Samba de Amigo Review
Samba de Amigo box art
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

Samba de Amigo was originally released almost eight years ago on the Dreamcast and achieved cult status as one of the most unique and memorable games on the system. As one of the first rhythm games to ship with a peripheral, Samba de Amigo was also one of the first games to explore the then-dormant music genre. It has certainly been a while since we have seen Amigo the monkey, and Samba de Amigo for the Wii was poised to bring this franchise back from the brink of obscurity, and do it in style. However, Samba e Amigo for the Wii has several issues that hinder it from being as good as it could have been.

Samba de Amigo screenshot

The biggest difference between the original Samba de Amigo on the Dreamcast and the new version on the Wii is the absence of maraca peripherals. The Wii version has replaced the maracas with the Wii-mote and Nunchuk (or double Wii-mote). When you start playing, this maraca combination works well. Each maraca has three different directions, low medium, and high, and these different directional shakes will be represented by corresponding targets that you will have to hit. The gameplay is very easy to pick up, and casual gamers will have no problem learning to samba with this title in no time.

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However, the trouble with this title begins after you graduate from the easy and normal modes. Once you attempt the harder modes, the control scheme looses a lot of its precision. Those who crave a challenge may end up with more than they bargained for with this title because the controls just stop working. This becomes a problem first for the Nunchuk attachment, which loses some functionality, even in the normal mode. But even when you use two Wii-motes, the precision level drops pretty quickly in the harder modes, and this makes the game very frustrating to play. Sometimes the Wii-mote won't register some of your shakes, and eventually it will disagree with you completely and tell you that you shook upwards when you clearly shook down. This has to be my chief complaint of this title, and the control issues hinder any replay value this game might have had beyond the initial play through.

Samba de Amigo screenshot

Another one of the most disappointing facets of Samba de Amigo has to be its lack of online modes. You are able to play online, however, it can only be with people on your friends list. Since this game already has online functionality in the form of songs available for download online, I would have figured that online play would have been a cinch. However, the only online functionality beyond that is a friend-based leaderboard. This game would have been a perfect title for online play, and it is a mystery to me as to why the online components were limited so severely.

There are several different modes in Samba de Amigo. The predominant mode is career mode, which will take you through progressively more difficult set lists. Completing this mode will give you access to locked songs as well as new characters. This mode is fairly short, and it should only take you about 30-40 minutes to complete on the lower difficulty levels, and only about an hour or two on the higher difficulty settings. That is, provided you have the will to play them at all after weathering the aforementioned control issues.

Samba de Amigo screenshot

In addition to the game's main mode, your choices for gameplay become a little more restricted. There is a quick play mode, a battle mode, a survival mode, and a mini-game mode. The quick play mode is self-explanatory, and the battle mode puts you against a friend to see who the maraca master is. The survival mode is probably the most fun here and challenges you to maraca as long as you can. However, as fun as these other modes may be, I have to say that the mini-game mode is actually a little off-putting. You have several mini-game choices, each of which lasts about thirty-sixty seconds. There is a whack a mole game, a whack a piñata mode, and a whack a volleyball mode. There is also a "love tester" mode, which you can play with a friend to see what your dual maraca playing says about your compatibility. These mini-game modes are all rather forgettable and feel tacked on. After going through them all once, I can safely say I really don't have any desire to go back through them.

Screenshots / Images
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