Samba De Amigo Wii Review
Originally conceived by Sonic Team, Samba De Amigo first made its appearance in the arcades in 1999, around a year later it made it to the home at a time when SEGA only made games for their own consoles, appearing (with a pair of maracas nonetheless) on their historic final console, the Dreamcast. Obviously this isn’t where the Amigo story ends, as eight years after the SEGA console release, the rhythm music game attempts to turn Nintendo’s controllers into a pair of maracas.
Those familiar with the original home release will remember that it came packaged with two maracas. As mentioned above, SEGA hasn’t gone to such expense for this Wii version as they figured that the tools were already there for developer, Gearbox, to make use of. You can go with the remote and nunchuck, although it’s also possible to use two remotes if you’d prefer (definitely the most serviceable option), but whichever controller combination you are holding, you’ll be shaking your hands along with the music and feeling (and looking) like a right idiot when you do so.
There’s 44 licensed and Samba-flavoured songs included on the disc, 23 of which are exclusive to the Wii. Purchasable downloadable song packs (the first three songs are ready to download and yours for a cost of 500 Wii Points) are also available to keep the game fresh and to give yourself a new challenge when you feel the need for one.
As most rhythm games go Samba De Amigo isn’t difficult to grasp, six circles appear on the screen, positioned at the top, middle, and bottom, it’s then up to you to shake your fake maracas in time as the blue (or red if you have to shake rapidly) moving rhythm balls overlap the circles, keeping your hands in the middle for middle balls and so on, as well as dancing and posing when instructed. Really it’s so simple that I needn’t explain any further.
As the Wii controllers aren’t able to detect height, this new version of Samba De Amigo is all about the angles, this means that players who are used to the Dreamcast version will have to accustom themselves to this new method of maraca shaking. For those particular players or those completely new to Amigo, if you’d rather avoid shaking your maracas in an embarrassing and unworkable manner, it’s possible to calibrate as well as to practice your movements, really these are two things that should be done before you even think about attempting to shake your instruments like a master (there’s local and online leaderboards to prove your samba supremacy, or at least attempt to).
Speaking of becoming a master, you may find yourself struggling to reach this status at times as sadly, the controls aren’t always as successful as they should be. It’s as if the game is crying out for MotionPlus (coming alongside Wii Sports Resort in spring 2009 apparently) and protesting that it wasn’t released a little later to go hand-in-hand with the Wii remote add-on, such is its stubbornness at refusing to read your movements on occasion, particularly when playing on the harder difficulties. I actually thought the controls were more unresponsive to begin with until things started coming together a little more, although if it’s really as instantly responsive as it has been suggested, I definitely could have seen a less frustrating game thanks to the benefits of MotionPlus, with that said, for the currently limited Wii motion control it’s actually a pretty good job for the team at Gearbox, albeit an imperfect one.
Moving away from the controls and Samba De Amigo has a decent amount of modes, which includes everything from classic mode (with dancing themed hustle variant) a career mode that sees you attempting to shake your maracas to music over four difficulty levels, a collection of seven fun but mostly throwaway mini games, a battle vs. mode, a survival mode as well as the cooperative Love Love mode (which tells you your compatibility with another player based on how you both play).
Like the entire theme of the game the graphics and menus are very cheerful and uplifting, with some top notch presentation. The game is also charming and seeing Mii’s dancing in the backgrounds is a rather funny sight, although take my advice and keep your eyes locked on those rhythm balls and leave the Mii viewing for when you are a spectator.
Samba De Amigo may have its problems, although it’s still good and silly (just wait until you hear some of the unlock-able maraca noises) maraca shaking fun. It’s just a shame that Gearbox couldn’t have completely got around the current limited motion sensing capabilities of the Wii, as their success is only really partial. If Amigo was ever to make another appearance on Nintendo’s console, perhaps MotionPlus would make things right.