Late to the Party: Playing The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap For The First Time
A big adventure in a smaller package on Switch and the GBA
In an ongoing saga of catching up on classic games I’ve been told I’m crazy to have missed over the years, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is now off my ever-growing backlog. I’ve played many retro games this year, and the Zelda series has become my obsession.
I shared my experience with The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask a while back. That unique spin and take on the franchise had me wondering what other titles I could cross off my list. Minish Cap immediately caught my eye when I flipped through the Switch Online game catalogue. It was announced earlier this year as a launch title for the GBA section of the Expansion Pack.
I’ve always loved the look and feel of GameBoy Advance games. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but the sprites and art style on many of my favourite handheld games felt like the perfect balance of pixel art and hand-drawn cartoons from my childhood. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is no exception, and I initially fell in love with that style.
The Minish Cap is a great palette cleanser
The Legend of Zelda franchise has always felt like an anthology, with each game being a stand-alone experience that features a hero named Link and a Princess Zelda, but not necessarily the same version of these characters (I quickly learned this was not the case with Majora’s Mask). This GBA game felt like another great “episode” (I still don’t know where in the canon it fits, to be honest) with an evil wizard and a slew of fun new friends and items.
Minish Cap was a great series palette cleanser after the darker and more serious Majora’s Mask. The presentation is friendly and charming at every turn. As always, the music is fantastic, and this time around, I felt that the writing was incredibly cheeky and witty, with numerous characters chiming in with an attitude I hadn’t seen before in the series. At times it felt a little out of place, but for the most part, I enjoyed the extra bits of personality I gathered from these interactions.
Gameplay-wise, Minish Capprovides some great new ways to interact with Hyrule. Shrinking down to Minish size (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, anyone!?) is a fun mechanic. Not only do you use it to solve some of the biggest (and smallest…) puzzles in the game, but it gives you a different perspective on the world. You meet new people and creatures, traverse different environments, and discover hidden areas and treasures.
The items and various weapons throughout Minish Cap are also fresh and fun. Some are series staples like the bow, sword, and shield. But for the most part, I was constantly flipping between the unique items to solve puzzles and defeat bosses.
Initially, I found the added collectables and items like Kinstones to be a cumbersome experience. Still, eventually, I was hooked and just had to meet more and more people who were looking for their latest stone buddy! For those who don’t know, Kinstones are colourful items that look like coins you can find around Hyrule. There are dozens of them, and each time a character in the game has a small bubble above their head, you can see if one of your stones will fit with theirs. If they do, it unlocks or uncovers a chest or sometimes a whole new area to explore and gather rewards like heart pieces or gems.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and found that my playtime with the game just flew by. It may be a minor game (no pun intended), but I didn’t mind that. I don’t need a 50-100 hour experience to enjoy my Link adventures. I appreciated the slightly tighter story and more straightforward map layout. That may not be everyone’s cup of Hyrule tea, but it was a bonus as I played through this story in just ten days. I’m glad I’ve finally played what’s now one of my favourite Legend of Zelda games.