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Online play spoils the party at Kirby’s Dream Buffet

Kirby’s Dream Buffet is a cute multiplayer game. It celebrates the pink puffball’s past, but its let down by unreliable online play.

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Kirby has had a remarkable year. The outstanding Kirby and the Forgotten Land has made the pink puffball’s 30th anniversary one to remember. Fans would have been satisfied with that gift, but Nintendo surprised them with Kirby’s Dream Buffet, a $15 game that is now available on the Nintendo Switch eShop.

The unexpected multiplayer game combines aspects from Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout-style party games with those from vintage Kirby spinoffs like Kirby’s Dream Course. In four rounds of minigame competition, four players try to eat as many strawberries as they can as their Kirby balloons grow. Its food-themed courses alone are enough to leave you feeling quite hungry.

It’s a modest publication, comparable to Kirby’s illustrious history of small-scale spinoffs, but it’s a delightful one with plenty of jubilant nods to the past of the series. However, some annoying aspects of the party are hindered because this is where Nintendo’s weak internet technology is at its worst in the game.

Kirby, happy birthday!

A mini-gauntlet, Kirby’s Dream Buffet’s multiplayer rounds go no longer than ten minutes. The game requires players to roll to the finish line after completing an obstacle course that is made up of food. Some really clever dynamics are at work in this situation. The object of the game is to collect as many strawberries as possible, thus courses incentivize players to pursue more difficult paths that have more strawberries to gather. It’s still a race, though, and the victor gets to eat a stack of 50 strawberries as a reward for finishing first. The pressure is on to reach the finish line as quickly as you can while still gathering a lot of fruit along the way because the other three players will be fighting over stacks of 20 and 10.

Players will engage in a speedier round where they must catch falling strawberries in between those races. All four players are put onto a platform for the grand finale, which is a hectic timed battle in which they can use their copy powers to knock each other off and collect fruit from one another. Matches are over in a heartbeat, but because to the numerous lead changes, they are always exciting. Kirby’s Dream Buffet offers similar mayhem for people who enjoy yelling at their buddies during tense Mario Party games.

The risks are nonetheless maintained low enough, in typical Nintendo fashion, to make it a fun party game that a child could win. Three randomly selected incentives are given to players at the conclusion of the last stage, giving them a total of 40 extra strawberries each. I frequently find myself winning games that I performed horribly in just by chance of hovering the most during a round. Those who are want to compete might find that part frustrating, but this is a Kirby game where you eat strawberries. What would you anticipate, a vibrant esports scene?

Dream Buffet celebrates the series with a fun premise rather than making a competitive multiplayer game. Players can earn vintage music and old-timey artwork as they advance in the rankings. The most enjoyable part of the game so far hasn’t been winning a round; rather, it’s been loading in and starting my race while the original Kirby theme is playing in all its blipping brilliance.

This combined with some incredibly imaginative, highly detailed food levels results in a multiplayer game that just feels like dessert. A little sugar every now and again is a treat, but it won’t fill you up like a meal.

Online problems If it weren’t for a few annoyances that ruin the fun, I’d be prepared to invest much more time in Kirby’s Dream Buffet. Moving around generally feels a little awkward because I frequently find myself veering off a cliff. When Kirby veers off course, he can inflate to jump back up, but since it’s difficult to pull him back onto a stage, he usually just hangs uncomfortably in the air until he runs out of breath.

These complaints are small, but Nintendo’s online infrastructure is the main problem. If you’ve played many Switch games online, you’re undoubtedly accustomed to things occasionally stopping up. From what I’ve seen thus far, slowness never goes away. Particularly in a racing game, having the game halt to a slideshow-like slowness is a great momentum killer. Nothing is more annoying than preparing to execute a hard turn and then experiencing a brief popsicle-like moment.

I’m not sure if this is a problem with the Nintendo Switch in general or a problem with the way the developers have included online play in this game. What I do know is that it’s the same issue that has prevented me from playing online multiplayer first-party games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Tennis Aces, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and others with friends. The most recent victim of this tendency is Kirby, which is particularly noteworthy in this case because the entire game is played online. Although there are local and free-roll options, if you buy it, you’ll be playing online.

Whatever the cause of the online issues, they are leaving a bitter aftertaste in my otherwise enjoyable experience with Kirby’s Dream Buffet. The short matches, low-stakes gaming, and great graphic design are all to my liking. Nintendo seems to have created a delicious ice cream sundae but neglected to put it in a dish.

The Nintendo Switch eShop currently has Kirby’s Dream Buffet accessible.