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Armored Core 2
Baldur's Gate II
Blair Witch
Samba de Amigo
Street Fighter EX3
Tekken Tag Tournament

GamesFirst! Magazine

SAMBAcover.jpg (24736 bytes)

by Sega

To Play Samba De Amigo with the DC controller,
or not to play? That is the question.

1_1-01.jpg (7187 bytes)I could probably adapt more dialogue from Hamlet for this review, but the above pretty much sums things up. Playing this game with the Dreamcast controller was akin to watching a Shakespearean Tragedy. Here was a game magnificent in its presentation, but its hamartia (tragic flaw for you non-lit types) was the Dreamcast controller. Like Hamlet’s indecision, the controller not only kept this game from becoming a king among games, but ultimately led to its downfall.

1_2-01.jpg (7716 bytes)Samba de Amigo was going to be the Dreamcast game of the year. I was finally going to be able to get my wife hooked on my Sega (she’s only picked up my games to put them away). My wife is a musician and I knew that she would not be able to resist the maracas, but alas, no maracas came with the game. How could I play a maraca game without the maracas? With great difficulty. Our Wal-Mart didn’t get any in, and our local video game place only got a single set. Many games out there use optional special controllers. Many would argue that the Namco fighting games need the arcade stick, but it’s not necessary. Some would say that a steering wheel is imperative for Tokyo Extreme, and sure, it would be nice, but hardly required. There are those who would argue that the Dreamcast version of Quake demands that you have the mouse controller, and, while I can appreciate its advantages, you can still do some serious fragging without it. But, alas, Samba De Amigo is one of the few games where the controllers are not optional.

2_1-01.jpg (7685 bytes)I was counting down the days until Samba De Amigo came out. Here was another game to further justify my continued allegiance to the Sega Corporation. One more game with which we could thumb our noses at those pathetic PS2 fanatics. There’s been nothing like Samba de Amigo before. I anticipated the ultimate party game, and what I got was the ultimate bore. Don’t get me wrong. I still think this could be one of the great games, but I won’t know for sure until I get my hands on some maracas (if I get my hands on some maracas). I don’t understand how Sega could send this game out for review knowing that the gameplay was almost entirely dependent on the controller.

2_2-01.jpg (7574 bytes)Gameplay is very straightforward. On your screen you have six targets—three on your left and three on your right—which represent the low, mid, and high positions of the maracas. Little globes materialize in the center of the screen and shoot off for the various targets. Your goal is to shake the correct maraca in the correct position before the globe hits its target. Without the maracas you have to simply hit the buttons on your controller that correspond to the correct target. It’s like playing the short-term memory version of Simon Says.

3_1-01.jpg (7568 bytes)The songs and graphics are catchy and the maraca wielding monkey is wacky in the best sense of the word. The graphics in this game are more for those who are watching you shake your booty (which they don’t get to see with the controller). This is a game designed as much for the audience as for the player. The graphics are almost irrelevant for the player because he/she’s going to be too focused on the little balls in the center of the screen. Unfortunately, without the maracas, no one’s going to want to watch you play this game.

4_3-01.jpg (7581 bytes)I can’t give this game a rating because I don’t feel like I’ve really played it. Sega should have bundled the maracas and the game for a hundred bucks and avoided the pretense of these controllers being optional. If you’re contemplating buying this game you also need to consider getting the maracas, which would make this a $120.00 game. I suspect that it would be money well spent, but I can’t know for sure until I get my hands on those maracas. The only audience for this game sans maracas might be the couch potato who wants the appearance of a hip game (because it is a hip game) without actually having to lug his carcass out of the Lazyboy. For the rest of us, it’s a question of whether or not we’ve got the cash to pay for the experience. And since I lack that kind of money, I will continue to look for new gaming experiences in the discount aisle.

Jason Frank


Ups: Cool concept; need rhythm; cute graphics; good tunes; sounds like a great party game.

Downs: Need maraca controllers to really have fun; maracas+Samba=too expensive.

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast; maraca controller peripheral strongly recommended


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