Kirby’s Dream Buffet Review

Kirby's Dream Buffet Header

Fresh off the heels of the superb Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Kirby’s Dream Buffet seems set to further cement everybody’s favourite pink blob’s new life in three dimensions. Whereas the former game was a fully-fledged title with oodles of content and hidden depth, Dream Buffet is a much more snack-sized experience.

Early previews drew comparisons to the likes of cuddly Fall Guys, thanks to its focus on multiplayer and a bright, colourful aesthetic. While these factors are still key, the end result is more fundamentally a Nintendo product – for good and ill.

First up, let’s address the overfed Kirby in the room. Where many multiplayer-only games like Fall Guys or Rocket League have transitioned over to free-to-play, Dream Buffet comes with a £13.49 price point. It’s a fairly low price point, but it could still put a lot of players off – especially when you take into account that you have to have a Nintendo Online membership to play it online. I’m sure the big N know what they’re doing, but I can’t help but feel as if this game would have been better suited as a F2P membership bonus.

Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a pretty title. The characteristic bright colours are complemented by a sugary sweet dessert theme and the whole game is the visual equivalent of a kid’s birthday party. In local multiplayer or games against the CPU, the performance is solid enough, but online is much more hit-and-miss affair. In my numerous games, things varied between solid frame rates and almost unplayable stutters. I’m unsure whether this is due to Nintendo’s network or that of other players, but it was enough to ruin a number of games.

Kirby's Dream Buffet Race

The game itself involves several main game modes, but in truth, these aren’t as different as they may seem. The main meat of the game is the rolling race levels that take place across a range of culinary-related courses. These control well enough, but are fairly uninspiring with only a few jumps and environmental obstacles to keep you interested. There seemed to be a Mario Kart-esque amount of rubber banding in place too with CPU opponents, and frustrating walls of biscuit that slow you down far too much if you find yourself in front. Whilst racing you have to eat fruit to grow in size, a bigger Kirby giving you an advantage by rolling faster. The other level types involve you moving around a static screen to collect strawberries or, in the finale of each full event, using collectable food abilities to fight it out in a top-down arena.

On paper, the structure of events works well, with the variety between races and arena battles keeping things interesting. In reality, the stages all look much the same and you really start to feel the lack in variety after a short time. There is nothing particularly wrong with the gameplay here, but it all just feels limited and one-note. In truth, the whole experience reminded me of those huge dessert sundaes that look so tempting until you start to feel sick halfway through.

Kirby's Dream Buffet battle

So far things haven’t been great for Kirby’s Dream Buffet, but as a multiplayer title, surely it can be redeemed by local play? Well, this is perhaps the worst aspect of the game’s design, as you can only play with two players on one console. Why there isn’t an option for four player split-screen is completely beyond me, unless the Switch can’t handle it? You can link up to four consoles for a more exciting multiplayer experience in local play, but that is an expensive solution as each player also needs their own copy of the game. And their own Switch, of course.

One area where Dream Buffet is not stingy, though, is in the massive amount of unlockables and cosmetics. Repeated play will see your player level increase with stickers, new stages, background tunes and skin designs for your Kirby. As should be expected from Hal Laboratory, this is a real love letter to Kirby’s history and there is always something new to aim for. If only the game itself showed a similar level of attention to detail.

Kirby’s Dream Buffet isn’t a terrible game, and certainly has the typical Nintendo aesthetic polish, but the whole package is underwhelming and lacking in any real variety. I felt as if I had seen everything bar the unlockable cosmetics after a few hours play and there was nothing to keep me hooked. Unless you are a total diehard Kirby fan, I’d just go for a replay of Forgotten Land.
  • Bright and colourful aesthetic
  • Controls well
  • Lots of cosmetics to unlock
  • Woefully lacking in variety
  • Netplay inconsistent
  • Lack of full local multiplayer
  • Feels stingy
Written by
Just your average old gamer with a doctorate in Renaissance literature. I can mostly be found playing RPGs, horror games, and oodles of indie titles. Just don't ask me to play a driving game.