Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for August 30th, 2023. In today’s article, we have a couple of news items to look at before we do anything else. After that, I go very in-depth on the new Samba de Amigo game in my full review. We have but one new release to look at, and after that we head into the usual lists of new and expiring sales. Don’t worry if today seems a little slow, because tomorrow is going to be completely bonkers. Let’s get to it!
‘Super Mario Bros. Wonder’ Direct Announced for Tomorrow
Are you ready for fifteen minutes of Super Mario Bros. Wonder info and footage? I can’t hear your answer, but if you are, Nintendo’s got you covered. Tomorrow at 7 AM PT or whatever your equivalent local time is, Nintendo has scheduled a Super Mario Bros. Wonder Direct. What will be in it? Nintendo really hasn’t said, but obviously you shouldn’t expect Mother 3 or anything. All Super Mario Bros. Wonder, down to the last minute. Of which there are fifteen. Please look forward to it, as the man used to say.
‘Excitebike 64’ is Now Available in Nintendo Switch Online’s Expansion Pack
Announced last week, delivered today. You can now enjoy the rather fun 3D racer Excitebike 64 on your Switch via the Nintendo 64 app, part of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack subscription. Provided your subscription is in order, simply update your app and you should find the game waiting for you. Wow, we got two Nintendo 64 games this month! I half-expected an out-of-nowhere SEGA Genesis drop, but unless that hits tomorrow I think this will be it for the month as far as Nintendo Switch Online retro game additions go.
Reviews & Mini-Views
Samba de Amigo: Party Central ($39.99)
Twenty-four years, eh? That’s a pretty long time to wait for a sequel. I mean, sure, we had that Ver. 2000 arcade release that never made it out of Japan. There was that Wii release of Samba de Amigo that had some new songs and played a bit differently. But would we call any of those sequels? I’ll leave that thrilling discussion up to you. I think we can safely say that Samba de Amigo: Party Central is a sequel, at least. The monkey has new pants and everything. It also has a mostly new soundtrack, with only a few songs coming back from the original game. Indeed, the forty tracks included in the core game lean heavily towards popular hits, even if the songs don’t use maracas at all! Bon Jovi in a Samba de Amigo game? My word!
The crux of the matter for this game is the same as it was for the Wii port of the original: it is a game heavily based around the fun of shaking maracas, launching onto a platform without any maracas. Can the Joy-Cons mimic those maracas? Those old maracas used different methods depending on where you used them. In the arcade they worked on the same principle as many light guns, using IR sensors on either side of the cabinet and making the maracas translucent enough for the beams to shine through. The Dreamcast maracas attached some optical emitters to the cords and had you play on a mat with sensors attached to either side of a bar in front of the player.
Both of these methods were pretty good at tracking how high and how far left and right the maracas were, along with whether or not they were shaking, which is very important for Samba de Amigo. They had their faults, too. If you got too close to the borderlines for the high/medium/low areas, or shook the maracas in a way that the emitters weren’t meeting the sensors, they would eat your input. But they mostly worked. The Wii version wasn’t as effective. You could use a Wii remote and the Nunchuck controller, or two Wii remotes. The game used the accelerometers to figure out where you were holding the controllers and whether or not you were shaking them.
Look, I think we can all look back now with honest eyes and see the issues with the Wii’s motion tracking in the initial controllers. The game would frequently get confused about where you were holding controllers, sometimes fail to register shakes, and something think you were shaking when you weren’t. Everything else about that port was great, but without good controls it’s hard to enjoy it. Virtually impossible on higher difficulties, I would say. But you had little plastic maraca shells you could attach to your Wii remote, so that was nice.
But the Joy-Cons aren’t the Wii remotes. Sometimes that’s a bad thing, like in games that used the IR point heavily. But here, where the game was only using the accelerometers? The Joy-Cons smoke them. The first bar has been cleared; Samba de Amigo: Party Central is a lot more fun to play than the Wii port. As for the arcade and Dreamcast versions, it’s a tougher call. I was there, Gandalf. I know those old controllers sometimes missed inputs. So I’m not going to hold the occasional missed input in this Switch game against it too much. It’s frustrating if you’re aiming for perfection on harder songs, but I don’t think it’s inaccurate enough to significantly damage the experience. I really do wish I had some maracas shells, because the Joy-Cons are obviously not maracas. My imagination is not that strong anymore. Temu, save me.
