The pink puff ball is back in 3D again, and you could argue that Kirby is certainly continuing to go mouthful mode in Kirby’s Dream Buffet. Rather than inhaling the likes of cars and vending machines in The Forgotten Land, Kirby and their colourful clones (as well as plenty of CPU Waddle Dees!) must race to eat as many strawberries as possible on an assault course made of food. If you saw the trailer and thought that Dream Buffet looked like Kirby met up with Fall Guys, you’re completely correct. But this mash-up isn’t as successful as I’d hoped.
Each Gourmet Grand Prix – which includes a mixture of modes such as Race, Minigame, or Battle Royale – comes with its own tasting menu to manoeuvre, full of various desserts, burgers, or everything you’d need for the perfect fry-up. They’re all designed to look perfectly sumptuous as multiple Kirby characters roll around them, but I reached the end of each banquet wishing for a little more.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet isn’t a bad game by any means. It’s another Kirby title without any skill hurdle that can provide plenty of Kirby-themed party game fun to those who jump in, but sadly, it's not a party game that I feel is going to be pulled out of the kitchen cabinet very often.
The race to be the biggest Kirby is a fun one, but Nintendo falls short when it comes to considering how a party game is often played. Kirby’s Dream Buffet was never going to be Mario Party, but you’d think that this primarily-multiplayer title would at least support local co-op for up to four players. It doesn’t, and if you want to sit around the TV with a small group of friends, you’re left to take turns playing one or two-player with the Joy-Cons, must play online on your own respective devices, or, like me, you’ll probably suggest playing Mario Kart instead.
In both Online Mode and Local Play Mode, you can play the game with up to four players, provided that each of you has your own Switch console and copy of Kirby’s Dream Buffet. Alternatively, the game’s main mode is known as Battle Mode. This supports offline co-op play from the same device for up to two players. So, if you’re planning to roll into Kirby’s Dream Buffet with a single friend, or even solo, you’re in luck and may derive plenty of joy from the title. However, for those players who anticipated a climactic party game that would support offline play for four players, or even a combination of local co-op with offline play, you’re sadly limited.
As a Kirby super-fan, it feels almost blasphemous to say that my favourite bubblegum-coloured ball let me down, but alas, Kirby was the redeeming star of the show here. Kirby’s Dream Buffet may be a party game that can’t really be played at parties, and the issues with lag during online play may be quite frustrating, but Kirby and co. still continue to charm your socks off while you roam around what is, in fact, a dreamy buffet.
The game stays true to the premise of Kirby titles, too; it’s easy, as all Kirby games should be. There’s no obvious skill gap between players - although, there was that one person who managed to triple my score and take home first place. I’m still bitter about that. Aside from the occasional Kirby pro, however, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a pleasant time that’s open and accessible to every player possible.
That’s the most admirable thing about Kirby; these games can appeal to all ages and abilities. Kirby’s Dream Buffet is no different, and I can easily see rolling around various dee-licious courses with Waddle Dee and other Kirby counterparts being a blast for families and Nintendo fans. I was certainly whisked away into a whimsical world full of Kirby references to previous games and characters, which was touching to see and experience as a long-time fan.
Kirby will also never fail to look good in all of their 3D glory, especially when plumped up to the size of a space hopper. Sadly, however, the arenas all look too similar and are on the short side. As soon as the fun begins in Kirby’s Dream Buffet, and you’re on a roll (literally), it’s nearly over. It’s a bit like turning up to a party and being greeted by a beige buffet. Sometimes you also want a few crudités.
On the whole, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a neat idea on the surface. When brought to life, it could’ve genuinely been a contender for one of the Switch’s top party games had it featured a little more variation, and some better multiplayer support. That said, the future of Kirby is now very much cemented in 3D, and I still look forward to where the pink puff ball ends up once they’ve decided that they can’t stomach another strawberry.