What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a rhythm game filled with several dozen pop songs, most of which fit into the Latin music category. There isn't much of anything that might be inappropriate for youngsters' eyes or ears, save a questionably shaped bikini top worn by one of the female characters. As it requires no extra peripherals, Samba is relatively inexpensive for a music game, but you should be aware each player will need at minimum a Wii remote and nunchuk (which function as maracas) to play, and will be better served if they can swap out the nunchuk for a second, tether-free Wii remote.
What's it about?
A remake of a six-year-old game developed for Sega's doomed Dreamcast console, SAMBA DE AMIGO has players shaking a Wii remote and nunchuk (or, better still, a pair of Wii remotes) as though they were maracas in time with more than 40 pop songs, most of which fall into the genre of Latin music.
The object of the game is to follow onscreen cues that direct players to shake their maracas above their heads, at waist level, and down by their knees, as well as pull off various poses and dance moves by mimicking the actions of a cartoon dancer. Also featured are plenty of mini-games, several two-player head-to-head modes, and lots of unlockable content, including new maraca sounds and documentaries that show how the game was made.
Is it any good?
While all of the ingredients of a terrific, casual rhythm game are present, Samba de Amigo struggles in one important area: user interface. The original Samba used a pair of maraca peripherals made specifically for the game that were generous enough to allow players a fairly wide margin of error in terms of the position in which they had to be held in order to successfully register a high, medium, or low shake. The Wii's controllers, it turns out, aren't nearly as forgiving. Players must be extraordinarily precise in their movements in order to hit all beat cues. As a result, rather than the carefree flamboyance that a game like Samba ought to inspire, players end up moving cautiously as they concentrate on their smallest movements -- and still occasionally miss beats they feel they should have hit.
The good news is that the finicky controls are less of a problem on the easiest skill level, which involves far fewer shakes and eschews the knee-level rattles altogether. Players are still likely to miss plenty of cues, but the scoring is lax, making failing out of a song unlikely. Plus, a new Hustle mode cuts down the number of shakes even further, favoring instead poses and dance moves such as waving an arm back and forth above one's head, which the Wii's controllers seem better suited to properly registering. There is fun to be had here, but it could have been greatly enhanced with more lenient controls.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about music, and why it's fun to move our bodies to various beats. Have you played a rhythm game with a Latin music theme before this one? Has Samba de Amigo made you more interested in this kind of music? What do you think of using the Wii's motion sensitive controllers as maracas? Can you imagine any other instruments the Wii remote might lend itself to mimicking?