Game Review: Samba de Amigo: Party Central nails the beat

Sega is celebrating a return to form with Samba de Amigo finally getting a next-gen release on both Nintendo Switch and Apple Arcade, with a brand new rhythm-based game that takes on the likes of Guitar Hero and fuses it with the physical energy of Just Dance for an all-out party, which can be played in docked mode with the joy-cons for some hardcore dancing or played in handheld mode with the control sticks that are admittedly a clunkier way to play, but still a lot of fun.

The studio has added in some generic pop songs like you would find on Just Dance, but has also dived into their franchises to bring some classics from Sonic the Hedgehog and Yakuza. While more songs are coming by way of DLC, some beautiful eye-popping graphics and various ways to play make Samba de Amigo: Party Central a true successor to the original game series and a fun new experience for all ages to enjoy. 

Shake Things Up

Samba De Amigo is relatively easy to pick up and play. The controls revolve around six circles on the screen with two buttons on each side of the screen at the bottom, middle and top. When notes start to overlap you have to shake your console or hoy-cons depending on how you play. This difficulty ramps up the more intense the songs are which is a great challenge for a seemingly simple game. Playing in handheld mode does take a few songs to get used to, as the controls move about the screen.

The maracas shaking was my biggest challenge in getting used to the controls. In docked mode with the joycons in my hands, the game truly came alive for me. It’s been a while since a game used decent motion controls and using the advice from the game’s loading screen, I changed my TV input to Game mode to significantly reduce the lag. 

Hidden inside each song are a bunch of mini-games that don’t feel like they are related to this franchise at all. You serve up food, give characters high fives and hit balls. It is a weird aside that oddly fits the more you play, and it is a great way to break up the general gameplay. Every song you complete also grants you XP and coins. These can then be used to unlock cosmetics, costumes and outfits to deck out your character. 

New Ways to Groove

A couple of modes are available off the bat, but the single-player mode is probably the best way to start in order to learn the ropes. You can then play local multiplayer with friends using the Joy-Cons, across a big online multiplayer mode called World Party, which will see you competing against 19 other players for the best score. The mode comes in three separate knockout phases, giving you the chance to earn bonus points. It is a great way to connect with others and experience the game online.

The other mode is called StreamiGo, which requires you to become the best influencer you can and garner the most followers. This mixes things up by focusing on much more than just finishing the song, as you’ll need to focus on the scores, which require you to hit the perfect notes which can be frustrating. 

Final Thoughts

Samba De Amigo: Party Central is a worthy entry in the long-running franchise. This attempt to modernise the series largely succeeds in bringing it into the current gaming landscape with some fantastic and downright addictive results. The game is a lot of fun in both single-player and multiplayer, and either locally or online. It also looks spectacular on the Nintendo Switch system and with a range of ways to play, is perfectly matched to the console as a worthy addition to any party game collection.


Highlights: Gorgeous visuals; Addictive & intuitive gameplay
Lowlights: Can be repetitive; Streaming mode isn’t for everyone
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Available: Now

Review conducted on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.