Review by miffo

"Don't be afraid of the monkey. He's not REALLY on crack, he just loves this game. And you will too."

The way Sega looks at things, ''convention'' is synonymous with ''dull''. Case in point: Samba de Amigo. Who would've thought that anyone would make a game based on maraca-wielding monkeys? Well, Sonic Team did and surprisingly enough they released it on the Dreamcast in addition to the arcades. Even more surprising is that they compacted the thousand dollar machine into an $80 videogame peripheral that makes for one of the coolest looking games ever.

Samba de Amigo is another game bred into the music genre, and involves shaking a pair of maracas in time with the beat. It's played out so that balls come across the screen and land in one of six places-your job is to shake the maraca(s) at the same time, in the place corresponding to where it is on the screen. That means shaking it on the high, low, and middle position without messing up. You're scored on how accurately you played, and need to make the grade to continue on.

Sounds easy enough, does it not? Well, starting out is simple but gradually (and sometimes not-so-gradually) the difficulty picks up, and you'll be shaking in multiple spots at once. Crank it up to Super Hard and prepare to sweat like never before! Although you look like a fool, it's a blast to play and you'll definitely get your money's worth out of those maracas.

For those that aren't willing to pay $80 for a peripheral that can be used for one game, then I understand. Fortunately the game can be played with the standard controller instead, by using the buttons to imitate the placement of the maracas. It works quite well either way, and the controller is actually more effective at times!

The music you listen to can't be beat, and you'll get a handful of Latin songs including those by Ricky Martin that were missing from the Japanese version. Other songs include Tequila, Tub Thumping, and my personal favorite, Take On Me. At times these can be hard to hear over the shaking of your maracas, but that can easily be fixed by turning up the volume on your TV! In all, there are over twenty songs including tunes from other Sega games that can be downloaded using the in-game web browser. The graphics in the background are filled with smooth and colorful animations, although they serve no real purpose except for window-dressing.

Arcade and Original are the two main modes, and both are very similar. Arcade takes you through the basic songs, and you can unlock new ones as you play through. Original gives you a list of every song that you've ever played, and this will be the section you'll probably be playing the most once everything is unlocked. But that's not all you can do! There is a Challenge mode that gives you a series of challenges ranging from somewhat easy to nearly impossible at the later stages.

And if that's not enough, Samba de Amigo includes a set of mini games as well. There are five in all, and they include variations of Simon-Says and the Whack-a-Mole game. Special multiplayer games are present too such as the Love Love mode which measures your, uh, ''musical love compatibility'' with the person you are playing with. There is also a Battle mode, which is equally fun.

Overall, there is plenty to see and hear with all of the songs and mini games. But is it worth shelling out eighty bucks just for a videogame? I think it is, and by doing so you'll have one of the freshest experiences in a long while. Maracas or not, it's still fun and worth the $10 that it costs these days. Don't miss it!

Final Scores:
Gameplay: 10
Graphics: 9
Sound: 10
Replay: 8
Overall: 8


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/28/01, Updated 08/28/01


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