NOTE - It is possible to play with a duel Wiimote setup, but I played Wiimote and Nunchuk.
When Sega asked what franchises we wanted to see them revive, Samba de Amigo was near the top of the list. The maraca-shaking rhythm game was long overdue for a sequel, and thanks to the Wii, it’s finally happening. The impressions we’ve seen of the game so far have been…lackluster. It seemed that Gearbox was having some trouble getting the Wiimote/Nunchuk to do what they wanted. Sure, to us gamers, the Wii’s control scheme seems like the perfect setup for a Samba sequel. You have two motion controllers, you shake them, and that’s that! The problem is, these two controllers have different levels of sophistication. The Nunchuk, while still impressive, just isn’t as up to snuff as the Wiimote. This seemed to be quite the stumbling block in earlier builds of the game. Since that first set of impressions, it is pretty clear that Gearbox has been hard at work making Samba de Amigo Wii the best it can be. While the title isn’t at that sweet spot yet, this extra dev time has made for a much tighter project.
If there’s one thing you don’t have to worry about with this Wii sequel, it’s the soundtrack. There are a ton of new songs to jump in on, as well as some revamped classics from the first game. This is a game that will need to have the volume cranked up to 11. Part of the fun of the Samba series is blasting the music, and really getting into the action. If you are sitting on the couch playing SdAW when it comes out, something is truly wrong with you!
The rest of the game hasn’t really changed from the original versions. The game is bright, cheery, and frenetic. You’ll be waving your arms all around, striking poses, and shaking your controllers like a madman. The good news is, things work out much better than they did last time. The motion recognition seems to be much more spot-on…much more fine-tuned. I played through a number of songs, and I really felt like the controllers were picking up what I was doing. The on-screen display keeps deciphering your moves very simple…it’s just getting your body to follow along that’s the hard work!
Unfortunately, there are still some control quirks. There are times when the Wiimote/Nunchuck will lose your positioning. This didn’t happen too often, but it happened enough to make note of it. The Wiimote is accurate almost the entire time, but the Nunchuk needs some more work. I honestly don’t know what Gearbox can do to squeeze more detection out of that controller. I know that they must be working their asses off trying to get the Nunchuk to mimic the Wiimote’s work. I don’t even know if they can get close enough to truly fudge it. Simple shakes of the Nunchuk in any direction on the rhythm circle work just fine, but the poses that come up can confuse the hell out of the thing. It’s just so much data flying around that the poor little guy has trouble figuring out where he is. I think the solution lies somewhere within letting the Nunchuk be very forgiving when recognizing controls.
SdAW keeps getting the spit-shine, and each time it comes out a little bit cleaner. Things are looking up, and from my time with the title, I can see that it is well on its way to being a winner. As of right now, you can have a lot of fun with the game…but it will be marred by moments of pure frustration. Missing moves that you know you’re performing can be a game killer after a certain amount of tries. Gearbox is very close to nipping this issues, and I really hope that they do get ironed out as much as possible before the retail release. Samba fans, your game is coming back, and it’s mostly for the better. Keep your fingers crossed for some extra magic before retail release.