It’s Saturday night and you head out for a few drinks. You wind up in a nightclub and obviously, you feel the sudden urge to conga. One minute you’re having fun, dodging the dancing pigs but then on route to the next bar, OH NO! ALIENS!
On the off chance that this isn’t something that’s happened to you, you can get a taste of this totally normal, Sticktwiddlers night out with the release of Conga Master for PC. Yes, a night out with us looks a lot like this.
Born out of Ludum Dare 34 and debuting at PAX 2016, Conga Master is a new party-arcade title from Undercoders, published by Rising Star Games. Conga Master put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces at PAX and today it comes to Steam, with console versions coming next year. The games sees players step into the dancing shoes of one of several Conga Masters and head out to sample the nightlife, dragging unsuspecting revelers onto the dance floor to join the fun. There are four dancers available from the get go, with more to unlock, including some cheeky nods to famous characters from film and TV. My favourite personal favourite is Foxy, who looks a lot like a certain, skeptical F.B.I agent who recently made a TV comeback.
There are three game modes, Story, Endless and Multiplayer. In Story mode, the Conga Master moves from club to club, dancing up a storm and gathering followers. The dancers will have icons over their heads indicating their type and in each dancing “mission”, players will have to collect enough dancers of each type before moving on to the next club. Collecting dancers opens up extra areas within the club where you can gather even more followers and maybe find a bonus pickup or a fun little secret, like the conga cat. Look out for that one.
In between stages there’s also a fun mini-game which involves running like hell down a road, leaping over pigs and trying to escape from aliens. No, we’re not kidding. It’s bizarre, it’s nonsensical and it’s rather good fun.
Endless mode plays a lot like Story, but drops the dancer type mechanic and lets players build their conga lines for eternity, assuming they can keep their momentum up. Every dancer which joins the conga line boosts the momentum bar. More dancers, more momentum, more time to dazzle the clubbers with your leading-people-rhythmically-around-a-room skills.
Then there’s multiplayer. This is the one mode that didn’t really click with me. I recruited my wife to run a few rounds with me but i’m not set up for split screen multiplayer on the laptop so it felt a little crowded, a little busy. If you had a much bigger monitor, a couple of controllers and better seating arrangements, I can see the appeal, but it wasn’t for me. Objectively, however, I can appreciate the effort that they’ve put in. The various multiplayer modes are named for other games. Cut The Conga, The Last Conga, etc. The game types are well thought out and are fun to play, my own setup notwithstanding. I guess my point is that the multiplayer in this game has a hell of a lot of potential but I think online as opposed to same-screen would be better.
Conga Master plays a lot like Snake or Slither.io. It has the same “lead the small thing, gather the things, make the big thing” simplistic play style which makes those games so bizarrely addictive. You start the conga and then by dancing around the other partygoers, you draw them in. As you whip yourself about the place, you’ll see a speech bubble appear above nearby dancers which will slowly fill. When the bubble fills, the dancer joins the line. As mentioned above, it reminds me a lot of games like Snake, but it builds on that with a really fun concept, well rounded game modes and a gorgeous aesthetic. Oh, let’s definitely talk about the visuals, shall we?
The look of this game is just wonderful. The retro style is beautiful and brilliantly executed, the characters are well thought out and the locations are fantastic. The overall style screams way-back-when and it has the balls out fun factor of the arcade titles of old. Some games just make you smile from the moment you fire them up and Conga Master is one of them. It’s easy on the ears, too. The soundtrack to this game is just lovely and ridiculously catchy. If it’s not already available for download, it damn well should be.
All in all, Conga Masters is lots of fun to play. My only real issue (because moaning that my monitor isn’t big enough for multiplayer doesn’t really count) is wondering just how much playability it has. From my time with it so far, I know i’m not done. I want to go back, unlock some more characters, see if I can beat my Endless record, but will I still be playing it in six months time? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know if i’ll be glued to it for that long, but it’s got that revisit factor. One of those games that you keep coming back to when you’re not focused on another title and you always enjoy it when you do.
We’ll give Conga Masters 7 sugary umbrella drinks out of 10.
DISCLAIMER: Yes, a free copy of Conga Master was provided by Rising Star Games for this review. You’ll have to pay, sadly, which you can do here.