That is mainly what I have to say about the controls. They are not perfect, but neither were the original controllers. The Joy-Cons are not maracas, and that is less fun even if you use HD rumble and sound effects to try to make me feel like I am holding maracas. I’m baffled by the lack of any calibration beyond telling you to hold them up at the start of a song. I’m also confused that the game can’t automatically tell when I’m switching between motion and button controls. You have to back all the way out to the main menu, boot up the options, and switch it there. A little odd. All that said, when I am playing, I am having a good time. I’m satisfied, even without perfection.
I don’t know most of the songs on the soundtrack, but I’ll be honest and say that was the case for me back in the year 2000 when I first played the original game. I will learn the songs. I know some of them, and that’s enough. I think it’s a pretty good soundtrack that covers a lot of tempos and genres, and forty songs for forty bucks feels about fair. The DLC songs so far are good, and I’m probably going to pick up every pack SEGA releases. More of the classic SEGA music, please. And get Samba de Janeiro back in here. I can’t believe this launched without it.
As for modes, you get the basic Rhythm Game mode where you can just play whichever song you like at your desired difficulty. This is where I prefer to play. There’s the World Party mode that is played online with up to eight players where you play a series of elimination rounds where only a certain number of players advance each round. You start with twenty, you end with one. Not bad. Party for Two lets you play with someone else via local multiplayer. The Rhythm Game mode is also accessible here, along with Love Checker (where you test your compatibility with the other player), Show Down (where you battle for the favor of the crowd), and Mini Rhythm Games (just as it sounds).
StreamiGo is what passes for the story mode, I suppose. You’re trying to earn virtual followers by completing missions. Not a bad idea but in practice you end up playing the same songs a lot. Kind of the Theatrhythm Curtain Call quest mode issue. Still, if you’re looking for some kind of dedicated single-player campaign, this is it. Finally, you can do regular online battles with up to four players in the Online Play mode. Beyond these modes, there’s a Gallery whose main purpose is in housing the Customization Shop, where you can use coins earned in the various modes to unlock new costume bits, colors, and such for your character and avatar.
The gameplay itself, once you’re in a song, is a lot like the Ver. 2000 of Samba de Amigo. It has the basic shakes and poses, some swinging motions, sliding motions, jumps, and so on. Occasionally there are items that pop up that will help or hinder you, and you’ll sometimes enter a brief mini game where success will add to your fever and failure will drop you down a level. It can get pretty intense on higher levels, but it’s a lot of fun when you really get into it. Samba de Amigo wasn’t really conceived as a high-level rhythm game or anything. It was built to let people have fun shaking maracas for a few minutes in an arcade. Times were different then, and I think for some folks this new Samba de Amigo perhaps hasn’t changed enough with them. I can see why SEGA is positioning this more as a party game, because that is where it shines best.
I think those with happy memories of the original will be satisfied with what they get in Samba de Amigo: Party Central. It functions very much as a sequel should, though perhaps not in the way a sequel that arrives nearly a quarter of a century later should. If you’re looking to just have some good times shaking your controllers and your booty to some tunes, you’ll get that here. Experienced rhythm game fans will likely be turned off by its lack of precision and song selection, however. It’s tough to say whether or not this will find much of an audience here in 2023, but I’d like to believe there are at least dozens of us.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
The Bridge Curse: Road to Salvation ($29.99)
Based on a horror movie from a few years ago, this is an adventure game about a Taiwanese urban legend. It’s said that a vengeful ghost haunts the bridge of Tunghu University. Six idiot students decide to put it to the test and end up cursed. Come on, people. Situational awareness! Anyway, you play this from a first-person perspective and your broad goal is to escape from the ghost before she kills you. Explore the area, solve puzzles, hide when you have to, run when you must, and enjoy the scares. It’s not the longest of affairs, running about four or five hours, but how long do you want a horror game to be? Reviews over on Steam are quite good, so as long as the port hasn’t been biffed this might be worth checking into for horror fans.
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Well, that isn’t a whole lot today. I guess if you want to get your Santa Tracker early, there it is. The outbox has a lot more going on in it. Demon Gaze Extra, DoDonPachi Resurrection, Radiant Silvergun, Trinity Trigger, The Last Hero of Nostalgia, and more are finishing up their latest sales and might be to your tastes. Check both of those lists, but save some money for the rest of the week. Things are going to get a little wild as we close out the month.
