Man alive, does Samba De Amigo seem fun. From the gorgeous full-motion video opener to the Borat sound-a-like that yelps over the menus, there are few experiences as welcoming on Wii. Want to know why all next-gen games are brown? It’s because Sega stole all the other colours to smear over this. Summer needn’t end in August with Samba in your slot… or does it?
Samba’s party invitation reads well enough, but RSVP and you’re in for some trouble. It’s a game built around one simple mechanic – two controllers shaken at three heights – and there’s only one mechanic it fluffs. That would be shaking two controllers at three heights. The original Dreamcast maracas were built with this one aim in mind, hijacking the remote just hasn’t worked out. The problem stems from tilting. Playing is not just a case of raising and lowering your arms, but aiming the remote and Nunchuk (or two remotes) up and down. The game should be about – and repeatedly claims it is – going with the beat and shaking those plastic wands in an uncontrollable frenzy. Having to ensure they’re tilted makes the whole thing too methodical.
It’s as if you’ve been invited to a party but your host has written down the order you have to eat the snacks in. Cheesy football first, one hula-hoop next... all around you looks and sounds like a party, but you’re sure as hell not at one. The circles are just slow enough early on to pre-tilt the controllers to a cheap victory, but completion beyond normal mode is for masochists only. Which makes Samba one of 2008’s biggest disappointments. What it gets right – Mii usage, downloadable song packs, a rich bevy of multiplayer modes (including the awesome Love Love relationship test) – marks it out as a prime example of Good Wii Development. Production values, effort and all-round silliness (you can change the maraca rattle to all manner of bizarre SFX) are at an all-new high; but we’ll be a monkey’s uncle if they didn’t forget to get the game working first.
Sep 23, 2008