The Minish Cap sold 1.2 million copies worldwide, a comparatively paltry number for a Zelda title. The GBA version of A Link To The Past, a remake of a 10 year old game, sold twice that number. Capcom, the game’s developers, had previously shipped the Oracle Zelda games which sold 2 million a piece, and The Minish Cap found itself the recipient of a similar chorus of praise from the gaming press.
One possible explanation for the game’s underperformance is it’s position within the commercially-unpopular Four Swords storyline, and its incorporation of Four Swords game mechanics. It could be word-of-mouth that the game is too short, or that the Kinstone idea quickly becomes a tedious gimmick. It could be that the between-dungeons sections are horrifically ambiguous and often resort to fetch-quests inspired by the monotony of The Wind Waker’s Triforce Hunt.
All that would be to ignore the multi-faceted bosses that use Minish powers to put a new spin on old faces, and use the Four Sword to create whole new attack patterns. It would be to ignore the intertwined dungeons, where actions in one room affect others. It would be ignoring the absolutely gorgeous design, polished vibrance unseen outside The Wind Waker, and it would be ignoring the beautiful, stylistic narrative that is injected with life through colour.
Perhaps The Minish Cap’s ambiguity is what stopped it selling well. It marks, along with The Wind Waker, a period in Zelda’s history that had a direction; a uniform style, innovative devices and wondrous storytelling. But it was a period that forgot some of the hallmarks of a great Zelda game, and both titles suffered because of this.