Kirby has been a busy little guy as of late, with his 3D platforming escapades in Kirby and the Forgotten City now joined by a more playful and multiplayer-orientated experience in Kirby’s Dream Buffet. Think of it as Nintendo’s take on the Fall Guys formula, with players contending with one another across races and competitive mini-games in order to determine the grand strawberry-gobbling champion.
It makes for a fun and charming experience too, though it’s one that does feel like it runs out of steam quite quickly – especially with its lack of overall variety.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Kirby’s Dream Buffet sees players taking on the role of Kirby (or one of the other unlockable characters from across the franchise) and rolling their way across a variety of courses built around delightfully tasty foods, with the ultimate goal being to reach the end and eat one of the cakes that’s waiting there. You’ll also gobble down strawberries as you race, with set numbers of strawberries increasing your size; the bigger you are, the faster you roll (though this does come with the caveat that bigger characters can’t hover as long when trying to float their way back onto the track when bashed off).
There’ll be a lot of bumping around with your rivals when racing, with collectible power-ups giving the game a Mario Kart-style twist and allowing players to use a few tasty tricks to get the upper-hand. Eating a Burning Pepper will send you forward in a surge of flames, the Stone Chocolate lets you hit a ground pound, the Wheel Donut turns you into a wheel that’ll send you zooming ahead, whilst the Hi-Jump Gummy lets you launch yourself ahead in the course with a springy jump… that’s just a few of the options available too, with the power-ups adding a neat and unpredictable twist to the competition that’ll keep players on their toes.
Outside of the racing, players will also compete across three different types of minigames that take place in a confined food-themed arena, whilst there’s also the finale Battle Royale which sees all players competing in battle to bash each other around and collect strawberries, all whilst carefully trying to evade the hazards that’ll rob you of your own. Admittedly, these modes lacked the excitement and pizzazz found in the races, but at least they brought variety to the experience and could be game changers in determining who would ultimately be the victor.
“Whilst I’ll admit that the four-player count does feel way more limited when compared to the likes of Fall Guys, the smaller affair does add a more personal touch to each game where you know you’ll always have a chance of victory right until the closing moments.”
The main game mode of Kirby’s Dream Buffet is the Gourmet Grand Prix, which sees four players competing across four rounds of action, with the winner being the player with the most strawberries at the end of it all. There are also bonuses handed out at the end of the match in a similar vein to Mario Party, with extra strawberries rewarded for the likes of defeating the most enemies, eating the most strawberries in races, breaking down the most cookie walls, or spending the most time hovering. Again, much like Mario Party, they can throw a spanner in the works when you THINK you’ve won, with the unexpected awards causing many heartbreaks in my time playing so far. It’s not a complaint though – in fact, it was one of my favourite aspects of the mode that brought an often brutal yet always comical sense of finality to each game.
Everything comes together to make for a fun experience, and I’ve had plenty of laughs playing Kirby’s Dream Buffet so far. Whilst I’ll admit that the four-player count does feel way more limited when compared to the likes of Fall Guys, the smaller affair does add a more personal touch to each game where you know you’ll always have a chance of victory right until the closing moments. And believe me, there’s nothing quite like smashing those strawberries down you and beating out your rivals after a run of poor results in the previous rounds.
It’s a shame then that the game lacked the variety to keep me hooked in for too long. Whilst it does have a good selection of tracks to race across and different mini-game arenas, it didn’t take too long for a sense of familiarity to kick in when playing, with a lot of my games following the same formula time and time again. There was less unpredictability and more tried-and-tested tactics, with it easy to see a routine forming across each of the game modes in order to get the most success. Don’t get me wrong, the competitive elements and volatility of some players ensured that the game never got boring, but I did wish the overall experience offered a bit more oomph to keep things exciting over long play sessions. Perhaps a higher player count or the risk of elimination in a round could snazz things up a bit?
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s also a shame that Kirby’s Dream Buffet doesn’t feature four-player split-screen, with it instead limited to two players. It feels like the ideal party game when you’ve got a bunch of friends over (and it was definitely at its best when played with pals), but you’re going to have to stick to online play if you want to get the full experience. It’s disappointing, especially since the casual nature of the game makes it perfect for just about anybody to pick up and play.
At least there are a ton of unlockables on offer to keep players coming back for more, with new minigames, characters, colours, and stickers earned by levelling up in-game. The pace of unlocking felt regular and fair, whilst the good mix of both familiar content and that which’ll appeal most to die-hard Kirby fans was appreciated. Whilst the core gameplay can feel a bit repetitive in places, knowing that you’ll almost always earn some reward does sweeten the deal.
I’ve got to give a shout out to the visuals too, which I loved. The way that the food theme is utilised is creative and colourful throughout, with some clever environments on show that’ll give players a whole new sense of appreciation for all of their favourite snacks. It runs well on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode too, which really complements the quick-paced and casual nature of the game. Admittedly, I have encountered a little bit of stuttering in some online games, though it’s mostly consistent so it’s hard to complain too much.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet Review
Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a fun multiplayer romp that’s only let down by a lack of gameplay variety and local multiplayer options. Whilst the excitement of the racing action and competing for strawberries in battles feels good, there were a few occasions where it got a little bit too formulaic to keep me hooked in for long play sessions. The omission of four-player split-screen feels like a big oversight too, especially since it’d be PERFECT for the game.
Still, whilst flawed, the delightful world, myriad of unlockables, and charming casual gameplay ensure that there’s plenty to enjoy in the snack-filled world. Just don’t expect it to hit any of the other casual multiplayer big-hitters off their perch.
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch