The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is a 2005 Game Boy Advance game developed by Flagship and published by Nintendo. It is the first original Legend of Zelda handheld title since the Oracle series in 2001. The Minish Cap is the last purely two-dimensional Zelda game with gameplay hearkening back to the original games. After Minish Cap, the handheld games moved to the third dimension with alternative play styles in both Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks for the Nintendo DS. It may well be the last Zelda game of the original formula. Nintendo have since confirmed that the game takes place second in the Zelda timeline (after Skyward Sword). The backstory it gives is similar to that of Ocarina of Time, and it introduces how Link got his iconic green cap.
The Minish Cap has many similarities with previous Legend of Zelda titles. It retains the same style of dungeon exploration, item collection, and boss beatdowns. It only allows players to have two items at once, and Link's sword does not have to be equipped at all times, which allows for more creative puzzle solving. Each boss is defeated by an item that Link gains in the boss' dungeon. As with previous titles, the Minish Cap features numerous side-quests that allow Link to gain a variety of different power-ups such as weapon upgrades and another series regular, Piece of Heart. There are many recurring characters and races in the game as well, such as Gorons and Tingle - whom has many brothers this time around. Enemies from the previous games return as well, including Octoroks, ChuChus, and Keese. Some of the classic items in the Zelda series are also featured in the Minish Cap, including the Boomerang, Bow, and the Pegasus Boots. The Minish Cap also introduces plenty of new weapons as well. Some new toys in Link's arsenal include the Gust Jar (which shoots a gust of wind), Roc's Cape (likely a descendant of Roc's Feather; it allows Link to float), and the Mole Mitts (which allow Link to dig). The most important new tool is Link's cap, the Minish Cap. The Minish cap, a living hat named Ezlo, not only acts as a guide to Link (similar to Navi) but also allows him to shrink down to explore new areas.
For the first time in any handheld Zelda game, Link is able to roll. This can be used both for mobility and combat. Link also gains abilities from previous games like Wind Waker (Great Spin Attack) and Adventure of Link (Down Thrust).
The game introduced new features as well, one of them being the Kinstones system. As Link traverses about the world, he can find various Kinstone Pieces. These are used to piece together with NPCs. After fusing Kinstones with an NPC, an event will happen somewhere in the overworld and the player can travel there for an item or power-up of some sort. Kinstone Pieces are colored by rarity, the rarest offering the best reward. There are four colors of Kinstone: blue, brown, green and gold. The Gold ones are the rarest and are only used for Story progression. NPCs that want to fuse appear randomly, although they have the same piece requirement no matter how many times the player plays through the game. Keeping track of which characters Link has fused with and have fused with is a challenge that leaves most games unfinished.
Another feature unique to the Minish Cap is the figurine sidequest. Throughout the world Link can collect Mysterious Shells which are then used in a lottery type game to earn figurines. Figurines can be of enemies, characters, or locations that Link has encountered in his travels. However, figurines are only available after Link has met the character, killed the enemy, or gone to the location. The chance of winning a figurine that hasn't been won before is upped by the amount of Mysterious Shells that are spent in the machine, one shell upping the percentage by one.
Items and Weapons
Sword and Four Sword
The main weapon of choice for Link in this adventure. It is used to attack various enemies, bushes and pots that stand in Link's way. When in its final form, the Four Sword, it allows Link to use special blocks located around the world to solve various puzzles by creating up to three clones of himself that involve defeating various enemies and pushing heavy blocks/boulders that may block his path. Link can also learn various techniques through eight Tiger Scrolls that give him a wide variety of attacks throughout the game.
This item allows Link to clean up patches of dirt by sucking up air from a reasonable distance away. Doing so will allow Link to go over areas once that hindered his progress without any problems. If Link continuously holds the jar out, the jar will change color and allow him to fire a gust of wind out to attack enemies in the area. In the first dungeon of the game, it is mainly used to cross over water by bringing mushrooms towards him that flung him over water.
Cane of Pacci
This cane is used to flip over various blocks and enemies throughout the game. When used on certain enemies, they become vulnerable to Link's attacks. When used on objects, they allow Link to progress over them that will allow him to visit new areas. This item is picked up in the second dungeon of the game and it can be used from a small distance. If it is shot at a hole in the ground, Link will be able to jump on to higher ledges.
