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Samba de Amigo: Party Central (Switch) review: One for the house party

By Captain Grover - 30 Aug 2023

Samba de Amigo: Party Central (Switch) review: One for the house party

Gamers, remember those good ol' days when all the hip kids would hit up the video game arcades right after school? If you do, you're probably of considerable vintage and may remember Sega's Samba de Amigo arcade game. Yes, that one, with those maraca-like controllers and music cranked up so high, your dance moves could be heard across the room.

After more than two decades since its debut, this quirky gem is back and ready to party on the Nintendo Switch as Samba de Amigo: Party Central. Decked out with a fresh makeover and some snazzy new graphics, this latest edition lets both old-school gamers and newcomers alike bust a move to samba tunes in the comfort of their own homes.

Picture this: no more awkward stares from fellow arcade-goers as you give those maracas a whirl. However, there's a catch—this new version seems to have misplaced those beloved maracas, which made it lose quite a bit of its original charm.

In Samba de Amigo: Party Central, you have two control modes to choose from. First, you can grab a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controller in each hand and shake 'em like maracas. Or, you can follow the rhythm and hit the right buttons on the Joy-Cons.

While the maraca-imitation mode does a decent job, the gameplay experience has taken a bit of a detour. Back in the arcade days, you'd shake those maracas high, mid, or low to score points. But in Samba de Amigo: Party Central, it’s all about Joy-Con tilting—upward for "high," a side-to-side shake for "mid," and a downward flick for "low." So, instead of having to stand up and flaunt your dance moves, you can practically groove while lounging in front of your TV, flicking the controllers in the right directions to score top points.

Mapping the maraca shakes to a Joy-Con’s accelerometer and gyroscope has also led to some inaccuracies in controller input. The Joy-Cons would sometimes misinterpret a player’s movements - such as messing up an upward flick with a downward one - especially when the game calls for both moves to be performed in succession. Thankfully, the iffy controls were a relatively small issue and did not get in the way of the general playability of this title.

Now, let's talk tunes. Samba de Amigo: Party Central comes with a quirky mix of 40 tracks, catering to every flavour of gamer, from retro Ricky Martin ("The Cup of Life") to Latin American favourites like "La Bamba" and "Macarena," and even modern jams such as Lady Gaga's "Just Dance".

Strangely, Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name" and Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" somehow found their way into the maracas mix as well. While I love listening to both songs, dancing to them while shaking a pair of virtual maracas felt a little odd.

Despite its curious mix of songs, you’ll probably find yourself dancing your way through Samba de Amigo: Party Central’s entire jukebox of tunes in no time. And if you go all out, you can even turn this game into a maraca-powered workout. I clocked in around 30 minutes of the game with a Fitbit on my wrist, and the smartwatch registered it as an “aerobic workout” session, with a respectable 130 calories burned.

Designed as a rhythmic escapade, Samba de Amigo: Party Central boasts a core Rhythm Game mode mirroring the arcade experience—select your desired songs and commence your maraca-shaking extravaganza.

Furthermore, the game extends an online multiplayer mode accommodating up to four players, as well as cooperative and competitive options for local play. Also worth exploring is the game’s World Party mode, which resembles an online dance-off battle royale, where players are pitted against one another in a spirited dance showdown.

Samba de Amigo: Party Central, with its user-friendly gameplay modes, vibrant visuals, and pulsating tunes, serves as a delightful diversion for those short on gaming time. Although the absence of authentic maraca controllers is a tad disappointing, this console iteration replicates the arcade magic as closely as possible, rekindling the joy of dancing to cherished samba melodies.

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  • Playability 7
  • Graphics 7
  • Sound 8
  • Addictiveness 7
The Good
Great, quirky mix of 40 tracks
Provides a good workout (if you are into it)
Great multiplayer options, including competitive local play
Vibrant visuals
The Bad
No maraca controllers? How can!
Might get repetitive after a while
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