REVIEW

REVIEW

Kirby’s Dream Buffet

August 21, 2022

GOOD

  • Welcoming to new players & fun lasts for those preferring more strategy
  • Fun Kirby customisations
  • Great nods to previous Kirby games
  • Mario Party-esque final prizes

BAD

  • Occasional lag when playing online
  • A little short and uneven
  • Mario Party-esque final prizes

GOOD

GOOD

Kirby’s surprise second entry on the Switch in 2022 is a fun multiplayer experience especially in short bursts – providing something for new players and those hoping for a little more strategy too.

On today’s menu, we have Kirby’s Dream Buffet – a surprise second Kirby title this year after Kirby and the Forgotten Land back in April. Rather than a single-player platforming adventure – this time around Kirby is rolling about in a party multiplayer game which combines fun bits from (and has clearly been inspired by) Fall Guys, Mario Party and even Fortnite in a mostly-delicious food-themed wrapper.

They see me rollin’

While we may have gotten used to a bold free-roaming Kirby thanks to Forgotten Land, in Dream Buffet it’s all about a shrunken Kirby rolling his way towards a mountain of strawberries. Kirby is basically a tiny pink ball in the most real sense and gone is the cute waddling we are accustomed to. In this strange new tasty world, the main way to play is Battle Mode. This is made up of two short high-tempo races on food-themed tracks interspersed with two mini-games. The ultimate winner after the four challenges is the Kirby who has managed to collect the most strawberries.If you’ve ever tried Fall Guys – the races are pretty much the same concept except with a much more limited roster of players in each race.

…the more I played the more I realised that using these different abilities at the right time can really make a big difference to the final outcome.

The main way Dream Buffet differentiates itself slightly (other than the culinary environments) is that along the way you’ll break a few boxes (think Mario Kart) that unlock interesting Kirby abilities. These might mean that for a short time you can sneak underneath large biscuit walls or get an unexpected spicy speed boost. At first, these seemed little more than just a gimmick. However, the more I played the more I realised that using these different abilities at the right time can really make a big difference to the final outcome. Just getting to the end of the race first means you get a huge (and possibly unfair) advantage of 50 additional strawberries – doing that regularly will almost ensure you win the ultimate prize. It’s this little added bit of strategy that I think will get those taking the game a little more seriously to keep playing again and again.

Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone

In the mini-game portion of the game, you can expect some simple collectathon challenges where it’s all about grabbing as many strawberries as you can before the timer runs out. These short challenges are a little straightforward at first and I was not enjoying them early on. Again though, using abilities wisely makes a huge difference and the better I did this the more I enjoyed it. Also, as the final mini-game is a kind of battle royale (the even friendlier version of Fortnite) – it does mean a good final round (one in which you use your abilities to regularly knock out your opponents) can really make a big difference in the final strawberry tally.

Like in Mario Party – these extra awards can be somehow simultaneously joyous and wildly infuriating.

The mini-games may be the first hint that Dream Buffet has been influenced by Mario Party. However, for me the bigger similarity – is that after all four rounds three bonus awards will be given to players based on randomly chosen criteria (eg the most time spent fluttering or most abilities used). Like in Mario Party – these extra awards can be somehow simultaneously joyous and wildly infuriating. For new players (or at least those that have struggled to keep up with the leaders during the four previous rounds) the randomness of the extra awards can suddenly push you up to the top of the leaderboard. For those ahead, a few unlucky awards can mean winning the previous rounds means very little when the final count is made – and I’ve got to admit I often found myself pulling my hair out.

All in all, these tweaks are probably a good way to make the game appealing for new players and more experienced players alike. However, the short nature of the matches and the large awards (40 strawberries per final awards), as well as the huge prize for finishing a race first – I did feel the game was maybe a little uneven and a little too random and may perhaps benefit from some balancing at a later stage.

Roll over Beethoven

While mini-games and races can be tackled on their own (and you can even practice in a free roam mode) the combined Battle Mode (as described above) is clearly the main avenue for playing Dream Buffet and can be enjoyed as a single-player (offline), in a two-player split-screen or even online. I tried my hand at online play and as with all Switch online games, I was a little worried. On a few occasions, it seems I couldn’t find players (a problem us players in SA will be accustomed to). However, despite not finding players I was soon thrown into a match with opponents with unique Gamertags. So, I’m unsure if this was simply AI posing as real online players or some transfer to another server that happened in the background. In any event, in those matches I found the play to be smooth and the connection stable. Curiously though, on the rare occasion that my lobby (of 4-players) filled up – those matches did suffer some stuttering and occasional lag.

As a bit of a retro collector, these unlockables were a real cherry on top…

Something that doesn’t usually mean too much for me personally did make an impact this time around and I thought it well worth mentioning was the customisation options available. Collecting strawberries across the different modes increases your overall ranking which then allows you to unlock a variety of items. This means that you can not only change the way your Kirby looks but also thanks to some fun Kirby-related collectables, you can make your ‘home base’ – a giant cake – your own. Decorating the big dessert with many characters that have made an appearance in Kirby games across the years. As a bit of a retro collector, these unlockables were a real cherry on top, and my favourite was quickly unlocking images and iconic music from previous Kirby games. An unexpected and great little addition.

Rock ‘n Roll

Kirby’s surprise second entry on the Switch in just a few months is a fun multiplayer experience especially in short bursts – providing something for new players and those hoping for a little more strategy too. And with another successful entry – we’re happy to proclaim 2022 the year of Kirby!

August 21, 2022

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