Conga Master Party! (Switch eShop) Review
The conga. The dance that you might remember happening at a party sometime in your youth, or on TV, or maybe I just don’t go to enough parties. In Conga Master Party! it is your only purpose: to conga and to conga well. Fortunately, it isn’t hard in this fast pace pixel art dance party.
Conga Master Party! starts you with a conga dancer of your choosing. You begin on entering the stage/dance floor exclaiming ‘What could possibly go wrong’. You take off in search of other dancers minding their own business to conga around at levels bordering on harassment, until an attraction meter fills up above their head and they join your conga cause, extending the conga line by one. There’s a few other factors you have to keep in mind as you expand your numbers and achieve conga mastery. First, there is a momentum meter that is always depleting. To keep it filled you need to be collecting people to your line. At the same time, the more people you have, the faster the momentum drains. There are obstacles placed all over the dance floor and often making dancing around some groups more strategic. For example, slide on a banana peel you can slide across the floor, bumping into a dancer and resetting the attraction meter. Obstacles can take several forms including bouncers and janitors who’ll make things difficult. Around the level you’ll also find pigs dancing around that can also be attracted to your conga that you’ll want to avoid most of the time because they make your momentum drain quicker.
At first, it’s all about expanding the line. The more people you have, the more you can really build up combos for getting people in quick succession. There are also areas in stages where you need a certain number of people to enter zones where there are more people, or special dancers that you need to find to unlock more characters. Besides the pop culture characters, character stats can change how you approach a level a bit differently. The story mode is where you’ll unlock these characters. In story mode, to unlock the exit you need to attract four different kinds of dancers and get enough of each to fill their meters so you can Conga on out of there. The story mode is pretty light on story, working through 8 levels (The Switch has two exclusive levels from the original six).
There’s a minigame between each level that has you mashing the A button to run away from a UFO sucking up people from your conga line, as you have to jump over pigs who run at you from the side. The minigame serves two purposes; giving you a chance to take some of your conga line with you into the next level, making it easier to get things started. The other purpose is to earn credits that get used in a wheel spin at the end of each level which is your only chance to unlock extra characters. But here’s the rub – you have to find the particular characters in the level to get the chance to unlock them, and there is no guarantee that you’ll unlock anything. You just get some random power up. With quite a few characters to unlock, this is a disappointing way to force you to keep going through the story mode, and I can’t imagine many people forcing themselves to unlock everything. Finally, there is also an endless mode, where you chose your character and level and keep building a conga line until you’re out of momentum.
While the single player content is fun, after a few levels in a row it gets repetitive as the gameplay never truly changes. I have the feeling the game wasn’t designed to be played for hours on end. But there is a lot to like about this game that easily outweighs any negatives. The games pixel art is charming and the retro aesthetic suits, especially the pop culture references – whether it’s characters, dancers or Easter eggs dotted all through the levels. It’s not every game that has you looking like Elvis as you conga around The Bride from Kill Bill, Doc Brown and Freddie Mercury in a level based off of the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. The music is also super catchy. After a few play throughs of each level it can tend to stick with you, yet not be annoying. The only other let down for me were the Switch exclusive levels. While it’s great that there are more levels, compared to the levels that were already in the game they felt dull, and I often found the dancer placement was sparse at the point in the game where every second counts.
The real fun and longevity of Conga Master Party! lies in the local multiplayer modes. There’s eight different modes:
- Cut the Conga: PvP where you can pick up scissors that allow you to cut through another Conga line and steal some dancers. This mode is pretty fun, the most frantic and exciting rounds in this game largely come from the modes where you can steal from one another and it becomes more than just the most skilled player steamrolling everyone.
- Mortal Conga: PvP race to attract the most pigs to your line, once all pigs are collected it becomes a showdown with your collected pigs following behind in bubbles. The aim is to pop all your opponent’s bubbles.
- 1.2 Conga: PvP. When you run into an opponent you’re forced into a game of rock, paper, scissors and the winner steals some of the other’s conga line. This mode was high up there out of the bunch. If you pick before the timer runs out your opponent can see what you’ve picked and counter it. The game quickly turns it into a game of chicken, seeing who’ll show their hand first and give up part of their conga.
- The Last Conga: PvP last dancer standing and the last game I would want to play again out of the bunch.
- Grand Theft Conga: PvP where there is one dancer in the level as players struggle to keep them in their line and fill up a meter by keeping them in their zone, a conga king of the hill which really needs four players to get the most out of it.
- Command and Conga: a cooperative mode where players are tethered to each other and need to work together to navigate the level and continue adding to the shared conga. This is one of the modes I enjoyed the most, although like most cooperative games that rely on communication and team work it has the potential to end in neither partner/friend/colleague talking to each other for a while, so maybe play this one with someone you’re not too attached to.
- Just Conga: PvP with a ‘dance’ powerup that once collected allows the player to make a pose with their joy con, and the others have to match it or lose people from their line. I never had much luck with this one, it was hard to tell if the gyro was being really sensitive or if I’m just really bad at it. If you don’t mind being at the mercy of motion controls, then go for it.
Even at their most bland (I’m looking at you Last Conga) the multiplayer modes are the real stand out here. The game can easily be played using the split joycons and the controls are simple and rules for each mode are easy for anyone to pick up and play. I wouldn’t recommend using the tabletop mode as it quickly gets hard to see what’s happening.
For amiibo owners, there are unlockables in the game. It’s a weird situation though. I was only able to unlock costumes with the Animal Crossing, Splatoon, Mario Party and the 8 Bit Link (but not the other Links) Amiibos. The costumes just unlock alternative costumes for the selectable Dancers. But don’t expect any Nintendo costumes, as there seems to be more of a Halloween theme if anything. It is a shame that the costumes are locked behind amiibos, although they don’t give any content you’d lose any sleep over.
Overall Conga Master Party! is great value, the Switch has become the perfect home for these cheaper indie games with a surprising amount of content and best of all they’re fun to play. The story mode can take a few hours and is best enjoyed in short sessions, but the multiplayer modes really brings the game to life and is a good game to chuck on amongst good company and put your bonds of friendship to the test.
Review copy provided by publisher. Some images courtesy of our friends at Mon Amiibo.
A cool combination of pixel art and music
Fun and easy to pick up
Great party game
Repetitive in long sessions
Frustrating character unlocks
Switch exclusive levels not as fun as the rest of the game