|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gearbox Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 23, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
August 8, 2008 - In this console generation, the true break-out genre has to be the rhythm and music game. Sure, Guitar Hero technically started on the PS2, but by and large, it took off during this console generation. And now with titles like Rock Band, Rock Revolution, as well as many others, it seems the rhythm genre is unstoppable!
But while most of these titles include the basic drums, vocals, and guitar support, there was one thing they were all sadly lacking: Maracas! But just when you thought your hope for a virtual manifestation of your virtuoso instrument was gone, here comes Samba de Amigo! However, make no mistake, Samba de Amigo is no new kid on the block. It actually was made long before the Guitar Heroes of the world became famous, and was originally a Dreamcast title that came with peripheral maracas. But now that the game has gotten a Wii makeover, it has ditched the plastic peripheral in favor of shaking a Wii-mote and Nunchuk (although the cynical side of me says somewhere along the line a maraca attachment will be made.)
But cynicism aside, Samba de Amigo for the Wii is going to be pretty awesome. The maraca-playing mechanism works pretty simply with six on screen circles that represent the three directions you can shake your maracas for both hands. You'll know when to play because little blue orbs will move past them, and when they lay over the larger circles just right, that will be your cue to shake. These circles are assembled into a hexagon that uses both color and shape to trigger perfect maraca-playing: Red for up, yellow for the side, and green for down. The system works sort of like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero in the way that it uses scrolling icons, but instead of icons flowing on a vertical axis, they'll be coming from all directions, and will be that much more challenging to follow.
Of course, you shouldn't go into Samba de Amigo expecting amazingly difficult songs. The original title on the Dreamcast was well-loved for its casual pick-up-and-play mechanics, and it looks like this title will continue this trend. But there will be several difficultly levels, including a "Super Hard" mode that is intended for only the most serious of maraca players. And if you're trying to switch up your maraca gameplay, there are plenty of modes to keep you busy. In addition to the game's normal Career mode, there are also Survival, Hustle, and Mini-game modes for you to try out, so you don't have to put down the maracas anytime soon! And for even more gameplay options, Samba de Amigo will be the first Wii title to feature regular downloadable songs for purchase from the Wii Shop channel.
Let's say you have mastered the maracas, and consider yourself a Samba de Amigo superhero. But you still find yourself feeling somewhat lonely. Well, not to worry my friend, as Samba de Amigo has plenty of two-player modes. You can play either cooperatively, if you're feeling friendly, or competitively, if you feel like showing your friends who is the sultan of samba! Who knows, maybe you can invite all your friends over for a swingin' Samba shindig! And if rubbing your Samba superiority isn't enough in person, you can also rub it in your friends' faces via remote with the inclusion of friend leaderboards. But be careful, you never know who will be the next maraca master, so you better keep your skills sharp!
Alright, by now you're probably wondering about what kind of songs will be featured in this title. Well, the entire track list is still a secret, but we do know that we'll be treated to a few jams from artists like Jet with the pop-tastic "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" and mambo man Lou Bega with "Manbo Mambo." For all you who loved the original track list from the Dreamcast version, don't worry because many of the original songs from that title will be in the remake as well. If you're really a SEGA fan, there will also be some surprise bonus characters included from classic SEGA franchises!
So, maybe Samba de Amigo won't be your go-to game if you want to "rock out," but you can't deny that shaking maracas is fairly fun, and the prospect of shaking your Wii-motes around to the beat of some shakin' tunes will be lots of fun. So, if you've had enough of shredding the guitar or pounding the drums, consider giving Samba de Amigo a shake this fall when it releases exclusively for the Nintendo Wii!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer