Kirby’s Dream Buffet for Nintendo Switch review: A sweet little racer reminiscent of Mario Party minigames
After the perfection that was Kirby and the Forgotten Land released this last March, I thought we wouldn’t see another Kirby game until at least next year. But apparently, Nintendo had other ideas in mind for the puffball’s 30th anniversary.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet rolled out this week with hardly any preamble, which makes sense. It’s a fun little multiplayer game that only costs $15 and allows up to four players to compete against each other on food-themed tracks. Various colored Kirbys work to beat each other to strawberries and other tasty foods on the track. The more they eat, the larger they get, allowing them to bump smaller racers out of their way. There are also minigames where players work to smack each other off the track while angling to eat the most food.
It’s definitely not a game changer, but the gameplay is enjoyable, and for the super low price, it’s a good multiplayer game for people of all ages. If anything, it reminds me of most Mario Party minigames: fun but without a ton of substance.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet: What you’ll like
The goal with any Kirby’s Dream Buffet race is to take in the most berries and attempt to reach the finish line first where three plates of Strawberries lie waiting: A plate of 50, 20, and 10 strawberries. The first one to any plate gets to eat them all, adding to their total and preparing them for the next race.
Everything about Kirby’s Dream Buffet is designed to delight and make people smile. Courses look decadent, and those plump strawberries, blueberries, and cherries look absolutely delectable. The courses and locations are also unbearably sweet, with cute little pastries, cutlery, and other foods splayed out in a gorgeous array of colors. The Kirbys themselves have overreactive faces that make them fun to roll around and bounce into trouble. Then, there’s the simple gameplay, which offers a more laidback racing experience.
|Name||Kirby’s Dream Buffet|
|Release date||Aug. 17, 2022|
When on the game’s main menu, I can freely roll around to various items on a large table to select various menus, including the main gameplay menu. There are five modes to choose from, with four of them being competitive. Then, there’s Free Rolling, which allows the player to run around at your leisure to practice with the game’s powerups.
Perhaps my favorite discovery was learning that the four buttons on the left Joy-Con caused Kirby to emote. There’s a happy reaction, a waving reaction, a bug-eyed reaction, and a big shiny-eyed reaction. It made it fun to communicate with other players, whether I competed locally with my husband or people online.
|Gourmet Grand Prix||A full-course dream buffet with two races, a minigame, and a climatic battle royale. You may even earn Character Treats!|
|Single Race||A bite-sized competition where players race each other to the end goal to gobble up one of three Strawberry Mountains.|
|Single Minigame||A bite-sized minigame where players battle to eat more strawberries than anyone else.|
|Single Battle Royale||A bite-sized battle royale held on top of a tasty main course. Eat Copy Foods, and use them to turn the tables on your foes!|
|Free Rolling||Practice your rolling in a safe open space. You can also try different Copy Foods while you’re there. Roll, snack, and celebrate with friends!|
While I can choose which competitive modes to play, the game randomly decides which courses will come to me. This feels a little strange; I would prefer to choose what tracks I race on like I can in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. However, it also provides an element of surprise since I don’t know what’s coming.
Kirby is a bit sluggish and doesn’t move as fast as some people might like, but this makes him easier to control. Honestly, his slow movements feel right to me when I think about how squishy-soft his body is. Of course, he’d be a bit slow-moving!
The game is also very forgiving. If someone falls off the track, Kirby immediately starts hovering in the air with an ample hovering gauge above his head. All a player has to do is press A to get him to jump back towards the track and continue on.
All of the modes are short, making it easy to pick up or stop a game whenever I need to. Even the Grand Prix doesn’t take more than a few minutes to get through. Whenever you complete one of the competitive modes, a menu pops up and asks you if you want to play again, if you want to change your character’s look, or if you want to go back to the main menu. That way, you don’t have to go through the setup each time if you just want to play Grand Prix over and over again with a character customization you just unlocked.
