I should, by rights, be lining up with all the other haters to wee wee on Nintendo. I still can't find a Wii Fit, Wiiware has gone from quality initial offerings along the lines of Lost Winds and My Life as a King to Fraternity Games and Hot Dog Eating Contest, and the Wii release schedule for September includes such gems and future classics as Zoo Hospital, Ten Pin Alley 2 (there was a Ten Pin Alley 1?), and The Price Is Right (sans Barker no doubt). Still, I'm happy as a clam for one simple reason: Samba de Amigo!
I was wary, at first. I've been burned by rhythm games in the past for one simple reason: crappy localization. While overseas I bought a Japanese copy of Taiko Drum King and it was awesome; packed with crazy Japanese punk and disco and techno and kid's songs that perfectly fit the vibe of the oh-so Japanese festival fun onscreen. Then I caught wind of the U.S. release of Taiko Drum King; Britney Spears? The B-52's? Where are The Blue Hearts? The Doraemon Theme? I'm no industry insider, I have no data at hand, but I suspect that a good number of the people who buy these games do so for the wacky, over the top Japanese pop culture kawaii desu ne nature of the games. They don't want a slice of pure zany Japanese pop culture joy bastardized with some old guy in Namco's Seattle field office's idea of what it is the "kids today" are listening to. They don't want Nickelback in their Taiko Drum King!
Apply the above criticism to the localization of Elite Beat Agents (U.S. Release = Hoobastank, Avril Lavigne), any of the U.S. versions of DDR, etc. and a shameful pattern of ill-advised localization emerges. So, I was pleased to see that while the song list for Samba de Amigo is not chock full of Japanese pop fun, it does
work with the fiesta/carnivale theme of the game. Gypsy Kings, Tito Puente, Harry Belafonte, Los Del Rio...that WORKS. Sega Gets It! Sure there's a Rhianna track and they brought back that Chubawubba song from the original game, but...Charo!