Kirby’s Dream Buffet players, where are all of you?
I wish I had a clueless response to that question, but the reality is that I know the answer. None of you have to explain yourselves—I’m not upset with anyone who has dropped the game or has no interest in playing anymore. For anyone who is still rolling around in the Dream Fork's world of meals though, I think you and I will share some similar frustrations.
Let me give you some backstory first: I can proudly say that I was one of the first journalists to review Kirby’s Dream Buffet when the game was released in 2022, and I have honestly not stopped playing since. As a Kirby fan and as someone who reviewed games from every genre and platform, Dream Buffet is just one of those few uplifting titles that can always put a smile on my face when I’m having a rough day.
As I summed it up in my review at the time, figuratively and metaphorically, Dream Buffet is good comfort food. Sure, its gameplay could be a bit deeper, I wish there were more modes, and a lack of four-player couch multiplayer is a huge miss, but the game's carefree attitude, delectable visuals, and wonderful score all make me feel at ease after a long day of work.
The past two months though, I haven’t exactly been happily rolling in cake, organizing treat toppers, and jelly slipping through walls like I normally would. Recently, Kirby's Dream Buffet has been leaving me in a bit of a sour mood whenever I choose to boot it up now and then—not a completely acidic one, but still a tad sour nonetheless.
While I've gotten over the fact that HAL never decided to add more content to the game and has rarely acknowledged its existence since release day, this past year, it seems that quite literally everyone who was a fan of the game has been given more reasons to move on than return to Kirby’s tasty competition. The sad truth is that I can guarantee everyone reading this that I am one of the few active players in this game. Lobbies have been dormant and finding matches is downright difficult.
Seeing a full party in Kirby’s Dream Buffet nowadays would be a delicious sight because I can’t find a single four-player online match—it does not matter whether I am playing extremely late at night, super early in the morning, or at any given time of the day or week. The last time I saw a match full of human players in this game has to have been months ago.
Recently, I decided to run an experiment for fun over two weeks just to see whether or not I was playing at the wrong time or if no one was playing Kirby's Dream Buffet. During that time, I hopped on the game's online server several times throughout each day (staying as consistent as I could) to see how many other players I could encounter. My ultimate goal was to walk away being able to say that I was able to play a four-player match...
As you can probably suspect where this is going, and based on my wording from before, I was unable to find that match—in fact, I couldn’t even find a three-player match during all my sessions. The highest player count I managed to reach during my two-week extravaganza with Kirby's Dream Buffet was two (a one-versus-one match). I unsurprisingly found myself running into the same players over and over again.
During my playtime, I matched with three individuals on more than five separate occasions—it was exciting during those moments that I was finally able to play several matches with other active players, but quite sad in hindsight that our party never passed the two-player headcount. It never stopped our fun (for me, at least), but the point still stood.
Despite this sad situation, I did come across a surprising number of players during my time with the game. While 29 people is admittedly a pretty measly total, it's still larger than I thought it would be and proves that Dream Buffet players are still out there. We may be the equivalent of a single box of strawberries, but we exist!
Looking at the past, present, and future of Kirby's Dream Buffet just makes me think, "Why should HAL even bother trying to make any online Kirby spin-offs?" I’m not sure what to entirely think about how Dream Buffet represents Kirby’s endeavors in the online space—it was a small project within HAL, after all—but this Switch generation of Kirby spin-off multiplayer games has left me feeling a bit disappointed.
I will always love Kirby’s Dream Buffet and what it has to offer, but it’s just a shame how lonely my experience with the game has felt recently and how HAL never expanded upon the game with content updates. If one thing is for sure, this whole experiment only fuels the idea that multiplayer games can only be successful today with consistent support.
With the game being included in Nintendo's recent Jump-start January Sale, maybe a discount will help pull some new players in... based on some short dabblings back into the online today, it doesn't seem to be working, but a Kirby fan can dream right?
Let's organize an online play session for Dream Buffet soon!
Star Slam Stances is the Kirby Informer Staff's column for opinion and commentary pieces. All words reflect that of the author's opinions. Be sure to share with us your thoughts on the topic discussed above in the comments section or on our social pages!