Developed by Rising Star Games, Conga Master Party! provides an enjoyable, albeit short, musical romp. The game does not require any sense of rhythm, nor does it ask the player to remember any insane patterns like you would in most musical games. Instead, Conga Master Party! uses its conga dances as the frame for several wacky party games. There is a single-player story mode as well, but it is not much to write home about.
Conga Master Party! does not have a story. Hell, it does not really have a narrative. The player just dances through a progression of stages, trying to reach the end of the party with the highest possible score that they can.
After selecting one of several groovin’ sprites (each with marginally different stats), the player is thrown onto the dance floor. The player’s character naturally moves forward, the left and right triggers being used to control the direction. The player needs to find other dancers on the floor, and groove around them to attract a larger conga line. The player needs a certain number of each type of dancer in their conga line to move on to the next level.
Finding more dancers improves the player’s momentum, which they must maintain throughout the level. If the player ever runs out of momentum, they lose. Although never an issue in the early levels, this adds a much-needed level of urgency to the latter half of the story when the dance floors are bigger and the dancers are further apart.
It certainly does not help that the game will not let the player rush the conga line making process either. Ramming into dancers is frowned upon and will cause people to meander away from the player’s character. The player has to slowly coax the diverse cast of dancers into joining the conga line, slithering around them as an ever-expanding snake that is closing in on its prey. Obstacles, like banana peels that make characters slip or pigs that will disrupt the line, aim to impede everyone’s good time, and the player will have to avoid them as they move about.
When the player finally succeeds, they can exit the dance floor. It is then that they will be presented with a short segment where they must escape an alien UFO while dodging pigs. The UFO will attempt to steal the members of the conga line. Although not mandatory, it is wise to try and keep as many dancers in the line as possible. Any dancers that are not caught up in the UFO join the player in the next level, providing a slight advantage in forming a complete conga line right from the start. Successfully leaping over the pigs will yield lotto tickets, which the player can trade in for a chance at unlocking additional characters. These unlocks do not provide much other than a cosmetic change as, like the characters that the player starts with, their stats are not all that varied.
This cycle of collecting dancers, dodging an alien spacecraft, and moving on to the next dance floor is the entire story mode of Conga Master Party!. I wish I could say that I enjoyed it. For a while, I actually did. Then the game just got repetitive. I enjoy returning to the story mode for small doses of gameplay, but it is never my go to when I boot the game up.
Imagine if you were playing your favorite Mario Party mini game by yourself, and you played that same game over and over again. Maybe you would enjoy it the first half a dozen times, but it would quickly become stale. That is essentially what the story mode of Conga Master Party! is. Sure, each level may feature a different layout, new music, and a wider variety of dancers, but my retention quickly faded when I discovered that that was all I was going to get. The game should have featured some kind of narrative. Any type of reasoning or purpose as to why I was dancing would have done wonders.
Conga Dance Party! truly shines when it comes to the game’s couch co-op, and that is pretty much where I spend most of my time when playing the game. You can play with two to four players in conga battles. There are eight types of battles that run the gambit of Mortal Conga to Grand Theft Conga. Each of these battles have the player trying to complete what they would normally do in the story mode (collect a full conga line of dancers), but implement small mechanics from other gaming franchises to add a competitive element.
For example, Just Conga, a play on Just Dance, has players racing around the arena in search of both dancers for their conga line and power-ups. If a player grabs a power-up, they can do one of several poses, and the other players have to quickly match the pose or face losing their entire conga line. Cut the Conga, my personal favorite and a play on Cut the Rope, has players running around with scissors that they can use to cut and steal the lines of other players. It truly embodies that Mario Party screw-over-your-friends-to-win mentality.
All of Conga Master Party!’s multi-player mini games are easy to grasp, inventive, and, most importantly, fun. My main issue is with the lack of games. With eight games (and several of them being exclusive to the Switch), players will find themselves playing the same thing quite a few times. For a game that is clearly geared towards the party game market, I would have expected closer to ten to twenty mini games (at least). As is, Conga Master Party!’s multi-player suffers under the same strains as its single-player: too much of the same thing.
The one part of the game that never gets repetitive is the music. It is a pretty diverse mix, from conga to samba and even instances of some rock ‘n roll. Most of the tracks are entirely instrumental, but a few include humorous instances of vocal performance. Most of the tracks seemed to draw inspiration from the 1960s-1980s.
Rising Star Games captured the essence of this period perfectly. I was not alive back then, but Conga Master Party!’s soundtrack did get both of my parents to come dancing into the living room when I was playing the game at their house. Although the occasional chiptune ultimately exposed itself as a more modern piece of art, Conga Master Party! did, for a few moments, convince my parents that I had seen the light and was ready to fully embrace their generation of music. Admittedly, Conga Master Party! has made me a fan, and I have started to notice that I am including more and more tunes from the mid- to late-1900s on my music playlists.
Conga Master Party! is a great start for a party game. I just wanted a little bit more from it. The story mode got way too repetitive after a while, and the multi-player party games, a chaotic time of friends enjoyably backstabbing each other, ultimately suffers the same fate. There is just not enough there to keep me invested, especially considering that there are so many other party games that offer the same type of fun with triple the content. It is a shame really, because I could keep listening to the game’s music all day. In fact, I just might.