In general, the Zelda community seems to be divided. Some people are strong advocates of the 3D games such as Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. These are generally the newer Zelda fans who were only introduced to the series with the advent of Ocarina of Time back in the late 1990s. The other faction favors the 2D, bird's eye view games that include the original Legend of Zelda itself, as well as Link to the Past, possibly the greatest opus of the series.
The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap is one of the finer 2D games out there. In some ways, it combines the best of both worlds. Like Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, there is a definite improvement in graphics. This is not to say that they're by any means as dazzling, but as far as the handheld games go, Minish Cap offers a lot more in the way of aesthetic pleasure than the monochromatic Link's Awakening and its slightly prettier DX counterpart. In the style of Link to the Past, however, it also provides a very satisfactory storyline.
As usual, Link is called upon to rescue Princess Zelda. This time, she's been turned to stone by the evil wizard Vaati. There are fewer dungeons in this game, however, the dungeons are much more expansive than normal. Best of all, there's no water dungeon to wade through! Link picks up an arsenal of weapons that is quite impressive. There are old, familiar items such as the bombs and Roc's cape, but also new equipment to be found including the Mole Mitts, a wonderful update on the old standard of a shovel.
One key weapon at Link's disposal this time is the mystical Four Sword. As each dungeon is completed, Link gains the ability to create one additional duplicate of himself. Link and his clones move in unison to activate switches, whack baddies, and play baseball with cannons. It's difficult to master at first, but it's about time Link had some company.
Along with his clones, Link is joined by Ezlo, a strange creature that is half bird and half Link's mysterious hat. He provides useful, although occasionally redundant, exposition throughout the game, teaching Link how to master his new weapons, where the next step in his journey lies, and most importantly, the history of the Minish, the newest Hylian race to be introduced to the series. With Ezlo's help, Link is able to shrink down to microscopic size in order to interact with the hidden race. Through them, he learns a great deal more about Vaati's origins.
The gameplay is definitely up to par with the best of the Zelda games, even if it lacks the dazzling images of the 3D games. Due to a lot of fun mini games, including a figurine collecting quest and the Keystone matching game, Minish Cap offers great replayabilities. After beating it the first time, my second go still managed to leave me amazed at how vibrant and exciting the world of Hyrule could be. This game is a must-play for anyone who's a fan of the series. And it's also a great starter game to any newcomers who are curious about what the fuss is over.
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