Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: Conga Master Party


Conga Master Party is one of those titles that starts out making a pretty strong and positive impression but then its concept somewhat collapses on itself and it has nowhere further to go. What it has going for it is a weird sense of humor, alien abductions, and a variety of arenas for you to dance your way to success in. These areas are even themed in a variety of ways that will occasionally catch your eye as familiar including a prom area that made me smile. Unfortunately, while it makes a valiant effort to provide some extended content in the form of some cute head-to-head game styles there’s just not that much to hold your attention for long.

Starting out in the single-player mode you’ll first need to choose your dancer. The game will start you out with 6 pretty middle-of-the-road rug-cutters but there are many more you’ll have an opportunity to unlock as you play. These vary in their appearance but more importantly in stats like how quickly they move or turn as well as how quickly they can attract new conga line members. Your objective is to dance your way around the floor and attract new dancers to your conga line. You’ll do this by dancing in pretty close proximity to them (but don’t run into them or you’ll upset them) using just your L and R triggers to turn in either direction. While you’re doing this you’ll need to maintain your momentum, which slowly depletes but can be brought back up the more people you add.


In order to amp up our score and collect even more momentum you’ll want to try to get people to join your conga line in quick succession, which will build your multiplier and replenish more momentum. To be successful you’ll want to try to find clusters of dancers or perhaps even create your own through some crafty bumping. You’ll also see a few power-ups around the levels that you can run into that will temporarily give you a boost of some kind whether improving your rate of convincing people to join, the area of your influence, or a few other effects. Most levels also have an area that you’ll need to have a certain number of conga line members to get into. These will usually have a power-up in them as well as a number of potential line members. To help amp up the challenge there are a variety of people in the clubs you’ll need to be careful to avoid like bouncers who’ll knock you around, janitors who leave a slippery floor behind, and both pigs and apparently cats who’ll make your conga line much less cool (losing momentum) if you accidentally attract them. In addition it isn’t all just about getting enough people in your line to complete the level, you’ll need to attract a certain number of people with each of the distinct personality types in the game. Depending on the layout of the dynamically-generate club this can sometimes lead to your downfall if you have troubles finding that one cluster of people you’ll need before your momentum runs out.

Once you have everything you’ll need to complete the level you’ll want to get to the doors and you’ll move on. But wait, here’s where it takes an odd mini-game detour and you’ll need to quickly tap A to help your conga line make a mad dash to the next club while trying not to be abducted by an alien spaceship and its tractor beam! I suppose just because pigs are right bastards in the game you’ll also need to periodically time a jump to keep a number of random pigs from bumping into you and slowing your line down. This is certainly a silly touch to the game that made me laugh the first few times but it is also where, for me, some of the cracks started to show. This scenario is literally identical every time and serves little more purpose than to whittle your dance crew down and to accumulate some dollars that will let you spin to try to get bonuses in the next round or even unlock a new dancer to start with. As basic as it is, and as often as you’ll be visiting the screen, it may have been wise to vary up the theme, the activity, or anything at all to keep it more fresh. Instead it quickly became an exercise in tapping and waiting to get to the next level.


In order to help add to the package and compensate for the single-player mode that ultimately falls flat after a few playthroughs the developer did add some multiplayer modes. Two of these are even exclusive to the Switch, and they help flesh things out a bit if you have someone else to play with. Each of them revolves around the same core gameplay seen in single-player but find some clever (or sometimes just gimmicky) ways to add some flavor when competing conga lines will ultimately collide. Keep in mind, though, that these are more of middle of the road competitive mini-games and none of them have much flesh on their bones once their own novelty wears thin. It should be noted that there is also Amiibo support that has been added to give people some special aesthetic rewards but that’s about it.

Regardless of the extended features and modes what will ultimately drive whether or not you’ll get your value out of Conga Master Party is how much you buy into the core experience. If you enjoy the somewhat relaxed pace, the quirky scenes and characters, and the silliness of it all as you work to unlock more dancers then it could be a worthwhile purchase. Just be warned that the novelty factor can probably only hold you for so long before you’ll be looking for something a little more involved and diverse.


Score: 6

Pros:
  • A pretty light game that is enjoyable for a while as you make your way through the levels and unlocks
  • The weirdness of it all can prompt a few chuckles here and there depending on your tastes and sense of humor
  • For some the 2-player modes will help extend the value of the game past the point the single-player experience becomes stale


Cons:
  • Aside from varying the challenge and randomness sliders overall the experience never really goes anywhere, it is just more of the same
  • If you’re not sucked in by the humor and quirkiness at all you probably should just avoid this dance party
  • There are places where it feels like there were missed opportunities to change things up a bit more


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