Review – Kirby’s Dream Buffet
Oh, Kirby. What a tumultuous relationship we’ve shared over the years. I fell in love with the cute round puff when I first played Kirby’s Dream Land for the Game Boy back in 1992. The love affair deepened with Kirby’s Adventure (or Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land, depending on which version you played). The little pink blob was beyond adorable and featured a unique gameplay mechanic: eating his enemies and copying their abilities. Later on, Kirby’s journeys would take a weirder direction, with the round mascot headlining several sports related games, competitive multiplayer titles, and collections of minigames. Some were great, like Kirby and the Forgotten Land, while others were lackluster, such as Kirby Star Allies. Now Kirby’s back in another competitive multiplayer title: Kirby’s Dream Buffet. Can the rosy, rotund ball of hunger recapture the magic from thirty years ago, or is this yet another deflated dream?
Kirby’s Dream Buffet, like so many other Kirby titles before it, is departure from any actual adventures with the squishy hero. Instead, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a competitive multiplayer racing/battle royale game. Think of it as a Kirby-themed version of Fall Guys. Actually, don’t do that. Fall Guys is a great game, and provides an adorably addicting multiplayer experience. In reality, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is nothing more than a short and incredibly shallow attempt at creating a competitive multiplayer title.
In Kirby’s Dream Buffet, there are several different modes to select from (although I use the term “several” very, very loosely). You can choose to do the Gourmet Grand Prix, which is the full gambit of what the game has to offer. The Gourmet Grand Prix can have up to four human players compete alongside some AI opponents. The challengers will undergo a race, a minigame, another race, and a battle royale. You know what? Let’s just say I use all of these terms very loosely.
The other modes you can select from are single races, minigames, and battle royale encounters. So basically, if you want to make an already short experience even more brief, you can select from one of those options. I’m not exaggerating either. Each Gourmet Grand Prix takes around ten minutes to complete from start to finish, including loading times. That means choosing any of the one-off modes will have your gaming experience last anywhere between twenty seconds to a minute and a half tops. It’s like they want to subject you to this game for as little time as possible.
The races in Kirby’s Dream Buffet are pretty straightforward. You and your competitors will race towards the goal while collecting as many strawberries as you can along the way. Whoever finishes the race with the most strawberries, wins. However, there are bonuses given to those who place first, second, and third. The first three competitors to cross the finish line will be granted access to a cake with extra strawberries, with the first place cake holding a whopping fifty extra strawberries. This greatly reduces any incentive players have towards collecting strawberries throughout the race, and instead encourages everyone to dash through each level and be the first to cross the finish line. So why even have strawberries strewn about the rest of the race if it all boils down to who gets to the end first?
To say the minigames are underwhelming would be an understatement. They barely even qualify as minigames. All you’ll do in them is have all four players shoved onto a small arena and tasked with collecting strawberries for about twenty seconds. There are a few different minigames available, and some will ask you to break crates in addition to collecting berries. Seriously, that’s it.
Then there’s the battle royale sections. Battle royales once again involve having all four players crammed into a small playing field, this time for about a minute to ninety seconds. Players will be able to pick up item that grant them copy abilities, such as a Wheel Donut that makes you spin around really fast or Spicy Peppers that grant you fire abilities. The battle royales are a chaotic mess and it’s often difficult to tell what’s happening onscreen. There is at least a small amount of challenge to them though, with players striving to bump their competitors of the edges of the playing field, while simultaneously trying to avoid a giant pair of tongs that will fling them off the arena if caught. Getting tossed of the edge doesn’t do all that much though, aside from having your Kirby lose some berries.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet boasts a challenging competitive multiplayer experience, which is laughable. Getting into an online match can take a while, and playing in one makes the controls incredibly laggy and unreliable at times. There is the option for local co-op, but they couldn’t even do this properly. You’d think that having a game that features four Kirbies competing against each other would all be able to play on one Switch using four Joy-Cons, right? After all, that’s how they do it in Mario Party.
Well you’d be wrong. Instead, Kirby’s Dream Buffet only allows two players per Switch. So, if you wanted to have a match with four friends, then you’d need to have two systems and two TVs, with each TV split-screening the action. Not the most user-friendly option, but then again, Nintendo has never been the best at online play. Just look at how cumbersome the setup was for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered.
At least the game is pretty to look at. Like most Nintendo properties, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is bright, colorful, and has really clean details. Each level is designed around different types of foods, be it cakes, hamburgers, or donuts. My only real complaint is that there aren’t very many levels to choose from. You’ll have seen just about everything Kirby’s Dream Buffet has to offer after a few Grand Prixs. Also, the framerate tends to take a huge hit whenever you’re in an online match, which can really hinder your ability to play.
The sound design is pretty good. Kirby sounds like Kirby, and there are some cute sound effects to accompany your battles through frosting and bouncing off of fried eggs. The soundtrack is also decent. Admittedly, the newer tracks aren’t terribly memorable, but there are some well done remastered tunes from previous games that are sure to bring back warm feeling of nostalgia.
If you were hoping that Kirby’s Dream Buffet would be another great entry into the Kirby franchise, then I’m sorry to burst your bubble. There’s just not enough challenge or content to justify it as an actual game. It feels like they had some leftover ideas for Mario Party games, and decided to just throw them together with a Kirby coat of paint. It’s like eagerly awaiting an entree and getting an appetizer instead. Add in the less than stellar online play, and you’ve got a game that’s not worth your time or money. Best to skip out on this course.
The character models and environments are clean and well detailed, but there are only a few levels to choose from.
The controls can be unreliable, especially when playing in multiplayer mode. There’s also not much else aside from some short races, simple minigames, and a bare-bones battle royale mode.
The sound effects are decent and the soundtrack offers some remastered tunes from older Kirby games to invoke a sense of nostalgia.
The controls are hit and miss, and trying to play in multiplayer is exceedingly difficult. There’s not enough content to justify it as a full game.
Final Verdict: 4.5
Kirby’s Dream Buffet is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
A copy of Kirby’s Dream Buffet was provided by the publisher.