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Nintendo_3DSThe Nintendo 3DS has been out for nearly 2 years.

It’s a time in which it has slowly gained more recognition, depending less on the 3D it marketed with, and focusing more on the games, that as most of us know, is the main focus AND the selling point of any system.  Because some may not know this, but it had an abysmal start. A trend that other gaming devices followed, not learning from the mistake this particular handheld committed.

But we are not here to compare these systems, instead, I’d like to talk about what Nintendo did to dig themselves out of the hole they had sunk themselves into. It was an easy thing to do (albeit a somewhat risky decision) they lowered the price of the 3DS, allowing many to grab the system and increasing sales for an actual profit. But as it turns out, there was a small detail they hadn’t taken into account.

Only 4 months had passed since its original release, and of course, earlier adopters were furious.

3DS ambassadorSo Nintendo did something odd; they announced something called the “Ambassadors Program” a sort of way to appease to those fans they had enraged by doing something so unexpected by, well, responding with something just as unexpected by giving the loyal fans free games.

20 games were given to these “ambassadors”, 10 NES games with titles such as the original Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda were part of that deal, but that’s not the focus here, since most fans were looking forward to the other 10 of the bunch: The Game Boy Advance titles.

This will be a weekly article, reviewing those games released for the system, that ideally, play like their original GBA counterparts. This will also be encouraging you, the readers, to perhaps find them and give them a chance if you can.

Title screenIn any case, I will start today with my favorite game of the bunch – The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap.

Originally released for the GBA back in 2005, Minish Cap was the last title in the series to use the over the top perspective it had been known for, and unlike previous Zelda titles, it did not get the publicity it deserved, thanks to the Nintendo DS taking it away, since the system had just been released at the time. But 7 years later, thanks to the power of downloadable content, many of us were able to relive, or in the case of many, enjoy for the first time, this Zelda adventure.

The story starts with Princess Zelda visiting Link at his home, where she asks him to go with her to the Picori festival, an event that is celebrated every 100 years in the land of Hyrule. You spend the time hanging out with Zelda in the festival, looking around some knickknacks here and there, until you finally get your shield.

After the festival draws to an end, and a tournament (that happened off screen) winner has been declared, a ceremony is held for the winner, who is given the privilege to touch the Picori Sword as a special price, this is a sword that rests upon a tomb of sorts. But as it turns out, the winner is actually an evil mage by the name of Vaati, who opens the tomb, releasing monsters into the world, and then proceeds to turn Zelda into stone, defeating our hero while he is at it.

The Zelda story is slightly different, but the good ol’ Zelda staple remains: save the princess, save the world.

swordThe game controls as well as any other Zelda title in the veil of Link to the Past, you move with the control pad, you assign items to buttons A and B, as well as having a roll with R to increase your speed and to dodge attacks faster, kind of like in Ocarina of Time.

ShrinkingBut there is yet another element included in this title, and that is the Minish Cap (you know? The one from the title) and is a pivotal item of the game. On your way to the first dungeon, you find a lone talking hat being attacked by a pair of Octoroks, after saving it, it joins you (by riding Link‘s head and giving him his iconic green hat), and gives you the special ability to shrink down in size by stepping in special stumps.

This ability alone adds a clever integration of puzzles on dungeons, or even in the world itself. Being able to go through small holes in houses and finding small creatures called Picori (the same from the festival), or even activate a switch from another room, an entrance that the normal sized Link would never be able to get into, this alone creates a new way to navigate the temples.

As always, there are items, like the usual Boomerang, to Bow and Arrows, and of course, to newer items such as the Gust Jar, an item which you get in the first dungeon that allows you to absorb dust, shells from enemies, or even travel in lily pads One thing I like about the items in this game, is that they are used outside of the dungeons they came from and are actually useful in getting to different areas, unlike other games in the series where once they are used in the dungeon, and then they are useless pretty much everywhere else… I’m looking at you Twilight Princess and Spinner.

lilipadOn the graphical side, this game brings the art style of the Wind Waker to the portable system, and it fits the game well, creating colorful environments, and even giving the enemies and NPCs a certain charm of their own.

The music isn’t necessarily memorable as it just is… There. Outside the classic Zelda overworld theme, a few tracks come to mind in terms of how memorable they are. It’s not the best Zelda music, but it has its moments.

As all Zelda titles, this game has some good replay value, whether it’s getting the usual pieces of heart, or getting Kinstone pieces, which are gems to fuse with NPC characters, affecting the world somehow, whether it is opening a secret cave, or paving the way to a piece of heart. You can also spend your time looking for the Tiger Scrolls, which allow you to do more advanced combat techniques. And lastly, the figurine collection minigame, in which you use shells and bet them to get new figurines that give some small backstory and details about the characters in the game. So as you can see, there are a few things that will keep you occupied even after the game is done

kinstoneAnother thing I’d like to add, is that this game was developed not by Nintendo, but by Capcom, and I must say they did a fantastic job with it. I hope they work on at least another title in the series.
Now, while this game is great, it has its small share of flaws, or must I say nitpicks from my part. There are only 5 dungeons in the game plus the final dungeon, making it a bit shorter than others, not to mention its difficulty. I was not particularly confused on any of its puzzles, and heck, I did not die even once when fighting against enemies… UNLESS you count the time I attacked a cucco, it’s sort of sad that they are the most threatening enemy in the entire game.

Overall, this game is fun, and while it may be an easy game, it is a pleasure to play, not to mention that it is accessible to newcomers thanks to said difficulty. But if you are one who has not liked Zelda and its previous releases such as Link to the Past or Link’s Awakening, this won’t appeal to you. Still, I say you are missing something good here.