Boomerang and Magical Boomerang
The Boomerang is Link's standard throw and comeback weapon in this game. It can stun enemies as well as get small item pickups such as hearts, rupees, arrows and bombs that are across gaps. It can only be fired in a single direction, unlike the Magical Boomerang, which can be controlled by holding the item button and moving the direction pad. While it doesn't give the player complete control over its movement, they can bend it around certain obstacles.
Small Shield and Mirror's Shield
The Shield allows Link to block physical, but not magical projectiles from enemies. It's gotten very early on in the game before Link visits any dungeons and is very useful when Link is low on health. It can also be used to getting around some of the trickier, but smaller enemies, and can sometimes stun them if it is a certain type of enemy. The Mirror Shield allows Link to block energy attacks from enemies, and it can also not be taken away by Like-Likes, unlike the small shield, as it is a unique item received via a side quest.
This item allows Link to dig through dirt. While it's only used in a few places in the entire game, it is useful since it allows him to open up new paths.
Using this item allows Link to light up a certain area around Link in darkened places. It can also be used to light torches in various areas to provide a greater viewing area in those places, as well as solve certain puzzles to open up access to new rooms or give him treasure in the form of new items, money, etc.
Bombs and Remote Bombs
By using bombs, Link can both damage enemies and break through certain walls. However, bombs can also harm Link; to avoid taking damage, Link must move away from the bomb's blast radius.
Once Link plants a bomb, they can be picked up and thrown. Regular bombs have a small time limit before they explode; remote bombs (which can be obtained later in the game) allow Link to control exactly when his bombs explode.
The Pegasus Boots allow Link to run fast with his Sword held out in front of him. They are mainly used to have Link get through timed gates, but are also useful for quick travel around Hyrule.
Unlike Roc's Feather in previous Game Boy Zelda games, this allows Link to double jump and float by holding on the item button. This also allows Link to climb vertically in the dungeon it is picked up in. It is also used to cross various gaps and avoid enemies quickly.
Ocarina of Wind
This Ocarina acts similarly to the one in A Link to the Past, by allowing Link to quick travel to one of a few preset locations throughout Hyrule by using it. A bird called Zeffa will fly Link to a destination of his choice. But he must first, in a similar to fashion to the game mentioned above, free the bird from its statue.
Bow, Arrows, and Light Arrows
This combination of items allows Link to fire projectiles at enemies directly in front of Link. They also allow him to hit switches that are otherwise unreachable, via Gust Jar or Roc's Cape. Near the end of the game Link receives the Light Arrows, a superior form of Arrows that allow him to charge them up and fire an arrow at enemies with both physical and magical properties. These arrows are mainly used to defeat the final boss of the game.
These allow Link to carry certain items for healing throughout the game. Link can obtain four of these throughout the game, and will allow him to carry such items as Lon Lon Milk, a substance that heals Link's hearts, fairies that can also heal him, even after he falls and finally potions with various effects.
This allows Link to scale certain vertical walls and mountains.
These bracelets allow Link to push around heavy objects when he shrinks down to Minish size.
These allow Link to swim in water, which allows Link to travel to more places throughout Hyrule and in various dungeons.
Pieces of Heart
By getting four Pieces of Heart, Link gains a new Heart Container. Link can earn Pieces of Heart by finishing various side quests and opening certain treasure chests throughout the game.
These are earned by defeating dungeon bosses throughout the game. While completely optional, they increase Link's overall heart count by 1, while not affecting Link's current Piece of Heart total.
A completely useless Gold Medal in the form of Carlov's face. This item signifies Link has acquired every single Figurine in the entire game.
This item allows Link to hold and look at his various Kinstone pieces. It will tell the player how many of each Kinstone piece Link has. It will also change its shape depending on how many Kinstones Link has in it at once, even though it can never reach a set maximum amount of Kinstones.
There are eight of these Link earn throughout the game, each of which grants him a special ability. While none of these are required for completion, they make progression through the rest of the game easier.
- Spin Attack - By holding the attack button with the Sword equipped, Link can do a spin attack.
- Sword Beam - When his hearts are full, Link's Sword shoots out a beam of energy similar to early Zelda games.
- Dash Attack - When using the Pegasus Boots and Sword together, Link's sword will be extended while dashing.
- Peril Beam - When Link is down to one Heart left, his Sword shoots out a beam of energy.
- Rock Breaker - This allows Link to break Pots with his Sword.
