“Have a feast of fun with family and friends in Kirby’s Dream Buffet™ for the Nintendo Switch family of systems.
Roll through a smorgasbord of food-themed stages in delicious 4-player competition as a rounder-than-usual Kirby. Anyone can take the cake in Kirby’s Dream Buffet! This digital game is available exclusively for Nintendo Switch.”
- Release Date: August 17, 2022
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Developer: HAL Laboratory
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Genre: Multiplayer, Racing, Cute
- Rating: E
(NOTE: This review was written back during the game’s release.)
2022 was the year of Kirby. The little adorable pink puffball reaches his 30th anniversary and Nintendo and HAL went all out for it. It really casts a shadow on the anniversaries of other beloved series to be honest. Even after we had a fantastic game like Kirby and the Forgotten Land release early into 2022, HAL decided to make another Kirby. Albeit, a lot smaller but still very cute.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a cute and mostly entertaining game. It’s also very simple as you are pit in a race against other players online, playing 4 rounds to become the winner. I will say right off the bat, I was slightly disappointed when I learned it wasn’t going to be a free game or at least $5. I loved what I saw of the game when it was revealed and I was excited to try it, but not that excited for a $15 price tag. I did (and still do) have funds from gift cards so the purchase wasn’t as big a deal however. I did see a lot of people complaining that the game should have been another one included in Nintendo’s online premium subscription and while I only have the regular subscription, I have to agree with that. Maybe a strange decision but it is what it is.
About the game itself, you get to play as Kirby obviously. The game opens up with the adorably sweet cutscene of the Kirbys rolling around the cake and when you open into the game, you’re right in front of said cake. The game has a small overworld where there’s a practice mode, customization, a smaller cake to decorate with treats you unlock, and the game mode. You roll around as Kirby which is honestly so cute. The “practice” mode is really just an area with different areas of cakes and sweets where all the copy abilities available in the game are there for you to practice with. It’s a neat little area but honestly the gameplay is really simple but it’s fun to free roam anyways.
When it comes to the core gameplay of Kirby’s Dream Buffet, you can play either locally with your friends or family (of course with their own copy of the game) or online with randoms. The game consists of four rounds:
- The 1st race
- A minigame
- The 2nd race
The objective of the races -and the game in general- is collecting as many strawberries as you can while traversing through the course, avoiding hazards that’ll slow you down, avoiding your opponent Kirbys, and reaching the end to devour the biggest strawberry cake for bonus strawberries. Same can be said for the minigame and battle rounds, so the Kirby with the most strawberries is the winner. It’s very simple and straightforward, and the controls are too. Other than the control stick, the only other buttons you press are to jump and to activate your copy abilities. Of the three modes, I’d have to say that the races are my favorite. It’s satisfying collecting strawberries and sort of strategizing which path to take to get more and pass your opponents. It’s also very funny to watch Kirby get more and more fat and massive as you collect. There are actually a lot of race courses as well of different desserts and even savory foods, and even though I’m a higher level I think I still have a few courses left to unlock. So aesthetically there’s still a lot and depending on the course there’s different obstacles as well. The syrup from the waffle course slowing you down, avoiding the chocolate sauce from the chocolate fountain course, the slipperiness of the ice cream stage, you name it. So thankfully there is some variety when it comes to the courses. There are also cookie item boxes during the race where you can either get extra strawberries or a random copy ability. This can really make or break a race for you and your opponents depending on the ability, and admittedly some copy abilities are much better than others. And again surprisingly you can sort of strategize with them to make the most of the race.
And let me just say this outright: This game looks GORGEOUS and DELICIOUS. I was in awe at how accurate and so incredibly detailed the food in the game looked, to the point that I was distracted haha. The fluff of the cakes, the glistening of the bacon, the texture of the donuts. Most of the courses are based on sweets and desserts like strawberry shortcake, pancakes, donuts, ice cream. But there are also savory courses like barbeque, sandwiches, and burgers for example and they absolutely look delicious as well. Considering the game is based on Kirby eating, it’s no surprise that they’d put so much effort on making the food look as delicious as possible and they succeeded. Aesthetically this game is amazing, it’s vibrant, and most importantly, it’s adorable as well.
There are a few different minigames that you’ll randomly get per game, and it’s my least favorite part. The minigames are fine but the round is really short so you don’t appreciate the minigames as much and they seem kind of pointless. The teacup one is the worst one as you sit around and wait for the teacups to spawn so there’s not much gameplay to it. I guess the minigame round being so short and quick is a good thing in a way because then you get back to the better modes like the race and battle.
