Sega recently showed off an updated version of the Wii incarnation of Samba de Amigo, the classic maraca-peripheral-powered rhythm game that grooved its way through arcades and the Dreamcast back in the late '90s. The game is being developed by Texan developer Gearbox Games of Brothers in Arms fame. While Gearbox may not be the obvious choice to update a Japanese rhythm game, the US developer is showing off a whole other facet of itself with the conversion. The updated version on display at Sega's event showed off the progress made since the last time we saw it.
The updated demo featured a new menu interface and brief tutorial focused around an island setting. A hut surrounded by palm trees was our first stop when entering the game. You'll set up a profile, which will be tied to a Mii. As part of the profile you'll be asked to pick what control type you want, two remotes or a remote and Nunchuk, as well as be run through a brief tutorial if it's your first time in the game. Once that's done you'll go to the main menu with various game types such as quickplay, classic, Love Love (a mode that tests your compatibility with another player based on how you all play together), and minigames.
We caught a peek at the song list, which featured a bunch of tunes from the original game as well as "Bamboleo" from the Gypsy Kings. Once we hopped into a game we got a look at another one of the stages in the game, a TV studio complete with a boisterous studio audience complete with Miis, eager to dance along with main character Amigo. The game handled better thanks to a tighter control setup since we last saw it. You still have to be a bit more precise for some of the gesturing in hustle mode and posing than we're used to, but it's not too hard to adjust to it.
The visuals in the game were coming along fine. The loopy art design and eye-popping color palette give the game a unique look that still has a quirky charm. There were a few odd bits here and there with lighting and color that stood up, but they were obviously work-in-progress rough spots.
Based on what we played, Samba de Amigo is shaping up nicely. The gameplay is making a good transition to the Wii and the visuals are retaining their charm. Little touches like the maraca's shaking sounds that come out of the Wii Remote are good to have, although we surely hope there will be some kind of maraca sleeve out for the game. Samba de Amigo is slated to ship this August for the Wii.