Review: Samba De Amigo
Posted 17 Oct 2008 at 18:45 by Sam Gittins
|"The song list is diverse but still in keeping with the upbeat feel of the game and even if many of the tracks aren't particularly amazing they are all fun to shake along to and that's what the game is all about."
Much has changed within the industry since its original outing though, the Rhythm-Action genre which it in many ways helped to create has expanded greatly with the introduction of rival guitar and band based games Guitar Hero and Rock Band both offering players the chance to act out their innermost rock fantasies. So how does Samba stack up in light of this can it successfully shake up the competition? Read on to find out.
There's no denying that the original Samba De Amigo for Sega's much loved Dreamcast console was one of the best if criminally under-appreciated games available for it; though it's no real surprise as the whole package retailed for quite a hefty sum at the time. However with the dawn of the Wii's popularity and Sega's willingness to port across updates of many of it's classic franchise's; what better time to introduce it in all its glory to a much larger demographic right? Well sort of...
Firstly its formula remains intact with the basic aim of the game being the same and those funky Latin beats being ever present; but when it comes down to the actual peripheral part of the package, things are a little different. With the original of course you had a pair of red maracas and a sensor bar to detect all your madcap movements and it all worked very well indeed; so what you may ask is the difference between that and the Wii version as surely it's exactly the same technology essentially right?
From Tennis to Brawls and now this, Sonic is getting round almost as much as Mario these days.
Well the original still works in the best way possible due to the Maracas being made specifically for the sole purpose of playing that one game; they were also expensive but most definitely worth it at the time. The Wii version takes the motion sensing technology that it already has and essentially emulates everything that the DC version did and while it is true that at first you will find yourself missing the most basic of beats, it's only because this latest incarnation has a slightly steeper learning curve than the original.
Give it a few minutes and you will be a master of maracas, at least for the lower difficulties; where things start to become questionable however is once you get about halfway through hard where the recognition is still solid but seems to require a small amount of extra accuracy but it really isn't that noticeable. No the real culprit of the missing motions is the fact that you will get around double the amount of notes on Hard than you will on Easy which in turn makes you move from low to high to middle a lot quicker which means a spike is created within the learning curve and that's the real reason for the numerous problems which have been cited.
It's not all bad though, in fact it's rather the reverse as there are a lot of positive aspects to the title; all of the the original superb Samba soundtrack is present along with some newer tracks which are hit and miss such as a Latin variation on the Rocky theme (hit), Rhianna's "Pon De Replay" (miss) and some which are just damned funny like Livin' La Vida Loca sung by a bunch of Mexicans! The song list is diverse but still in keeping with the upbeat feel of the game and even if many of the tracks aren't particularly amazing they are all fun to shake along to and that's what the game is all about.
Even Space Channel 5's Ulala can't resist the latin beat.
And that's what sets Samba apart even today; while games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero are all about nailing a series of combo's in order to five star a song either on your own or as part of a group, Samba is more about shaking the instruments as best you can but at the same time you don't really care because you find yourself getting lost in the rhythm and just enjoying it rather than worrying about the overall rank.
That's not to say that other rhythm action games aren't fun, quite the contrary as I have had many an enjoyable experience with Rock Band and will still continue to do so but Sega's maraca shaker still has something unique about it which make it fun to play but in a very different way. Personally it's more a game I would play sparingly than obsessively but there is plenty of scope for those that may choose to make it their rhythm-action game of choice.
You are ranked after each song which gives and indication of your performance, the meat of the single player mode is spent obtaining these across the modes which are all variations on the same theme; however it all comes into its own in multiplayer where any technical issues are shrugged of in favour of fun. As well as the standard Samba which you shake it as best you can to win there is also "love love" mode in which the aim is to be as in sync as possible in order to earn random titles based on how well you and the other player do.
Don't forget to strike that final pose.
Also there are various mini-games which act as nice little distractions with such examples as "Guacamole" which is a variant on the whack-a-mole game and "Volleyball" which speaks for itself. There are also some nice little extras hidden away in there such as a cameo appearance from Space Channel 5's Ulala and the Green Hill Zone music from Sonic as an obtainable track which is a nice bit of fan-service.
To top it all off all of this is wrapped up in one vibrant visual experience with colour that floods the whole screen with a carnival theme all headed up by one manic monkey; some may say it's a tad OTT but it really does fit the rest of the game well and helps to sew up an already solid package.
Overall this game is still unlike anything else that's out there and if you weren't able to get it on the Dreamcast then now is you chance to get it on Wii, there is plenty to keep you solo shaking in the short term as well as the fantastic multiplayer that will see you shaking the night away and with the promise of future DLC this will most likely be a title that you will return to down the line even when its been shelved but its infectious nature should ensure that you will return to it many times.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Samba De Amigo is still a quality rhythm-action title even today and while it's best played in relatively short bursts in single player, it's the multiplayer that will keep you coming back for just one more go.
Easy to pick up and play
Using two Wiimotes works very well
Very enjoyable multiplayer
Some may have issues on higher difficulties
Single player doesn't last as long