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Looking back: The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap | GBA (2005)

Link dons a talking hat, shrinks to microscopic size and vanquishes Vaati in this second handheld offering from Capcom and Flagship Studios.

The legend: During a festival celebrating the Picori, a pint-sized race of mice people, Vaati turns Zelda to stone and destroys the Picori Sword, a priceless relic at the heart of the celebration. Link is sent to find the Picori, or Minish, as only children can see them. Along the way he finds a living hat named Ezlo, gets directions from the Minish and sets out to collect four elemental items. After several dungeons, caves and bouts of shrinking and growing, Link faces Vaati, restores Zelda and returns Ezlo to his normal self - a Minish wizard.

Master swords: This was the first made-for-GBA Zelda, and as such was a welcome blend of Link to the Past nostalgia and new gameplay opportunities. The graphics were more vibrant than its predecessor and most of the typical items made way for new equipment. Link now had a jar that could suck in and blow out gusts of air, claws that could dig through dirt and a cape that let him fly for brief bursts. Just when we were about to complain about every Zelda having the same items, Cap comes along and tosses us something different.

Ezlo's main ability, other than smart-talking Link at the drop of a... hat, was shrinking Link down to the size of a Minish. This let Link sneak through previously unseen staircases and explore entire villages that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Not exactly a groundbreaking idea, but a first for Zelda, and so well implemented that we didn't mind. The long, ongoing trade sequence of the Kinstones also kept us coming back again and again, eager to find a denizen of Hyrule with the other half of our broken stones.

Best Moment: Shrinking to Minish size and realizing that a town you've ran through 10 times already still has secrets to uncover.

I AM ERROR: It's a little off-center for a Zelda title, what with the emphasis on the Minish, Vaati and the Four Sword, but we really have a hard time lodging any standing complaints. The biggest drawback in our eyes is its lack of overall freshness - the game essentially plays like the other handheld Zelda games with new graphics and a shrinking ability. Some might have seen it as yet another side step when what they really wanted was a blasted successor to Ocarina of Time.

It's a secret to everybody: Even though it was the first cart-based Zelda in years, Minish Cap came on a regular black cart - Perhaps to combat this, a special GBA SP was bundled with the game in some territories. It was gold and emblazoned with the Triforce image - If the dialogue is to be believed, there's considerable evidence to suggest that Minish Cap is the first game in the series, chronologically. There's no Ganon whatsoever and Link gains his full green costume at the end of the game.

Hero of time? It was a welcome rush of competence at a time of declining GBA software, a perfect aping of Four Swords and Link to the Past, but it didn't really advance anything. We'd recommend it to anyone, any time of the day, but the SNES original still towers over all other 2D Zelda games. 9/10

17 comments

  • thefreakysurgeon - August 27, 2010 12:13 a.m.

    Let's all hope that Skyward Sword will kick so much ass that it'll be titled "Best Zelda Ever".
  • Gorlack312 - July 23, 2010 9:28 a.m.

    Yo Gamesradar, Imma let you finish, but Ocarina is the best Zelda game of all time. Of all time!! Though i am a bit biased, since OoT was my video game (started at age 4) and i still have memories of watching my brother play Ping Pong with Ganondorf. Oh, and thanks for giving Majora's Mask a 9/10, not many people are hardcore enough to play through it.
  • radishboy - May 30, 2010 8:09 p.m.

    I have always loved Wind Waker. Probably my favorite Zelda game ever. actually, one of my favorite games in general! I instantly loved the style of the game, and the cell shading. I'm very glad that they didn't do that stupid anti-aliasing affect where they put the black outlines around everything, which I see on a lot of other cell shaded games. (think the Dragon Ball Z games, or that P.O.S. FPS for PS2 "XII" (Thirteen.) I don't mind the black outlines if done correctly but they rarely are. they usually look bad due to technical issues, it looks like the outlines are jumping around the character, shaking or squiggling sort of? like those "squiggle vision" cartoons, where the all the lines/outlines are drawn in squiggly lines on purpose, so they wiggle and and jiggle and what not. (think "Home Movies," "Dr Katz," "Ed, Edd, and Eddie", etc...) anyways, I think Wind Waker is going to be one of those few games that are not only great, but will stand the test of time, pretty much forever. Even now, going back to play a PS1 game like Tomb Raider" is almost impossible, it looks and feels just so awful. But Wind Waker's style is timeless, it will always look, feel, and play great.
  • jwolf182 - November 5, 2009 3:46 a.m.

