Nintendo’s most kawaii character, Kirby, is having quite a year. His newest game, Kirby’s Dream Buffet, sees the adorable pink fluff ball eat its way to victory while charming players with its simplicity and cuteness. Kirby’s Dream Buffet, released this month for the Nintendo Switch arrives just a few months after the excellent Kirby and the Forgotten Land, in which Kirby explores an adorably charming post-apocalyptic world. Dream Buffet is a different escapade than Forgotten Lands.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a party game where up to four players face off to see who is the greatest gourmandize. For those unfamiliar with modern video games, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a baroque multi-player 3-D version of Pac-Man in terms of presentation and gameplay. Players control an ever-customizable Kirby as they race to the finish line while eating absurd amounts of strawberries, fruits, and deserts, all while avoiding other players and obstacles. In the game’s main mode of play, these races culminate in a free for all battle to determine which Kirby is the hungriest and most gluttonous.
In tried-and-true Nintendo fashion, Dream Buffet is easy to pick up. Players control Kirby’s movements with the control stick, jump and use special thematic powers with the shoulder button; it’s that simple. Another useful feature is how the game presents its tutorial, through the main menu where players can move Kirby and get accustomed to moving the little fluff ball and a “free rolling” area where one can familiarize and master all the controls and subtle nuances of the game before facing off against online players.
Dream Buffet’s charming gameplay is presented scrumptiously. Any sweets lover will enjoy the artwork of the marvelous creations on offer. The deserts and other foods on display come together to create the stages in which players will eat, race, and battle their way to become the greatest gourmand. Think of the elaborate deserts in the Great British Bake Off on steroids. Compliments to the chef, the game’s art director, Riki Fuhrmann, and all involved that made this game look so delicious and delightful.
What won’t be stopped, though, is the potential for this game to become a meme machine and increase in popularity if Nintendo provides more content and expands the game to include more than four players. If the success of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, a possible reason why Nintendo create Kirby’s Dream Buffet, with its incessant content updates and up to 60 player anarchy is any indication, Kirby’s new outing might become grander in the future. Nevertheless, Dream Buffet is not an imitation of Fall Guys. Throughout its history, the Kirby series has had many multiplayer offerings, some of which are unique and inspired designs, such as Kirby’s Air Ride.
Aside from the aesthetics and its being a successor to Kirby’s Air Ride, there are other things to appreciate about Kirby’s Dream Buffet. The game plays quickly, and these short play loops offer a satisfying experience. Its chaotic nature might put some off; nevertheless, the average playtime for the game’s main mode, the Gourmet Grand Prix, is about five minutes. The Gourmet Grand Prix comprises two races and one mini-game culminating in a final battle.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a game whose core design respects players’ time and patience. Players are rewarded the more they play by unlocking content, either customs for Kirby, superb music, or various stages that diversify future playthroughs. For fans of the series, the customization of Kirby will surely be part of the game’s appeal.
As fun as Kirby’s Dream Buffet is, however, it doesn’t provide anything outside of the mode established by Fall Guys’ multiplayer mayhem or, for that matter, Nintendo’s other party game series Mario Party. Kirby’s Dream Buffet also suffers from inconsistent performance when playing online. This did not deter my enjoyment of the game, though it might be a problem for others. Kirby’s Dream Buffet is less chaotic than Fall Guys, and through clever design, decisions mitigate the frustrations caused by luck. It is a game whose core tenet is based on fairness; all skill levels can win depending on specific circumstances in a race.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet doesn’t provide the same highs, nor is it the same kind of triumphs, as other notable multiplayer battle royal games on the Nintendo Switch like Tetris 99, Pac-Man 99, or the now sadly discontinued Super Mario Bros. 35. Although this is a game that all players regardless of skill level can join in on, that isn’t to say that skill isn’t rewarded. Familiarity with the racetracks, mini-games, and game mechanics will greatly increase one’s chances of winning. However, expect raucous pandemonium at times. The precious yet bountiful strawberries are as easy to gain as they are to lose in the final challenge of any Gourmet Grand Prix.
With Kirby’s Dream Buffet, Nintendo offers a fun time at a low cost and celebrates a series that began on the Gameboy in 1992 with Kirby’s Dream Land. Kirby’s Dream Buffet is packed with rewards that show off and honor the series. In 2022 a few things remain as they were in 1992: Kirby is cute, and Nintendo makes fun games.