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Samba De Amigo Review

Sega fails to pull off something maraca-ulous

And you were so close, Sega. So very, very close. And yet, the truth of the matter is that as wonderful as Samba De Amigo on Wii looks, sounds and generally is, the one thing that really mattered - getting the controls absolutely spot-on - has still eluded you. Don't worry, we know it's not your fault. Or even the fault of developer Gearbox. Seriously. And granted, for most people it probably won't even matter; they'll be too busy laughing, waving their arms and having a good time to notice. And that's the most important thing, right? Right?

Well, yes... kind of. There's no denying that Samba De Amigo is the ultimate feel-good game, nor that it's nearly impossible to play the game or watch other people playing it without smiling like a buffoon. The crazy latin rhythm, the dancing monkeys, the need to flail your arms around as you attempt to bop in time with the moving icons on screen - it's compelling in the way that only ridiculous party games can be.

Click to view larger image

Shake It, Madam

However (and it's a big shiny however, written in 50ft-high neon lights and surrounded by equally large red arrows drawing your attention to it), there's a big difference between the controls working and the controls working well and sadly, Samba De Amigo on Wii falls firmly into the former category rather than the latter

That isn't to say that the former is an absolute negative though, because it's really not. In fact, Gearbox has done one hell of a job getting the controls as good as they are. They were an unbridled mess six months ago that made the game unplayable but they're now functional and allow you to really enjoy the game without the need for constant swearing.

Granted, you still need to adjust to the quirks of how to grip the Remote and Nunchuk (or twin Remotes, if you've got them) as hitting the top and bottom markers requires you to hold them at a slight angle as well as either up or down. But that only takes a small amount of adjustment and soon enough, you can enjoy everything that Samba has to offer. Well, on the lower difficulty levels, at least.

And that's perhaps the most irritating thing about Samba from a reviewing point of view because if you take the controls out of the equation, it's almost impossible to fault. The brightly-coloured backgrounds and dancing characters that adorn each stage, built from the ground up for the Wii as they were, are impeccable, while the huge range of musical tracks available are pretty much perfect. In essence, it's an exact recreation of the game we loved back on the Dreamcast, only better - prettier graphics, more bop-worthy tunes and heck, it's even got downloadable content like the original did too. Indeed, besides a couple of the eight bonus mini-games offered being a touch on the rubbish side, we almost couldn't be happier. Almost.

Click to view larger image
But though it pains us horribly to say it, there's still no getting away from the fact that Samba's controls just aren't as tight as they need to be in the latter stages. And even more painful, the fault lies not at Gearbox's feet but at those of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.

Out Of Control

Without getting too scientific, the inner workings of the Wii's controllers are more adept at slow, smooth movements as opposed to jerky motion. While this means moving between high and middle or low and middle shakes works reasonably well, rapidly switching between high and low shakes on the same controller is actually nigh-on impossible.

It's a shame because if there's a single beat of pause between the notes, then it seems to work fine as the controller has a moment to recalibrate its position, allowing the cursor to move as a result. But this just isn't the case on the later Hard songs and almost all of Super Hard, meaning you wind up missing lots of notes and can even fail songs as a result. Considering that online high-score tables are a big part of the game's more hardcore appeal, such a thing is inexcusable and we've had to dock serious points off its final score as a result.

Basically, if ever there was a game that needed to be held back six months and have Wii MotionPlus functionality included, it's Samba De Amigo. It's just a shame that Sega couldn't hold on any longer. It's not that it's terrible, because it isn't and for those less committed players who are content with sticking to the lower difficulties, they'll undoubtedly have a blast. Sadly though, we don't pay £40 for half a game and considering we know it could have been a great deal better, it's hard to be anything but rather disappointed by this.

Comments

35 comments so far...
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  1. insanity cheese Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 11:51

    What?! Noooo! T-T I wanted this game to be brilliant!

  2. thecoop Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 11:59

    I have this pre-ordered for only £20, so this doesn't bother me too much. I have 2 comments though.

    1. It's nice to read a review which doesn't say the game is 'broken'. I expected some other reviewers didn't take time to adjust to the controls - this review gives a good account of exactly where the problem lies, so thanks for that.

    2. If the problem lies with the technology, surely its unfair to dock points for the game? You said it isn't Sega or Gearbox's fault - so surely if they did everything right we should be seeing a score in the high 80s or 90s? Or was the docking because they didn't hold the game back for Motion Plus?

  3. ChrisONM Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 14:02

    2. If the problem lies with the technology, surely its unfair to dock points for the game? You said it isn't Sega or Gearbox's fault - so surely if they did everything right we should be seeing a score in the high 80s or 90s? Or was the docking because they didn't hold the game back for Motion Plus?


