When it comes to the development of a new Samba de Amigo game, only one development house comes to mind. That’s right, Gearbox Software. Only the crew responsible for games like Brothers in Arms and the PC port of Halo can possibly understand the gravitas that Amigo, the sombrero-wearing monkey, brings to gaming.
OK, so it’s a weird fit, putting Randy Pitchford and his posse on a new Samba game. But it reminds me of Crystal Dynamics doing the 3DO port of Samurai Shodown: you know they don’t need to take on that assignment, so they must just be huge fans of the original game. And, from what I saw at Nintendo’s recent event, the game seems like it’s sticking pretty close to what you’d expect from a Samba de Amigo game.
The big difference, obviously, is the control. On the Dreamcast, Samba de Amigo was played with maracas controllers that required you to hover just so above a sensor bar on your floor. Also, you had to tell the game how tall you are, so it could determine whether you were holding the two maracas in the high, medium, or low position. The Wii version lets you use either two Wii Remotes or a Wii Remote with a Nunchuk, but either way, it’s based more on the tilt of the controller than its height. So if you tilt up, it goes high. Tilt forward or to the sides for medium, and down for low. It’s pretty different and makes the game a less-physical activity, unless you want to go for broke and move the controllers around all crazy while you’re tilting them. Regardless of how you shake it, the control seems plenty responsive and works just fine.
The point of the game remains the same. Balls emanate from from the center and move toward one of six points. When the ball meets its point, you need to shake a controller in that position. You’re scored based on your timing. Two players can play simultaneously, giving off that “let’s have a party” sort of vibe. All the while, Amigo the monkey and a cast of other crazy-faced animals go absolutely nuts in the background. The game will feature online leaderboards, in case you’re into that sort of thing.
The game maintains the same basic look that it had on the Dreamcast. You’ll be able to choose from a number of different modes, including the ability to play the various songs in the more traditional Samba, as well as a mode that works more like the sequel, Samba de Amigo 2000. The 40+ songs will be a mix of new and old, though Sega hasn’t made any announcements about new material. Samba de Janeiro is in there, though. So really, it already has all the music it needs.
Samba de Amigo is set to hit the Wii this summer.