Sonic Team's Samba De Amigo hit the arcades in Japan last year, and it was highly recognized for the use of a maracas controller in a dance-rhythm game. Konami has released spin-offs of its Bemani series, such as Guitar Freaks and DrumMania, but who would have expected to see a similar type of game using the maracas? As with other dance-rhythm games, you must go along with the tune and clear the stage. For the most part you will have to shake the maracas, but there will be times when you must pose in a certain way while holding the maracas.
The maracas controller in the arcade version does have some weight, and it is bulkier so it is less likely to be damaged.You know how some kids in the arcade could be reckless about arcade equipment. It also uses a sensor on the arcade machine to detect the height of the maracas controller. There are instances where you must hold the maracas in a certain way, like with your arms wide open. The maracas controller for the Dreamcast version will be smaller and lighter, and it will come with a floor mat (as in Dance Dance Revolution) that serves as the sensor. Although the mechanics of the controller for the DC version is a secret, it is said the game plays just as great as its arcade counterparts. Surprisingly, the maracas controller can be used for other titles, such as Sonic Adventure. Yuji Naka of Sonic Team has even commented that he reached Windy Valley using the maracas controller. You can also use the regular controller to play the game instead of using the maracas controller.
The Dreamcast version will include all the songs from the arcade, including Ricky Martin's Living Da Vida Loca. It will also feature three new songs: Samba De Amigo, El Mambo, and El Ritmo Tropical. The game will also have Internet features such as score rankings and access to the DC-exclusive Samba De Amigo web site. No network play will be included.
Samba De Amigo is scheduled for a release on April 27. The game will be priced at 5800yen (about $54.00), and the maracas controller will be sold separately for 7800yen (about $73.00). Jeff Gerstmann's Gameplay Impressions:
The Dreamcast version of Samba De Amigo faithfully recreates the arcade experience - provided you can get your hands on a set of maracas. Similar to the Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram twin joysticks, the Samba controllers have been underproduced, causing most reputable import shops a lot of strife, as most pre-orders are currently unfilled.
The game can be played with the controller, but considering that the game's main draw revolves around standing on a mat and shaking maracas around like a wild man, the controller is a weak substitute that left me feeling empty inside. With the exception of the two Ricky Martin tracks, the entire soundtrack is intact, from Samba De Janeiro to Reel Big Fish's cover of the A-ha classic, Take On Me. Sega is also releasing downloadable keys on the Samba web site - downloading these small VMU files opens up new, Dreamcast-exclusive tracks. So far, two tracks are available - the main theme song to Sonic Adventure, and a track from Rent-A-Hero No. 1.
The game also has Dreamcast-exclusive modes, such as a battle mode, where you and a friend square off on the maracas, and doing well causes your opponent to get hit with a large bomb. There's also an all-music mode, which gives you instant access to any of your previously played songs, as well as a few little mini-games.
Samba De Amigo is a top-notch translation. The maracas really make the game, and it's definitely one of the best music/rhythm-based games out there.