    Not really. We're rating how enjoyable the game is, not the developers' ability.

    At the end of the day, the game's controls just don't work as well as they should, and regardless of whose fault that is it still makes the game less fun.

  4. Mahzes Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 14:32

    If there's DLC for the game, is there no chance that they could add MotionPlus compatibility into the game at a later date, or would that require them to practically tear down and rebuild the game from scratch?

  5. mcr fan92 Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 15:44

    Well I'll only buy this as a curiosity choice when it drops in price now :( £40 is too much for a game that will only frustrate me, might buy the DC version seeing as that worked :D

  6. shadow663 Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 16:17

    Such a great shame about the controls because this looked like a brilliant game. major let down. should have held on just a bit longer

  7. Flash7 Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 16:18

    Yes, bad controls would make it less enjoyable. :?

  8. Anonymous Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 16:24

    2. If the problem lies with the technology, surely its unfair to dock points for the game? You said it isn't Sega or Gearbox's fault - so surely if they did everything right we should be seeing a score in the high 80s or 90s?


    But they didn't do everything right - they created a game in which the controls didn't work well enough to make it great to play, yet still put a lid on it and called it done. The fact that it couldn't really have been any better based on the current technology really doesn't have much to do with that.

    Ultimately, I've always thought of scores to be a 'money paid in = enjoyment taken out' formula. And sadly, this just doesn't work well enough (if you're playing it as a hardened gamer looking to finish all the difficulties, as opposed to younger/more casual players just messing around) to warrant a higher score. Sorry. Believe me, I'm as disappointed as you are - I'm a fiend for Samba on the Dreamcast. :(

  9. PsychoPikmin Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 16:25

    Wow...shot down,huh?

    It's Nights all over again...

  10. The Arbiter Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 17:45

    I heard that (from IGN I think) that the controls are iffy if you use the WiiMote and Nunchuck, but using two WiiMotes solves it.

    Still, I'll at least wait for it to drop in price now before buying. Such a shame. :(

  11. phil44 Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 17:53

    why sega why did you not just make maracas for this game, all i can say is im glad i have the dc version's still to play how cold they possibly have messed up with this.
    ONM you say in your verdict that you dont blame gearbox or sega but i hope you were being sarcastic because they knew the wii control system did not work well enough to enjoy the full game e.g in the harder difficulties but they still went ahead and finished it, why have sega managed to mess up there franchises on the wii, yes i may still get this game just because getting a dreamcast second hand in great working order is near impossible for a cheap enough price and mines keeps reseting.
    Chris@onm have you ever completed the challenge mode on samba de amigo version 2000 on dc as i havn't been able to, with the maracas the songs are just so hard on expert :lol: and are they just as hard as they were on the dreamcast? if so this is robery because the dreamcast maracas work flawlessly and its still hard so if its the same difficulty then it will bw near impossib;le on the wii

  12. Mahzes Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 18:08

    Well I'll only buy this as a curiosity choice when it drops in price now :( £40 is too much for a game that will only frustrate me, might buy the DC version seeing as that worked :D


    You do realise that the UK version is ludicrously rare and is liable to set you back well over £100?

  13. Poke-J Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 18:35

    Oh noes!

  14. Adam2112 Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 18:46

    Aww I'm gutted now, I was really looking forward to Samba, might try and pick it up later when/if it drops in price.
    :D

  15. phil44 Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 18:47

    Well I'll only buy this as a curiosity choice when it drops in price now :( £40 is too much for a game that will only frustrate me, might buy the DC version seeing as that worked :D


    You do realise that the UK version is ludicrously rare and is liable to set you back well over £100?

    yeah but its worth it i paid £140 for 2 sets of the sega official maracas jap ones, american ones a re the rarest, a few year back and best money ive spent, i bought the box set when it was first released cost me £70 and those maracas still work.
    so although the dc version might cost £100+ its still a better buy if you want to sample it in all its glory
    but get the 2000 version for the dreamcast 8)

  16. phil44 Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 20:24

    I have this pre-ordered for only £20, so this doesn't bother me too much. I have 2 comments though.

    1. It's nice to read a review which doesn't say the game is 'broken'. I expected some other reviewers didn't take time to adjust to the controls - this review gives a good account of exactly where the problem lies, so thanks for that.

    2. If the problem lies with the technology, surely its unfair to dock points for the game? You said it isn't Sega or Gearbox's fault - so surely if they did everything right we should be seeing a score in the high 80s or 90s? Or was the docking because they didn't hold the game back for Motion Plus?

    where did you pre-order it for £20 is it still avaialble at that price?

