Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a party game for the Nintendo Switch promising a feast of fun and excitement as players race, roll and munch their way through colourful courses filled with delicious treats and power-ups. The game features Kirby, the adorable pink puffball who can copy the abilities of his enemies, and a host of other characters from his universe. The game also boasts online multiplayer, a variety of modes and stages, and tons of unlockable items and customisation options. However, despite its appetising premise and presentation, Kirby’s Dream Buffet ultimately fails to deliver a satisfying experience due to its lacklustre gameplay, technical issues and limited local multiplayer.
The main mode of Kirby’s Dream Buffet is the Gourmet Grand Prix, where up to four players compete in four rounds of strawberry-snatching action. The first and third rounds are races down different tracks, where players can collect strawberries to increase their size and speed, as well as copy abilities to attack or evade their rivals. The second and fourth rounds are mini-games in small arenas, where players have to grab as many strawberries as possible while avoiding obstacles or the attacks of other players. The winner is determined by the total weight of strawberries collected at the end of the four rounds.
In this way, the concept of Kirby’s Dream Buffet is simple and appealing: a fun and easy to play party title. Alas, the execution is inherently flawed and, where it matters most, frustrating. The game suffers from poor controls, inconsistent physics and unbalanced mechanics, all of which make it quite a challenge to enjoy the racing and mini-game segments.
The imprecise and sluggish controls make it difficult to steer Kirby or use his abilities effectively. When paired with the outlandish physics, which are erratic and unpredictable, it causes Kirby to bounce, slide or fly off the course at random moments. Although not unplayable, the experience will thwart enjoyment far more than it provides. Topping it all off are the broken gameplay mechanics, which are, quite frankly, unfair and not a lot of fun. In this way, the game prefers to reward luck over skill and punishes players for being too big or too small – a truly odd decision given the nature of Kirby’s powers.
At first glance, it is understandable why bigger Kirbys can roll faster, but are more vulnerable to attacks and obstacles, while smaller Kirbys can hover longer but are slower and weaker. In practice, however, this attempt at adding skill to the equation simply serves to add unnecessary complexity to what is, admittedly, a very simple game. The copy abilities are also unevenly distributed and varied, with some being more useful or powerful than others. The end result is a simple and seemingly fun party game serving to frustrate more than provide enjoyment.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet also suffers from technical issues hampering performance and presentation. There are frequent frame rate drops, especially in online multiplayer or when there are many objects on screen. The frame rate inconsistency, coupled with the aforementioned control issues, lead to some very enjoyment blocking moments. Unfortunately, the title also has long loading times between rounds or stages, breaking the flow and momentum of the gameplay.
The game’s presentation is quite good, being typical Kirby featuring colourful and charming visuals. Alas, the visuals become quite repetitive rather quickly, with many courses and stages looking similar or recycled from previous Kirby games (a boon for fans, but less so for the average gamer). Thankfully the game’s audio is fairly decent, with cheerful and catchy music populating the title. It is worth mentioning, however, how certain sound effects and voice clips can sometimes be overused and thus become irritating (but only after lengthy periods of play).
Perhaps the biggest flaw in Kirby’s Dream Buffet, however, is its limited local multiplayer option. The game is clearly designed and marketed as a party title, best enjoyed with friends or family. As such, there is no single-player content or modes to enjoy as a solo player – despite a vast amount of unlockables, including costumes, treats, music, stickers and more. As consolation, the game supports two players locally on one console. Yes, only two… for a party title. This is a baffling and unusual decision, one severely limiting the game’s party appeal and potential – especially given the lack of modes or incentive for solo or double play. As consolation, there is an online multiplayer for up to four players (only two more than local multiplayer), but in a world filled with games like Fall Guys, Gang Beasts and Cake Bash; it leaves a lot to be desired. Worse still, is how this ‘party’ title’s online mode really does feel like an afterthought, as it is plagued by lag, disconnections and matchmaking problems.
Admittedly, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is not a terrible game, but it is a disappointing one. It has some redeeming qualities, such as its cute characters, generous unlockables and occasional moments of fun, but they are overshadowed by numerous flaws and shortcomings. It could have been an entertainingly light multiplayer option, a title promising a dream buffet, but instead it serves as nothing more than a bland snack.
|Great for die hard fans of Kirby||Awful controls|
|Looks good||Unforgiving gameplay|
|Cheap||Lacklustre multiplayer support|
Title reviewed on Nintendo Switch with code supplied by Nintendo.
Owner, founder and editor-in-chief at Vamers, Hans has a vested interest in geek culture and the interactive entertainment industry. With a Masters degree in Communications and Ludology, he is well read and versed in matters relating to video games and communication media, among many other topics of interest.