Samba de Amigo (Wii)
- September 23, 2008 00:00 AM PT
Samba De Amigo is a lot like directing traffic: Imagine yourself holding the Wii Remote(s) and/or nunchuck simultaneously on a colorful street with a cartoonish sombrero-wearing monkey named Amigo, who either smiles or cries depending on your maraca-shaking abilities to the tune of catchy Latin beats. This, in essence, is what the game play feels like except it's a lot less lackadaisical.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The quirky maraca-shaking rhythm based game makes a triumphant and entertaining return on the Nintendo Wii.
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This revised version of Samba De Amigo could not be a more fitting choice for the Wii. For those who are not familiar with the original arcade or Dreamcast version of the game, the game peripherals include using either two Wii Remotes or a Wii Remote and Wii Nunchuk to simulate a pair of maracas. There are six rings on the screen indicating which direction the player should shake the maracas: the upper left, upper right, middle left, middle right, lower left, or lower right. The player must shake the maracas in the appropriate direction indicated by the orbs on the screen. These orbs appear in the center of the six rings spread around the screen, and the player must match the general direction(s) of the moving orbs to the corresponding rings and shake the Wii Remote before the orbs travel too far across the rings. It sounds simple enough, but for the novice player, it may require a few tries to land a direct hit.
The Wii version features Career Mode, downloadable songs, and all of the other favorites including minigames such as Guacamole (whack-a-mole, a personal favorite), Dance Dance Amigo (also known as Hustle mode, which requires rapid movement of the arms as if dancing to Tequila), Strike a Pose (try to match the pose using the maracas), and a plethora of others minigames that measures your overall sharpness, power, speed, groove, and appeal.
Aside from the slight inaccuracies with the controls, the game is forgiving yet challenging enough to keep the player interested. It definitely has its appeal as a party game for either novice or experienced players with its three difficulty levels in addition to a fourth unlockable Superhard Career Mode. By unlocking Superhard Mode, you'll see cameos from old Sega mascots including Sonic and Ulala. That is, if you can keep up with some of the ridiculously quick-spawning orbs that will sure to make any dedicated player feel cross-eyed.
The motion tracking doesn't always seem to catch the exact movement by the player, but this can sometimes work in the player's advantage by flailing your arms and twisting your wrists haphazardly in hopes of landing a matching ring. I'm not as ambidextrous as I'd like to be, but fortunately, the rings allow a good margin of error as the player only has to touch and not completely match the general position of the ring before shaking the Wii Remote(s). Another problem I encountered was the interface. The colorful background can sometimes cause visibility issues against the moving blue orbs, making them hard to see against the busy background. But aside from these issues, there is something really satisfying about beating a challenge, even if it is a barely passing grade.
It may not seem like strenuous activity, but shaking a pair of maracas can be quite tiring. This is especially true when you're trying to match a combination of poses while frantically shaking the maracas before getting booed off the stage and making a very sad monkey cry because he's lost all of his friends after several attempts of passing the Conga stage by the Miami Sound Machine and failing. Gloria Estefan would not approve of such failure, and to be honest, I had to stop playing in hopes of getting that song out of my head. Then again, most of the tracks were done by sound-alike musicians from WaveGroup Sound--the same team who does musical covers for Guitar Hero, so perhaps I haven't quite failed her yet. It's a good idea to alternate between the tracks that you're having trouble completing so that you're not stuck listening to the same song over and over again. Although some of the tracks are quite catchy, most of them get old really quick; I hope I never have to hear Miami Sound Machine ever again.
Overall, you can't beat the combination of monkeys, maracas, and the undeniable infectious tunes that come along with it, so Samba De Amigo gets a solid four out of five stars.
PROS: It's a classic, straight-forward rhythm-based music game with an additional selection of songs and doesn't require a huge time investment to enjoy.
CONS: The inaccurate controls can cause a bit of frustration on some of the higher difficulty settings.