If you have been anywhere near a Nintendo console since the early 90s, you will have almost certainly seen a game starring Kirby, the amazing character created by Nintendo first seen way back in 1992 in the original Game Boy title, Kirby’s Dream Land.
Kirby is just so darn adorable, with a round pink body and big, bright eyes that are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. And the best part? Kirby’s ability to inhale enemies and absorb their powers has always been a bizarre, yet great skill to have!
Kirby has become a beloved icon of the gaming world, adored by retro fans and new audiences alike. Playing as Kirby is like stepping into a world of pure joy and happiness – what could be better than that?
Since 1992, Kirby has appeared in a multitude of games in the Kirby franchise but also makes regular appearances in Super Smash Bros. games.
The Game Boy Advance has 3 Kirby games, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (2002), Kirby Slide (2003), and Kirby & The Amazing Mirror (2004). Here we take a look at each of the Kirby GBA games on Nintendo’s last Game Boy handheld console.
You can enjoy these classic Kirby GBA games by using one of the best GBA emulators, mGBA, which is available for PC, Mac, Linux & Android, making it one of the most accessible GBA emulators around.
Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land
The beloved Kirby series receives an incredible makeover with Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, which is essentially a fantastic remake of the classic original NES game, Kirby’s Adventure, but utilises the GBAs superior hardware, resulting in a beautifully polished reimagining complete with multiplayer features, resulting in one of the best GBA games.
The story takes place in Dream Land, where the Fountain of Dreams collects the hopes and dreams of every living being. Unfortunately, everything changes when King DeDeDe wreaks havoc by stealing the star rod, the fountain’s power source, and shattering it into tiny fragments, causing everyone to lose their ability to dream.
This is where Kirby steps in and is ready to set out on an epic adventure to recover all the missing pieces of the star rod and bring back peace to Dream Land once and for all.
Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land is a classic platformer game that follows the traditional Kirby gameplay formula. The player assumes the role of Kirby, and must navigate through each stage to reach the end goal while utilizing copy abilities to overcome obstacles and enemies.
The main game sees Kirby progress across a number of levels, each divided into smaller sub-sections which you progress through until you reach a door at the end of each section, which leads to the subsequent area. After completing each of the level’s stages, Kirby is then pitted against a boss, which Kirby must defeat to retrieve a piece of the Star Rod.
The multiplayer modes allow up to four players to play simultaneously. In story mode and boss endurance, there is a co-op mode available where each play controls a different colour Kirby and are all evenly matched in terms of abilities.
There are also four sub-games that can be played in multiplayer, Bomb Rally, Kirby’s Air Grind, Samurai Kirby & Arena.
Whilst Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land is a remake, with its improvements it feels like a fresh new game, but retains key gameplay elements as seen in the original Kirby’s Adventure, but with loads more polish and shine which will appeal to retro fans replaying the game and newer Kirby fans looking to check out the games illustrious history.
Kirby Slide cannot really be classed as a full Kirby game as it is a one-off mini-game that could only be played using the Game Boy Advance e-Reader. The e-Reader is a GBA add-on device that was launched first in Japan in December 2001 and then in North America in September 2002. It comes with an LED scanner that is capable of reading “e-Reader cards”.
GBA e-Reader cards are made of paper and carry encoded data. When swiped through the reader, the e-cards act as a key to unlock secret items, and levels, or play mini-games,
The Kirby Slide e-Reader card was available via Toys ‘R’ Us stores in 2003 as well as being included in the December 2023 issue of Nintendo Power & Tips & Tricks magazines.
What about the game itself? Well, it’s more or less exactly as it sounds. Kirby Slide is a simple slide puzzle game that consists of 8 tiles that have to be rearranged to make a picture of Kirby! Super simple, but a fun little promo game that is super rare today!
If you’re looking to try this out via emulation, we can recommend using the GBA Emulator, mGBA as it has built-in e-Reader card functionality.
Kirby & The Amazing Mirror
Get ready for a different kind of Kirby adventure! Kirby & The Amazing Mirror boasts a maze-like layout and exciting Metroidvania-style gameplay. The game’s map offers several branching paths, allowing Kirby to explore almost any location in any order, as long as Kirby has the necessary powers.
Kirby & The Amazing Mirror arrived in 2004 and as well as the different approach to the gameplay, there is another change in place because King Dedede is not who you are trying to defeat in this installment!
Kirby’s adventure in this game involves exploring various worlds, solving puzzles, battling enemies, and gathering useful items. From time to time, you’ll come across a sub-boss that needs to be defeated to progress further.
If you swallow a sub-boss after defeating them, you can acquire a rare or exclusive copy ability. In addition to this, you will also encounter rest areas where you can catch your breath and take a break before continuing your exciting journey
The player has the opportunity to collect a range of exciting items that can boost their in-game performance. You can gather extra health points and lives, and even find some yummy food to replenish your health. And don’t forget about the batteries for your trusty Cellphone so you can call your Kirby friends!
There are multiplayer elements to the main game, this would see each player having their own Kirby to control, having the freedom to play further into the gameworld than the other players, really unique for the time. If you don’t have anybody else to play with, you can call the computer controller Kitby’s for help with your cell phone.
Like Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land there are some mini-games to be enjoyed alone or with friends, Speed Eaters, Crackity Hack & Kirby’s Wave Ride.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of Retro Gaming experience. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).