Samba de Amigo is back in Switch form! It’s been a while since we last saw Amigo on the Wii update of the classic Maraca-shaking music game. Samba de Amigo: Party Central is a new title (released alongside an Apple Arcade game) with new game modes and a plethora of new music for the series. Does this new entry get the party started?
The initial story at the beginning of the game is about Amigo, the main monkey taking possession of legendary maracas tasked with saving the world with music. It’s the exact same start as the recently released Apple Arcade game Samba de Amigo Party-To-Go. The only difference is that the Apple Arcade version has a story mode involving the cast of the Samba de Amigo games. With Party Central, your lofty goal is left hanging, with only the neverending party awaiting Amigo.
For this new instalment in the Samba de Amigo series, there is a wide variety of music to shake and groove to, with some older songs (a few from the previous versions) to some of the catchier pop of the 2010-2020s. You also have some Sega/Sonic tunes there (even more if you get the Deluxe or individual music packs), with more DLC to add to the 40 launch songs. There is a decent mix of music here, and the appeal of the song list depends on how into pop music you are. I’ll be honest that I only recognise most of the songs from more recent years because they’ve appeared in advertising, but that’s not to say it doesn’t work when you’re shaking your maracas.
While Samba de Amigo games are focused on using the Maracas/motion controls, Sega, thankfully, has accounted for people who may not be able to use motion controls. You can stick with the motion controls, or you can use the buttons or the sticks on your JoyCon.
The JoyCon shake/motion controls are mostly passable, as often with motion controls, they aren’t super precise. It’s also getting used to what the game is asking of you. The upper, middle and lower represent the position you shake the controllers at, not holding them higher or lower. There were plenty of times when the game rewarded incorrect movements. Still, it just as easily doesn’t recognise when you get it right. I still don’t entirely know how it judges the long swipe notes that move between the note rings, where it was pretty generous.
The other control option allows you to play without all the motion, where you can either use the sticks or the buttons to hit the beats. I found this mode to be workable for when it was the usual notes, but it gets messy when it throws in the long swipe notes you need to follow along multiple rings.
The Rhythm mode is pretty straightforward as it is essentially the quickplay option, where you get to choose a song and away you go. There’s a wide selection of music and multiple difficulty levels to try and get a good grade. During a song, you can hit a mini rhythm game. You are taken to another screen where you might have to time swinging a bat to hit a ball, or faster notes or a series of pose moves. Depending on the mini-game, it can mess with your score and chain, not ideal when you just want to get top rank for the song.
World Party mode pits your Amigo in a battle Royale against other Amigo’s from around the world online, with sixteen players battling in smaller groups to avoid getting knocked out. This mode comes with powerups/weapons that can really mess up someone’s progress. I found myself getting hit by the ones that just straight-up messed with my score by removing the incoming notes. Given how often I got hit with the item, it was pretty discouraging. I never found it possible to bounce back from it. It’s not a bad battle royale mode, but the items can be a little too powerful to come back from.
Party for Two is just that, a two-player mode where you can both take on a song, have a showdown to win over the crowd, or jump into the Love Checker game. Love Checker is about comparing both player’s progress and how in sync you are to rate your compatibility!There’s also mini-rhythm games where you can choose from the mini games that pop up during songs. These games are fine enough, but I just can’t see people rushing off to play that much of these mini-games.
You can also play Party Central online. You can host a room or search one out for 2-4 players to participate. I didn’t have any issues, but you’ll want to ensure you have a decent net connection. The times I tried it out, there was some waiting to get a game, but it would still find one.
After the more traditional Rhythm Game mode, StreamiGo is the other mode I was drawn to. StreamiGo consists of mission-based challenges, all in a bid to gain more followers. Just beating the song may not be enough to satisfy the challenge’s criteria. You may also need to hit several perfects or achieve a specific score.
Party Central, as the name suggests, is more suited as a party game, something you’ll play with friends around for a bit of fun. Unless you’re a fan of the series then it could be harder to overlook the lack of modes to keep you invested with the solo game. There’s no unlocking songs or any incentive besides levelling up for customisable items or more gold coins.
Given you’ll be seeing a lot of Amigo dancing on your screen (when you’re not frantically trying to keep up with all the notes flying around), you can customise your monkey. As you play you earn currency to spend on hats, maraca skins, outfits/costumes and even the sounds your maracas make when you hit a note. There is a wide variety of cosmetics to dress up Amigo every which way. Some items need coffee beans, a second currency to the coins you collect for most things. It feels like a step too far, given that you aren’t using real money to purchase this currency. On top of that, there’s little incentive to try to collect the harder-to-purchase items as there are so many other things to wear.
Samba de Amigo: Party Central is a decent party game for people who are up for getting their arms moving and shaking to the beat. The different modes offer something for solo and more players. However, it’s a shame the Apple Arcade game is the only version that saw a story mode. Samba de Amigo is a fun series. I hope Sega doesn’t keep us waiting so long for more to keep the party going.