Retro Metro Volume II #4: Kirby and the Amazing Mirror

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Hello, all. It’s time for another high-quality Retro Metro article. Today we are reviewing Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, for the Game Boy Advance.

The story of this game is kind of long-winded, but not complicated. Basically, there exists a “mirror world” to Dream Land (the setting of most Kirby games), in which there is an “amazing,” wish-granting mirror. Surprise, surprise, this whole wish thing doesn’t work out too well, as a mysterious bad guy ends up turning the Mirror World an evil “shadow” realm. Thus, the evil Meta Knight shows up, splits Kirby into four, and traps the regular Meta Knight inside the mirror. DMK then breaks the mirror into pieces and scatters them all over Mirror World, leaving the four Kirbys to show up and recover them.

The gameplay of this game is traditional Kirby: you can jump quite a fair bit, you can suck in enemies and objects, and then spit them out to damage other enemies (this being one of the main ways to defeat the many bosses scattered around the world). You can also “eat” sucked-in enemies and gain a “copy” ability from them, allowing you to, instead of sucking things, shoot fire, throw bombs, use a sword, and so forth. (An aside: the “tornado” ability is definitely the best copy ability. When you activate it, you turn into a tornado and move around in a somewhat controllable manner. The main feature of the ability is that while you are a tornado, you are invulnerable to all attacks. And since you can pretty much be in tornado all the time via constant reactivations, you can now dispatch bosses with ease as you are immortal and do a good amount of damage.)

Health-wise, you have a set of health points—which can be replenished via items you walk over—and when you run out, you lose a life and start at the beginning of the screen you’re on. Since we’re on items, I should point out that you sometimes find “lollipops,” which are like Star Power in that they grant temporary invincibility, but the music playing is much better (change my mind). As far as what happens when you run out of lives, well, that is a perfect segue into the layout of this game’s levels.

Unlike other platformers, and indeed most other Kirby games, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror does not have you go through a linear progression of levels. Instead, the game functions more like Metroid: a series of connected rooms, some of which contain important stuff. Fortunately, one does not go it alone, like in the latter game. Somewhere in each of the “worlds” the rooms are a part of are map pieces, telling you where you are and what rooms you need to go through to reach your destination. Even without the map pieces, you have a much inferior map showing the rough location of the room you are in compared to the other rooms you have visited. The reason I am telling you all this is because when you run out of lives you return to the room with the broken mirror in it, from which you can go into a variety of doors and end up at certain spots—namely, rooms with giant buttons you have to press. Finally, you beat the game by recovering pieces of the Amazing Mirror, pieces which can only be found by getting into certain rooms and beating bosses.

Now we come to the music and graphics. The music is pretty nice, but not exactly masterpieces. The graphics are good, but not an improvement over the NES’ Kirby’s Adventure.

As far as how you get this game, you pretty much need the cartridge. Fortunately, a GBA is not required to play this game, since GBA games can be played on a DS Lite (and thus presumably the original DS). But this begs the question, why would you play a game with a deliberately complicated level progression and the signature lower difficulty of the Kirby series? Well, the reason I bought the game is because I get to fight the Master and Crazy Hand from the Super Smash Bros. series of games, and because I get to absorb them and gain the “Smash” copy ability (giving me Kirby’s Special attacks). So, if you happen to like SSB and enjoy platforms, I’d give this a whirl. If nothing else, you’ll get see what if would be like if you had to play Metroid with Kirby.

POSTSCRIPTVM: So, apparently, this is my last (regular) Shield article. I could do some train metaphors and stuff, but instead, I am just going to say that I did not have high hopes for this series. After all, it is a relatively small number of articles about a bunch of obscure video games on a site which itself is read by an infinitesimal amount of the world’s population. But if even one person went and played one video game I reviewed and enjoyed, then I did my job. And as a thank you to those of who took the time to read this article to the end, here is a hilarious video. Like the games I have reviewed, this video is old, and is so unknown as to have no memes made of it despite the clear potential, and indeed has probably been watched by a tiny fraction of the players of the game it advertises, but it is truly great. And yes, it is probably “too long” for kids today, just like games such as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels are “too difficult.” But it is truly hilarious (despite having no intention of being so), and even if you are bereft of all context, you will at least kind of agree with me. So enjoy, unless, of course, the video is for some odd reason censored, in which case you should probably just ignore this message all together. I’ll probably be writing something from “beyond the stage” (rimshot) anyway.

-Ben Buyer

POSTPOSTSCRIPTVM: Neither I nor the Shield retain any liability for the content of videos YouTube “recommends” for you in the wake of the linked video (assuming, again, it is not censored). Any and all hateful, bigoted, or overly-whiny content viewed is the sole consequence of your personal action. Any money you believe you have been scammed into spending on Patented-Cardboard-Adjacent-Material is similarly your responsibility, and neither I nor the Shield will compensate you for poor speculative and/or mechanical decisions (including, but not limited to, buying Reserved List cards after seeing a Promissory Estoppel video and then watching them get reprinted, building Modern Stoneblade because you see a series of commentators claiming Stoneforge Mystic should and will be unbanned, buying the cheapest Limited Edition: Alpha cards you can find because they are “da best pimpz” and subsequently losing repeatedly, watching 10 videos in a row on the London Mulligan and then building Narset Cannon, Grishoalbrand, and Cheeri0s just to be safe, etc., etc.).