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Kirby's New Nintendo Switch Game Is a Sweet Multiplayer Treat

The newly launched Kirby's Dream Buffet is a joyous party game, but offers little for solo players.

Kirby racing on a cake obstacle course
You'll need to outrace opponents across delicious stages in Kirby's Dream Buffet.
Nintendo

Kirby may be best known for gentle platforming adventures, but the voracious puffball has branched off into numerous other genres over the years, from pinball and puzzlers to even mini-golf. Kirby's Dream Buffet, which launched for the Nintendo Switch on Aug. 17, plops Kirby into a food-themed party game, and the result is delectable – if a little insubstantial.

The main course in Dream Buffet, so to speak, is the "Gourmet Grand Prix," a four-round competition consisting of races, mini-games and a battle royale, with the ultimate goal being to gobble up the most strawberries. The first and third rounds are races across an obstacle course made of food. You'll need to carefully navigate spongecake slopes, shortbread platforms, egg yolk trampolines and other delicious hazards on the way to the finish line, where three mountains of strawberry shortcake await.

Naturally, the goal here is to reach the finish before the other players. Arriving first means you can help yourself to the biggest serving of shortcake, practically ensuring you'll be in a comfortable lead heading into the next round. Speed isn't all you need to worry about, however. Strawberries and other fruits are littered all across the course, so you'll need to collect as many as you can on the way to the goal while trying to outrace your opponents.

Adding another layer to races are the different power-ups you can acquire. As in Mario Kart, these are stored in item boxes strewn liberally around the stage, and they bestow Kirby with a different food-themed Copy Ability once collected. Tornado, for instance, creates a vortex that draws in nearby strawberries, while Jelly lets you slip past walls. These powers can also be wielded offensively. Use your Copy Ability to bump another player and you can send them sailing off the course, costing them some strawberries and, more preciously, time. This turns every race into a frantic fight for survival.

The more strawberries you eat during the Grand Prix, the larger your Kirby will grow. Not only does this affect your standing in the rankings (the heaviest Kirby at the end wins), it also gives you a bigger advantage over the other players. Your supersized Kirby will be much harder to bump off platforms, letting you literally throw your weight around. However, all that heft also comes with a drawback, as you'll struggle to float back up to safety if you do fall off.

Sandwiched between the two races is a competitive mini-game. These vary per Grand Prix; one involves jumping into cups that appear around the stage and eating the strawberries within before other players, while another has you breaking boxes to retrieve strawberries. Contrasted against the other game types in Dream Buffet, these mini-games are brief and rudimentary, but they can still get quite hectic, serving as a fun respite between rounds.

Capping off the Grand Prix is a free-for-all battle royale contested on a floating stage. The objective here is to knock foes off the arena while eating strawberries, which will continually rain down throughout the round. Power-ups will also periodically pop up, and they're even more potent here, all but guaranteeing to eliminate a player if you connect. As before, the penalty for falling off the stage is lost strawberries, which means tides can turn dramatically during the battle royale.

Kirby wearing a hamburger

As you play Kirby's Dream Buffet, you'll level up and unlock various rewards, including adorable headwear for Kirby.

Nintendo/Screenshot by CNET

With four friends (the game supports both online and local multiplayer), Gourmet Grand Prix is a riotous time. Unfortunately, there's little else to do in Dream Buffet, particularly for solo players. The game does offer the option to play races and mini-games individually or against bots, and the items you unlock as you play and level up can be used to customize a cake in the hub area and outfit your Kirby with different headwear. (Mine is currently rocking a nice hamburger). Beyond that, however, there are no other game modes, so your enjoyment will largely depend on how often you have someone around to play the game with.

Like the confections Kirby races on, then, Dream Buffet is a sugary treat – an airy party game that's fun at gatherings, but ultimately light on substance. With a modest $15 price tag, though, Dream Buffet is still easy to recommend.