when I'm ready to write off the Gameboy Advance to the videogaming
retirement home, along comes the new Zelda to drag me back in.
I'm beginning to feel a little like Al Pacino, at least during
the two weeks I spent with this game.
that I mind, because I've always loved the Legend of Zelda games,
and I certainly love this one. It's clearly as good as any of
the traditional, two-dimensional games in the series. It feels
very much like a grand celebration of the whole series, and brings
it back to its roots. And yet, the game never feels derivitive
or bereft of ideas. Far from it.
big innovation with The Minish Cap are kinstones, mysterious
medallion fragments that can be found lying around everywhere.
These fragments can be fused with other people, if they are in
the mood (as shown with a little thought balloon over their heads),
and successful fusions can result in any number of surprises.
what happens when you fuse kinstones? You know I'm not going
to give that away. Most of the fun in Zelda comes from the endless
surprises around the corner. To give any of them away is worse
than giving away the ending to a murder mystery novel.
other words, you're on your own. And, yeah, there will be times
when you feel that in your bones. Just trust me when I assure
you that all the hunting around and harrassing of people in town
will be worth the effort. It took me two weeks before I uncovered
all the kinstones and received the final reward, so you'll do
always struck by how Capcom has mastered the feel of the classic
Zelda games. It seems now that they've mastered it as well as
Shigeru Miyamoto and his teams, and they should be trusted to
continue the franchise into the future. I would love to look
forward to a new Zelda as enchanting and engrossing as this one
addition to rumbling through the classic terrain of Hyrule -
with a very keen eye towards the original Legend of Zelda from
1986 - you have the ability to travel into the tiny world of
the Minish. These amusing little elves live in the forest and
among the townspeople, who only know them as stories for children.
The young Link discovers a talking cap which looks a lot like
Crow T. Robot, and earns the abiltiy to shrink down to Minish
a classic Miyamoto convention to take a game world and absolutely
pack it with gameplay features and little details. It's a great
trait of getting the most out of the available space that goes
back to the humble 8-bit days when, literally, every byte counted.
The Minish Cap continues this lesson wonderfully. A few critics
have complained that the world in this game is shorter than the
typically epic length for a Zelda game, but they're simply not
paying attention. There's so much backtracking and moving around
that you'll be more than busy enough.
I'm growing tired of the notion that a videogame's quality is
related only to its length to finish. Too many designers stick
us with padded gameplay or pointless errands, for no better reason
than to burn out the clock. I'd still rather spend a quarter
on Ms. Pac-Man than the current crop of console titles.
have to wonder if some of the people responsible for the Mega
Man games worked on this one. The Minish Cap takes a great influence
from Capcom's classic series, particularly in its weapons and
dungeons. The one real flaw of previous Zelda games is that the
many weapons you acquire are rarely necessary; here, it's a necessity.
I've often had to switch back and forth, between a portable vacuum
pump, a boomerang, and a pair of claws.
see this play out in the dungeons. While there are only a half
dozen proper dungeons, these are superbly designed, more organic
and natural, and really require you to figure your way out of
a jam. The final dungeon plays out just like an assault on Dr.
Wily's castle, as you wind up heavily using everything in your
arsenal, and getting your butt whupped in the process.
addition to the kinstones, there are mysterious seashells, parlor
games, crazy errands back and forth, collectible minatures, samurai
trainers, and goofy characters large and small. This land of
Hyrule has never been so densely populated, and it gives a great
sense of atmosphere. This is a game that just feels inspired,
full of life.
it needs to be said, Minish Cap looks wondrous. This is probably
the best use of color and animation in a Gameboy Advance game,
and yet again shows how capable the handheld is when put in the
right hands. It's just like buttah.
is no small observation when I say that no other games on the
shelves seem to grab my interest. That's what a wonder like The
Minish Cap does; it reduces everything else to mediocrity. There
won't be a better game than this for quite some time.