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Conga Master Party

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: Rhythm
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Developer: Undercoders
Release Date: Sept. 28, 2017


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Switch Review - 'Conga Master Party'

by Cody Medellin on Jan. 16, 2018 @ 3:30 a.m. PST

Conga Master Party sees up to four players each controlling their chosen party-goer in his or her quest to create the most epic conga line ever.

Sometimes you just have no idea what you're getting into with a game, even if the title seems to explain everything. Conga Master Party, which was released on the Switch months after appearing on all other platforms, fits this description perfectly. A conga line is a well-known thing, and you may have an idea about how it can translate into the video game medium, but you know nothing about it until you get your hands on it. When you finally play it, you'll realize that everything about it is a bit out there, for better or for worse.

You start by choosing a character out of a possible 38, though only eight are available initially. Every character has a different look and different stats, but for the most part, they play the same way. Interestingly, the game comes with Amiibo support, but it has to be one of the more unusual implementations to date. For starters, the Amiibo only unlocks costumes for up to 12 characters. Even then, those costumes aren't necessarily Amiibo-related but simply different skins for characters. Finally, only certain Amiibo lines allow you to unlock those costumes. With no specific character skins being unlocked by specific Amiibo, it's a little disappointing to see some of them not function for the game. There's no support for any Super Smash Bros.-related figures, which people are most likely to own, so expect this feature to go unused.

Once a character is chosen, you're on your way to visit one of eight different nightclubs as you try to get as many people as you can into your conga line. To get a character to join, you have to dance alongside them until you fill up their influence meter and they automatically join the line. Since your forward momentum is automatic, and you can only rotate your movement direction, your manner of influence is to dance around the person in a circle, making sure not to bump them lest you reset the influence meter and have to restart the process. Each person you get counts in one of four different categories, and filling up all four of the meters allows you to take your conga line out of the club and on to the next venue to repeat the process.

As you'd expect, there are a number of obstacles designed to stop your party. Gathering people to join your line is important since every person replenishes a part of your constantly dwindling momentum meter. Getting pigs to join your line also diminishes your momentum meter greatly, while banana peels, bouncers and janitors cause you to slip and lose your balance, forcing you to move swiftly in one direction and without a way to influence others. You can gather power-ups to make things better, like temporary influence boosts or faster movement speed, but planning your best route in a randomly generated crowd with minimal mistakes is the only way to guarantee success.

Aside from a minigame played between levels where you try to out-conga a UFO from picking up members of your line, that's pretty much the gist of the game. The venues may be different, but they don't differ much from the basic layout of a bar in the middle, low-level patrons taking up most of the floor, and a VIP section at the top, which you can only access after getting a certain number of people in your conga line. Those looking for loads of single-player content will come away disappointed, since the campaign isn't very long, and choosing different characters, including those you unlock later on, doesn't change up the quest. There is an endless mode, but with no online leaderboard to chase, it can feel pointless.

This isn't to say that Conga Master Party is boring. The entire premise of the game is pretty bonkers, but trying to ensnare people into your line is a fun thing to do. The levels don't last too long, so the short sessions are perfect for the console's portable nature. It also helps that the mix of light electronica and Latin grooves are infectious enough that you'll be inspired to finish the stages, if only to hear what the next track sounds like.

While the single-player content is lacking, its multiplayer is only a little more robust. There are seven different multiplayer modes, with almost all of them supporting up to four players playing competitively. The objective is that you're trying to get a bigger conga line than others before time runs out, leaving the secondary portions of each mode as the only differences. For example, one mode has you participating in a game of rock/paper/scissors, with the loser losing on some of their conga line members. Another mode has you searching for scissors to cut another person's line, while one mode may have you tilting your Joy-Con at certain times to match a pattern or risk having your line reduced. They're fun enough, but don't expect them to take over stronger multiplayer offerings by other games. The only multiplayer mode that's really different is a co-op mode that has you and your partner moving in tandem to get more conga line members together.

Though the content isn't robust, at least the presentation is good enough. Even though only one song plays in each venue, thus limiting the soundtrack variety, each tune makes you want to dance or listen to it outside of the game. Graphically, the game goes for a pixelated look that most early indie games went for, but it remains detailed enough that you can recognize what they're trying to parody while still providing some good animations.

Conga Master Party is one of those games that is a novel experience for a short amount of time. You're not really going to find a game that essentially takes Snake and changes enough of the mechanics that it feels fresh again. With that said, the novelty wears out quickly, and although the multiplayer tries to balance things out, its shallow depth means that Conga Master Party is a game you'll play once or twice before shelving it — until your choices thin out again.

Score: 6.5/10

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