Samba de Amigo

   This fall gamers saw the release of one of the freshest, most enjoyable rhythm games ever to hit American shores. The original Samba de Amigo provided great music, sharp visuals, and, most importantly, stellar gameplay. If those lucky enough to snag a copy had any complaints, other than the high price of the must-have maracas controller, it was probably that they wanted more. This spring, Sega will provide exactly that. Samba de Amigo 2001 is on its way with more music, more modes, and, yes, more monkeys.

  You better clear some serious floor space for this.
Do the Hustle!

   The core gameplay of Samba 2001 remains relatively unchanged. Once again, would-be Amigos face the music with maracas in hand, matching their moves to the height and rhythm of the instructions on the screen. However, Sonic Team hasn't been content to rest on their laurels; new moves and modes have been added that will throw even the most seasoned Samba player for a loop -- literally.

   If you somehow managed to have any dignity left after the first Samba, the new Hustle Mode will take care of that for you. Hustle requires players to not only shake their maracas in time to the beat, but wave them between two positions or even around in a full circle. The more times you do the motion, the higher the score. Be prepared for a workout; the more difficult songs require rapid switching between high and low arm swings, with a few timed shakes thrown in the middle. It's almost like a different game so, for the Samba purist, each song is available in both Normal and Hustle modes, effectively doubling the gameplay. There are still a few issues with the sensors on the maracas, especially when attempting a full circle, but the game is forgiving enough to keep frustration to a minimum.

La La Love You!
The couple that Sambas together stays together.

   Rounding out the considerable list of features are an expanded, more challenging Challenge Mode, an unlockable Survival Mode, and a brand new volleyball mini-game. Couples Mode returns as Love Love Mode, which gives out Love Points based on your synchronization with that special someone. It's a small addition, but sure to be welcomed by those who have actually had trouble getting their significant others to make of fools out of themselves in front of the TV. Unfortunately, the original Samba's comprehensive Party Mode is gone, but it's hard to complain with such an otherwise complete package.

   But the real draw is the new soundtrack, which is every bit as memorable and instantly catchy as the first game's. Samba 2001 will offer a whopping 23 new tracks and a greater variety of musical styles. Many of the songs, of course, maintain the Latin flavor of the first Samba; others range from French go-go pop and straight-ahead dance to disco and well-known tunes like Rocky's theme and the Wedding March. (Yes, that Wedding March.) As in the first game, Samba 2001 will also offer a variety of familiar songs from past Sega games, only accessible by unlocking them online. Highlights here are a funky track from Jet Grind Radio and the "so-bad-it's-good" theme from Daytona. If all this still isn't enough, Samba 2001 will also include almost every track from the first game, bringing the list up to 40+ songs.

  Amigo gets his Amiga
That's the second largest monkey head I've ever seen!!

   The graphics remain as vibrant, colorful, and frenetic as ever. The old songs keep their former stages, but some brand new ones have been created for the new songs. These display the same sharp, stylish design as the last Samba. Some, such as a giant Amigo head floating amid a sky full of balloons, are simply spectacular. A few new characters also join the old cast and Amigo himself often shares the stage with his new female counterpart, Amiga.

   Considering the strength of the gameplay and the total lack of competition in the Maraca Simulator genre, Sonic Team could have easily added a few new songs and quickly shoved a sequel out the door. Thankfully, they've gone back to the drawing board and come up with a game that offers so much more than its predecessor that it practically replaces it. Samba de Amigo 2001 is already out in Japan as Samba de Amigo ver. 2000. American gamers who still haven't jumped on the Samba bandwagon will get their best chance yet when the game and, hopefully, more maracas ship sometime in spring 2001.

Preview by Zak McClendon, GIA.
Samba de Amigo 2001
Developer Sonic Team
Publisher Sega
Genre Rhythm
Medium GD-ROM (1)
Platform Dreamcast
Release Date  12.14.00
 Spring 2001
E3: Samba's future in jeopardy?
45 screenshots
10 wallpaper images