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Four is Better than One
Kirby and multiplayer go hand in hand quite readily. The series was experimenting with 2D platformer co-op in games such as Super Star and Dream Land 3, long before many of the other major franchises in the genre would give the concept a proper attempt. Quite often, the addition of multiplayer is a relatively minor one, a second player can help, certainly, but in a series as easy as Kirby it is often unnecessary. However, there is one game that is massively improved by its multiplayer function, and that game is Amazing Mirror.
This shouldn't come as a surprise, the existence of multiple Kirbies within an open metroidvania world is the major draw of the game, after all. However, due to needing multiple GBA systems and multiple cartridges for the game, I suspect many will have never played the game in this way before, and that's a real shame. When playing this title in multiplayer, whether just with one friend or up to four, I find that it goes from a generally good Kirby game to among the best games I've ever played.
The shift in quality primarily stems from the freedom each player is given. In most 2D platformers, every player must stay on the same screen. If someone moves to the next room, all other players will be warped alongside them. However, Amazing Mirror uses is exploration based gameplay to maximum effect. Players can directly team up and tackle scenarios together, or split up and explore the world individually, maximizing efficiency. With a world as large and sprawling as Amazing Mirror's, this is an incredible boon to anyone going for 100% completion!
In many metroidvania style games, progress is hindered by obtaining various collectibles. You need X item to get through Y obstacle. However, Kirby's abilities are completely fluid, he can change them frequently. As such, having multiple players together with different abilities can greatly increase the group's mobility and combat potential, seeing how some players can use abilities specifically for getting from one location to another, while others use abilities specifically for taking down foes along the way. It is unlikely a group will ever come across an obstruction they cannot get past.
Of course, it'd be ridiculous to not talk about the cell phone mechanic. As long as a player's phone is charged, they can call upon the other three Kirbies to warp to their location and help out. When the other Kirbies are controlled by the AI this isn't very helpful, they tend to die pretty quickly and don't do much damage. They can still absorb some hits, leave health behind when they arrive, and can bring copy abilities into an ongoing fight that you might manage to swipe from them, but as far as being a direct help, there isn't much luck down that road. This can change drastically when you have human helpers! Of course, the degree to which these allies will directly help is quite variable, some players will be able to solo every boss, while other players might even be worse than the AI, but there is one particular strategy that only a group of human players can pull off, and it takes no skill to do. The boss only resets when every Kirby on the field dies. When a Kirby dies, they get sent right back to the entrance of the boss room. This means that as long as there isn't a total team wipe, each player can just constantly reenter the battlefield over and over again until eventually the boss is worn down. AI players can't, or won't, do this, requiring the player to repeatedly call them back into the room, but it is quite simple to set up this scenario when playing with actual people.
Four player games were a somewhat common gimmick within the GBA library with Zelda Four Swords being another game that took this angle. It seems to have mostly died off in recent history, but when it was around it created a unique experience that brought about many wonderful memories for me and my friends. Unfortunately, any rerelease of Amazing Mirror, whether from the 3DS Ambassador program or on the Wii U, has completely left out the multiplayer feature, and getting together the resources needed to try a multiplayer game today is quite difficult, seeing as how the GBA and its accessories have been out of production for so long. The time for this special mode of play may have passed, but its memories will live on regardless.
|Last Updated - July 19th, 2017|
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