Sega has brought back their beloved party game favorite, Samba de Amigo: Party Central. In a world where Guitar Hero and Rock Band no longer dominate the rhythm game genre, and Just Dance is the only game to look forward to each year, Sega has had 15 years to update and improve on the Samba de Amigo experience. So, how does it hold up?
The base gameplay seamlessly translates to the Nintendo Switch. While you can play with a Joycon Pro, the real fun comes from standing up and shaking your Joycons like maracas. Players hold the Joycons in both hands, as if they were the handles of maracas, and the direction in which they hold the controllers corresponds to the six gates on the screen. As colored orbs roll from the center of the screen to the gates, players shake the controllers and tilt them in the right directions. The simple and engaging concept, which can be played right out of the box, is what makes this rhythm game great.
But Samba de Amigo offers much more than just swinging the Joycons. The game throws out posing prompts and various action prompts that players must follow to earn a higher score. There’s also a Roulette orb that triggers mid-song mini-games, adding a ton of variety and fun to each song. The gameplay ensures that group sessions have plenty of exciting moments for everyone to enjoy.
In addition to the base rhythm game, Samba de Amigo: Party Central offers several gameplay modes. Players can try Streamigo, where they clear songs while achieving certain conditions for internet fame. There’s also a fun World Party mode where players compete against 19 others in three elimination rounds. The Party For Two mode offers head-to-head matches and a Love Checker mode, which measures compatibility based on synchronized shakes. In-game coins and experience can be earned by playing these modes, which can be used to unlock various items in the Gallery.
While Samba de Amigo: Party Central has all the necessary components for a phenomenal party game, there are some issues that dampen the fun. The Joycon sensors may occasionally miss inputs, and the game can get confused when registering shakes. The World Party mode can feel unfair due to interruptions that other players can send, removing gates from the screen. And despite the game’s title and Latin American aesthetics, it surprisingly lacks Latin American music. Only ten out of the forty listed songs have Latin flavor, which feels like a missed opportunity for a game centered around maracas.
However, despite these misgivings, Samba de Amigo: Party Central is still a great package. Sega has done a phenomenal job bringing back this forgotten series. The charming pose prompts and the charming cast of characters add to the game’s nostalgic appeal. It’s a solid and satisfying system packed with arcade-like goodness, making it a must-have for Sega fans and a worthy addition to any party game rotation.