Contrary to popular belief, Kirby does appear in good games and these good games are usually on the GameBoy. Kirby started his life on the GameBoy as a platforming hero with Kirby's Dreamland, which wasn't a bad game with plenty of new ideas. The stupidly rare Kirby's Dreamland 2 really showed what Kirby could do and shone as Kirby's best platformer to date. Thankfully, Flagship and Hal have returned Kirby to his roots in the Amazing Mirror - good old fashioned side scrolling platforming action.
But with a twist. Well there had to be a twist didn't there? There's always a twist these days in the old genres. The twist for Kirby then? Well there's a couple actually, the first relating to the story. Meta Knight has shattered a special mirror with his special sword. Anyway, he's also 'shattered' Kirby, by which I mean he's split Kirby into four with this same sword. It's all a bit 'four swords' but without the huge focus on multiplayer. You'll only ever play normal pink Kirby though, unless you do happen to have friends with a cartridge. God forbid you can find three other friends that own this game, GameBoy Advances and the necessary link cables, each person can take a different coloured Kirby and attempt to play through the single player experience. I however, couldn't try this out, but I would expect that it'd lead to game completion incredibly quickly. There are minimal puzzle areas where you need one Kirby to stand on a switch so you may progress, so it's really just a case of leaving all Kirby's to their own devises and occasionally teaming up to defeat a boss.
In the single player you can call the AI Kirby's to your AID at anytime by holding R for a couple of seconds. Kirby will jump on his mobile and give them a shout, leading to all three jumping out of a magical door to give you a hand. To stop you marching through the game as some sort of uniform Kirby war machine, you can only call your friends three time before your mobile battery goes flat. As you'd expect you'll find batteries that'll top up your call time by a single bar every so often during your experience, but to be perfectly honest I found that I rarely bothered calling my Kirby clones, so stayed at full three bar power most of the time. The reason for this is that the Kirby's are unbelievably stupid.
'The AI is fantastically poor'
The AI is fantastically poor; No sooner have you called them, will they be running headlong into enemies or jumping down a crevice to their deaths. Kirby can fly - he shouldn't be leaping to his death for crying out loud! If you ever call your friends hoping that they'll have the intelligence to stand on a switch for progression, forget about it. Several times I found myself in an area that was blocked off by a switched door with a juicy little chest on the other side. My natural gamer brain told me that I'd need my friends to keep the door open for me whilst I pillaged the chest. No, the Kirby morons are far too happy to walk moronically at the sealed door, or fly off somewhere to die. The whole feature is flawed and you'll not use it unless you're against a particularly tough boss. With such potential underused you can't help but feel slightly disappointed, especially for a Nintendo game.
The other twist? Kirby isn't done as a strictly traditional 2D platformer. Sure you scroll along defeating enemies and solving little puzzles, left to right, or right to left. However, this Kirby is a maze. Each of the nine worlds are broken down into ten or more very short levels. You can warp to different worlds from certain levels (represented as a big square on your map), or usually just progress to the next level by marching through. However, the majority of levels have a branching structure, often having two or more exits per level, genuinely transforming the game into a large maze. You'll be lost in confusion at first, but once you obtain the map for that world, it becomes very easy to complete a world, through defeating the boss and retrieving a piece of the amazing mirror. Flagship have implemented this well, but the maze structure might not please everyone. All the way through the game I found myself wishing that it was more of a traditional 2D platformer, like the previous Kirby's. The maze thing does work well from a puzzling point of view but you'll find yourself backtracking as you make a wrong turn and it just gets annoying.
What Kirby did excellently in Dreamland 2 was the absorb abilities. Kirby could eat certain enemies and copy their powers. The Amazing Mirror takes this to the nth degree and improves on it in everyway. The wealth of special moves is fantastic, without a dud in the ranks. You'll also need specific moves to complete certain puzzles. This isn't implemented quite as well as Dreamland 2 did it, but I expect that Flagship didn't want to include too harsh puzzles on top of the whole maze thing, which is a giant puzzle in itself.
I feel that I must mention the difficulty of this Kirby game. As per usual it's very easy. Incredibly easy you could say, with only the maze structure and the odd boss providing any real difficulty. The game is quite large however, with most levels hiding a secret chest that you'll have to get if you want 100%, stretching out the longevity. Of course, every Kirby 2D platformer has been easy - Dreamland 2 was a huge game and so lasted an age, and perhaps Amazing Mirror can be forgiven for this as well. You will blast through this game, in an enjoyable way, but be warned before you exchange Â£30. If you want a title that'll last you an age, this is not that game.
In conclusion, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror is a fun game that you'll complete in a few days but you will have fun doing so. The level design is excellent throughout and the power-up system is implemented extremely well. Graphics and sound won't leave you praising the GBA as some sort of god, but they're perfectly functional. Kirby and the Amazing Mirror is certainly recommended, even if it could have been so much better.
VideoGamer.com Score7 Score out of 10
- Kirby platforming
- Awesome power-ups
- Very easy