Monday 20 November 2023

Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat Review (Switch)

Written by Dan Gill

A good game lives or dies by its hook. Geometry Wars had a simple multiplier system and could be picked up quickly, whereas Vampire Survivors offers a simple starting point then builds on it with each replay. Look at something like Hollow Knight or Blasphemous, each title rewards exploration and hard-won tussles with tricky bosses. You’ll probably notice I’ve selected indie titles, and with good reason. Each of the above games are cheap to pick up but offer rewarding gameplay, the pounds (or insert your regional currency here)-to-hours ratio is a fair one. Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat on the other hand, isn’t quite so generous.

The game plays much like Pacifist mode in Geometry Wars, but your ship has a tail which can take out enemies. Hitting certain enemies with the tail can also charge a laser attack. Once a certain number of enemies has been destroyed, a gateway opens to the next level. One hit and it’s game over, and that’s it.

Control is imprecise, mostly due to the inertia imposed on the player’s craft. The tail follows the path of the ship, dishing out damage on whatever it touches, and there’s a lot to contend with as enemies come in from all sides, helpfully forewarning the player via an arrow indicating which edge they’re joining the arena from. Some pre-planning is required in order to have the ship’s tail waiting for enemies, as one hit will end the game. Sometimes wormholes open to allow more enemies in, but they can be closed by circling with your ship. Occasionally you’ll gain the odd power-up, but it’s just more of the same over and over again, with no draw to pull you back in for one more go.

The pixel art is nice enough and the music is pretty decent, but the whole thing feels like it’s trying too hard to win you over with its style and difficulty. And this is its biggest failing; it just can’t back it up with the gameplay. The taunting triangle after every game over is more grating than playful, and the music is limited to a couple of tracks, so can wear over time.

And that’s basically it. The game feels like a mode within something larger rather than a game in its own right. It features a couple of modes and some multiplayer options, but the whole thing feels like an incomplete thought, and what is there fails to entice the player back for one more go. All in all, it plays like a half-baked attempt at an arcade score attack title, but sadly it has no sting in its tail. Perhaps One-Dimensional Conga Combat would have been more apt as a title.

 Overall 4/10

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