August 17, 2022.
There are some big comparisons to make when thinking about Kirby’s Dream Buffet. The first that comes to mind is like it’s a pared-down version of Fall Guys, but with helpings of Katamari Damacy thrown in for good measure, and a tiny dusting of Mario Party. And while it’s not quite as exceptional as any of those titles, as an opening gambit, Dream Buffet is a lot of fun, and worthy of consideration if you like that kind of thing.
Essentially, this digital-only Switch offering is about rolling Kirby through a course laden with different paths and obstacles, munching strawberries along the route, butting your opponents out of the way, and getting to the finish line. As you grab more shiny red fruit you’ll grow in size, which is where the Katamari comparison comes in. You can grab copy abilities as you roll through the course, and as you’d expect, some are way better than others.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet | Strawberries mean points
The larger you are, the more fruit you have; and strawberries mean points. At the finish line, you will find three big strawberry cakes, the middle offering a full 50 points, with the two smaller by the side offering 20 and 10 respectively. In other words, if you’re fourth, you aren’t getting any kind of bonus.
After rushing through the course, you get the mini-game, which feels largely skewed towards who finished better in the first route. Once again you have to grab the sweet, sweet strawberries, but now it’s all in a small arena in a tight all-for-one match, where you can still use special copy abilities grabbed from boxes. Then it’s onto another big Fall Guys-style obstacle course, all the while your total strawberry count is going up and up.
Lastly, there’s a Battle Royale, but not like you’re thinking. This is, again, a small arena where you collect yet more shiny red fruit, but you also roll into opponents, sending them flying in a Smash Bros. style “whoosh” to the distance. Again the tally continues. After all of this, you’re ranked first to fourth and should be playing online, you’ll go your separate ways until you meet again.
Offline and online
It’s largely fun, though feels very much a case of if you do badly in the first round, you’re really up against it for the rest of the match. A good variety of options are on offer, with the online mode allowing for password-protected private matches, local play mode, and battle mode which is basically offline mode and lets you practice single courses, or even just “free-roll”, or practice mode to you and I.
As you progress through the levels, every strawberry adds to your experience bar, and each time you “level up” you get a new outfit, sticker to decorate your home cake, or simply a colour for Kirby to be. Whether you want to dress up as a green Meta Knight, or a cream-headed Red Kirby, that’s up to you, but it won’t affect the game and is purely aesthetic.
And that’s kind of it. Kirby’s Dream Buffet has lots of rewards in amongst everything else, with fact-snippets appearing about older games. There’s even a chance to learn about previous adventures and musical rewards for having played games like Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Were this a free-to-play offering, I’d have no problem fully recommending it, as there’s very little latency ruining online matches, and zero barrier to entry. It’s one of those Kirby titles designed for literally anyone, and everyone to play. Every button is “jump”, the stick moves our little pink delight, and the R-bumper uses your copy ability. That’s literally it.
A buffet to dip into
But it’s not free to play. While the £13.49 (UK) price tag isn’t exactly steep, it’s one of those that you might want to keep an eye on for the future. Should Nintendo support Kirby’s Dream Buffet with updates, new courses (there’s plenty of variety, but in these types of games more is always nice), then it’s only going to get better. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s the kind of fun you can’t quite see yourself returning to over and over again.
Parents with younger children will get a kick out of the split-screen option to enjoy some laughs with them, but the more serious online player might find it too simplistic. But then, Fall Guys was a game that has evolved massively over time, so who knows where Kirby’s Dream Buffet might end up?
Simple fun for all the family
Lots of ways to play
Glorious looking and sounding
Feels free to play but isn't
First round feels too important
Should Nintendo support Kirby's Dream Buffet it with updates, new courses, then it’s only going to get better. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s the kind of fun you can’t quite see yourself returning to over and over again.