  17. Mama Luigi Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 21:14

    This game needed Motion Plus. It would have been a triumph if Sega and Gearbox had the correct technology at hand.

  18. stusaysyes Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 21:53

    im still getting it i mean fine so nintendo official magizine are good reviewers but thats from there point of view not mine so i still think it cant be to bad i only payed £30 for it so its not so bad but i till think it will be a fun 2-player game even so :D

  19. thecoop Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 23:13

    I have this pre-ordered for only £20, so this doesn't bother me too much. I have 2 comments though.

    1. It's nice to read a review which doesn't say the game is 'broken'. I expected some other reviewers didn't take time to adjust to the controls - this review gives a good account of exactly where the problem lies, so thanks for that.

    2. If the problem lies with the technology, surely its unfair to dock points for the game? You said it isn't Sega or Gearbox's fault - so surely if they did everything right we should be seeing a score in the high 80s or 90s? Or was the docking because they didn't hold the game back for Motion Plus?

    where did you pre-order it for £20 is it still avaialble at that price?

    I ordered it from Amazon.co.uk. It says on the page that the game is £29.98, but when I orderd it and got my confirmation Email they had deducted £11.66 for absolutley no reason. It came under a gift certificate (of which I had none) - I didn't enter any promo codes or anything. They do have a number of Wii game offers at the moment so maybe it's smething to do with that. Can't promise it'll happen tough for you because it caught me by surprise. Maybe it's mistake - still that's all they've charged me. Anyway they still have it for £10 off even if you don't get the mystery discount. Good luck with it! :-)

  20. thecoop Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 23:18

    2. If the problem lies with the technology, surely its unfair to dock points for the game? You said it isn't Sega or Gearbox's fault - so surely if they did everything right we should be seeing a score in the high 80s or 90s?


    But they didn't do everything right - they created a game in which the controls didn't work well enough to make it great to play, yet still put a lid on it and called it done. The fact that it couldn't really have been any better based on the current technology really doesn't have much to do with that.

    Ultimately, I've always thought of scores to be a 'money paid in = enjoyment taken out' formula. And sadly, this just doesn't work well enough (if you're playing it as a hardened gamer looking to finish all the difficulties, as opposed to younger/more casual players just messing around) to warrant a higher score. Sorry. Believe me, I'm as disappointed as you are - I'm a fiend for Samba on the Dreamcast. :(

    I get you. I guess I'm just disappointed. It just seems unfair all round - to the developers and to the consumers - that it was doomed from the start never to be perfect contol-wise.

    By the way I was reading a website yesterday which said that the Dreamcast original had issues with the controls - non-responsive at times etc. Is that right? If that's the case it seems odd they'd make it knowing the Wii controls wouldn't be as good as the DC ones. Oh well. Still getting it!

  21. thecoop Friday 19th Sep 2008 at 02:24

    Wow...shot down,huh?

    It's Nights all over again...

    I thought NiGHTS was great! It looked and sounded amazing, huge amount of imagination, controlled well (w/ remote and nunchuck). Just wish it was longer.

  22. Mahzes Friday 19th Sep 2008 at 10:47

    But JoD was epic fail compared to the original NiGHTS. D=

  23. thecoop Friday 19th Sep 2008 at 11:11

    No way! I played the original to death and I'm on my way to doing the same with Journey of Dreams! Sure I mainly play the chase missions but it's great fun! Only thing missing is the ability to fly over the prisons to go round the course again in order to boost your score. I think there was good fan-service in there too, what with returning music, characters and bosses (I mean Donbalon is just basically Puffy from into dreams...).

  24. Wk93 Friday 19th Sep 2008 at 17:37

    NOOOOooooOOOOoOooOooOo! are the control issues fixed with 2 wiimotes?? would it be possible for them, to patch it to motion plus!?

    aw i was really hoping this was gonna be good, i had the dreamcast one and it was awesome.

  25. The Smithster Friday 19th Sep 2008 at 22:03

    Aww :cry:
    All the games I want turn out rubbish-Spore,NiGHTS,Pokemon Battle Revolution,and now this.
    Oh well.Time to move on.
    Hope I wasn't moaning there too much :wink:

  26. Smash-bros fan Saturday 20th Sep 2008 at 10:41

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
    I was so looking forward to this :cry:

  27. Bleachyleachy Saturday 20th Sep 2008 at 14:30

    Im not suprised to be honest.
    Nights: Rubbish
    Sonic ATSR: Rubbish
    Ghost squad: < Umbrella chronicles
    HOTD 2+3: < Umbrella chronicles
    My prediction: Sonic Unleashed: Rubbish.

    Yeah you guessed it... I hate sega :mrgreen:
    The only good game sonic has been in recently is Brawl.

