Kirby’s Dream Buffet
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Genre(s): Action, Multiplayer
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 17/08/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
What is Kirby up to Now?
In honour of Kirby’s thirtieth anniversary, Nintendo published Kirby’s Dream Buffet, a frantic multiplayer party game where I tried to eat as much fruit as possible. Did this anniversary special remind me of all the great times I had with the Kirby series? Find out in this Rapid Review.
When I first booted up the game, I was surprised to find that there was no story content whatsoever. I acknowledge that the game is not a single-player adventure, but I still missed the simple yet outlandish premises that typically come packaged with a Kirby title. Instead, I was placed directly into a lobby area leading to the game modes.
Even though I was disappointed by the lack of story content, I was excited to get into the gameplay. I typically enjoy playing competitive games, especially when they offer local multiplayer. Kirby’s Dream Buffet is no exception here, and I enjoyed challenging my friends and the computer players to see who could eat the most.
I could facilitate such battles in three different modes. Kirby’s Dream Buffet features races, minigames, and even a battle royale mode. I was excited to see how these different modes impacted the gameplay and how they could swing a competitive game.
Three Ways to Play
The races played out largely as I expected. In them, I navigated various sets of obstacles while attempting to eat the fruit scattered throughout. While manoeuvring the tracks themselves are not overly difficult, it is fun to compete against other people, trying to collect fruit and reach the finish line as soon as possible. While I enjoyed playing through these races, they began to stagnate quickly. Even though there are multiple stages, none of them left an impact on me as my favourite. At the end of the day, I found myself navigating each level the same way, just booking it to the end while searching for as much fruit as possible.
The minigames were incredibly similar. Instead of rushing to the end, there are different objectives. They had me taking out enemies, jumping into cups, and catching fruit from the sky. This similarity made the game easier to play, especially the first time I played. However, after playing multiple games, Kirby’s Dream Buffet stagnated, and I craved variety.
Even the battle royale was not overly different. In this mode, my objective was to push my opponents off the arena. However, unlike a traditional battle royale, death only deducted fruit from my total and I would respawn after each knockout. While I enjoyed this mode, it also did not alter the game as much as I would have liked.
In each of these modes, all I needed to do was navigate towards an objective, bump my opponents, and collect fruit. While there were three modes, none of them stood out. Since they were largely similar, I found myself noticing the repetition of multiple rounds more quickly than I would have liked. Still, I enjoyed the game, especially in short bursts.
Moving and Grooving?
In addition to the lacklustre mode selection, I was disappointed by the lack of thought required when traversing a level. Apart from noticing which paths have large collections of fruit, I traversed a linear path through levels. Moreover, the act of moving through the level is relatively mundane. Apart from traditional movement and using the occasional item, I only had to consider when to jump. The lack of advanced mechanics made also made the game stagnate quickly.
On the other hand, I did like the implementation of items. These helped add a bit of skill to the game, as I needed to figure out when to use them. I could transform into a variety of things such as a Jell-O-inspired slime ball, a chocolate bar rock, and even wear gummy worm spring shoes. They kept the game exciting and close. However, they never did anything that revolutionized the experience. They did not have a learning curve and could not be used apart from how I originally envisioned them. Though these items did not wholly revolutionize the game, they kept the gameplay lively.
Finally, there were some overall design decisions that made the game feel less organic and not as fun as I would have liked. One thing that stood out was the gingerbread walls that divided sections of the track. All they did was force the player in the front of the pack to wait for their competitors as they slowly tried to break through. This means that the beginning portions of the track matter less and that the games will be more competitive not because of tight mechanics, but because people are forced to wait. For me, it broke the gameplay loop, and I found the constant impeding on my progress mundane.
Sights and Sounds
Kirby’s Dream Buffet features friendly and colourful visuals to supplement the gameplay. I thought they were incredibly charming and especially enjoyed seeing how the different assets fit in with the gourmet theme. Practically every asset is related to food in some way. The visual style in this game worked wonderfully.
Similarly, I thought the music in the game was good as well. While not as grippingly exciting as the visuals, I liked the music, and it helped me stay interested while I was rushing through the arenas. The sound effects were also quite good. It was really satisfying to bump my opponents throughout each level just because the sound effect felt great to hear. The audio enhanced my experience with Kirby’s Dream Buffet.
Overall, I did like Kirby’s Dream Buffet. While there was not much variety over multiple rounds and the game modes did not do enough for me to maintain my excitement for the series, the game is very charming. Still, the tedium combined with how little skill was required to perform well left me feeling underwhelmed as I played through this title. If you are a huge fan of Kirby or want a quick multiplayer game with a low barrier to entry, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is an option to consider. However, for more technical players or for someone who is looking to push a game’s mechanics, I would look elsewhere.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
You can purchase Kirby’s Dream Buffet on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.