I have wanted this Kirby game for a very long time. It always looked like a lot of fun since the cover was so exciting and that’s how I judged games back in the day. Alas, the title was 25 dollars and that’s not exactly chump change when you’re a kid. Still, I saved up and over 20 years later I was finally able to snag it. Unfortunately this game does not live up to the hype. Nintendo messed around with the gimmicks a little too much once again and as a result this game is rather messy. There’s a great final boss as always, but the game is just lacking that wholesome feel to it.
The plot of the game is that Kirby has been thrown into the Mirror World and split into 4. He must now team up with himself to save the planet and stop the darkness from consuming it. I do like the plot as teaming up with yourself is always the smartest possible move. You just can’t go wrong there. Of course, you have to take the plot at face value as there will be no more cutscenes at all until the climax of the game. Clearly you are supposed to be playing this game for the gameplay and not the riveting story. Certainly not a bad thing, but worth pointing out.
The gameplay is your typical Kirby experience as you run and jump while going through the levels. You can absorb all of the enemies and most of them will give you super powers. You can only use one ability at a time though so don’t try and overdo it with absorbing everybody or you’ll end up with a weaker move than the one you already had. If you are playing on single player mode then you can use the R button to call in the other 3 at the expense of 1 Wifi Bar. They are extremely OP in this game so if you want to beat a boss really quickly just call them in. Typically they will restore you to full health and also beat the boss in under a minute. Even the final boss is no match for the Kirby crew. Meanwhile you can use the L button to leave a level. Why would you possibly want to leave a level? Well, that’s where things get a little interesting.
This game doesn’t have typical start to finish levels like most Nintendo games. Instead it went the Metroid route (Why would you do that?) and the level just segways into a bunch of others, but they are also connected. Unlike Metroid you do get a bunch of different teleport areas which will take you from place to place so that’s a start. At first the game will be a rather tough experience as there are dozens of entryways to explore. Once you find a portal and activate it you can use it from the hub world. Naturally this does mean that the game will get a lot easier as you go through it. The first 2-3 world keys took me forever to get, but the last 3 were done in a snap because there just weren’t many paths left. It’s not really my cup of tea though. The intro would have certainly been a lot easier if I had realized the perks of each special ability though. Fire Comet lets you break metal blocks in front of you while stomp handled the ones beneath. Most abilities have some kind of purpose to them so just remember where you can find the enemy with the ability that you need. If not, each teleport chamber has 2 abilities so the more that you find, the easier access you have to them. I spent a ton of time just running around without a clear direction because I couldn’t find out how to get past the blocks. If you know which abilities to use from the start that should help considerably.
The graphics are pretty solid and do the Kirby characters justice. The sprites have aged really well and the colors are very easy to look at. You won’t have to squint at the screen and wonder what is happening at any point in the adventure. Likewise the soundtrack is also pretty solid as we get some nice boss themes and level music. It’s really no surprise as Nintendo excels in these two categories, but always nice to see nonetheless. Of course, since the game was so light on cutscenes that probably did free up the budget for everything else.
As far as the length is concerned, I was certainly satisfied. Thanks to the maze like structure of the game I doubt you will be speed blitzing through this title. A lot of the levels involve trial and error as you choose one way the first time and a different one on the second try. Once you get the maps for each world that eliminates such an approach but the irony is that you probably won’t find them until you are nearly at the end anyway. I ended up beating the game while still missing 4-5 of the maps so ultimately they weren’t a huge factor. As far as replay value goes, collecting the rest of the collectibles is naturally the main incentive. That should take a reasonably long amount of time.
Overall, Kirby & The Amazing Mirror is probably the weakest Kirby game. It’s very close between this one and the Rainbow title, but the latter did have a better story. Still, the game holds up decently. It’s just one of those titles that has a really dicey start so you just have to endure it until you’re in the second half. It’s the same situation as Digimon World Next Order for example as your Digimon have to constantly use the bathroom and everything at first, but by the end it’s better. Still, you can certainly find better platformers so buy this Kirby game only if you’ve already played all of the others.