The Amazing Mirror was created by the same development company that created Zelda’s Four Swords, but is the four player co-op quest better suited with Link or Kirby?
For those unfamiliar with Kirby, he is a pink puffball who can inhale like a tornado and absorb the power of enemies when eaten. The Amazing Mirror is Kirby’s second GBA appearance, coming after Nightmare in Dreamland. In his latest adventure, Kirby must try to stop an incoming evil that has disrupted the function of mirrors. Accidentally, Kirby is sliced into four different copies of himself and they must right what has been wronged.
Unlike the linear level design of the original Kirby games released for the black and white Gameboy, The Amazing Mirror is mazelike. Kirby will warp from level to level by traveling through mirrors. Players can choose to take any path they come across, but finding secret mirrors will require backtracking, as well as trial and error. For example, Kirby can travel from point A to point D without going through B and C. But the only way to access mirrors B and C is to fully utilize Kirby’s abilities by eating the proper enemy.
In order to find hidden passageways and defeat foes, Kirby can suck up, swallow, and copy the abilities of his enemies. Each power is best used for a different situation. Because of the game’s mazelike level design, accessing certain areas can only be possible after the proper ability has been copied. For example, gray solid blocks can only be destroyed with the Missile power up. If you do not have a Missile power up, you are out of luck and must retrace your steps later in the game if you wish to find everything. But since Kirby can only hold one ability at a time, many trips through each level will become a requirement. Also, Kirby can forcefully lose his ability if attacked by an enemy. The select button also willingly loses Kirby’s ability to make way for a new one.
The other alteration in The Amazing Mirror’s gameplay are the three other Kirby’s following Player 1. For the most part, these computer controlled A.I. Kirby’s will try and stay close to the Pink Kirby (the player), but since the game’s levels are like labyrinths, the computer Kirbys will often go on their own adventure. If the map is pulled up, it is possible to see where your fellow Kirbys are located in the Mirror worlds. However, if the player is in need of assistance, a quick call on his cell phone will teleport all the other Kirbys to the caller’s location. Cell phone usage, or teleporting, are assigned to the shoulder buttons. One shoulder button is used to call fellow Kirbys to the player’s location while the other is used to send them back to where they were. Using the cell phone comes at a price, however. Each time you make a call, the cell phone’s battery will lose some energy. The only way to replenish the cell phone’s charge is to find battery icons spread throughout the game.
Yes, the game does sound a little like Zelda’s Four Swords Adventure, but there are some major differences. First, Kirby is side scrolling as opposed to Zelda’s overhead view. Second, there is no way to physically control your computer controlled Kirbys. In Four Swords, the player can take control of a different Link by pressing the select button and place him on a lever to open a door, then switch back to the original Link to travel through the newly unlocked passageway. This is not the case in The Amazing Mirror. Once you call your fellow Kirbys to your location, they will just run around like idiots, killing themselves by falling down holes and running into enemies. Having one Kirby stand on a switch to open a distant door is literally impossible. And since there is no way to tell your Kirby to stand still or copy a specific ability, the game is pretty much a solo quest.
The best way to play this game is through mulitpak linking. Up to four players can each take control of a Kirby and join in the main quest through the mirror world. Like Four Swords, multiplayer is the main focus of the game. Accessing hidden areas can be a snap as players can stand on switches for each other, use combined inhaling power to move large objects, and can summon help when fighting a boss or when they do not have the proper copy ability to access a secret. Each player will need their own GBA and a copy of the game to play.
If you only have one copy of the game, you cannot play the main story mode of the game, but you can play simple mini games with up to three other player just like in Nightmare in Dreamland. The three mini game’s available are pretty much the same as they were in Kirby’s previous GBA game, just with different locations and themes. Look on mygamer.com’s Single Pak Linking Article for more information about this (and other) single pak linking mode.
It is no surprise that The Amazing Mirror runs off of 2002’s Nightmare in Dreamland’s engine. Control is very tight and easy to use. The graphics, although extremely bright and colorful, do not exactly push the system to the limit, but they are very pleasant and easy to see. In addition, the music is upbeat, catchy, and clear. Without question, this Kirby game is well above average in all categories.
If players are worried that this Kirby game is too different in structure than from what they are used to, they need not worry. Kirby and the Amazing Mirror is still your typical Kirby game just with a strong emphasis on multiplayer. Playing this game single player seems limited because there is no way to access specific areas in the game due to the poor computer controlled A.I. However, if you can manage to find a friend or two to link up with, then Kirby is a blast to play. The mazelike labyrinth level structure is a wonderful formula to work with when playing with friends. And the single pak link mode will keep you and a few friends entertained for a decent amount of time. No matter how you play this game, it is still a well above average platformer with its solid gameplay ideas, bright and colorful graphics, and enjoyable adventuring tunes. And it is especially nice to see an original title with instead of all the lame remakes making their way to the GBA. I love how the Kirby franchise is always taking risks with new gameplay ideas. Just look at SNES’s Kirby Avalanche, and Kirby’s Dream Course and Kirby Tilt and Tumble for GBC used tilt sensor technology. Also, GameCube’s Kirby Air Ride is now a Greatest Hit and can be purchased for the low price of $20.