After living in a hotel for a week or two it wasn't long before I began to miss video games (there's only so much Internet one can read). So I picked up a Canadian AC adapter for my 3DS, charged it up and trawled through the many free titles that I had received for being a 3DS ambassador, i.e. a mug who paid more than the device was worth before there were any good games.
The ambassador games are all pretty strong, but The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap instantly stood out to me. One of my favourite Zelda titles was also on a handheld, many moons ago. I'd not long had the pleasure of replaying Ocarina of Time on 3DS, so both the formula and platform were fresh in my mind.
The first thing that stood out as being a little unusual is the presence of the Capcom logo. Capcom had made several Zelda games prior to the release of Minish Cap; both Oracle titles on the Gameboy Color (Seasons and Ages) as well as the two Four Swords titles (Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures). In fact, Minish Cap was the third game in the Four Swords series and acted as a prequel offering the origin story of series antagonist, Vaati as well as the Four Swords themselves.
The game played similar to the 2D Zelda titles but borrowed a visual style from the GameCube title, Wind Waker (a game I unfortunately missed - here's hoping it hits WiiU Virtual Console). The title also seemingly took a great deal of its supporting cast from Ocarina of Time; Business Scrubs, Gorons, Mutoh and his carpenters, The Cucco Lady (along with a hard as nails chicken collection side quest) and a number of musical numbers from the title.
Of note from Ocarina, are the Keaton. Often mistaken for Pokemon (be it Pikachu in the form of the mask in Ocarina or the Ninetales-like creature from Majoras Mask), this time around the Keaton act as the Bully or Thief characters from previous titles, inflicting damage to both Link’s health and wallet. The reason I call out these enemies in particular (and Moblins) is down to their on screen fidelity - the sprites are huge and extremely detailed in comparison to the enemies in Links Awakening, both Oracle games and even Link to the Past - this game must have looked pretty stunning back in 2004 and it still holds up now.
As always, its not all rainbows and blowjobs, some of the later bosses can be a little obtuse (in particular the manta rays in the sky) and the final boss was an exercise in fine/twitch control - not the title's strong point. My pet hate had to be the shell minigame, it was needlessly cumbersome and time consuming.
Interestingly the PAL release shipped with a bug that stops the player ever being able to max out their bomb bag size - not that it's important, but its a pretty big bug to ship a game with, and something that Nintendo aren't known for.
All in all it's a pretty tight game, visually appealing, nostalgic when it needs to be and doesn't take too long to finish. Its not that easy to get these days, so grab it if you see it in a bargain bin. I'm sure it'll be up for download on DSi/3DS soonish…