On the beaches of Samba de Amigo Dreamcast prototypes, from Mexico to Brazil
Sit back on your sofa, make yourself a Caïpirinha, imagine you're on vacation sipping your cocktail on Copacabana beach, then click below to enjoy the lively melody of the king of Latin American pop as you read this article/analysis of the Samba de Amigo Dreamcast prototypes. Here we go!!!
It all began in 1999 on an arcade terminal: elegantly riding the wave of musical games that was sweeping the video game ocean at the time, SEGA and Sonic Team invited their fans to get acquainted with a wild game called Samba de Amigo.
This arcade game taught sensation-seeking players to use Maracas, an indispensable musical instrument of the Samba genre. You had to shake them in all directions and in rhythm, while following the indications displayed on the screen, to hope to impress spectators stunned by the blue hedgehog firm's innovative concept. As the millennium drew to a close, Japanese arcades were filling up with Sambists who had come to party to the sound of the Macarena by the Los Del Rio singing duo.
Latin dance fans wanted more, they wanted to experience Samba de Amigo until the end of the night in the privacy of their own home. In all seriousness, SEGA was thinking of capitalizing on the success of their arcade rhythm game by adapting it for the Dreamcast. The DC version was released in 2000 with a surprising accessory. Gone were the joysticks, and the game was played with Maracas connected by a cable to a mat that detected the slightest movement of the Maracas.
Once a game has started, the game screen contains six spheres, and each time a marble enters a circle, you have to shake the Maracas in the direction of the circle's location. In theory, it sounds simple, but in practice, when things start to get crazy and the music starts to speed up, it's hard to know where to put your head and, above all, your arms. The aim is to achieve the perfect score before you drop from exhaustion - no need to diet to lose weight!
Once again, the Dreamcast demonstrates its ability to deliver vivid, colorful renderings. The cartoonish background graphics, which perfectly capture the atmosphere of Rio de Janeiro's carnival, are pre-calculated and vary according to the player's performance. The festivities take place in the heart of an alleyway, in front of an audience gesticulating to the music, or on a stage overhung by palm trees. If the player fails, the scenery disappears to make way for a deserted street, synonymous with failure.
Most of the music in Samba de Amigo, around 25 in all, was composed by Wave Master Inc, SEGA's in-house music studio. At the title's launch, from April 27, 2000 to July 13 of the same year, players could download new songs every week onto a memory card with 2 blocks of free space per composition. They had to connect to the website from the eponymous in-game option. In this way, a Rent A Hero No.1 song simply called "Rent A Hero No. 1" could be heard by the public around 1 month before the game could be played!
The songs "A cup of life" and "Livin' Ma Vida Loca" could not be included in the Japanese Dreamcast version of Samba de Amigo. SEGA had failed to reach an agreement with Ricky Martin's record label (Sony Music) at the time of the game's release in Japan. The Western versions, on the other hand, were able to benefit from the agreement. The Sonic Team developers had removed the song "A cup of life" from the game at the last moment between March 23, 2000 and April 5, 2000, when the Japanese version was upgraded to GOLD. The date of removal of "Livin' Ma Vida Loca" is unknown. In just 12 days, the Arcade mode had to be reorganized due to their absence. A surprise awaits you in one of the prototypes...
Video of the prototype (alternative version)
The presentation of Samba de Amigo at E3 caused quite a stir, and was universally acclaimed. Its reception was positive. Not for nothing did SEGA's title win the "Best Puzzle Game" award at the 2000 Electronic Entertainment Expo. When the game was released, the reviews were unanimous, praising its unique and addictive gameplay. The game was a success!
Samba de Amigo is representative of a time when commercial imperatives did not take precedence over innovation. With its artistic direction, character design and concept, Sonic Team's title is a symbol of SEGA's corporate philosophy in the Dreamcast era, when creative teams were given free reign.
PAL pre-release cover
One of SEGA's best studios on Dreamcast
Some Samba de Amigo character artworks
A kind of special move
Amigo on the dance floor
The party's crazier with more than one person
The main interest of the title is fun. Samba de Amigo is a totally switched-on game, breaking with established genres to everyone's delight. The long, hot, sensual nights of Brazil came to the homes of the lucky owners of a Dreamcast. Don't feel like dancing?
The Japanese prototype of March 23, 2000
Analyzing the prototype's contents, the build was created on March 23, 2000 at 21:19:42. This Japanese prototype of Samba de Amigo would have been burned about 12 days before the final Japanese version, on April 5, 2000 (15:17:47). The prototype looks ordinary, close to the known game. On closer inspection, however, it has a special feature that makes it an alternative version of Samba de Amgio NTSC-J on Dreamcast.
Samba de Janeiro la la la la la la la
The two tracks that don't appear in the song list once the game is launched, "A cup of life" and Ricky Martin's "Livin' Ma Vida Loca", are present in the prototype files and even in the final Japanese version. In the final version, the songs are considered unused. Perhaps the designers of Samba de Amigo thought they could obtain the right to use them at a later date and offer them for download in Japan, but this will not be the case. The song "A cup of life" is playable on this prototype, which means that SEGA and Sonic Team tried to negotiate with Sony Music (the record label of the Latin American king of pop) right up until the last moment.
Important: A hack of the Japanese commercial version allows you to play the tracks "A cup of life" and "Livin' Ma Vida Loca".
The pixelated icons representing the game that appear on the VMU screen don't seem to correspond from one version to another (to be confirmed).
The prototype benefits from its own "AFS_PREVIEW. AFS" file. This is a container of seven textures. The textures must be leftovers from a Preview version, perhaps from the Japanese test version (Trial). They may be used at some point in the build, such as at the end of the Arcade mode or during its progression (hypotheses). Further research is required.
You can download the textures from the AFS_PREVIEW.AFS file below:
What's interesting about the prototype, for Japanese players, is that they can play Ricky Martin's song "A cup of life" without having to hack into the game. At the time, his music was very well known in Japan, as it was in the rest of the world. Perhaps that's why SEGA negotiated the rights right up to the last minute. It's surprisingly rare to see content cut so close to a Master (final version) of a game.
You can download this build of Samba de Amigo NTSC-J Dreamcast below:
The other prototypes
During the game's presentation at E3, SEGA executives showed spectators a game running from a final version burned on GD-Rs (short for GIGABYTE DISC RECORDABLE). The Los Angeles show took place from May 11 to 13, 2000. Samba de Amigo was released in Japan on April 27, 2000. Why didn't they use commercial versions? It's possible that the discs prepared for E3 were shipped first, because they were afraid that the commercial versions would take a long time to ship and wouldn't be ready in time.
Two red Dreamcast discs from Samba de Amigo, with E3 written on them, have been discovered. They are similar (duplicates).
No research has been carried out on the PAL prototype, which dates from September 19, 2000, less than 3 months before the final European version.
Special thanks to:
ehw for his expertise on the file AFS_PREVIEW. AFS
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More than 200 prototypes, documents, presskits have been dumped or scanned, you will find them in free download in the "Release of prototypes and documents"