I’ve got a bit of a confession to make, I’d never played the Legend of Zelda Minish Cap before. I had a GameBoy Advance SP and played it a lot yet somehow missed out on this classic. Years later I was one of those people who bought an original Nintendo 3DS at the full price before the price cut. I was part of that 3DS Ambassador Program and they gave me a digital copy of Minish Cap for my 3DS and for whatever reason I just never got around to playing it.

I was feeling like playing some retro games and specifically a Zelda one so I pulled this out and found a surprisingly solid Zelda game that still plays quite good today.

Read on to see all my thoughts.

The Story

This is a portable Zelda game and there’s not anything too complicated here. This time around though there’s no Ganon or Ganondorf which is nice. Ganon doesn’t even show up at the very end as the last boss or anything.

Link is working as a blacksmith apprentice and in this version of Hyrule there are tiny creatures called the Picori or Minish that no one ever really sees, unless you’re children and you’re a very good person.

They have a festival for them every year and they’re supposed to bring people good luck.

During the festival an evil wizard named Vaati breaks in and destroys the Picori Sword, a sword made by the Minish which is supposed to banish evil. He turns princess Zelda into stone along with most of the other people in Hyrule castle, takes over and starts looking for the light essence or something he needs for ultimate power.

You team up with a Picori sage named Ezlo that’s been turned into a hat and head out to find the 4 elemental essences to repair the sword and stop Vaati. There’s a bit more I won’t spoil but that’s more or less it.

There’s nothing super amazing here but it’s definitely not bad either.

The Dungeons

This game only has 6 major dungeons and going in I felt like that would be a bit of a let-down but each of those 6 dungeons has a fairly dense overworld area that’s almost like a dungeon itself. So after finishing the game I didn’t feel like I’d been cheated out of content (like I did playing Wind Waker).

The dungeon design is quite excellent, each dungeon is quite different from each other and they introduce several new items I’ve never seen in any other Zelda game before. For example you get something called the Gust Jar which functions like a vacuum that can suck up dust and spit it out or suck up objects and spit them out, objects like pots or even enemy shields. You also use this item to propel yourself along water by standing on lili pads and using the air to propel yourself along the water.

You also get gloves that let you dig through walls, a cane that flips things over and surprisingly gets used a lot and a lantern that’s just always turned on and can burn things without using up magic power or anything like that.

Eventually you unlock an ability to create up to 3 clones of yourself and you’ll find puzzles later that require you to have 4 of yourselves hit 4 switches all at the same time or something like that. There are even a couple of bosses that make use of this mechanic.

Overall I quite enjoyed these dungeons and I like how they changed things up from other Zelda games.

Here’s an excellent Boss Keys video breaking down the dungeon design:


The World

This game has one of the smallest Zelda worlds but everything in it is super dense and packed full of secrets.

The main gimmick in this game is that you can shrink yourself down to Minish size and then get into areas you couldn’t access at full size. When you’re small you can’t cross water, go through tall grass or get around a bunch of other obstacles that are no problem when you’re regular size.

But you can also get into tiny caves, go through fireplaces any tiny doors and find little Minish towns hidden all over the place.

Tons of times throughout the game you’ll have to go back and forth between regular and tiny sized to navigate the world or unlock secrets.

The world itself has some nice variety. You’ve got your standard sort of forest area, mountain area and Lake Hylia but there’s also a large swamp, waterfall area, royal graveyard and a whole sky kingdom up in the clouds.

The Kinstone System

Minish Cap has a bizarre system for unlocking secrets called the Kinstone System.

Kinstones are like round coloured stones broken in half. You find them all over the place. Green ones are most common and drop from enemies, you can find them by cutting grass, digging, under rocks, etc. Blue and red ones are a bit more rare and are usually found in chests and yellow ones are usually required to unlock story-related things.

Your goal is to find NPCs in the world with the matching half to your stone. You then “Fuse” them together and “Something good is supposed to happen.” Usually this means a chest will appear, a secret door will open, etc.

The rewards for these range from getting something like 50 rupees to getting a piece of heart. There’s also a series of Kinstone fusions that leads to a magic boomering.

To be completely honest though this system is kind of weird. I didn’t hate it like say KingK did (see his video retrospective below) but I never did really figure it out either.

You walk up to NPCs and if there’s a fusion available they’ll show a little thought bubble. You then hit the L button and then you can fuse Kinstones. After which there’ll be short cutscene showing something changing in the world so you can head over there and get the secret.

There doesn’t appear to be any sort of logic on who you can fuse with and when you can fuse with them. Pretty much every time between dungeons I’d run into towns and run up to every NPC hitting the L button to see who I could fuse with. Some times you can fuse with someone, leave the area, come right back and fuse with them again.

Most people apparently just use guides but my strategy of trying to fuse with people as often as I could worked fairly well I think. By the end of the game I was just missing 3 hearts so I must have found most of the secrets.

One nice thing about doing it my way was that in between each dungeon I was constantly unlocking secrets and running around the world collecting things which helped to change things up a bit.

So like I said, the Kinstone system is weird but I didn’t completely hate it.

Concluding Thoughts

Overall I’d definitely recommend this game. It’s a solid entry for the Zelda series. I enjoyed it a lot, enjoyed finding secrets and overall the length was great. It gave me enough gameplay without overstaying it’s welcome.

The only other complaint I really have is that the game kind of gates content behind the story meaning there’s a bunch of areas where you can go and figure out the puzzles only to find nothing there because the story hasn’t magically added an item that you need yet. Or you’ll just have NPCs randomly standing and blocking off areas or buildings you just can’t enter until the story says you can.

But other than that there’s really nothing negative I have to say about the game.

It’s also worth noting that Elzo, the talking hat helper character isn’t annoying at all which is always great.

So definitely give this game a chance if you’ve got an old GBA kicking around or try to pick it up on the 3DS or Switch eShop if it’s still available there. You’ll definitely have a great time with the game, especially if you’re a Zelda fan.

The featured image for this post is from zelda.fandom.com used under Fair Use