Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party Review
VR and rhythm games go together like salsa and tortilla chips. There’s been some greats on the Meta Quest 2 — Ragnarock and Beat Saber are two that stand out. So can a new rhythm title like Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party stand out from the pack? While the gameplay is nothing revolutionary, it certainly brings some fresh visuals, fun themes and of course, cool music to the party.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you load up Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party is the colorful and eye-catching presentation. You’re given big, flashy maracas to “hold,” and lots of color and music abounds all around you, including cute cartoon characters such as dancing monkeys. Although this is a title that would probably work just fine as a 2D game on any other platform, the 3D element does enhance the fun with more 360-degree immersion.
Soon you’re shown how to play by hitting all the flying orbs that come at you. Hit all the orbs, and time it right, and you get more points. It’s something we’ve played before many times, going all the way back to Guitar Hero, and right up to Beat Saber today. Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party challenges you with multiple levels — low, middle and high — requiring you to work quickly to keep up at times. It’s a physically-demanding game that will have you on your toes to get all the orbs.
Except for a few small twists, I didn’t see anything in my playthrough that told me Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party is a radically different departure from the tried and true rhythm formula. One way that Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party adds a little jalapeno spiciness to the mix is by getting you to do more than just hit orbs. You also get points for doing extra poses, or even short dance movements during sessions. These moments offer some nice breaks from simply waving your arms up and down. I wished that there was even more of this type of variation. Maybe it’s because I’ve played so many of these games before, but the usual rhythm game experience is just starting to get a bit old at this point.
Dance to the Top
To address this, Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party does offer more than one mode. These extra modes include kind of a campaign, where you have “missions” that are really just challenges to complete, such as a string of successful moves. All of the modes are variations on the basic rhythm gameplay. But they do help to keep your interest for a while. My personal favorite was the online World Party, in which you compete against other humans from around the world. When it works, it’s great. You go through three stages, and the lowest scorers are eliminated, Battle Royale-style.
It was fun to take on other people and see my avatar dance its way to the top of the heap. The only issue with this mode was, it sometimes took a while to get the requisite 20 competitors in order to start the match. I will give credit where credit is due and say that Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party does have a healthy number of online players. That’s not always the case with new games, especially in VR. But the need for 20 to start a match means you’ll sometimes be waiting a while. I’m not sure I’d be willing to do that consistently.
And while Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party presents itself as a Latin-themed game, I was surprised that the songs weren’t more in keeping with that aesthetic. Sure, there’s some I recognized, like “Azukita,” but the game’s soundtrack is quite… eclectic. It runs the gamut from Ricky Martin to J. Geils Band to Bon Jovi. I suppose that does help broaden Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party’s appeal to a wide audience, but I did find it odd given the style of the game’s presentation.
A Short Party
Another gripe I have is one that I have with many musical games. The song list of around 40 songs feels inadequate. At 3-4 minutes per song, you’re going to pretty much play through the entirety of the musical offerings within a few hours. Add to that the time you’d spend tinkering with the various modes, and you maybe have a few hours more. It just doesn’t feel like enough content for the price you pay.
Overall, Samba de Amigo: Virtual Party is a fun VR rhythm game that gets you dancing and listening to some good songs. I welcome the fresh style and colorful, cartoony characters. The gameplay is solid rhythm fare, and while it doesn’t really add much new to the genre, it does deliver a solid and polished experience. I just wish the song list was longer and had more of a Latin flavor.
** A Meta Quest 2 code was provided by the publisher **
- Colorful vibe
- Solid gameplay
- Polished experience
- Short playlist
- Needs more Latin music
- Doesn’t offer much new