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.
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
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.
That's the second largest monkey head I've
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.
de Amigo 2001
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