    Well, thats my opinion at least.

    I wasn't really interested in this game, so it wasn't much of a blow.
    Right now I'm anticipating these games:
    Pikmin 3
    New Mario
    New Zelda
    Monster Hunter 3
    Mega Man 9
    AC:CF

    EDIT: Changed mind about S-unleased, having just seen the wii topic on it. Looks great now.

  28. marioforever Saturday 20th Sep 2008 at 18:42

    Aww :cry:
    All the games I want turn out rubbish-Spore,NiGHTS,Pokemon Battle Revolution,and now this.
    Oh well.Time to move on.
    Hope I wasn't moaning there too much :wink:

    PBR isnt that bad. it just needed padding out and some motion controls. i dont know why there was never a review, ONM?

  29. phil44 Saturday 20th Sep 2008 at 19:41

    with all the issues about the controls being crap :lol: is it just me thasts noticed on the trailers for the game even on hard the controls look as if they work fine.
    Are sega falsly advertising with showing gameplay demo but making it look as though its people playing the game tut tut.
    ***edit
    ok im getting this game on wed if anybody would like me to compare the wii version and dreamcast version if they are still undecided on weither to get the game or not just let me know and i can have it up by thursday night at latest

  30. Anonymous Monday 22nd Sep 2008 at 18:19

    Sonic ATSR: Rubbish


    No.

    Ghost squad: < Umbrella chronicles


    NO.

    HOTD 2+3: < Umbrella chronicles


    GAH! Nooooooooooo!

    Well, thats my opinion at least.


    Yes... yes, it is. :D

    Right now I'm anticipating these games:
    Pikmin 3
    New Mario
    New Zelda


    How can you possibly anticipate stuff that hasn't been announced? I know Miyamoto said there was a new Pikmin game coming but until you actually SEE something on it, it's totally ethereal. And as for the others... well. That's like saying 'I'm totally anticipating the sun coming up tomorrow'. You might know it's going to happen, but that doesn't make it worth getting excited about, does it? :P

  31. Lost Rider Thursday 25th Sep 2008 at 14:56

    Sonic ATSR: Rubbish


    No.

    Ghost squad: < Umbrella chronicles


    NO.

    HOTD 2+3: < Umbrella chronicles


    GAH! Nooooooooooo!

    Well, thats my opinion at least.


    Yes... yes, it is. :D

    Right now I'm anticipating these games:
    Pikmin 3
    New Mario
    New Zelda


    How can you possibly anticipate stuff that hasn't been announced? I know Miyamoto said there was a new Pikmin game coming but until you actually SEE something on it, it's totally ethereal. And as for the others... well. That's like saying 'I'm totally anticipating the sun coming up tomorrow'. You might know it's going to happen, but that doesn't make it worth getting excited about, does it? :P

    You can hardly blame people for that, after all when there was the big 'outcry' after E3, you were the ones using those games to fend off comments saying Nintendo doesn't cater for hardcore gamers, using them to tell us that we do have things from Nintendo to look for forward too. So of course we are going to anticipate them...

    Sorry if I ressurected that tired old argument from the dead by the way...XD

  32. -gonzo- Friday 26th Sep 2008 at 16:37

    I think the reviews have been pretty harsh and the reviewers are just crap at the game.
    Yes there is an issue with some of the recognition, but there is no way this makes the game unplayable as I got an A rank on hard mode which if you take notice of the reviews this is an impossible thing to achieve.
    In career mode im now on Super hard mode.
    I actually think this Wii version is easier than the Dreamcast versions on Hard mode.
    One of the reasons for this is that they have taken away for the need of getting Perfect A on the Hard challenges. Instead you just have to get above a C rank to clear the levels.
    I highly recommend that if you have played the Dreamcast versions is to forget how the maracas worked and treat this like your playing a brand new game so for newbies and Dreamcast veterans alike you need to have a quick go of the traing mode as it gets you used to how the controls work.
    Once you learn how the controls work then this game becomes so much more enjoyable.

  33. DBZFan355 Saturday 21st Feb 2009 at 13:58

    Nah, I think it's underrated. 83% minimum

  34. thundercat96 Tuesday 14th Dec 2010 at 18:01

    I OBJECT!!! In my opinion, the wiimote and nunchuck controls are flawless, just like the dreamcast peripherals. The visuals are better than Smash Bros. Brawl, and the control motion is awesome! You hypocrites, saying that this game is rubbish! :evil: I therefore conclude that you've underrated this game. 71% indeed! I give it 90%! :D

  35. thundercat96 Tuesday 14th Dec 2010 at 18:04

    Nah, I think it's underrated. 83% minimum

    I agree!

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