Conga Master Party Review (Switch)

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Conga Master Party on Switch

Conga Master Party was a game that almost slipped under my radar until someone pointed out to me that it supports amiibo. I’m glad they did, because I ended up finding a unique and charming game to play on my Switch. The game’s easy to understand and explain which, combined with the Switch’s affinity for local multiplayer, makes for a great game to whip out and play with friends. The appeal does wear off after a while if you’re only playing the singleplayer modes, but there’s a few hours of fun here and there’s a huge variety of multiplayer modes that are great to play with friends. If you’ve got people to play with then this is a fun (and cheap!) addition to any party.

Conga Master sees your character barge into a club, needing to recruit a certain number of people into their conga line before they’re content to leave. Your conga line moves automatically so you only need to worry about two buttons – the left bumper turns your character left while the right bumper turns them right. Holding both of them down will make you speed forwards at the cost of not being able to turn. As your conga line approaches other patrons a gauge will begin to fill up as they get sucked in by your sweet groove. Each character belongs to a category, and you need enough from each category to open the level exit.

It sounds simple enough but there’s a few layers of difficulty like hazards that will make you slip around the stage, pushing you away from the dancers you’re trying to recruit or even pushing you into them and making them annoyed. The main challenge comes from needing to maintain your ‘momentum’. This momentum depletes over time but gets replenished when you recruit a new character to your conga line. The twist though, is that the gauge depletes quicker as your conga line gets longer. So to balance this out you need to build up a combo by quickly recruiting characters in succession. This gets easier when your line is long enough to reach multiple groups of characters at once, and you can make it even easier by picking up powerups that make your dancing even more enticing. There’s a nice sense of progression as you get used to how the game plays because you can start pulling off long combos and build up huge conga lines that fill up most of the club.

Conga Master Party on SwitchThe main singleplayer mode in the game is the Story Mode, where you pick a character and go through a series of clubs in succession. This is longer than in the original version of the game due to the addition of 2 extra levels, and will take an hour or two to complete when you’re getting used to the mechanics. Once you’ve got them under control you can complete it much quicker with other characters. This mode gets a bit stale once you’ve played through it with a few characters because there’s not a huge amount of variety in how you can tackle each level, which is a shame because you need to play this mode a lot in order to unlock each character. When you’ve finished a level you get a few spins of a roulette wheel depending on how well you did, and from it you can win characters, power-ups for the next level or… nothing at all. It’s a bit annoying having character unlocks tied to chance, especially when most of them are cute pixel art pop culture references. Normally I find these kinds of thing a bit tacky, but the low-fi renditions of these characters have a lot of charm, and the sheer breadth of how many things pop up is staggering. You’ll be wandering around a club thinking “Is… is that Dolores from Westworld?” and then unlocking them and confirming that yep, it’s definitely an expy of her. It becomes a fun game in of itself, trying to work out who these pixelated people are supposed to be.

There’s a strong sense of style and quirky charm permeating through the game, not just with these characters but also through the catchy music and even just the base premise of the game. I knew it’d be a fun time when my Elvis lookalike character burst into a club, proclaiming “What could possibly go wrong?” and went on to form a conga line with the likes of the Bride from Kill Bill and an Inkling from Splatoon. Then at the end of each level your conga line begins to be abducted by aliens in a short minigame lasting around 30 seconds. This sounds totally absurd and out of place but actually ends up building towards what plot the game actually has. In order to keep as many dancers as you can in the next level you’ve got to mash the A button to run and then tap the L button to jump over stray pigs. The minigame last a little too long for how quickly you have to mask the button, so my thumb would often get quite tired. Thankfully though you can build your line back up quickly enough once the next level begins.

The second singleplayer mode on offer is Endless Mode. In here you pick a stage and just keep playing until you run out of momentum. It’s a good place to show off your skills since it records your personal best conga line and combo lengths for each stage, so you can aim to beat the high score each time. I played this mode after I’d gotten proficient at the game from playing the story a few times, so I found that it didn’t offer much of a challenge for me. I could get to a point where my conga line was so long that I was basically constantly recruiting people all over the place as I walked around and only lost because I ran out of people to find, as if the game couldn’t spawn any more. It would have been nice if there was a singleplayer mode that offered some more challenge, because now I’d only be playing solo to unlock all the characters.

