The Minish Cap Play Impressions

At Nintendo Benelux in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands today, I got the chance to play ‘The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap’ about halfway through. Out of respect for the magazine I’m reviewing this Game Boy Advance game for, I won’t go into a lot of detail — I can’t help myself sharing some impressions though.

So far, it’s magnificent. Definitely better than ‘The Wind Waker’ and miles ahead of Flagship’s previous singleplayer Zelda efforts for Game Boy Color.

It follows the Zelda formula standardized by ‘A Link to the Past’ quite strictly, but applies a novel twist to the multiple dimension concept — you can change to pixel size (and back) at magic portals. The game strictly limits where you can walk when you’re small, so you discover the microscopic wonders Hyrule has to offer bit by bit.

This gameplay concept blends perfectly with a great story containing tons of traditional fairytale elements — all quite in tune with the game’s top-down 2D-version of Wind Waker’s cell-shaded graphics.

Best of all, The Minish Cap avoids the ‘Zelda Saturation Effect’ I felt when playing the ‘Oracle’ Zelda’s — I’d seen everything before. It does this by quickly skipping through most major Zelda gameplay traditions and adding a lot of new, high quality stuff.

Though the games’ major dungeons contain some pushable blocks and statues, most time is spent solving imaginative puzzles with entirely new tools — not of the uninspired ‘special key to get past virtual doors’ Wind Waker kind, they’re true tools with multiple uses.

Though I admit to getting stuck in the overworld once or twice, The Minish Cap is quite easy. Probably unavoidable for a game that needs to appeal to both novice players and people like me, who have experienced at least five previous episodes in the series. Still, this is clearly a true gem.