The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004)

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is a handheld game and was one of the four Legend of Zelda games developed by Capcom. The game focuses around shrinking down to a small size and interacting with the miniature people of the Minish. I really enjoyed shrinking down and how it affected the world of Hyrule and made this game was pretty fun little adventure. That being said the game also had its fair share of issues, most of which could have been easily fixed.

The first thing that comes to mind is Kinstones, which are both a positive and a negative part of the game. This mechanic introduced in The Minish Cap allows you to fuse Kinstones, which you find while exploring Hyrule, with other characters in the game and it gives you a reward. It was fun because it opened up new paths in areas that you have already visited and added an extra layer of exploration. I think it was an interesting idea and I did find it relaxing to go around fusing Kinstones with other characters, but the system had a number of flaws. The first issue is “shared” fusions, which is when multiple characters have the same Kinstone to fuse with. This can get confusing as I was talking to every character and taking mental notes on which character needed what Kinstone, but when I came back most of the fusions were gone after fusing with one person. The next issue was “finicky” fusers, which was when certain characters only occasionally wanted to fuse with me. This was annoying when I was getting all of the fusions but as I was checking all of the characters to see if I could fuse with them I would have to check multiple times just to make sure. My biggest issue with Kinstones however was the rewards. Some of the rewards were great, like Heart Pieces or massive amounts of Rupees, but sometimes the reward for fusing a Kinstone was another Kinstone. That is just nonsensical. I think the system was unique and had potential to be a great new form of collectibles, but fell a little flat in the execution.

While Kinstones were a little disappointingly executed, there is a far worse offender in this game: figurines. There is a shop where you can play a gashapon machine and collect 136 figurines. Each new one that you get decreases the chances of you getting another new one. There was so much wrong with this mini-game and it is possibly the most obnoxious and blatant time waster that I have ever seen in a video game. Of course, you do not need to play it to complete the game, but you need all 136 figurines if you want the last Heart Piece in the game. The last Heart Piece is not even accessible until you defeat the last boss anyway, so there is not even a reason to collect that last Heart Piece other than wanting to 100% the game. It takes about thirty seconds to do one roll of the gashapon, which can equate to one figurine if you are getting one every roll, which you are not since it is a game of chance. You can increase your odds by putting more money in, but it is wildly inefficient to do so. I probably spent three or four hours just on this stupid gashapon. I just watched some Netflix or a Twitch stream while doing it, but I really wonder how this feature made it into the game in this state.

Even though figurines were a mindless grind and were frustrating, The Minish Cap also had some really great features to it that cannot be ignored. The dungeons in this game are extremely fun and memorable. They all had unique concepts and implemented them well in the dungeon designs. Whether I am sailing on a lily pad, shrinking to access new parts of dungeons, digging through tunnels, or flying across cloud tops, the game constantly feels fresh and innovative in its dungeon design. This is partly due to the items in the game; the Gust Jar, Cane of Pacci, Mole Mitts, and Roc’s Cape were all very unique items and allowed for some great puzzles. The bosses in the dungeons were also very fun. Some of the bosses were normal enemies like Chus, but you had to fight them while small which was an interesting way of adding variety to boss battles. While there are only six total main dungeons in the game, they are high quality and that makes up for the small number of dungeons. Also, there are a couple areas that acted like mini dungeons; The Royal Crypt, Mount Crenel, Wind Ruins, Castor Wilds, and the Cloud Tops all were areas that required me to think like I was in a dungeon. The Wind Palace and Dark Hyrule Castle in particular were my favorite dungeons and honestly are some of my favorite Legend of Zelda dungeons that I have played to date.

The land of Hyrule in The Minish Cap was very interesting and I quite liked how the overworld flowed together. Using newly obtained items to access older areas much more easily was a smart idea as this game does have a lot of backtracking because of the Kinstones. Hyrule Town was also very well designed in my opinion, every building and character had a purpose; it was interesting to explore at both normal and small size. The characters in the game were pretty interesting, but unfortunately you do not get to interact with them much other than talking to them once or twice. Ezlo is an interesting companion and is certainly much less annoying and intrusive than a lot of other Legend of Zelda companions. He is more than just a helping fairy and actually has a personality so I quite liked him. As a whole, the shrinking mechanic added an extra layer to exploring the land of Hyrule. Searching for little holes and passageways was certainly interesting and added some variety to the game. Everything about being small was thought out and made sense. The enemies were bugs or small critters, small streams of water became rivers, and areas that were a little larger than Link became entire villages. I personally really liked the shrinking mechanic and Hyrule as a whole in this game.

The Minish Cap was by no means a perfect game, but it certainly was entertaining. The issues with the game were only really bad because I went for 100%, but in a normal play through the problems with the Kinstones and figurines would be a lot less apparent. Overall it was a fun adventure and although it was short it had plenty to do and explore thanks to the shrinking mechanic. It was certainly a very unique Legend of Zelda, both in concept and in execution, and I do think it is definitely worth a play through if you are a fan of the series.

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