Published on September 7th, 2023 | by Gareth Newnham

Samba De Amigo: Party Central Review

Samba De Amigo: Party Central Review Gareth Newnham

Summary: Samba De Amigo: Party Central is an addictive and incredibly fun rhythm game and an even better party game.


Shake it Baby!

Samba De Amigo: Party Central is the kind of dumb fun this former arcade dweller misses. It’s an arcade conversion without the cabinet, for good and ill. Born of that fantastic period in the late 90s when SEGA was cranking out stylish, irreverent hit after stylish, irreverent hit.

Before we all filled our homes with plastic guitars, Dreamcast owners grabbed a pair of plastic maracas and shook them like a Polaroid picture in the barmy and absolutely brilliant Samba De Amigo. Now, some 20 years and a Wii-bound semi-remake later, the sombrero sporting simian finally has a proper second entry, and I have to say it’s the kind of simple dumb I’ve been craving after a year of epics.


Samba De Amigo is very much from the easy-to-pick-up, difficult-to-master Dance Dance Revolution, Taiko no Tatsujin camp of rhythm arcade games. There are six circles on the screen: two high, two low, and two in the middle; when the notes overlap, you simply have to shake your maracas or in this case, your joy-con, the left for the circles on the left and the right for the circles on the right. Simple right, and it is, to begin with. However, the difficulty soon ramps up as you hit higher difficulties above normal.

The one thing that concerned me when I saw Samba De Amigo was coming to the Switch was how well the motion controls were going to work; if the controls sucked, then the game would instantly be a bust regardless of how many fun new modes or how great the tracklist is.

The good news is that the joy-cons work wonderfully, though I would recommend doing what the game says when you boot it up and making sure your TV is set to game mode before you begin to make sure any input lag is kept to the absolute minimum.

If you do not want to shake shake shake your joy-cons, you can use the analog sticks or buttons on a pro pad instead. To a certain extent, it makes the game easier, and it certainly makes it a lot less of a workout on the harder difficulty settings if nothing else.

As well as hitting notes, you’ll also need to strike poses and copy dance moves on the screen. The whole thing can be pretty intense at times, even more so than some bonafide fitness games on the Switch.

There are also random minigames that can activate during a song and include things like giving characters high-fives, hitting baseballs, serving up food, and other silly asides.

Although there is a fairly substantial single-player challenge mode that sees you try to top the streaming charts by completing various missions to gather more followers and make it to the top of the charts, Samba De Amigo: Party Central is at its heart, a party game and best enjoyed with friends either in person or online.

Every song you complete in any mode rewards you with XP and coins that are used to unlock a whole bevy of cosmetics, from suits and mariachi outfits to several kinds of banana costumes.

This would all be for naught if the setlist wasn’t any good, but thankfully, even straight out the box, Samba De Amigo Party Central has a fun and varied setlist of 40 songs that cover everything from Latin-infused classics from previous entries like The Macarena and La Copa de La Vida, to rock tracks like Bon Jovi’s You Gave Love a Bad Name and Pompeii by Bastille, as well as tracks from SEGAs own games like the upbeat, Escape From The City from Sonic Adventure 2, or Baka Mitai from Yakuza 0. SEGA has also promised more are on the way.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing SEGA needed to nail with Samba De Amigo Party Central was the controls; the primary gameplay loop was locked in almost two decades ago. The great news is that although it doesn’t add much to the core formula, the controls, regardless of how you choose to play, are absolutely spot on, and it’s an absolute blast to play either by yourself or with friends.

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