelda series story so badly, it can never be fixed. It got honky in this game with the minish, which never existed in any Zelda lore up to that point. It was basically a big side story in my opinion. No triforces, master sword, gannon, or reference to any other game (other than Four Swords) to be found. Even ignoring that, the story didn't have much going for it. It lacked anything impactful or dramatic. Obviously, these games aren't dramas or RPGs, but I think the story in A Link to the Past for example, had a lot more going for it. I have a tendency to think Nintendo's beginning shift to kids and a more general audience in that time period was to blame here. I wish Nintendo had chosen to have some real continuity in the Zelda series...

Overall, this game is definitely worth playing. Just ignore the story and play for the graphics, sound, and gameplay. It's a fun time to be had! - The central hub of the ROM hacking community.


I have to be honest, this is my second fav zelda hand-held game, the first being (believe it or not) link's awakening, I totally agree with you tho, the Zelda games have changed so much over the years, i stopped playing them after Windwaker/Minish Cap.
Been playing RPGs since the day I leveled out of my diapers!