Kirby and the Amazing Mirror

Kirby returns in his first four player adventure


The Lowdown

Pros: Lots of transformations,  four player support, good graphics

Cons: Simplistic gameplay, not challenging, not much replay value, confusing computer AI partners

Purchase at Play-Asia

That giant wind bag that looks like a puffball stuffed animal stars in an all new Game Boy Advance game. Unlike the last Kirby game, Kirby's Air Ride, this game goes back to Kirby's roots. Of course, Kirby: The Magic Mirror (in Japan known as Hoshi no Kirby: Kagami no Daimeikyuu) is a platformer. Also familiar is the Kirby's trademark technique of stealing enemies' powers. What is new to the mix is the having four Kirbys moving around at the same time.

Kirby: The Magic Mirror follows in the footsteps of "four swords" by allowing each person to play a different colored Kirby. If you're playing by yourself the computer takes over controlling three of the other Kirbys. You can call the other Kirbys with your cell phone (not joking), which is done by pressing L. When the computer controls the other Kirbys gameplay gets a little hazy. Each Kirby acts as a completely independent individual. Which is good and bad. The good is that any computer controlled Kirby won't hesitate to attack enemies. Other Kirbys will even grab their own power ups so you won't have to manage them at all. During boss battles having the other Kirbys around makes the fights even simpler than previous Kirby games. You can focus on dodging enemy attacks and just sit back while the other three Kirbys do all the work. There is a whole downside to letting the computer manage the other Kirbys. One problem is when you need the three other Kirbys wander around the levels on their own. Unless you're looking for them or summoning them you will rarely run into them. Even summoning the Kirbys is limited, on the top left hand side of the screen there is a cell phone battery meter. Each time you summon the Kirbys you lose one of the three battery bars. Once you're out you either have to find a battery or you won't be able to summon. This means for most of the game they're little to no help. The next problem is the AI controlled partners mimic your movement. This becomes manifest when you need to put a Kirby in position to activate a switch. Since you can't directly control them you have to move over the switch then quickly fly to the area that opened up. The problem arises when the Kirby's follow your movement rather than stay on the switch. There should have been some way to rotate between controlling each of the Kirbys to complete switch puzzles. There aren't too many puzzles that would require you to control more than one Kirby to complete the game, but there are enough around that make you wish you could control at least one other Kirby.

Besides the four Kirby mechanic, Kirby: The Great Mirror is everything you would expect from a Kirby game. The traditional Kirby power of eating your enemies is still around. There are some classic Kirby powers like "fire" power where you can throw fireballs and the "UFO" power which changes Kirby into a tiny UFO that can shoot lasers. The game designer, Hal, also added some new a few new powers. The angel power changes Kirby into a cupid-like angel that can shoot arrows. The cook power is pretty funny. When Kirby gets this ability when you press B you can cook an enemy, which will give you a health restoring item. Even one of the new powers is drawn from the Smash Brothers series and is appropriately called smash brothers. This power gives Kirby the same powers he has in Smash Brothers and is essentially four powers mixed together. When you're smash brothers Kirby you press down and B to turn into a stone, up and B to do the sword cutting attack and left plus B allows you to use a hammer.

Even with all of these new powers Kirby: The Magic Mirror still feels like any other Kirby game. The level design is good, but there isn't anything revolutionary. You have the standard jumping over bottomless pits, flying long distances and star icon blocks impeding your way. One cool thing is that instead of making a giant over world for level selecting Kirby: The Magic Mirror plays like a humongous maze. When you start the game you'll be in a room that has a mirror. When you complete levels more mirrors will appear in the first room, making it a level selector. You can go to room of mirrors at any time by pressing R to call a shooting star to fly you there.

Much like the gameplay and controls the graphics are standard Kirby fare. Let's just say that Kirby hasn't changed too much in appearance since the days of the NES. Some of the transformations have a cool graphical touch. Like the "sword" power gives Kirby a green hat and a sword that will remind gamers of another famous Nintendo character. The spark power up looks pretty good too. When he uses the power a nice wave of electricity surrounds him. The backgrounds are nicely done and contain the vibrant scenes one would expect from a GBA game. Some of the enemy sprites seem reused or only slightly updated from the other Kirby GBA game, the remake of Kirby's adventure. One obvious graphical reusing is the boss monster in Moonlight Mansion. It is a giant stone column that looks strikingly similar to the tree boss in the other Kirby games. Hal Laboratories obviously didn't invest time in creating new concept art for this game. Instead they took the tired and true art design from the remake of Kirby's adventure on the GBA and used it again.

If you purchase Kirby: The Magic Mirror and have an age in the double digits it won't provide much of a challenge. Each of the levels can be completed without much thought. Even though Kirby: The Magic Mirror may be fun for people of all ages it's designed for kids. The simplistic gameplay, lack of challenge and short game length suggests that this was Hal's intention all along. Nintendo did add in a few multiplayer mini games such as a surfing game and a game where you try to grab food faster than other the other Kirbys. There are also a few secrets items in the levels like cans of spray paint to change the color of the partner Kirbys. Although, these minor additions aren't going to keep you busy for long and after that there isn't a reason to replay the game.

Import Friendly?

Kirby: The Magic Mirror is a game that anyone can pick up and learn in a few minutes. While the menus are in Japanese and the minor text is in Japanese, the import controls for doing special attacks are show in pictures.

US Bound?

Although, Kirby: The Magic Mirror doesn't have a set release date, it is announced for a North American release.

Overall

Kirby: The Magic Mirror is a fun game to play even though it is derivative and easy to beat.