Samba de Amigo

The videogame industry as a whole as always loved the idea of the “peripheral”.  The Power Pad, the Zapper, R.O.B.  Dance pads, guitars, this monstrosity.  All of this, of course, flies in the face of reason since the vast majority of peripherals fail horribly and those that do succeed in the short term are inevitably reduced to hat racks because future games don’t support them.  Companies are always moving on to the next peripheral once interest in the current one winds down because they’re stuck trying to ride hype for sales instead of creating a reliable, future-proof product.  Most of the games using these peripherals are never revisited.

Samba de Amigo was one of those games.  It’s hard to top maracas and trippy looking monkeys in a music game for pure originality (and ridiculousness).  And based on the fact that there’s not a particularly large built-in market for maraca games, it seemed unlikely that the series would be revived after the Dreamcast died.  But fortunately for us somebody working at the husk of a company we used to call Sega stood up one day and declared, “Sweet merciful crap! The Wii controller could be a maraca!”.  Initial previews from Joystiq say the game works but doesn’t feel exactly the same as the old maraca controllers.  My own experiences with the Wii remote are leaving me skeptical about the ability of the games ability to read the appropriate movements.  I’m struggled through some sloppy motion detection on the system already, although I can’t tell you whether it’s from bad programming or the limitations of the controller’s hardware.  Needless to say, missing or misreading a shake of the hand in this game is going to leave a lot of music fans pissed and ruin the game entirely.

On a related note, Activision (hereafter referred to as “Sheep Inc”) saw their ready made fortune in the music industry slipping away as the Harmonix-helmed Rock Band started to seriously eat into Guitar Hero’s dominance.  And of course Sheep Inc did the only thing they could think of: they followed.  So now we’re going to have three different games (Konami’s making one too) that are remarkably similar.  Sheep Inc has practically no history of innovation and originality and it’s only gotten worse in recent years.  Harmonix suckered them completely.  They built up the number one music franchise, sold it for tons of money, and then quickly knocked it off the mountaintop with something new and better.  Sheep Inc is going to feel pretty stupid when all they can think to do is add two cymbals to the drum kit while Harmonix continues to basically print money by truly pushing the genre forward.

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