Flashback to early September, 1999. As the US and Europe gear up for the
impending Dreamcast launches in their respective territories, something else was amiss back in
the Land of the Rising Sun. For months prior, there had been every indication that Sonic Team
was back on the move, and just days before the Dreamcast bomb was dropped on the US, the Team
stoked the cannons and fired a blast upon Japan: four new ST games were under development. The
titles would be unveiled one-by-one over the month of September, each in successive issues of the
well-respected Famitsu Weekly. Samba de Amigo became the second of those titles to be
Truly, it was an awkward day in Segaland. It had only recently been announced
that Yu Suzuki, Sega's father of the arcade, was working on his first original console title
(which happened to be the orgasmically wonderful Shenmue, but that's another story), and
all of a sudden our man Yuji and the Sonic Team kids take their first stab at a coin-op. Only,
and I mean only Sonic Team could make a game as insanely fun as Samba de Amigo
using the world's least likely musical instrument. Er... well, the second or third least likely
instrument, anyway. Then again, anyone can pick up and play maracas, and Samba is unquestionably
a pick-up-and-play game.
Okay, but who's got the guts to groove on to the likes of "Livin' La Vida Loca"
and "Macarena" in public? This was a frequent concern of the Team's throughout the game's
development. They joked that people would only play the game drunk. Fortunately, there are a
good many of us capable of achieving a drunken state without the actual use of alcohol. We
refer to this condition as "shamelessness", but it achieves most of the same effects: wild fun
without remorse. Uh... what I'm getting at is that the game struck gold in Japanese arcades, and
a Dreamcast version soon followed. Unfortunately, no versions of Samba were ever released in
arcades outside Japan, although the Dreamcast version of the original was distributed worldwide.
Sadly, however, the story doesn't have a happy ending: the home versions performed rather poorly,
making Samba -- like NiGHTS -- a one-hit wonder.