The world goes from bad to worse. This is something we all start to chant, one way or another. What does Nintendo have to offer? Kirby. More Kirby. Kirby will close all the wounds. Kirby will save us. All kneel to our lord and savior Kirby. Beyond the joke though, Kirby’s Dream Buffet comes to us just a few months after Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Still, it’s completely different and mind-boggling, very reminiscent of Kiby Tilt and Tumble just without motion controls.
Dream Fork made Kirby small, so Kirby and the other Kirbys decide to have literal board games to see who can be the best-fed, fattest, biggest Kirby. They accomplish this by devouring strawberries (and sometimes other fruits of the forest) over cakes, tarts, egg pans, jelly beans, currants and more.
Entering the main…. table, you can decorate a cake with unlockable decorative cookies, change your Kirby’s appearance with costumes and colors, and briefly view Kirby’s previous adventures. But the main menu dominates right in the middle of the table: the selection of different game modes. The game supports local multiplayer (if you have enough loyalists… I mean friends who have the game on their Switch) and online multiplayer with friends via lobby codes (you can invite people who aren’t on your friends list) or with strangers via matchmaking. You can also play offline with AI bots. Very quickly, while playing offline you can choose to free-roll on a huge table full of strawberries to learn the handling. You can use the new powers and see exactly how they work so you can cope with the chaotic online encounters. You can then either play mini-games individually or grand prix to get a good idea of what’s in store.
And on to the main course. The big feast. The, if I may say so, epic feast that is online. Here you are pitted against four other players (as mentioned above, via matchmaking or with friends by creating a standard lobby using a password) in grand prix. The menu at each grand prix initially includes a speed race where players are challenged to eat as many strawberries as they can while racing to catch the big strawberry tarts at the end. The bigger your Kirby gets, the faster it rolls and can displace the smaller Kirbys. On the other hand, however, if you find yourself off the track, you can be suspended for less time, which reduces your chances of getting back into the race. Then comes a mini-game that changes every grand prix, such as getting into cups to eat the strawberries or rolling over enemies to get the strawberries. Immediately afterwards there’s another road race where, depending on how far behind you are in the standings, you start from a better position.
After that, we have battle royale. This is absolute chaos. You’re called upon to push the other Kirbys off the track or use abilities to knock them out. Every time you send an opposing player into the hyperspace, you get a hefty percentage of their tails. At the same time, there’s unprecedented chaos as Master Hand tries to catch Kirby with a pair of food tongs or pick up pieces of sandwiches with a fork. Unlocking more tracks, you find yourself in battle royale arenas with even more elements that make the fight more interesting. At the end, the Kirbys are weighed. The chubbiest wins, meaning the one who has eaten the most strawberries, but not before some bonus strawberries are handed out for random things players did during the race. Someone who used more abilities or someone who ate more strawberries may get a big bite of extra strawberries. These are random and sometimes enough to win the match in the end.
The gameplay of Kirby’s Dream Buffet, as you may have already figured out, is similar to Fall Guys. The grand prix has the structure of an event, like the gameplay, where you’re not 100% in control of what you do. Also, the fact that you’re manipulating a ball that grows and changes characteristics by picking up things (in this case strawberries) personally reminds me of Katamari Damacy. Playing online I didn’t encounter any particular problems aside from occasional lag that appears as frame drops, since the game waits for players who are delayed to reach the same frame.
If I have to mention any negatives, they are two. First, the fact that the game soon starts to get repetitive, even if you slowly unlock new tracks and the grand prix have that “let’s go one more” feel that can keep you playing for hours. However, coming back to the game after you play something else, you realize how repetitive it is. The second issue is how easily things can change in battle royale. One can be in last place and remain in fourth place during the grand prix and suddenly win, eating the strawberries that fall in heaps and also knocking other players off the track with copy abilities. Yes, it’s good that the race is decided at the end and maybe even later with the bonus strawberries, but at the same time the other, bigger parts of the grand prix are devalued.
Moving on to the technical side, I have to say that Kirby’s Dream Buffet makes you… hungry. I don’t know what’s going on at Nintendo studios, and their developers almost always make their food overly mouthwatering and yet surrealistically beautiful at the same time. They almost do what a food stylist would do to make hamburgers look so nice and filling in commercials. The sweets and the food are the main things you see. There are also some details like the light reflecting off the frozen sorbets, the sugar squinting and the texture of the meringue that even changes when Kirby passes by leaving marks. Also on certain occasions the appropriate patrón is made. Strawberries, characters, enemies, copy abilities and generally there is a lot of on-screen panic. Thankfully, the game runs comfortably at 60fps. And the sound is what we call classic Kirby. Moving forward you unlock music from almost all the titles in the series, even some forgotten instances like Kirby’s Pinball Land.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a great budget option for Switch owners. If you want to take a break from whatever you’re currently playing and are in the mood for some fun with friends, get it without a second thought. All hail Kirby!