Thanks to the team at Rising Star Games, we can all realize our dreams of being a conga line leader. Unsuspecting men, women and animals are no match for our incredible charisma and sex appeal. We will use our dancing skills to recruit more members until we have no choice but to expand to another club. We also must watch out for aliens who want to abduct us; if we are lucky we might be able to tame them through the power of conga! That’s the basic idea of Conga Master, make long flowing chains of dancers, recruit enough personality types and then reach the exit without losing all your momentum. Obstacles, powerups, momentum sucking pigs all try to make life difficult, along with some gameplay elements that I found to be questionable. Keep reading to see if you should sit this dance out.
As the conga master, you are always moving forward. Pressing both LB and RB will cause your character to dance rapidly in the direction of your choice. Pressing those buttons individually will make your character dance in a rotation either leftwards or rightwards. The idea is to rotate around a stationary wallflower, once their heart icon fills up they will automatically follow you. Making things harder is the momentum meter on the screen that quickly decreases. Recruiting dancers, especially many at once, causes the meter to increase. Once you have recruited enough dancers from their respective personality traits an exit will open and you must reach it. Personality types are distinguished by a colored icon such as a blue face with sunglasses, a pair of hearts, a pink top hat and a yellow lightbulb. Even if you have enough of a certain personality type, you can still recruit more to keep the momentum going. There are also pickups such as increased visibility or momentum increase that can be very helpful.
At your disposal there are 32 total characters, many that must be unlocked through a randomized spinner minigame. I was slightly disappointed that all the masters you can choose from are just the regular NPC characters you recruit during the game. I would have much preferred unique conga masters who were very different from one another. Instead, these boring characters vary slightly in the categories of: movement speed, rotation speed, visibility and heart meter fill speed. Every level is basically a repeat of the one before it, just in a different location. Sometimes you can open a VIP area if you have enough dancers or there will be a janitor mopping that will cause you to slip. There just isn’t enough to spice up the gameplay in each location. Before moving on to a new level you must play this alien abduction minigame; it usually means you start the next level with much fewer followers. If you get a game over you can retry the level but you will be by yourself.
This brings me to my biggest gripe in Conga Master, you must play through the game in one-sitting because there is no saving and no level select. I always did well for the first few levels then hit a roadblock. The one time I got to the last level I couldn’t exit the game because I’d have to start from the beginning. I eventually gave up out of frustration because I wanted to play other games on my console. While the gameplay concept is unique, the momentum meter can be too unforgiving.
Rounding out the package is endless mode, which lets you play without worrying about finding personality types. There are also a handful of multiplayer modes, usually involving you creating the biggest conga line or working co-operatively with 2-4 players. I love how they have video game names like: Grand Theft Conga or Command & Conga. These multiplayer modes are what gives Conga Master its most replay value. As a party game, Conga Master is a nice addition to any collection.
As you can see from the screenshots, Conga Master has a retro look, almost similar to Atari (but way more detailed). The music is incredibly well composed, the first track especially is upbeat and just what I would expect in a real conga. Everything loads very quickly, making switching between modes fast and easy. While I harped on the characters earlier, there are some that look cool (like the Kiss-inspired painted rocker and Elvis impersonator). The inclusion of the alien abduction and spinner minigames are nice in theory, but more difficult to master than they should be.
Conga Master gets a lot of credit from me for being unlike anything else on the market. It’s colorful, embraces its art style and has incredible music. It’s also very repetitive and the fact you can’t level select just kills it for me. Priced at a modest $9.99 in the US, the amount of replay value you will get really depends on how much local multiplayer you see yourself playing. As a party game, it’s a must buy, as for only single player, you might wanna consider taking a raincheck on this dance.