Author Topic: Kirby's Dream Buffet (Switch) Review  (Read 405 times)

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Offline NWR_Neal

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Kirby's Dream Buffet (Switch) Review
« on: September 04, 2022, 08:00:00 AM »

Just desserts.

Following up on the excellent Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Kirby’s Dream Buffet might be a bit of a sugar crash. Forgotten Land is up there with the best Kirby adventures ever, whereas Dream Buffet is the latest in a line of adorable download-only Kirby spinoffs that riffs on a familiar concept through the lens of a pink puffball. While past spinoffs have touched on rhythm games and even Monster Hunter, Dream Buffet sets its sights on a Fall Guys-esque structure that pits rounded rolling Kirbys against each other in cake races and food-centric mini-game battles. It’s a novel idea that starts to crumble along the way as this game aims to satisfy many types of players but doesn’t seem to hold their attention along the way.

The focus is on multiplayer, though the game can be fully experienced by yourself offline if you so choose. Locally, you can play in split-screen with one other player, while online competitions feature up to four total players competing. The split-screen is fun, but the second player has no customization ability, which is part of the overall charm. As you play, you level up your rank and unlock a variety of items and collectables. A wealth of those items are different colors and adornments for your rolling Kirby ball to wear during matches. It’s a shame that local multiplayer is handicapped with only one player having any degree of wide customization.

Online is a different story, where all players can customize their characters, but it’s alarming that hopping into a match took a while about two weeks after launch. I suspect a lot of my matches had computer-controlled characters to round out the four-player games, though I could not prove this for certain. (I asked others playing the game and my experiences might be rare, but it’s still concerning for the future of a game so focused on online play.) The moment-to-moment gameplay is cute, but it does wear thin rather quickly. While there are different race layouts and designs, it’s a relatively uncomplicated romp through powdery and sugary locales. The variety of mini-games, which increases as you rank up, is a nice way to break up the races, but they’re overly simple, empty-calorie competitions. The finale to every buffet is a battle royale where players run into each other and make use of items to knock each other off a platform and eat more food. Those are the more amusing moments of the game, but even still, it’s not that long-lasting.

Dream Buffet is still adorable though and the simplicity plays well to the strengths of who this game might be aimed at, meaning kids. I enlisted my 4-year-old to play with me and after a raucous beginning, his interest faded quickly. His go-to move would be to go to the area that shows off Kirby’s recent adventures and highlight Kirby Star Allies or Forgotten Land and tell me he would rather play those games. While the tastes of my young son aren’t representative of every kid, this still was a surprise. If it didn’t hold the attention of a 34-year-old lifelong Kirby fan or a Kirby-loving 4-year-old, who is this game for?

That’s not to say I even think Dream Buffet is bad. It’s just kind of there. I love how it has the bones of a free-to-play game with a quasi-battle pass but it’s not a free-to-play game (though maybe it’d fare better as one!). I enjoy the cute historical Kirby cake decorations you unlock to make your base area feel like your own. The playfulness of just rolling around in the free-roll mode is endearing, but the totality of the experience isn’t gripping for more than a few fleeting moments. Dream Buffet is evocative of a mediocre dessert at a diner. You knew what you signed up for and you hoped maybe you’ll land on the piece of pie that is out of this world, but at the end of the day it’s just midnight at a diner, and you’re wondering why you’re still eating this passable apple pie.

Neal Ronaghan
Director, NWR

"Fungah! Foiled again!"