At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players
Matt Bailey Wii Sega Europe Gearbox 1-2 (Share screen)
Requirements Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Internet connectivity for "Pay & Play" downloadable songs Click here to buy Samba de Amigo.

Samba de Amigo review

Every since Sega starting releasing titles for the Wii there have been cries from fans of the series to bring back Samba de Amigo. The maraca-shaking rhythm title has been a cult hit, beginning life in the arcades, before arriving in limited numbers on the ill-fated Dreamcast, complete with special maraca controllers. With the advent of the Wii Remotes, on a platform that's seen a fair few re-releases now, it seems natural to see the game reappear on the Wii. Now we can all play without paying that high entry price.

However, there is a price to be paid, and that's in the loss of accuracy that the switch to the Wii Remotes has brought. Instead of the two maraca controllers you now use either two Wii Remotes, or a Remote and Nunchuk to shake along to the game's tunes. While this conceptually is fine (the shape of the Remote, after all, lends itself to being a virtual maraca), it would appear that Gearbox didn't manage to refine the system enough. So while generally things work well, there are too many times where the response just isn't detected correctly, and in a rhythm game, particularly at the higher levels, this is simply too crucial an issue to ignore.

Aside from this annoyance, however, Samba de Amigo is generally a fun music-based title, that's particularly enjoyable as a party game. It sees you positioning the two controllers in combinations of six different positions identified by on-screen circles, and shaking as the blob enters the circle. This is a traditional rhythm game format, and isn't hard to grasp for those not used to the genre. With two of you, things get chaotic, but it can also be a lot of fun; just beware not to hit each other with the Remotes!

The game features a main single player Career mode that is simply a collection of songs split into difficulties and then further sections within these. Each section needs to be completed in order to unlock more, earning access to tunes for the Quick Play mode in the process. To complete a level requires a C grade or above, with a bar at the top of the screen in-game showing your progress towards the next grade. Make mistakes, however, and you'll be heavily penalised, making those inaccuracies all the more annoying. Gaining a high percentage of success doesn't mean you'll get an A grade if you messed up towards the end, a rating system similar to Konami's Beatmania game.

Outside of Career there's the aforementioned Free Play mode which lets you play songs when you like. There's also some training to get you used to shaking the Wii Remotes in the right places, and some interesting mini-games, thrown into the mix. With a wide selection of songs, as well as these mini-games, and co-op and competitive modes against a computer player, there's plenty to keep even a sole player occupied in Samba de Amigo. Then, of course, there's the multiplayer, unfortunately only available for up to two players offline. It's enjoyable, and maybe some of the spirit would be lost in online matches, but considering the game has included online scoreboards via Nintendo Wifi Connection, competitive matches over the internet would have been a nice addition. The scoreboards aren't the only online functionality, as the game is one of the first to support Nintendo's new "Pay & Play" initiative for paid-for downloadable content. For a small sum there's already tracks available to buy and download to your Wii, extending the game's life.

Music is an important consideration in a game like this, and thankfully the selection on offer is generally rather good. Gearbox brought in specialists Wave Group, who have done work for the Guitar Hero series, to create versions of licensed music that would better suit the gameplay. A lot of the time we get something very close to the original, as in "Samba de Janeiro" or "Macarena", though there are some interesting inclusions such as a Latin music version of 80s hit "Take on Me" or 1990s' drum-filled "Tubthumping". Even these strange selections are enjoyable, and while the less familiar songs are good too, being able to shake the Wii Remotes along to familiar tunes makes the experience even more pleasing.

Adding to this are the colourful and delightful graphics. The style is similar to the Dreamcast original, and considering the power of the Wii, not hugely different in quality either. However, they add well to the atmosphere of the game, with your own Mii getting involved in the proceedings.

As seems fitting for a Wii game, bearing in mind the console's audience, it does seem that the game is best suited to the casual gamer. While there are harder difficulties which should appeal to the Samba de Amigo fans, the inaccuracies in the controls could be enough to put them off a purchase. For a party game, where people are happy to enjoy the songs on easier difficulties, this is a recommended purchase, but for those looking for a more comprehensive rhythm-based experience on the Wii should stick to the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

Ratings

Overall Sadly those inconsistencies won't keep fans of the original happy, but those looking for a great party game, and something you can enjoy with friends now and then, should certainly consider Samba de Amigo. 7/10

Click here to buy Samba de Amigo from Amazon.co.uk.

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