The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is a Game Boy Advance title released by Nintendo in 2004. Like most other titles in the series, the Minish Cap features the fully explorable land of Hyrule, being able to be viewed through the eyes of a human or a Picori, a race of tiny people who created the Picori Blade. The game is a part of the Four Swords series and features Vaati as the game’s main villain. However, unlike the multiplayer focus of the other games in the series, The Minish Cap retains the original form of exploration and dungeons as seen in A Link to the Past and the Oracle series. It also has returning characters and mechanics such as Malon and the new Spin Attack, as well as new features, like shrinking and fusing Kinstones.
Evil spirits appeared in the land of Hyrule, and just when it seemed that the world was to be cast into shadow, the tiny Picori descended from the skies, bestowing a shining golden light and a single sword upon a courageous human. This hero used his wisdom and courage, his sword, and the golden light to fend off the demons and restore peace.
The people were so grateful to the Picori for their blessing that they held an annual celebration in their honor. There was a sword competition at every festival, and the winner earned the honor of touching the sacred blade. The tradition of the Picori Festival continued, but the Picori themselves passed into legend; the legend of the Picori tells of a mystic door that opens just once every hundred years. When the door is open, the Picori can cross from their world into Hyrule.
The Picori Festival at the start of the game marks that 100 year window since the Picori last came to Hyrule, thus this particular festival was unusually grand. Hyrule Castle is hosting a sword-fighting tournament that calls to mind the heores of legend. This year’s champion is a mysterious man by the name of Vaati; he won the tournament with ease, and all of Hyrule is abuzz with rumors of this shadowy figure. The young Link, who is attending the festival with his childhood friend, Princess Zelda, is charged with delivering a sword that would be presented to the champion.
During the ceremony following the tournament, Vaati shatters the sacred Picori Blade and opens the Bound Chest, which had kept evil monsters within, sealed by the Picori Blade for an age. Vaati is after the Light Force, the golden light that was once wielded by the hero mentioned in the legends of the Picori. He subdued the castle guards and turned Princess Zelda to stone before making a hasty departure.
Link is tasked by King Daltus to seek out the Picori and ask for their assistance in reforming the Picori Blade; he travels to the Minish Woods and there meets Ezlo, a curious creature who he rescued from a group of monsters. Ezlo hops on his head and assists him in finding the Picori, and to shrink down to a miniscule size to meet with them, who refer to themselves as the Minish. Link meets with the elder of the Minish Village, who tells him that in order to reforge the sacred Picori Blade, he will need the four Elements, the embodiments of the sacred powers of earth, water, fire, and wind.
During his adventures, Link is told about Vaati by Ezlo. Vaati is the apprentice of Ezlo, both of whom were Minish, or Picori. Ezlo had made a magical cap with the power to grant wishes, but Vaati stole it and used it to become a powerful sorcerer. He then transformed Ezlo into a hat himself and began the hunt for the Light Force.
Link ventures across Hyrule and into the skies to reclaim the four Elements; once he has them, he brings them all with the Picori Blade – renamed the White Sword by a Minish sword-smith – to the Elemental Sanctuary hidden within the courtyard of Hyrule Castle. There he infused the White Sword with the Elements, fully restoring the sacred Four Sword – a legendary blade with the ability to split one hero into four.
Meanwhile, Vaati has brainwashed King Daltus and shrouded Hyrule Castle in darkness. He has discovered that the sacred Light Force is passed down through Hyrule’s princesses, and so he prepares to extract the Light Force from Princess Zelda. This process would kill her if completed; Link rushes to her rescue and, after vanquishing Vaati, uses the Four Sword to restore her.
With Vaati out of the way, the Mage’s Cap could be used to restore Hyrule. Princess Zelda put on the cap and wished with all her heart that Vaati’s evil might be done. Her righteous wish coupled with the power of the Light Force within her paved the way for quite a few miracles that day. Now that the land of humans is saved, Ezlo ventures back into the world of the Minish through the Minish Door, not to return until it opened once more.
The gameplay in this installment of the Zelda series is fairly standard. The B button serves as the sword, R for rolling, etc. The new features of this game were both the Kinstone fusions and the ability to shrink down. Ezlo allows Link to shrink to Picori size via magical portals located throughout Hyrule. When small, Link is able to interact with animals and unlock many secrets, both for pathways and items such as Kinstone Pieces and Pieces of Heart. The Kinstone Pieces are a feature that unlocks various things, from locations to chests, to events. There are two halves of a Kinstone and you simple find someone that wants to try fusing and has the matching piece. A tutorial is given for this early on; the feature is used by pressing L next to someone who has a Kinstone thought bubble over their head.
The Minish Cap was a success, selling over 1 million units worldwide by March 2005, having only launched a year prior. There was a limited edition Zelda-themed Game Boy Advance SP bundle released. Limited to 25,000 copies, it featured a golden console with the Triforce on the outside and the Royal Crest inside, and it included a copy of the game as well, without the box. It was available only in Europe and Australia. There was also a limited edition adventure set released. This was limited to only 300 copies, it included the limited edition Game Boy, a copy of the Minish Cap without the box, a shirt, a knit cap, and a certificate of authenticity.
1. The Minish Cap is the only Game Boy Advance game with two different ‘Not for Resale’ cartridges which were used in store kiosks. One says ‘Not for Resale’ and contains the full game. The other says ‘Not for Resale Demo,’ where there are three playable areas to explore.
2. The logo for the game featured in pre-release material and commercials featured the Master Sword rather than the Four Sword; the Master Sword didn’t make it into the final game.
3. There are several Super Mario references in The Minish Cap. These include enemies such as Bob-ombs, Spinies, and Lakitus. In the Palace of Winds, chain-link platforms with spinning gates similar to those found in Super Mario World and Super Mario Sunshine appear.
4. The game over music is an excerpt of the opening demo music from A Link to the Past.
5. The Minish Cap is the only Zelda game to feature an optional sound test.