Samba De Amigo: Virtual Party marks SEGA’s first major entry into VR, bringing the rhythm series to Quest. Here is our full review.
In swapping to a first-person perspective, Samba De Amigo: Virtual Party feels like a natural fit for VR. We're hardly lacking for choice with VR rhythm games but even beyond its returning characters, Amigo's latest outing feels refreshing. High production values and a vivid presentation help Virtual Party sing, boosted by a straightforward control scheme that's easy to pick up and play.
Similar to the Dreamcast and Wii entries, Virtual Party features six rings in sets of two that are placed high, middle and low. All that's required is shaking your controllers in position with the rings as rhythm balls approach. It's a simple approach that perfectly suits motion controls, and pulling off long combos on harder difficulties always feels satisfying.
Most levels also require matching an on-screen pose or copying a certain movement, with more precise motions earning a better score. Several sections involve tracing colorful arrows that appear and combined, these moments keep gameplay varied. For most songs, this aligns with the rhythm well and I found myself working up a sweat on harder difficulties.
With over 40 base game songs, Virtual Party packs a varied selection of licensed artists ranging from Lady Gaga, Rina Sawayama, Ricky Martin and Bon Jovi. There's something for everyone, though I wish SEGA stuck more closely to the original game's Hispanic focus. Despite mostly being locked behind DLC, it also benefits from SEGA's back catalog with songs from Sonic the Hedgehog, Like a Dragon, Space Channel 5 and even Rhythm Thief.
Virtual Party features five gameplay modes and ‘Rhythm Game’ is your standard quick-play option. 'StreamiGo!' adds campaign-style missions as you try to become a famous online influencer – I suddenly understood why Samba De Amigo is inspired by TikTok. I wasn't too interested in building up a following, though the mission goals, like pulling off 10 consecutive perfects, add a nice challenge.
Like many Quest 3 launch window games, Virtual Party also supports mixed reality, with two modes to choose from. 'MR Party' lets you pick individual songs like Rhythm Game, starting in passthrough mode and gradually building towards a fully immersive VR environment. An interesting but gimmicky approach that wears out pretty quickly.
'MR Multiverse' is the better choice here, placing you through three consecutive stages tied together by a brief story. The narrative isn't much to write home about, though MR Multiverse makes better use of passthrough. Seeing an active volcano beneath you while you dance away makes for some entertaining environmental effects.
It’s worth comparing Virtual Party here with its Nintendo Switch counterpart, Party Central. Both games share the soundtrack but there are major differences. Local multiplayer is understandably gone, though the online 'World Party' mode remains intact with a three-stage format. Waiting 2-3 minutes each time I jumped into these 20-person lobbies isn't great, though the knockout format offers an enjoyable competitive touch that gradually eliminates low-scoring competitors.
However, that's where multiplayer support ends and I'm highly disappointed that Virtual Party doesn't include the four-player online option with friends. World Party lacks an invite feature, so it's entirely reliant on random players. Online leaderboards for both friends and everyone with each song are appreciated but that isn't a replacement.
Samba De Amigo: Virtual Party - Comfort
Samba De Amigo doesn’t include comfort settings, though it doesn't really need them. Every song takes place in one stationary position, negating the need for movement settings or vignettes. The only notable options let you adjust the ring height and closeness to you, and it's a comfortable experience for newcomers.
Still, Virtual Party gains one major advantage through its controls. Having played the Switch version during this review, I found the Quest 3 Touch Plus controllers provide noticeably improved feedback over detached Switch Joy-Cons. Touch Plus didn't suffer the same motion tracking issues either and the larger size makes them considerably nicer to hold.
Samba De Amigo: Virtual Party Review - Final Verdict
Samba De Amigo: Virtual Party benefits greatly from an impressive VR transition. The vibrant presentation, varied soundtrack and enjoyable rhythm gameplay kept me invested, though the comparative lack of multiplayer options is disappointing compared to Party Central. More responsive controls make the VR edition preferable and Amigo's latest outing is well-suited for casual sessions. For anyone seeking a solo rhythm game, Virtual Party comes recommended.
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