Conga Master Party on SwitchWhen you’re done with the singleplayer modes there’s a surprising number of 2-4 player modes to play. Each of these puts an interesting spin on the base mechanics with some weird gimmicks. My favourites were Cut the Conga, which adds a new powerup into the mix that lets you cut another player’s conga line when you collide with it, and Command & Conga. This is a 2 player mode which puts each player at either end of the same conga line, and you need to co-operate so that you’re not pulling the line in different directions and slamming your army of dancers into the ones you’re trying to recruit. It’s a total mess and it’s hilarious. The simplicity of the controls means that Conga Master Party is a great game to pull out and play with friends because the controls don’t need much explaining and they fit the JoyCons well. It’s not suited too well to Tabletop Mode play however, because if players stray too far from each other the camera will zoom out too far for you to be able to spot your character. It works well enough on a TV screen but the Switch’s screen is too small. The game has a lot of longevity in multiplayer because there’s a lot more variety in gameplay than the singleplayer modes, with each mode requiring you to approach the game in totally different ways.

There’s two new modes in the Switch version – 1, 2, Conga and Just Conga. In 1, 2 Conga you don’t have to count marbles or milk anything – players can trigger a Scissors, Paper, Rock battle by colliding with another player, with the winner taking some of the loser’s dancers. You have a few seconds to make your choice, but once you make it the other player can see it and react accordingly. If you don’t make a choice in time though then your opponent can beat you by selecting anything, so there’s an interesting challenge of waiting just enough to get your choice in and catch your opponent by surprise. It’s fun having such an easy way to potentially screw over your opponents (that can easily backfire!) because there’s a constant sense of danger in the game and you have to be really wary of how close you get to other players. Just Conga wasn’t very enjoyable because it’s a bit too gimmicky. You play the game like normal but when you pick up the Dancer powerup you can make a pose with your JoyCon. The other players then have a couple of seconds to match it or else they lose some of their conga line. The game does a good job of mapping your movement and showing how close you are to the target pose, but you have so little time to react that you’re almost guaranteed to lose some dancers unless you have eyes on your opponents at all times. None of the other modes had major issues so one that’s a bit of a dud isn’t so bad.

Conga Master Party on SwitchSo what about the advertised amiibo features? Well, they’re… not great. You can scan up to 12 compatible amiibo to unlock a new costume for a portion of the game’s character roster. They’re not themed after Nintendo characters, they’re goofy new looks for the characters like a firefighter outfit or an egg costume. It’s definitely not worth buying amiibo for specifically, but if you’ve already got some for another game then it’s a little bonus. It appears to be a function added purely to tick the “amiibo compatible” box and get some extra eyes on the game (which worked, I guess, seeing as I’m here writing about it because of it). I get that it’s a weird situation to be in when putting amiibo functionality in an indie game because you don’t make any money off amiibo sales and it would be hard to get Nintendo to sign off on costumes based off their characters, but I’m sure there’s something a bit more exciting they could have done, like perhaps even adding costumes like these for a bigger portion of the cast. amiibo functionality can be a selling point for some people, but if people bought this game based off seeing amiibo functions in the feature list they’re likely to feel a bit disappointed, regardless of whether they enjoy the meat of the game. For more info on the amiibo unlocks you can check out our amiibo guide for Conga Master Party.

Putting that aside, Conga Master Party is a quirky and entertaining game that I’ve enjoyed my time with. Those looking for a new local multiplayer game with friends would definitely be well-served by checking it out because it’s easy to pick up and play and there’s so many unique ways to play that will keep it fresh for a while. You can get a few hours of fun out of the singleplayer modes as well before they start to feel repetitive, and if you’re the kind of person who plays ’til they’ve unlocked everything then they’ll last you much longer.  All in all, it’s only $13 which is a more than fair price and the lack of a ‘Switch tax’ is much appreciated. As a wise sage once said, “Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga”.

Conga Master Party releases September 28th for the Nintendo Switch.

 

This review was written based off a game or game content provided by the publisher. We don’t assign review scores to game reviews.

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Summary
Conga Master Party is a quirky and entertaining game that I’ve enjoyed my time with. Those looking for a new local multiplayer game with friends would definitely be well-served by checking it out because it’s easy to pick up and play and there’s so many unique ways to play that will keep it fresh for a while. You can get a few hours of fun out of the singleplayer modes as well before they start to feel repetitive, and if you’re the kind of person who plays 'til they’ve unlocked everything then they’ll last you much longer.  All in all, it’s only $13 which is a more than fair price and the lack of a ‘Switch tax’ is much appreciated. As a wise sage once said, “Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga”.
Pros
Large variety of fun multiplayer modes
Huge breadth of references and easter eggs to discover
Easy to pick up mechanics
Cons
Singleplayer gets repetitive before too long
End-of-level minigame is physically tiring
amiibo functionality is oddly poor
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