- Roll Attack - After performing a roll, Link can attack immediately afterwards.
- Down Thrust - In conjunction with Roc's Cape, Link can use his Sword on enemies from above.
- Great Spin Attack - The same as the Spin Attack, but if the Attack button is mashed, Link's attack will continue for a while.
The Four Elements
These jewels are awarded to Link after he completes one of the four main dungeons of the game. They signify their progress throughout the game, and allow him to gain new powers with his Sword until he finally has the Four Sword.
- Earth Element - This is earned by completing the first dungeon in the game.
- Fire Element - This is earned by completing the second dungeon in the game.
- Water Element - This is earned by completed the fourth dungeon in the game.
- Wind Element - This is earned by completing the fifth dungeon in the game.
Ezlo is Link's cap. He was once a Minish who was transformed into his green, bird-like, fabric prison by the Wizard, Vaati. Ezlo allows Link to become Minish in size at certain spots in the game, and can also have Link change back to normal size as well. Ezlo is also the game's Navi, giving Link hints and clues as to where to go next in his adventure. Most of them are story-driven events, so Link is never constantly reminded of where to go until those events happen or when the player starts up the game from a save. Link can ask for his help by hitting select at any time.
The story in the Minish Cap focuses around the origin of Vaati and the Four Sword. The Picori (or Minish) are the creatures who gave a young boy his green clothes, sword, and shining golden light years previous to the Minish Cap.
The story of the present begins when Princess Zelda is turned into stone by the evil wizard Vaati. Link is then chosen by the King of Hyrule to seek out the Picori and ask for their help to save Princess Zelda. When Link sets out, he rescues a talking hat by the name of Ezlo, whom he finds can turn him small like the Picori. As the story progresses, it is revealed that Ezlo used to be a renowned sage and craftsman with Vaati as his apprentice. Vaati was overcome by evil desire and stole a magic hat Ezlo made. The hat grants any wish that the wearer has, and Vaati wishes to become a powerful sorcerer. Ezlo, who tried to stop Vaati, was turned into a hat.
After recovering the Four Sword, Link must fight Vaati in Hyrule Castle, after Vaati transforms it into Dark Hyrule Castle. After the battle, Ezlo is turned back into a Picori. The magic cap that Vaati stole is then given to Princess Zelda. All of the cursed people are cured and the hat disappears. Ezlo then gives Link a green cap similar in appearance to Ezlo's hat form, and then leaves to the Minish world.
The Minish Cap has a total of six dungeons. Each of them have varying gimmicks, puzzles, enemies, and bosses.
Dungeon #1 - Deepwood Shine
The first dungeon of the game, as well as the first Minish-based one. This one mainly involves using the Gust Jar to get around, whether it be from going over bodies of water, moving a leaf around, or clearing cobwebs so Link can proceed.
Dungeon #2 - Cave of Flames
This dungeon involves mine carts, flipping things over and changing directions to open up more paths to Link. The Cane of Pacci, which is obtained here will allow Link get past enemies previously unbeatable.
Dungeon #3 - Fortress of Winds
This dungeon involves Link obtaining the Mole Mitts and clearing out paths throughout the dungeon. There are some Minish parts leading up to the dungeon, but overall uses a couple of elements from the previous dungeon.
Dungeon #4 - Temple of Droplets
The second and final dungeon where Link is Minish in size. This dungeon has ice-based puzzles for the most part. Link must get the Flame Lantern here and it is a big part in solving the many mysteries of this dark dungeon.
Dungeon #5 - Palace of Winds
This is where Link earns the Wind Element and get Roc's Cape. This dungeon in the sky utilizes a lot of elements from previous temples, including the Gust Jar, the Cane of Pacci and Pegasus Boots.
Dungeon #6 - Dark Hyrule Castle
This is the final dungeon of the game. Almost every item, weapon and puzzle element Link has faced before comes into play in this dungeon until he finally faces off against the final boss of the game.
- The Ocarina of Wind tune is the same tune as the Warp Whistle from Super Mario Bros. 3.
- In Hyrule Town, there are three maidens Link can do Kinstone Quests for. Link can only complete two of them. This is an homage to the fact that 2 Oracle games came out on the Game Boy Color, where 3 were originally in development, but one of them was canceled.
- Lon Lon Milk makes its second appearance in the series, Ocarina of Time being the first.