Review: Kirby’s Dream Buffet

Kirby’s 30th anniversary has gone kind of unnoticed here in the west. For Zelda and Mario, we had special Game & Watch models, for instance, heck even a re-release of some older Mario games. In Japan, some concerts have celebrated the anniversary, but that is about it. So what does Nintendo release for this special occasion? Is Kirby’s Dream Buffet a delicious treat for the fans or just a cheap, tooth-breaking candy that no one really asked for? Let’s see what this game really can bring to the table

 

Fall Guys x Super Monkey Ball?

Bump, battle, and boost your way to sweet victory. Roll through a smorgasbord of food-themed stages in this delicious 4-player competition. Anyone can take the cake in Kirby’s Dream Buffet! Have you guys ever heard of Fall guys? Well, Nintendo certainly did. Some say the game is very reminiscent of Fall Guys which I can get behind but this is not entirely the case. Fall Guys is way more focused on getting through an obstacle course or competing in minigames while making sure not to be eliminated. If I had to describe Kirby’s Dream Buffet, I would say it’s a mix between Fall Guys (especially the use of the vibrant colours), Super Monkey Ball (rolling around an obstacle course collecting bananas) and a bit of Kirby’s Air Ride (a racing game with copy abilities set in the Kirby universe).

 

Basic, easy-to-pick-up gameplay

The lore behind the game is that Kirby suddenly is shrunk down by the Dream fork. To enjoy its new life to the fullest it gets a competition rolling. This is about as much story as you get, as expected for this type of game. The entire goal of the game is to collect the most strawberries in order to win. These are collected by simply rolling over them by tilting the control stick. There are additional things to collect however like cherries and blueberries but more on that later. With every food item collected you gain a little boost.

When you see a Food Box, roll through it to gain a Copy Food Ability. You might get a Turbo Burning boost from a Burning Pepper or a Hyper Tornado from Tornado Frosting!  There are a total of 8 different abilities to collect. Activate the ability by pressing R and slow opponents down, take down walls or enemies and gain higher speed yourself. The only other control the game has is a jump button to jump over or on top of obstacles.

 

Strawberries galore

Kirby’s Dream Buffet has a total of 4 different modes.

Race: Roll your way through mouth-watering, food-themed obstacle courses collecting as many strawberries as you can. Collect Copy Foods to gain a copy ability to get ahead of the competition, as you race to the finish. Earn extra strawberries at cake goals at the end of the race, with the first player to arrive obtaining the most of them.

Minigame: Play a delectable minigame between races! There are a total of 4 different minigames, crumble crates, defeat enemies, falling strawberries and teacup. Compete with other players to collect as many strawberries as possible within the time limit.

Battle Royale: In this final confrontation, knock opponents off the stage to steal their strawberries. Use your Copy Food Abilities as you battle it out to see which Kirby has grown the largest!

Gourmet Grand Prix: The Gourmet Grand Prix consist of all 3 above-mentioned modes with a random menu. This menu consists of random different courses. Compete in 2 races and play a minigame in the bonus stage between the two races. Then turn the tides in the battle round. The player who collected the most strawberries in total wins. There however are bonus strawberries to be earned. This work like bonus stars in Mario Party. Three random stats will be rewarded with 40 strawberries each, eg. collected the most blueberries/cherries, defeated the most enemies, hovered the longest etc. This is the only mode currently playable with random people online.

Local or Online

There are 3 different modes within the Main Menu, these are Local Play Mode where you can connect with up to 4-players with local wireless. Battle Mode, here you can enjoy 4-player matches against the CPU or locally against one friend. Of course, you can choose from 4 different CPU difficulty settings. And online mode: Here you can compete online against other players or friends around the world.

 

 

30th-anniversary fan service

The real fan service for the 30th anniversary kicks in with the extras within the game. Every time you compete you will earn XP. Earn enough XP and you will level up into a higher Gourmet Rank. Doing so will earn you new skins, character treats, music and more.

Find your sweet style in the plethora of delicious customization options. Dress Kirby to look like Meta Knight, King Dedede, Elfilin, and more. You can also customize Kirby with an array of different colour options, ranging from Waddle Dee orange to food-themed ones like mint chocolate,  all to help you start the race in style.

The character treats you unlock can be used to customize your pedestal at the starting line. Besides this, the Character treats are used to decorate your own cake. These treats, cookies, chocolates and candies have characters on them from the 30 years that the Kirby™ series has been around. There are 256 of these treats to collect.

 

Freezing and thawing connection

Online I saw a lot of people having struggles with the netcode/connection. I had some matches that were absolutely unplayable with so much slow down it almost froze. But most of the matches played fine or with just a few hiccups. In total, however, they occurred too many times to really enjoy the game to its fullest potential. The hiccups and the slow-down probably have more to do with the personal connection of some of the players to the servers than the servers themselves. If the servers are indeed the problem, let’s hope they can get it fixed asap or hope the servers will get less crowded as time goes on.

 

Conclusion

Kirby’s Dream Buffet feels a bit like it could have been free to play. Nintendo recognised this as well and answer by not slapping on a full retail price onto the game by keeping it somewhat low, €15. Overall however I enjoyed Kirby’s Dream Buffet. The game is easy to pick up and start playing but addicting enough that you don’t want to put it down. The game however suffers from annoying connectivity problems which make a little too many matches unplayable.

7/10

-tested on Nintendo Switch