As his swan song on Game Boy Advance, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror wasn’t exactly the perfect finish that many had hoped. It broke new ground not only for its labyrinthian layout, which introduced non-linear progression to the Kirby series for the first time but also through following in the footsteps of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords.
When Meta Knight discovers that Mirror World, which exists high in the skies above Dream Land, has been ravaged by evil, Kirby crosses paths with his Dark counterpart who slices the cuddly pink ball in four, and then shattering the mirror into eight pieces. As with Four Swords, this opened itself to the idea that four players could join the fray by connecting each Game Boy Advance with a Game Link Cable. Although, such concept expectedly falls by the wayside with the game’s transition to Wii U’s Virtual Console service.
With friends, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror was an enjoyable, if brief, sojourn on another Kirby adventure. As a solo quest, it feels hollow and devoid of the jovial camaraderie that local multiplayer would have delivered. Kirby’s usual moveset aside, the game’s unique trait is a mobile phone that allows you to beckon three companions to help tackle any foes that you’re currently facing. Alone, you’ll rely on the CPU to control your fellow Kirby’s actions, haphazard occasions that will see you gaze in horror as they carelessly jump into foes, and generally prove themselves to be entirely useless in your plight.
This can make Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, which is designed in part to be bested by a group rather than a single hero, more difficult for the general player to complete. The game’s non-linear design, akin to the more explorative nature of the Metroid series, also produces a world that feels fairly daunting to traverse your way through. Secured mirrors will help you move between each location, but even then it can be confusing as to precisely where you need to go to progress further.
Beyond the central adventure, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror serves up a trio of ‘Sub-Games’ in ‘Speed Eaters,’ ‘Crackity Hack,’ and ‘Kirby Wave Ride.’ These challenge who can suck up apples the quickest from a platter, strike the ground the strongest to crack it furthest, and speed their way along the crest of waves the quickest. Designed for local multiplayer hilarity, they again fail to hit the mark when playing against the unemotive CPU.
As with other Game Boy Advance arrivals, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror is enhanced by screen smoothing which blends the game’s candy-coloured surroundings, restore points that will ease any troubles with bosses, and the digital inclusion of the original manual continues to be a welcome touch.
But it is what Kirby and the Amazing Mirror lacks that sours the experience. This Virtual Console return is one that falls far short of the game’s original vision. Not entirely bad, but a lacklustre adventure in comparison to those that Kirby usually sucks up.