There aren’t a ton of options for different games. Thankfully, Copy Foods are there to add a bit more variety and introduce a different twist on the Copy Abilities that Kirby is known for.
|Item||What is does|
|Burning Pepper||Kirby eats a chili pepper and turns into a fast fireball that can knock opponents away.|
|Juice Jelly||A gelatinous treat that prevents Kirby from taking damage and also allows him to go through walls.|
|Needle Candy||Turns Kirby into a spiky ball that knocks opponents out of the way.|
|Tornado Frosting||A cupcake that allows Kirby to spin, tornado-like to pull in goodies nearby to eat.|
|Drill Carrot||A carrot that allows Kirby to drill underground to avoid other players or obstacles on the track that might slow him down.|
|High-Jump Gummy||A gummy spring that launches Kirby skyward and allows him to choose where he lands to disrupt other opponents or reach areas faster..|
|Wheel Donut||A donut that allows Kirby to speed up in a wheel shape and knock opponents out of his path.|
|Stone Choclolate||A chocolate bar that allows Kirby to jump into the air and come crashing down, making a shock wave reach out and hurt anyone that touches it.|
|Invincible Lollipop||A lollipop that turns Kirby invincible for a short stretch, making it so he knocks back others and cannot take damage for a short stretch.|
There are boxes around each course that give players a random item, whether it’s a number of strawberries or a Copy Food powerup. Copy Foods allow Kirby to speed up or get the edge on his opponents to knock them out of the way. Each one works differently and adds a bit of variety to the races.
Similar to how Mario Kart 8 Deluxe ? Blocks work, if I’m in last place, the Copy Food I find in the boxes is more helpful. For instance, I might find I gained multiple Burning Copy Foods to speed me back to the other players, or I might get the Invincible Copy Food to prevent taking damage and knock people out of my path. At any rate, the best practice is to use Copy Foods strategically and let them fly when it will slow down another player or work best in my favor.
It’s a fun experience overall. I found myself screaming and hollering as I attempted to beat my husband or random players online.
Although the online multiplayer allows a total of up to four players, only as many as two people can play locally per Switch, so you’ll have to connect multiple consoles together for local four-player competitions. For this reason, it’s not a good split-screen game to share with the whole family.
Whenever I don’t play with a full set of players locally, the CPU steps in to control the rest of the characters. I get to choose between four CPU difficulty modes: Sweet, Normal, Spicy, and Extra Spicy. As is common with Kirby games, even the hardest difficulty wasn’t very hard. More like mildly challenging. Anyone looking for more of a solo-player game to test their skills might be disappointed.
Meanwhile, online matches allow me to choose between getting flung into competitions with random players or allowing me to join a group of friends who know the same password and connect with their own Switch consoles. Online games worked smoothly and didn’t give me any trouble. Though this experience will differ depending on a player’s Wi-Fi connection.
Whenever you complete one of the game’s competitive modes, you’re rewarded with points based on the number of strawberries you consume. The more points you receive, the higher levels you reach, bringing with them fun customization options and other unlockables like cookies and treats. You can use these scrumptious rewards to decorate the cake in the game’s main menu. There are literally hundreds of rewards to unlock, giving me something to work toward and come back to.
Unlocking new Kirby colors and hats was by far the most rewarding aspect of all of this. I couldn’t wait to see what I could change next and squealed gleefully when I finally unlocked the Hamburger hat or Car Mouth hat from Kirby and the Forgotten Land.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet: What you won’t like
Despite the fun look and silly courses, gameplay becomes repetitive quickly. This is partly because players cannot choose which courses they encounter during Grand Prix and partly because there isn’t a ton of variety to the courses anyway. The racing, minigame, and battle royale modes all feel very similar and don’t do enough to really differentiate themselves from each other.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet: Should you buy it?
Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a fun little racing game for people of any skill level. The tracks are forgiving, the CPUs aren’t super challenging, and the characters don’t move all that fast, making them easy to control. If anything, people who are really into racing games might find the lack of challenge a problem.
Each course looks so delicious that you’ll find your eyes feasting on the cute cookies, cakes, ice cream, and fruits that you pass by. Watch out. You might get a bit hungry while you play. However, you’ll quickly learn that while there’s plenty of eye candy, there isn’t a ton of variation in the modes, which makes gameplay feel very repetitive.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide local four-player on one console, which could help it become a great pickup party game that doesn’t take up too much time. As it is, only two people can play on one Switch so you’ll need to take turns if you’re playing with the whole family. At just $15, it’s definitely worth picking up if you’re interested.