On paper, Conga Master kind of sounds like Snake where you avoid obstacles and amass a greater length for your serpent. There are some marked differences between the two, however: the most disappointing one being that Snake is more engaging.
The game has a story mode, which is really just a collection of clubs that you conga through, the intermission between each which is spent avoiding alien abduction–but more on that later. To start, you choose a character from a sizeable roster of faces. These characters have their own stats, but after sampling a variety of them, I couldn’t tell you how they effect gameplay. After selecting your character, he or she enters the club, declares, “what could go wrong?” and begins to wave their hands and wriggle their hips and that’s your cue to mosey about the dance floor and pick up people to form a conga line.
You can’t move freely in Conga Masters, you can only turn left of right using R2 and L2. You can also speed up by holding down R1 and L1, but this isn’t the most comfortable set up if you hope to speed up AND control where you’re going, in my opinion.
So what can go wrong?
For one thing, you can run out of momentum, which happens quickly. Momentum is expended as you move across the dance floor and can be replenished very slightly by convincing people to join you. In order to do so, you must remain in proximity with the partner you’re interested in, until the meter above their head fills up. You have to keep it moving, though, lest your momentum drain. Successful recruiting a dance partner will replenish a sliver of momentum, but ultimately you’ll need to get in, recruit people as quickly as possible, and get out without dallying. This pressure to hurry makes it seem less like a party and more like a chore.
You can work on wooing multiple people at once and there are even items that make the process go faster. If you bump into another dancer, no matter how close they were to joining you, it resets your progress. You can also pull off combos, but doing so requires you to have more than one person join your line almost simultaneously and therefore takes some serious pre-planning and positioning.
Obstacles are another thing that can go wrong and these include pigs, banana peels, janitors, and the a few less than pleasant people who will react badly when bumped into. Pigs can be recruited in the exact same way people can, the difference being that you get a huge momentum penalty if they join your conga line. Janitors will clean the floors, which will leave them slippery and send you skidding into people and objects if you misstep–same with banana peels. Individuals who you shouldn’t bump into can’t be recruited and are introduced over the course of the story campaign.
If you fail, you start again from the moment you entered the club. You’re also prompted to spin a wheel that gives you a bonus that I suppose is supposed to make your second (or third or fourth) attempt a little easier, but these power ups last for such a brief amount of time that they don’t make a difference nine times out of ten.
Even after managing to avoid all of these hazards and recruit a specific amount of the different types of party goers so that the doors open and you can leave, there’s still a final factor that will throw a wrench in things: you can still run out of momentum on your way to the door. This can be incredibly frustrating considering the time it took to gather your line.
After you leave the club, there’s a mini game where you mash R1 in order to run from an alien spacecraft that, for whatever reason, wants your dancers. You can jump over pigs, which are also an obstacle here, using L1. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why this was a thing. It’s annoying and I would have preferred to just have left my conga line behind rather have to button mash. After, you’re given a single chance to spin a wheel and unlock a new character.
Conga Master’s music is fun and catchy–for the most part. I’ve never wanted to hear a rock-and-roll version of the conga song and after hearing it, I realized that I never needed to. The aesthetic is pixelated and cute, the attention to detail in the various dancers breathing life into the otherwise half-empty club.
Unfortunately, those things aren’t enough to save the game from its issues or the lackluster gameplay. There’s also a score attack type mode, but given my experience with the campaign, I wasn’t inclined to brave it.
- The music is catchy.
- Characters to unlock provide a reason to keep playing.
- Gameplay is unengaging.
- The odds are stacked against you. Momentum drains far too quickly and combos are nearly impossible to rack up due to the fact that there’s only a second or two allowed between dancers recruited.
- Limited appeal.
I can’t imagine having more than a few minutes of fun with Conga Master, but you’re welcome to try. There was too many elements that were meant to hinder and not enough that aimed to help, resulting in a frustrating gameplay experience.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - /10
Graphics - /10
Sound - /10
Replay Value - /10
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