A game about forming a Conga line. I know what you’re thinking. How could that possibly work in a video game context? Enter Conga Master Party!, an arcade-like experience that, believe it or not, has somewhat successfully created a fun time out of a what many will argue is a relatively tacky and eye-rolling dance move.
Conga Master Party! is an incredibly unique game that takes aspects of the old-school classic Snake and throws in some catchy music all in a charming, if overly familiar, pixelated style. The general idea is very simple. Move your character around a dance floor, circling other bystanders long enough to fill their interest meter and have them join your conga line. Bash into them and you’ll need to start over in convincing them (filling the meter once more).
The game handles not quite as you’d expect. Instead of controlling your character with the analogue you actually turn using the L and R buttons. Constantly moving forward, you’ll need to plan ahead making sure to avoid obstacles and lure as many people as possible into your line. And that’s pretty much the general idea.
The game does offer a story mode for lone players that throws you in a variety of nightclubs, bowling alleys and other usual places you’d expect to see a dance floor as you boogie your way through trying to create the biggest conga line possible. That’s not all though as your line will need to be diverse too, containing four types of people (cool, nerdy, fashionable and sexy).
If you fail to hit the criteria required and make it out the door you fail. A momentum meter dictates how long you have on the dance floor, where attracting more members of the public into your line keeps it from depleting. Grab multiple people in one go and the meter will see a significant boost. If you successfully make it out the door with your conga line you’ll then partake in a quick mini-game that sees you all running from an alien-spaceship (no really). Tap buttons quickly to prevent as many of your crew from being taken aboard and any remaining will then join you in the next club.
While I appreciate the developers have tried to add some sort of single player option, unfortunately, what’s here just feels repetitive and a little slow going. As you progress, the game will throw obstacles like banana peels or bouncers your way along with power-ups but these fail to heighten the excitement in any meaningful way. This again rings true for the game’s endless mode. The fact of the matter is you’re still just circling people on a dance floor to create a longer train.
Another thing that can frustrate is the difficulty that often feels a little too luck based. The random placement of people on the dance floor sometimes results in you finding the same types more often than others. This makes some attempts feel reliable on how favourable the public are laid out.
It’s when you start introducing other players to the mix that the game really to come to life – where suddenly Conga Master Party! goes from being merely a quirky idea to one that’s also a lot of fun. Just like other competitive couch games like Towerfall and Runbow, the range of options in Conga Master Party! help keep things interesting. While every nightclub and character you unlock through the game’s story mode are playable, it’s the different modes that make playing with friends far more appealing.
Each game mode is randomly and rather bizarrely named after a popular AAA series (with Conga replacing one of its words) however the actual gameplay remains the same albeit slightly tweaked. Take “Mortal Conga” (one guess as to the game this is hinting at) for example, where each player must dash around the dance floor grabbing as many pigs as possible within a time limit. More pigs equal more bubbles for the next stage of the game. When time is up, players must then attempt to dance over opponents’ trails of bubbles popping them. Last person left is the winner.
“Cut the Conga” meanwhile offers the chance for dancers to snip away at others conga lines. As you can imagine this mode leads to many a heated “discussion” as victory might be snatched away from you mere seconds from the buzzer thanks to a quick chop of your conga line. It’s this variety that is sorely missing from the single player and while not every mode is a winner, the hits definitely outweigh the misses.
It’s also worth noting that the Nintendo Switch version does include a number of exclusive extras including new characters, venues, amiibo support and two multiplayer modes. “1-2 Switch” sees colliding conga lines facing off in a quick game of rock, paper, scissors to snatch half the losers line, while “Just Conga” has you making dance poses using the Joy-Con.
Speaking of Joy-Con, the game offers four-player support with two of them shared. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this option as the Joy-Con themselves are already small enough for one person let alone another. Still it’s nice to have the ability especially if you aren’t keen on shelling out for another pair.
Conga Master Party! is a unique game with a lot of heart. While the single player might be a pretty forgettable experience, the multiplayer offers a surprisingly fun and frantic time. Just as with any good conga line, the more people the better. So, if you’re in the market for a quirky, silly multiplayer then Conga Master Party! might be worth a look.