    I my opinion, The best Zelda games were Ocarina of time and majora's mask. hand down. Twilight Princess was a great game, but it just felt weird, i mean no Ocarina, no musical instrument? That's like history for Zelda. Wind Waker was a great game, but the cartooniness got old after awhile along with sailing. Idk i just didn't like twilight princess' going from wolf to Link, i just found that process stupid, and ganon turning into this giant boar thing? C'mon that's just stupid...
  • Nitemarish - October 9, 2008 4:45 p.m.

    Water Temple.
  • VGFreak1225 - November 30, 2008 4:36 a.m.

    I don't know, I don't hate Tingle that much, and the Tingle Tuner, while could have been a little more refined, was a nice addition and never necessary to finish TWW. Also, I'm still going to put OoT as greatest game ever. While Twilight Princess was obviously an improvement over OoT, it didn't innovate and there were more flaws that shouldn't have been there after eight years of opportunity to refine it. While I'll welcome both, to me, innovation is more important than inevitable refinement.
  • Digidabee - November 15, 2008 8:55 p.m.

    I agree Twilight Princess was the first one of the Zelda games i played right to the end although I had others before.
  • Christrigg1 - October 15, 2008 3:22 a.m.

    they shouls make a game where vaati finds the majoras mask, puts it on zelda, and then the real link must face her, who has all 3 peices of triforce as the second to last boss. the thirs to last would be fighting and sealing vaati. the last boos would be zelda using her magic to make there two of each triforce, since gannondorf had controll of all 3 and couldnt get it away from him. she did that so link would then fight gannon 1 on 1 with an awesome swordfight, and magic fight and thw whole 9. ending with a light arrow to the chest, and the master sword lodged in the forehead
  • skyguy343 - October 12, 2008 11:38 p.m.

    agreed, tingle is innocent but did Nessrox (also agreed) just say the Water Temple was good?
  • Nessrox - October 11, 2008 12:16 a.m.

    Good times.
  • BHT128 - October 9, 2008 3:06 a.m.

    Why does everyone hate Tingle so much? You dont have to love him or even like him, but I dont understand what he did to earn the loathing of an entire continent.
  • Danomeon - April 10, 2009 8:44 p.m.

    I don't beleive it, you guys gave link to the past a 10 and ocarina of time a 9! Both were great games, but that may be the first person I have ever heard say anythign other than, "BEST GAME EVAR!"
  • shadowleon - April 2, 2009 11:26 p.m.

    on link's awakening did they steal the ball and chane from Mario or did Mario steal it from them
  • KatamariLovesSpock - May 17, 2009 5:18 p.m.

    I really like the artistic direction that Wind Waker took, considering cel-shading can't really go out of style or become obsolete considering it has been pretty much at It's peak since the GC and PS2. But I personally want a Zelda in which they use the cel-shaded art style but still make it a darker more adult Zelda. They could make it with an older link even... Just because it has a "cartoon" style doesn't mean it can't be more mature. Not only that but a more stylized Zelda (no offence to Twilight Princess, which was a great game but doesn't nearly have as much character.) may make it a more solid game in general. As Twilight Princess showed you don't have to have a blood-caked protagonist... So I think cel-shaded is a great direction to take but they need to make the creatures less disproportional and make an older Link. Maybe closer to the DBZ style of cel-shaded games, those look great and, although DBZ tone may be very "YAAAAAAAAAARGH IMMA CHARGIN' MAH LAZURZ, I SCREAM TO POWER UP!!!!111ONE11!ELEVEN!1!!!" It still shows how a more adult cel-shaded Zelda is possible.
  • BodyDamage - February 19, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    I just watched the video on page 7 when the moon falls and noticed it bears a very striking resemblance to when *spoiler* meteor falls on midgar at the end of FF7.
  • Mr.Epic64 - February 16, 2009 11:59 p.m.

    Whats with the skin coloured teeth in Awekening? WTF!?
  • wolyfox - January 17, 2009 5:13 a.m.

    i mostly like fire temple and twilight princess the spider boss

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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