Select New Games on Sale
Swords & Bones 2 ($1.99 from $9.99 until 9/5)
Hatsune Miku: The Planet of Wonder ($21.00 from $28.00 until 9/6)
Hatsune Miku: Logic Paint S ($10.50 from $14.00 until 9/6)
Dead by Daylight ($14.99 from $29.99 until 9/12)
Wing of Darkness ($5.99 from $29.99 until 9/14)
Marchen Forest ($6.99 from $34.99 until 9/14)
PGMS Puzzle Pedestrians ($7.49 from $14.99 until 9/17)
PGMS Medium-Naut ($7.49 from $14.99 until 9/17)
Mana Spark ($1.99 from $9.99 until 9/19)
Santa Tracker ($1.99 from $2.99 until 9/19)
Formula Retro Racing ($11.99 from $14.99 until 9/19)
Formula Retro Racing World Tour ($4.99 from $19.99 until 9/19)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Thursday, August 31st
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed ($8.99 from $29.99 until 8/31)
Blocky Farm ($2.49 from $9.99 until 8/31)
Brigandine: Legend of Runersia ($19.99 from $49.99 until 8/31)
Cake Bash ($8.99 from $19.99 until 8/31)
Cloud Gardens ($4.99 from $17.99 until 8/31)
Cooking Simulator ($1.99 from $19.99 until 8/31)
Cosmo Dreamer ($4.10 from $8.20 until 8/31)
Danger Scavenger ($1.99 from $9.99 until 8/31)
Demon Gaze Extra ($23.99 from $59.99 until 8/31)
Depth of Extinction ($3.29 from $14.99 until 8/31)
DoDonPachi Resurrection ($12.99 from $19.99 until 8/31)
Espgaluda II ($12.99 from $19.99 until 8/31)
Fishing: North Atlantic ($6.24 from $24.99 until 8/31)
Get Packed: Couch Chaos ($3.99 from $14.99 until 8/31)
Green Hell ($2.49 from $24.99 until 8/31)
Islanders ($2.50 from $4.99 until 8/31)
Jurassic World Aftermath Collection ($14.99 from $29.99 until 8/31)
Like Dreamer ($9.59 from $11.99 until 8/31)
Milk inside a bag of milk inside… ($4.79 from $7.99 until 8/31)
Monmusu Gladiator ($2.99 from $5.99 until 8/31)
Monster Girls & the Mysterious Adv. 2 ($15.39 from $21.99 until 8/31)
Mushihimesama ($12.99 from $19.99 until 8/31)
Necrosmith ($4.79 from $7.99 until 8/31)
Panzer Dragoon Remake ($2.49 from $24.99 until 8/31)
Parasite Pack ($3.99 from $7.99 until 8/31)
PHOGS! ($11.50 from $24.99 until 8/31)
Puzzle Battler Mirai ($3.19 from $7.99 until 8/31)
Radiant Silvergun ($11.99 from $19.99 until 8/31)
Sacred Zodongga Defense ($10.49 from $14.99 until 8/31)
SmileBASIC 4 ($12.49 from $24.99 until 8/31)
Sublevel Zero Redux ($1.99 from $14.99 until 8/31)
The Amazing American Circus ($4.99 from $19.99 until 8/31)
The Hundred Year Kingdom ($6.49 from $12.99 until 8/31)
The Last Hero of Nostalgia ($19.99 from $24.99 until 8/31)
The Last Hero of Nostalgia Deluxe ($23.99 from $29.99 until 8/31)
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes ($12.49 from $24.99 until 8/31)
Thief Simulator ($1.99 from $19.99 until 8/31)
This is the Zodiac Speaking ($1.99 from $12.99 until 8/31)
TOMOMI ($3.99 from $7.99 until 8/31)
Trinity Trigger ($29.99 from $49.99 until 8/31)
Trinity Trigger Deluxe Edition ($35.99 from $59.99 until 8/31)
That’s all for today, friends. Tomorrow is Thursday, and it’s not going to be a repeat of the recent quiet ones. I see at least twenty-five new games on the schedule, and my hands hurt just thinking about it. We’ll have summaries of everything worth summarizing, plus whatever sales and big new items roll in during the course of the day. I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday, and as always, thanks for reading!