Samba de Amigo Hands-On

We shake our Wii Remotes like it's the year 2000 in the upcoming Wii conversion of Sega's classic rhythm game.

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We've been eager to check out Sega's upcoming Samba de Amigo for the Wii since the game was first announced late last year. The game is a conversion of the beloved Dreamcast rhythm game, which used a maraca controller peripheral and ranks among our favorite titles for the system. The twist is that the conversion is being handled by US developer Gearbox Software of Brothers in Arms fame, which, while an experienced developer, isn't exactly known for its rhythm games. After all, cinematic first-person PC shooters are a far cry from maraca-shaking monkeys. Thankfully, after trying the work-in-progress version of Samba at Nintendo's press event, we're pleased to report that the game conversion is headed in the right direction.

Samba de Amigo = monkeys with maracas. That's really all you need to know.

For those who haven't played it, Samba de Amigo was a rhythm game from Sega. It was developed by Sonic Team and began life in the arcades. You had to shake maracas in tune to the beat at high, mid, and low points denoted onscreen by three sets of colorful circles on the left and right sides of the screen. You were also asked to "pose" at points during the music and hold your maracas still. The game struck a chord with players, and a home version, converted to the Dreamcast, was released in 2000. A sequel, Samba de Amigo: ver 2000, was released only in Japan for both arcades and the Dreamcast and never found its way over to the States. The follow-up introduced Hustle mode, which added a new twist to the maraca-shaking action. You were tasked with shaking one or both maracas back and forth between two of the six positions or doing a full rotation starting from one position and looping all the way back around.

Fortunately, all of the above fun has found its way into the Wii game, which, according to Sega reps at Nintendo's event, will be a mix of content from the original Samba and ver 2000 as well as some new music. The work-in-progress version on display at the event offered just a small taste of what to expect from the Wii game. The demo had only two modes and four songs to choose from--in single and multiplayer. Our big question revolved around the game's control, which seemed like it would be a good fit for the Wii. Our instinct proved to be pretty correct: The demo offered two control setups, a remote and a Nunchuk, and two remote options. The quirk, which is more of an issue for veteran Samba players than for newcomers to the series, is the input. The way the Wii controllers work with the sensor bar, it's not possible to track height. As a result, you'll have to hold the remotes at specific angles to register low, mid, and high shakes. It's a bit tricky at first, but after spending some time with the game, we started to get the hang of it. We should also point out that the game's control was still very much a work in progress, and Sega and Gearbox are working to get it right.

The visuals faithfully re-create the look of the original Dreamcast game, with some elements taken from ver 2000. You'll see Amigo and the game's quirky cast of characters getting their groove on in the colorful stages. The graphics still pop, thanks to the game's eccentric art design and bright color palette. There were odds bits of coloring in a few spots, but those are easily attributed to the game's unfinished status.

The audio was sounding spot-on, with the familiar tunes on hand along with various sound effects. You'll hear a cheering crowd, maraca shakes, and chimes along with the songs to offer encouragement and audio cues that you're doing well.

Based on what we played, Samba de Amigo is headed in the right direction. The core element of fun is intact, and the control is on its way toward being solid. We're curious to see what the final game breaks down to in terms of old and new content, but things are looking good so far. The only thing that's missing, at least for us, is some kind of maraca sleeve for the Wii Remote. Samba just isn't Samba unless you hear the sound of maracas shaking, so hopefully Sega will make something happen on that front. Samba de Amigo is set to ship this spring for the Wii. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

Discussion

33 comments
leonvw
leonvw

Maracas are mexican... we don't really have that kind of stuff here in Brasil... ^^ unless they've done a mexican version of samba (which is fairly likely). My advise to Sega is that they came over and research about what they're releasing.

EdwardoMario16
EdwardoMario16

I'm not expecting much from this game. This is Sega we're talking about. They have turned great ideas (Nights:JOD, Sega Superstars Tennis) and screwed them up in some way or another. This game gets no more than a generous seven.

MrLopezZ
MrLopezZ

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

HyruleKing83
HyruleKing83

i'd like to see the song list for the game i've seen a few of them but i'd like the full set. I really am interested in this game

taddia
taddia

omg omg... Wii uses the sensor bar just for the pointing system... Has nothing to do with movements and, yes, Wii can recogniza height imputs... Cmon gamespot, stop spitting on nintendo everytime, FFS!

twogunz69
twogunz69

O man i cant wait till this comes out i still own the dreamcast one its mad fun for no reason i love it i really hope wii brings bak more dreamcast games that was one of the best systems ever

LURCH87
LURCH87

never palyed the dreamcast version maybe I'll play this one maybe.

douglas_om
douglas_om

Looks nice! By the way, Rock Band for the Wii should make use of 2 wiimotes for the drums.

PPG-Katelyn
PPG-Katelyn

AWESOME!!! I'm glad Sega is bringing back more Sonic Team games! I hope they release a 'Chu Chu Rocket!' game on the Wii and/or DS because I'd love to see the Chu Chu website thing on WiFi.

RockstarDX
RockstarDX

Wow, sounds quite nice. The graphics are looking good. Not fantastic, but good.

thelegendislink
thelegendislink

I've been looking forward to this game since i heard that it was getting released on Wii. I loverd the dreamcast version.

fgiongo
fgiongo

"Samba just isn't Samba unless you hear the sound of maracas shaking" LOL samba doesn't even have maracas !! In fact, maracas aren't even common in Brazil at all !! Believe me.. I've got credibility.. I'm brazilian.. and I'm graduating in music university in Rio de Janeiro.. the birth place of samba.

Irve
Irve

i'll stick with the original !!

jjr10
jjr10

This sounds like a fun game to show my friends... And a fun game in general.

-SpikyBlueHero-
-SpikyBlueHero-

I really like what I see. Been waiting ever since the game's announcement for screens, and I'm very pleased that the option for two Wiimotes will be available. It seems to be shaping up well, and Gearbox is doing a surprisingly good job with the atmosphere. Thanks for the report, GameSpot!

Lunar52
Lunar52

I never played the original but this game sounds awesome.

TexasAnMGrad2K
TexasAnMGrad2K

A lot of Dreamcast games are making their way back into our lives - and this is a good thing!

Freakeeg
Freakeeg

The problem is that in Samba, maracas are not used so probably this game is centered on the mexican music not the brazilian, including the fact that the monkey is using a sombrero.

KingSigy
KingSigy

This looks awesome! I'm kind of sorry I never owned a Dreamcast now.

puppiemaster
puppiemaster

I have both games on the dreamcast and I still play them now, will the value of my Sega Maracas go up or down though? This is a definite BUY!!!!

gokuofheaven
gokuofheaven

Finally...semi-resurrection of the Dreamcast. Now i can play on the Dreamcast and on the Wii :P

beebeeb
beebeeb

Hmm thats cool its like Ghero And rockband Except with monkeys and wii motes?

Nomad0404
Nomad0404

Very interesting, will this be the first game that lets you play with 2 Wii-motes at the same time, also that will get rid of the worries I had about the cable connecter getting in the way when you do a top right/bottom left pose. Not sure about the height issue but time will tell I suppose. Still very excited about drunken Samba nights again!

BatrozX
BatrozX

Awesome, can't wait to shake my maracas on this game. ^_^

mcbride69
mcbride69

Sounds alrite for a laugh, always wondered what samba was when i got Sega Superstars Tennis. ill prob buy it:)