samda de amigo preview

Samba de Amigo: Party Central Hands-On Preview – A Fair Shake

Marac-ing up some high scores.

As a franchise, Samba de Amigo might have flown under your radar. It definitely flew under mine. Starting out on Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast and eventually being ported to the Nintendo Wii, Samba de Amigo is a motion-controlled rhythm game where you shake maracas as a little monkey on screen dances along to the music. The series is returning with a new entry, Samba de Amigo: Party Central on Nintendo Switch, in August this year and I recently got the chance to take the joy-cons in hand and shake along to this upcoming release.

samda de amigo preview

My hands-on session began with Party Central’s core Rhythm Game mode. Here, six circles are placed on screen around your character and markers emerge from the centre, moving towards the circles in time with the music. With a joy-con controller in each hand, you’ll shake them like maracas around yourself, following the moving markers to dance along in time. The game is pretty loose with how accurately it requires you to be moving the Joy Cons around – I swear I nearly missed some inputs but still got 100% accuracy ratings. I think it’s tuned more for party fun than intense skill which fits the overall vibe of the game. It feels pretty good to play, shakes of the Joy Cons translate to visuals and sound from the game that reflect your movements in a satisfying way.

samda de amigo preview

Occasionally, songs will be interrupted with special actions like striking a pose or a or a temporary mode change to the gameplay. These mode changes can be as simple as a speed boost to the song or as wild as a random baseball mini-game in time with the music. These twists kept me well and truly on my toes – it’s a simple premise that’s easy to pick up for some casual fun but can get physically and rhythmically demanding very quickly depending on the difficulty you choose for yourself.

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The song list is hugely important for a game like this. If you can’t find a song you vibe with, chances are you won’t have a great time. Party Central has a pretty eclectic list of 40 songs in the build I played and they ran the gamut from Miley Cyrus and Kesha to La Bamba. I was drawn to the multiple Carly Rae Jepsen tracks, and was amazed to see Rina Sawayama on here as well. It’s very pop-focused but there’s some rock in here too. Sonic Adventure 2’s Escape From The City is a highlight, complete with a giant truck in the background going absolutely ham just like in the game. I found a lot to like in the track listing, but as with anything music-based your taste is going to be a huge factor.

samda de amigo preview

Multiplayer will obviously be hugely important for Party Central, so I tried every multiplayer mode I could. The regular rhythm mode can be played with two players, each competing for the best overall score. There’s also a ‘Love Checker’ mode which plays pretty similarly to the normal rhythm game but with lots of love hearts decorating the screen as you play, and at the end of the song you’re given a compatibility rating so you can really know if your dance partner is worth staying friends with.

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My favourite of the modes was the Showdown mode which again presents you with the regular rhythm gameplay – but at the end of the song the loser will be given a task to complete, and they must do it until the winner decides they are satisfied. I lost my match, so the game asked me to jump around the room while barking like a dog. Thankfully my host was generous enough to let me off the hook for that one. It might be a mode fit for a gathering of friends more than the workplace! I’m told the other options that come up encompass varying levels of potential shame and embarrassment.

samda de amigo preview

Not just a game for groups, the main meal single-player mode of Party Central is StreamiGo!, a mode that lets you pursue the life of a social media personality, dancing along to complete specific tasks to gain new followers and unlock new challenges. I only played a couple of songs in this mode, but I get the impression this will be where I’d spend the most time when I’m dancing on my own.

Rounding out the modes on offer is World Party, the online mode that I wasn’t able to try since there’s nobody out there to play with – but I was able to check out some footage and got the idea. It’s a three-stage knockout tournament where the top players go on to the next round and the lowest scoring players are banished to a black hole – complete with pained screams. It’s very strange. It does look like a fun way to play against others when you don’t have people around, but it remains to be seen how well the rhythm gameplay will go online and how many people will be online to have tournaments with. A bit of a wait and see mode, this one.

samda de amigo preview

I came away from my time with Samba de Amigo: Party Central excited to play more. It looks like there are enough options to keep things from getting stale whether you play alone or with others and the soundtrack is full of hits that I can see myself trying to defeat on harder difficulties. It’s going to be a long wait for the August 29th release date but I’m looking forward to shaking my maracas some more when the time comes!

Samba de Amigo: Party Central comes to Nintendo Switch on August 29th. The cheapest pre-order is $49 at Amazon with free shipping.