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The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

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The Legend of Zelda:
The Minish Cap
European packaging artwork
European packaging artwork
Director(s)Hidemaro Fujibayashi
Producer(s)Keiji Inafune
Artist(s)Haruki Suetsugu
Composer(s)Mitsuhiko Takano
SeriesThe Legend of Zelda
Platform(s)Game Boy Advance
  • JP: November 4, 2004
  • EU: November 12, 2004
  • NA: January 10, 2005
  • AU: April 7, 2005

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap[b] is an action-adventure video game and the twelfth entry in The Legend of Zelda series. Developed by Capcom and Flagship, with Nintendo overseeing the development process, The Minish Cap was released for the Game Boy Advance in Japan and Europe in 2004 and in North America and Australia the following year.[1] In June 2014, it was made available on the Wii U Virtual Console.

The Minish Cap continues the story of the Four Sword, a weapon introduced in Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures. The game retains many elements common to previous Zelda games, especially top-down predecessors such as A Link to the Past, and includes new features and mechanics. Chiefly, the protagonist Link acquires a magical talking cap named Ezlo, who can shrink Link to the diminutive size of a Minish.

The Minish Cap was well received among critics.[2] It was named the 20th best Game Boy Advance game in an IGN feature[3] and was selected as the 2005 Game Boy Advance Game of the Year by GameSpot.[4]


A screenshot of the top-down view used in The Minish Cap

The Minish Cap features gameplay similar to previous Zelda installments.[5] Link must explore an overworld and complete multiple dungeons, acquiring new items and abilities throughout the game.

The titular "Minish cap" refers to a new ability that allows Link to transform into "Minish size" using portals throughout the world. Link's smaller size changes his ability to traverse his environments. For instance, a small portal inaccessible to Link in his normal size can be used by Minish-sized Link. A puddle that Link can normally walk over will be too deep for Minish-sized Link to traverse.

Along with items common to Zelda games (such as bombs and arrows), The Minish Cap introduces three new items: the Mole Mitts (allowing Link to dig through earthen walls), the Gust Jar (which sucks up enemies and other objects), and the Cane of Pacci (which flips objects upside-down). In certain areas, the player can create multiple copies of Link; although The Minish Cap is a single-player game, this ability is inspired by the multiplayer-focused Four Swords games.[5] The player can also collect "Kinstones", artifacts that are broken into two fragments. Finding a matching Kinstone piece can progress the game or award other prizes.



Within the Zelda chronology, The Minish Cap takes place between Skyward Sword and Four Swords, making it the second story in that timeline.[6] As a prequel to Four Swords, The Minish Cap tells the backstory of Vaati and the birth of the Four Sword, which both feature in Four Swords and its sequel Four Swords Adventures.[7]


The Minish (also referred to as the Picori by Hylians) are a race of tiny creatures that bestowed a young boy with a green garment, a sword, and a shining golden light to drive back the "darkness" many years before the game is set. The quest begins when Link is chosen by the king of Hyrule to seek the help of the Picori after Vaati, searching for the Light Force, had destroyed the Picori Blade acting as the seal to the Bound Chest, releasing evil monsters into Hyrule, and turning Princess Zelda into stone. Link learns he was chosen because only children can see the Picori.

Soon into the voyage, Link finds and rescues Ezlo, a living green cap with a bird-like head. Ezlo joins Link by riding on his head as a cap. It will later be revealed that Ezlo and Vaati are actually Minish. Ezlo explains to Link that he is a renowned sage and craftsman and Vaati was his apprentice, but Vaati became corrupted by the madness and hatred of men and took a magic hat that Ezlo had made for the people in Hyrule. The hat grants any wish made by the wearer, and Vaati had wished to become a demon. Vaati then turned Ezlo into his cap form.

With the help of Ezlo, Link retrieves the four elemental artifacts and brings them to the Elemental Sanctuary, which is a gateway between Hyrule and the Picori homeland. There, he uses the elemental artifacts to turn the Picori Blade, restored by the Picori, into the Four Sword, capable of defeating Vaati. During Link's quest, Vaati teleports into Hyrule Castle and assumes the form of the king of Hyrule, ordering his soldiers to search for the "Light Force."

After Link restores the Four Sword, Vaati turns Hyrule Castle into Dark Hyrule Castle. Link fights Vaati just before he can drain Zelda of all of the Light Force hidden within her, which would have killed her in the process. Link defeats Vaati, who shapeshifts into different monsters. When Link and Zelda flee from the collapsing castle to the Elemental Sanctuary, they are once again confronted by Vaati, who changes form one last time.

After Vaati is defeated, Ezlo returns to his original form. He takes the recovered cap of wishes that he created and gives it to Zelda. She combines the cap with the Light Force energy and wishes for all who have been cursed by Vaati to be cured, Hyrule Castle to be turned back to normal, and the monsters in Hyrule to no longer exist. The cap disappears after granting this wish, and Ezlo gives Link a new hat before returning to the land of the Minish.

Development and promotion[edit]

The Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma speaking at Game Developers Conference, 2007.

