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Retro Review Friday – Samba De Amigo Ver. 2000 Dreamcast

With the rumoured news of SEGA looking in to reviving some of their old franchises I thought it fitting to kick off a new segment of XLC Gaming Network titled Retro Review Friday. At the moment this wont be every Friday more just when time allows me to. To kick things off I take a look back at Samba De Amigo Ver. 2000 on what has to be one of the greatest games console I own. I have just recently started getting back into this game and thought it a fitting way to kick start the new segment.

 
The Dreamcast was a console that certainly felt like an arcade machine in your home. In an era where SEGA was pretty dominant in the arcade this console seen plenty of arcade ports. Even now the Dreamcast is still a console that gets played today and especially one that was ahead of its time. Now I’m a fan of music/rhythm titles having played various title like DDR, Rocksmith, Rock Band, Guitar Hero and so fourth. However there is one title that beats them all and that title is Samba De Amigo on the Dreamcast. I can still remember purchasing the first title in this series early from a local independent gaming shop, at the time this game set me back about £80 which included the Maracas – yes you read that right – but its one of my greatest gaming purchases to date. However the definitive title is the follow-up Samba De Amigo Ver.2000 and this in my book is even better than the third title released in 2008 on the Wii due to the lack of actual maracas and less accurate controls.

If you are not aware of what Samba De Amigo is let me fill you in and bring you up to speed. Until 2008 this samba infused music/rhythm game was exclusive to the Sega Dreamcast ported from the Arcade machines. In the arcade you used maracas to follow the on-screen balls as they headed towards the six circles in front of you. Shake the maracas as the balls hit the circle, simple yet endlessly fun and addictive gameplay. The game will also through posses at you making you hold the maracas in certain places. Mix this in with some killer samba infused tracks and you will have an awesome time, I tell you shaking maracas has never been this fun, and probably wont be again.

A trailer from the Wii Version:

The different game modes included the usual arcade and original modes, the later allows you to pick any of the songs unlocked by playing through arcade and the challenge mode. When playing the game you have two stages to play and depending on how well you perform you will gain access to a special stage that grants you access to more challenging songs. The challenge mode will really test your maraca shaking skills where challenges ask you get a certain rank or even get a perfect score. There were also a host of mini-games included in the original like “Whack-a-Mole” and a version of “Simon Says” they are fun in short bursts. These however never made it to the second title. When it comes to multiplayer it supports two players and for gamers with partners it has a “Love Love” mode. You and your partner will both play the song and the closer your scores are together, you are both a perfect match.

The video quality isn’t great here, but this guy encapsulates the joy to be had with Samba de Amigo:

Now I did say at the beginning that the second title is by far the definitive title in the Samba De Amigo franchise. The second title unfortunately never made it out of Japan but it doesn’t impose too much of an issue thanks to a guide that translates the menu system. This title added a new hustle mode where you are waving the maracas in certain patterns and it is a very worthy addition. Also new to the game is survival mode which is really addictive and challenging on the higher difficulties. The mini-games were replaced by a volleyball game, yes there is nothing more insane than playing volleyball with maracas. This title also added to the originals track list and was expanded even further. You were able to download songs from various SEGA franchise including Sonic R and Outrun giving a total of 42 songs. There were also DLC songs in the original as well, unfortunately now there is no way to obtain the DLC songs if you want to play them these days.

You can play this game with the standard Dreamcast controller but you would be missing out badly on the full experience. SEGA really pulled this game off in spectacular fashion with the maracas controller, as they squeezed pretty much a £1000+ arcade machine part into a controller below £100. While the maracas did not recognise every single time on the hardest difficulties, in my experience it is minimal and my launch set of maracas still work perfectly. I have used them probably more than any other gaming peripheral I have to this date. If you are looking to pick this title up now, it’s certainly not cheap with eBay prices in the region of £150 upwards for official ones. I was lucky to be able to purchase two more sets many years back in case my pair gives up. I will say though that if you have the cash to splash you won’t be disappointed.

samba controller

Samba De Amigo is my most loved music/rhythm title by a country mile thanks not only to the unique and well built maracas controller, but also the song choice. Every music game I have played to date has always been a little hit or miss, some more than others. With Samba De Amigo not only do I love every song, they also fit in perfectly with the overall theme. You haven’t lived until you have stood shaking maracas and posing to a cover of Take On Me. Other songs include Macarena; Livin’ la Vida Loca; Soul Bossa Nova; Theme of Rocky; S.O.S; La Bamba and so, so ,so much more.

When it comes to the graphics of this game it is just pure arcade gold, it’s like a rainbow has just exploded. As you play Amigo and all his friends will be dancing about the screen in the background. The better you do the more the background changes until you are in a completely psychedelic environment. Not only is the game a joy to play but also offers graphics that even hold up to today.
 
The Good Things

  • The best music/rhythm title I have played to date.
  • The maracas controller is extremely fun.
  • The samba infused track list making this my most loved music title.
  • Improves on the original in many ways.

 
And The Bad 
 

  • Really need the maracas to get the full enjoyment./li>
  • Today’s cost of the official maracas controller.
  • If you are getting this for the first time you have missed out on some great dlc tracks.

 
My Verdict…

    There are many titles that make the Dreamcast a worthy console to go back to and Samba De Amigo is right up there with the best of them. This game has kicked the test of time in the arse and is in dire need of a revival along with the original maracas controller. The graphics even stand the test of time as well as the gameplay. Yes it got released on the Wii and I still recommend it due to the additional songs but if you want to play this title in all its glory then its best on the Dreamcast. It amazes me just how well built the maracas controller was and how it can still function almost as it did when brand new. SEGA if you do bring back older franchises please make this one of them.

 

Samba De Amigo Ver. 2000 will always have its own special place in my gaming heart.

About no1phil

no1phil
PR Manager & Editor for XLC Gaming Network. I have been gaming since the ZX Spectrum days growing up through many generations of consoles. A bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to gaming genres. When I'm not either being shot at, dancing, scoring for the other team or racing I am trying to become a guitar God with Rocksmith 2014.