The battle is saved until the end and it’s absolute chaos. It’s basically all or nothing to collect as many strawberries as possible by collecting the ones dropped onto the stage, but mostly from knocking your opponents off from the stage with your copy abilities. Or just Kirby’s massive girth lol. It’s accurate to say that the previous three rounds kind of don’t matter because even if you’re in 4th place you can still win the whole game if you do well enough in the battle. It’s like the trope in game shows where each question is one point each and the final question is 100 points. “It’s still anybody’s game.” Which might be a little disappointing because you can get screwed over depending on how good the other players are or how lucky/unlucky you are with the copy abilities, but at least the battles are very fun. Like with the races, the minigames and the battles have many different stages as well. Some of them can be based on food but some of them are character stages like a Kirby ice cream cake stage, Elfilin, or the Whispy Woods stage for example. Again, all very pleasing to the eye and makes the experience a little more fun.
With every game you complete, you’ll receive experience points to level up which makes you unlock treats and unlockables, like stages and costumes. When I say treats, it’s stuff like cookies or chocolate squares that have official Kirby art from all of his games. You can use these treats to decorate the small cake on the menu screen just for fun, nothing more to that. Also at the start of each race, your Kirby lands on a square cookie. With the treats you unlock you can actually customize it so you can have one of the unlockables set as your starting square. Again, nothing too significant but a cute cosmetic.
And while you can’t play as any other Kirby except for Kirby, you can still dress up as them through the costume unlockables! Obviously these are my favorite unlockables because you can change your Kirby up and make him look however you want and my god the hats and colors are so CUTE! When it comes to characters you can unlock costumes to make you look like Meta Knight, Bandana Dee, King Dedede, Marx, etc. You even unlock their respective colors to you can really look like them. There’s also other cute and funny hats like the whipped cream hat, burger hat, and the car Kirby cake hat. The other colors based on desserts like chocolate mint, strawberry, and chocolate are also very cute. And again, VERY plentiful. But that’s all the unlockables in general: stages, costumes, colors, treats. I mentioned I’m at a pretty high level but I still haven’t collected all of the colors and costumes which is pretty amazing. Leveling up is pretty easy with how generous the EXP points are so you can unlock a lot of things quick, but again there’s just so much and I still don’t have everything so the sheer amount of unlockables is truly insane.
There is a replayability factor to this but I can easily see why people would get tired of the game. Like I said, the gameplay is super simple and the games consist of the same four rounds each time so it can start to feel repetitive. When I first bought the game I admit I was absolutely addicted to it and played it hours on end, but I actually haven’t gone back to the game in awhile what with other games taking my attention away from it. And I did notice a dip in players after the initial few days of release. I do like this game and it’s cute but I know it can be a forgettable one too. It’s neat that they made another Kirby game for his anniversary and I loved the positive reactions it got, but I think it might be forgotten like the Kirby fighting game from awhile ago. I would hope that HAL or Nintendo would update the game and just do something with it. It’s been a few months with nothing so I’m a little worried because it’s a shame. Something like more cosmetics, but more importantly different modes. I’m not sure what else they can add but something like a new mode would be enticing. As it is right now, Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a sweet game with some fun to be had but maybe a little lacking. I wouldn’t say I regret getting it, but I still believe the game should have been cheaper or at least another “free” game in the Nintendo premium subscription.
(Update: As of publishing this, Nintendo/HAL has not made any updates for the game. I haven’t touched the game in awhile so it’s sad to say that the game has most likely fallen off and hardly anyone plays or mentions it. I can imagine it’s hard to find any online matches right now, if at all. I still look at this game positively, but am disappointed at the lack of attention by the publishers.)
I’m not sure for the longevity of the game because of this. If you ever see the game on sale or you also have a gift card and want a cheap game, I’d say give this one a try. But I do warn that it’s simple and if you’re the type of player that gets bored easily or doesn’t like gameplay as simple as “push up on the control stick” then I’d say skip it. The lack of updates might also be another deterrent. But all in all, I’ve had a fun time with this one. Kirby is just a cute lil guy and I’ve enjoyed what they’ve done for his 30th anniversary. Kirby and the Forgotten Land was a wonderful experience. But yes his Dream Buffet was fun and bite sized (pun intended) and I had a good time. I’ll probably get back to it here and there, but I do admit that with all the amazing games that are available and still coming out, it’ll be hard to do. Still, fun game.