Kirby's Dream Buffet is a bright and breezy party game that sees a whole field full of Kirby characters roll at speed down sweet treat-laden tracks where the only objective is to get to the bottom first and lay claim to the largest mountain of strawberries when you get there.
As you roll down courses composed of waffles, ice cream, eggs, bacon, burgers, buns, and lots of other stuff we'd really like to be eating right now, you'll gobble up strawberries as you go, each one slightly increasing Kirby's girth, making you roll faster towards your final objective. Yes, bigger Kirbys roll faster but, on the flipside, a smaller Kirby can hover for longer, making it easier to get back on track when you are inevitably blasted off it by a rival.
To make things even tastier, as you careen down courses you'll bust open Mario Kart-style item boxes containing copy abilities. There are currently eight of these in total, allowing you to slam your rivals with a stone attack, ingest a hot pepper to go blazing off on a fiery turbo boost that incinerates anyone in your path, initiate an ice-cream tornado, turn into a speeding doughnut wheel, and even drill under the surface of cakey courses to avoid all incoming obstacles.
But that's not all! In order to spice things up a little more, the game's main mode, Gourmet Grand Prix, sees the action sliced into four delicious stages. Things kick off with a race down one of several different tracks, gobbling up strawberries as you go, then you'll take part in a minigame that charges you with barrelling around a small arena attempting to eat more strawberries than everyone else whilst avoiding various obstacles such as great big exploding cake bombs.
Once you're done here it's on to another race and then a final Battle Royale where you're given one more chance to come out on top of the strawberry-gobbling leaderboard by nabbing as many as you can whilst blasting your opponents out of the small arena with your copy abilities. Knock a rival off-screen here and you'll cause them to lose a bunch of strawberries whilst you get a nice big fruity bonus.
At the end of a round, everyone is slapped onto a set of scales, bonus strawberries are awarded for feats such as longest time spent hovering during a match, and the winner is revealed amidst much confetti and the distribution of the game's cute collectible and unlockable items. You've got costumes, Kirby colours, character treats used to decorate a cake in the game's hub area, and new music tracks for races to gather up here as you raise your Gourmet Rank with XP. With 135 Gourmet Rank levels in total to work through, it's gonna take some serious strawberry munching to see through to the end.
Kirby's Dream Buffet is super fun and frantic stuff. It's easy to understand, a breeze to get to grips with, and really comes alive when you jump online or play with a real-life friend in split-screen. The whole thing looks and sounds fantastic too, with colourful visuals, detailed courses, and the usual triumphant orchestral Kirby music to accompany the roly-poly action.
In terms of modes, you've got Gourmet Grand Prix, Single Races, Single Minigames, Single Battle Royale, and a free-rolling practice arena to play around with and all of these can be enjoyed in single player against three bots, two-player split-screen with one other pal sharing your Switch's Joy-Cons, in four-player online ranked mode with three random opponents, or with friends in a password match. You can also take part in an up to four-player local play mode, although that requires separate Switch consoles and copies of the game to jump into.
As far as our experiences with split-screen and online have gone, we've been pretty impressed with how smooth things run with two players. The action here is fast and frantic stuff that barrels you down some good-looking courses and we haven't noticed any slowdown or frame rate issues. Online has also been quick and easy to jump into with plenty of players already in the mix and hungry for competition. We have experienced a little slowdown here and there at points in online races, but it's never been nearly serious enough to cause any major issues with controlling our Kirbys as we roll towards our strawberry goals.
We've counted over 16 courses in total in the game so far, so there's certainly plenty of variety in terms of tracks and arenas here too. However, if we did have one slight complaint, there could be a little more in terms of tricky obstacles to bypass as you blast down race courses. Beyond the odd breakable wall or thin piece of track we haven't really come across anything to really make us stop or have to consider how to advance. Although, we guess, that's not really the point here and the job of concentrating on gobbling up every strawberry you can see whilst taking care of opponents with copy abilities is still plenty chaotic enough to make every race feel like a good time.
Kirby's Dream Buffet arrives on Switch at a nice budget price point, too. With plenty of collectibles to work your way towards earning, colourfully chaotic races with a nice mix of random luck and very light strategising, and online/split-screen modes that are working a treat so far as we've experienced, this is a great little party game that's hard to find fault with. If you're in the mood for a bright and breezy Kirby-flavoured affair that's easy to pick up and play, we suggest you slap on a napkin and dive right in.
Kirby's Dream Buffet is a colourful and chaotic slice of slapstick party game action that serves up a nice range of modes to play either offline, in online ranked matches, and with friends in split-screen or local play modes. This is an easy, breezy game to jump into, perfect for beginners and young gamers, with plenty of courses, lots of unlockable goodies, and a budget price point to boot, making for one delicious treat that we're gonna be digging into for some time to come.