On top of the basic single-player game and new training and career modes (the latter a fairly basic complete stages to unlock extras affair) we also get a selection of multiplayer mini-games. Some are familiar, some new or extensively reworked. The Guacamole ‘whack-a-mole’ game (get it?) is back, along with the battle game where you compete through a stage to knock out your opponent. The bizarre love mode also returns, with two players scoring big for keeping their shaking, posing and dancing in sync, and so earning a kind of ‘love’ grade. Be careful, kids: you shouldn’t make or break a relationship on this sort of thing.
More Wii-focused efforts include a mildly horrible version of volleyball where you try to flip the ball over the net using a remote-guided onscreen hand and a power rush mode where you shake the remote with a kind of crazed vigour to wipe out little faces that appear in the circles. The modes and mini-games are mostly good fun, and there’s even a nice new dance mode that puts the focus on the hustle moves, not the shaking.
All of this has been dressed up in a lovely, sensitive graphical makeover that does nothing to detract from the weird but lovable look of the original. Samba De Amigo’s angular approach to the traditional cutesy Sega style has weathered extremely well, and the development team at Gearbox has concentrated on improving the lighting and making the characters and backgrounds smoother and subtly more detailed, much as Sumo Digital did in Sega Superstars Tennis. It’s unlikely that you’ll have much time to look at the background scenery unless you’re spectating, but from amusement parks to street carnival scenes there’s always a lot going on behind the action. Samba De Amigo was always full of the exhilarating OTT silliness of classic Sega games, and this update has certainly preserved that. And like Sega Superstars Tennis it seems imbued with nostalgia for Sega’s history and the Dreamcast era, with new stages featuring Sonic and Ulala from Space Channel 5 as if to prove it.
And it’s while you’re checking out the backgrounds that you might notice another of the Wii version’s plus points: the integration of Mii characters. Not only do you play as your Mii, you’ll see other Miis grooving away in the background as you play. Who knew my father-in-law could get down to the Mambo beat?