After Capcom and its scenario writing subsidiary Flagship had finished developing Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages for the Game Boy Color, they began work on a new Zelda game for the Game Boy Advance.[8] Work on the title was suspended to allow the teams to focus on Four Swords, but in February 2003 Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma announced that development of what would later be called The Minish Cap was "well underway".[8] Nintendo launched a website for The Minish Cap in September 2004, showing concepts of Link's shrinking ability.[9] The game had a cartoonish art style similar to The Wind Waker, as it has a fairy tale setting similar to said game, within "the world of tiny fairies, a universal fairytale story".[7] An effort was made to make Hyrule Town, the overworld's central city hub, feel like a living breathing city with people going about their ordinary lives. This combined with Link's ability to shrink in size allowed for unique angles on the perspective of a "safe town", turning the town itself into a dungeon of sorts for the player. Aonuma was reportedly impressed by what the development team was able to achieve with Hyrule Town, particularly given the restrictions of a 2D game, commenting that it even surpasses Clock Town in Majora's Mask. The game's gust jar was inspired by a gourd that can suck up anything from the novel Journey to the West. Several other aspects of the gameplay were inspired or directly lifted from Four Swords and Four Swords Adventure, both of which Minish Cap serves as a prequel to. For example, the gameplay concept of shrinking to Minish size in The Minish Cap is a fleshed out extension of the function of the Gnat Hat from Four Swords, a hat which allowed Link to shrink in to the size of a gnat.[10]

The game contains a developmental in-joke to the Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons titles in an optional side-quest which sees the player aiding three females travelers from distant lands who are looking for a place to stay. These characters are Din, Nayru, and Farore, from the Oracle titles. The player will only able to provide housing for two of the three women, and although their landlord makes reference to building a third house for the third woman, this never occurs in the game. The description given for Farore on her in-game Figurine also mentions that people take advantage of her which makes her upset. This relates to the third planned Oracle game surrounding Farore, Oracle of Secrets, which was scrapped.[10]

A first in the Zelda series, the game was released in European territories before North America. The main cited reason for this was the Nintendo DS: with the European DS Launch scheduled for Spring 2005, Nintendo of Europe pushed to make The Minish Cap its handheld Christmas "killer app". Conversely, Nintendo of America held back on its release so not to "cannibalize" the DS market.[11] The game is included in the list of Game Boy Advance games that is now available for download for the Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console by Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors.[12]

In Europe, the game was available either as a standalone packaged game, or as part of a special pack, which included one of only 25,000 limited edition, Zelda-themed Game Boy Advance SP. The Triforce SP is matte gold in color, with a Triforce logo stamped on the lid, and the Hyrule royal family crest printed on the lower right face.[13] As a launch promotion, Nintendo Europe also produced seven 24-carat gold plated Game Boy Advance SP consoles, with six given away to people who found a golden ticket inside their Triforce SP package, and a seventh as a magazine promotion.[14] Thirty were autographed by Miyamoto himself at the opening of the Nintendo World Store in New York.[15]

Reception and awards[edit]

The Minish Cap was the best-selling game in its debut week in Japan, selling 97,000 copies.[26] It became the 62nd best-selling game of 2004 with 196,477 copies,[27] and had a total of 350,000 copies overall in the country.[28] In North America, The Minish Cap sold 217,000 copies in its debut month of January 2005, being the fourth best-selling game of the month.[29] It remained among the five best-selling games in February and March.[30][31] The Minish Cap closed the year as the seventh best-selling game of 2005.[32] By March 2005, the game already had sold 1 million units worldwide.[33] In the United States alone, The Minish Cap sold 680,000 copies and earned $21 million by August 2006. During the period between January 2000 and August 2006, it was the 37th highest-selling game launched for the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS or PlayStation Portable in that country.[34]

The game received critical acclaim. IGN praised the game for continuing the legacy of the successful series, while GameSpot also praised the game for this aspect, saying "Classic Zelda gameplay and flavor will please fans".[5] The graphical style especially—which continues the whimsical style of Wind Waker—was welcomed by most reviewers. The music of the game was commended by most sites; GameSpy stated that "Even the music is outstanding, featuring some of the highest quality tunes to ever come out of the GBA's little speakers".[35] Despite the criticism of the dungeon lengths, praised the dungeon design, proclaiming it as superior to that of other Zelda games.[36]

The main criticism of the game among reviewers is the length of the game. Eurogamer says that "It's too short",[37] while RPGamer state that "The typical player can fly through the game's six relatively short dungeons in about ten hours".[38] There are also various other complaints from reviewers: IGN claims that the kinstone system is overly repetitive;[21] Nintendo World Report criticises the game's visuals on a Game Boy Player,[39] and RPGamer details the game's low difficulty level as a disadvantage.[38] Despite this, IGN's Craig Harris liked the way that the ability to become tiny had been incorporated to create fresh puzzles in the Zelda series. He continued to comment that "It's an idea that's so well-conceived that I'd love to see worked in the series' 3D designs somewhere down the line".[3]

The Minish Cap won the 'Best Game Boy Advance of 2005' by GameSpot over such finalists as Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones and WarioWare: Twisted!; GameSpot labelled it as "the Game Boy Advance game we remember the most".[4] In March 2007, the game was ranked as the 20th best Game Boy Advance game by IGN. In the acknowledgement, IGN commented that "The inclusion of the ability to shrink and grow was explored to some really good results."[3] The game was ranked 47th in Official Nintendo Magazine's "100 Greatest Nintendo Games" feature.[40] The Minish Cap received an average score of 90 percent from GameRankings, a site that compiles media ratings from several publishers to give an average score.[2]


  1. ^ The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was co-produced by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development.
  2. ^ Known in Japan as The Legend of Zelda: Fushigi no Bōshi (Japanese: ゼルダ伝説 ふしぎぼうし, Hepburn: Zeruda no Densetsu: Fushigi no Bōshi, lit. The Legend of Zelda: The Mysterious Cap)


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