The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

The jar does have its uses, bringing some new ideas and solutions to puzzles to the game. In one (practical) use of the jar you have to suck a springy mushroom over a gap, stretching it out like an elastic band. Once your jar has latched on to the flexible fungus, it catapults you across to the other side of the gap, which was too wide for you to cross in the normal way. A small thing maybe - but it certainly made us smile.

The second dungeon on the demo has far more in the way of surprises - our favourite being the appearance of the Four-Sword (as seen in Four Swords. Aha!). By charging the sword up and carefully placing Link on different panels, it's possible to split the wee man up into four. Whichever panels you choose to place Link on determines the formation your four Links end up in, and managing your formation is the key to solving puzzles. For example, arrange four Links in a row and you can make them work together to push blocks too heavy for a single Link to move. Likewise, arrange them in a 2x2 square and the quartet will be heavy enough to depress switches that a single Link couldn't otherwise weigh down. It's a smart little mechanic, and we're looking forward to seeing how this will be exploited later in the game.

There are a number of pleasingly familiar sights too. Link can use his Minish Cap as an impromptu glider-cum-parachute, letting him use air currents to maintain his height and drift above the ground. It's all very similar to Wind Waker's Deku Leaf. Likewise, in the village section of the demo, there's a wobbly post-box like the one outside the houses in Wind Waker. Even everyone's favourite horse, Epona, makes an appearance, carrying milk from Lon Lon (which you then have to go and get for Zelda - who appears at the start of this section to explain the importance of things called kinstones.

A kinstone is actually one half of a stone emblem. You'll find them hidden under bushes, in grass, under rocks - pretty much everywhere. When you find one, you can pick it up. In the miniature village in the demo, practically everyone is in possession of one half of a kinstone. Simply walk up to them, tap the L button and a stone menu will pop up. Match the NPC's kinstone with your half (if you've got one) and something special will happen. And no, we don't just mean you get a bunch of poxy rupees. The effects are far more dramatic. Whole trees disappear to reveal caves that you can explore. Secret entrances open. Chests magically pop out of the ground, Tingle's disgusting face makes an appearance (aargh!) and, in one instance, a couple of seedlings sprout before growing into a colossal beanstalk that rises into the heavens - presumably for you to climb.

It's the little things like this that, even though we've not played the finished game, suggest to us that the Zelda magic really is there. It's been so long since we've had a proper 2D Zelda (not counting Four Swords) and Nintendo seem to be very much on the right track with this.

So there it is. We apologize for not being able bring you a score - believe us, it wasn't for want of trying to get hold of something remotely approaching a finished game. But the fact is it's just not available. The game's out on 12th November - our next issue's out on the 25th. Oh, and apologies for the rant at the start too. It's just that we felt we should be honest about stuff. Believe it or not, we really do give a s- (Maybe you should have a lie down now, eh? - Ed)

The Legend of Zelda The Minish Cap is released for the GBA on 12 November