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A fun workout and a vast improvement over the original Zumba Fitness for Wii
on November 22, 2011
The original Zumba Fitness for Wii was a runaway success, selling over three million copies. While I enjoyed the game, it wasn't without its flaws. It seemed a game more suited for seasoned Zumba enthusiasts who could just jump right into playing. But for newbies, the dance moves were just too fast and the tutorials were weak. In addition, the way the game was organized was very confusing.
What a difference a year makes. I'm happy to say that the developers of this title must have been reading our reviews, because they fixed all of this and more. As a result, Zumba Fitness 2 is a game I wholeheartedly recommend.
When starting up the game, you see a catchy opening video of Zumba celebrities Beto Perez (the inventor of Zumba), Tanya Beardsley, and Gina Grant dancing. It's their animated figures who will be your Zumba instructors throughout the game. It definitely puts you in the mood.
The menu options are delightfully simple. They are:
Learn the Steps
With Single Song, you can jump right into a song. You first create a profile by entering a seven-character nickname and input your height, weight, and birthdate. You can then select from a list of 32 songs, listed alphabetically, with their intensity level and in-game "location" listed. They are:
Activao (Cumbia) - Low Intensity - NY Nightclub
Aires Habaneros (Tango / Salsa) - High Intensity - VIP Pool Party
Bubuzela Masala (Samba / Hindu) - High Intensity - NY Nightclub
Caipirinha (Batucada) - High Intensity - NY Nightclub
Chilin Bombom Guajira - Medium Intensity - Zumba Dance Studio
Como Es Que Se Llama (Cumbia) - High Intensity - Miami Yacht Party
Dance Dance Dance (Hip-Hop) - High Intensity - LA Rooftop
Don't Let Me Down (Swing) - High Intensity - Zumba Dance Studio
El Merengazo (Merengue) - High Intensity - Miami Yacht Party
Hundu-Cumen (Hindu / Cha Cha Cha) - Medium Intensity - VIP Pool Party
I Know You Like It (Hip-Hop) - Medium Intensity - Zumba Dance Studio
I Wanna Move (Hip-Hop) - Medium Intensity - Zumba Dance Studio
I'm Going On (R&B Ballad) - Low Intensity - Zumba Dance Studio
La Matanga (Cumbia / Warm-Up) - Low Intensity - VIP Pool Party
La Rumba De La Papaya (Flamenco) - High Intensity - LA Rooftop
Mi Vecina (Bachata / Cumbia) - Medium Intensity - LA Rooftop
New Day (Slow Swing) - Low Intensity - VIP Pool Party
Pause (Urban Latino Dance) - Medium Intensity - NY Nightclub
Poison (Electronic / Dance) - High Intensity - LA Rooftop
Que Onda (Axe) - High Intensity - Miami Yacht Party
Que Te Pasa (Cumbia / Reggaeton) - Medium Intensity - LA Rooftop
Quebra As Cadeira (Axe) - Medium Intensity - Miami Yacht Party
Quiebralo Bob (Quebradita / Ragga) - High Intensity - VIP Pool Party
Sukumbiarabe (Indian / Cumbia) - Medium Intensity - LA Rooftop
Ta Picao (Calypso) - High Intensity - Zumba Dance Studio
Tigre (Merengue / Warm Up) - Medium Intensity - Miami Yacht Party
Tu Remedio (Cha Cha Cha) - Low Intensity - VIP Pool Party
Un Corazon (Pop Ballad) - Low Intensity - VIP Pool Party
Un Solo Pueblo (Salsa) - Medium Intensity - LA Rooftop
We Speak No Americano (Swing House / Electro-Swing) - High Intensity - NY Nightclub
Zoka Zumba (Calypso) - High Intensity - VIP Pool Party
Zu Bailaito (Quebradita) - High Intensity - LA Rooftop
There aren't that many familiar songs, but there are more licensed songs than the last version (the hip among us might recognize "Poison" by Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls or "Pause" by rapper Pitbull). But all are definitely catchy and very appropriate to Zumba dance. I would have liked to see the option for using your own music or downloadable content, but I didn't see either.
As with the original Zumba Fitness, you put on your Zumba belt (included with the package) so that the slot for the Wii remote is at your hip. After making all your menu selections, you'll be placing the Wii remote in the belt with the buttons facing outward, and the power button of the Wii remote on TOP (the first few times I played I put the remote in top-first, and got rewarded with a bunch of scores of zero).
In the style that games like Just Dance and Dance Central have made popular, you'll see an animated figure of a Zumba dancer demonstrating the moves to you and your job is to mimic the moves as if viewing a mirror. There's the added bonus of a small animated figure in a rectangle that'll highlight upcoming moves.
I don't know if my Zumba-ing has gotten better or the choreography has gotten simpler, or the presentation has gotten better (probably a combination of all three), but the dance moves were surprisingly easy to follow. There was a healthy amount of repetition and the arms and legs of the dancer are very clearly displayed at all times. It only took me 3-4 repetitions to get to a fairly good approximation of the dances, even at high intensity level. In the background are animations of dozens of others doing the same moves, which really helps make you feel like you're in a real Zumba session, and also helps reinforce the moves you have to make.
The motion detection is surprisingly accurate as well. As an experiment, I tried dancing to the "real" moves first, and then I tried just shaking my remote. When dancing the "real" moves I got a 91%, and when shaking the remote, I got 12%. In other words, they put a lot of effort into getting the accuracy right.
Granted, the scoring might be a little TOO generous, given that it's not really detecting your arm movements or the precise position of your foot and torso movements. But if your goal is to get a workout first and worry about the score later, you won't mind so much. Each song lasts for about 5-6 minutes, and each one is a pretty good workout in itself.
With "Full Class", you have the option of choosing one of 10 Short Classes, 10 Mid-Length Classes, 10 Full-Length Classes, or 8 Custom Playsets which you can design yourself. Each class takes place in one of five virtual locations: an LA Pool Party, a Miami Yacht Party, a NY Nightclub, a VIP Pool Party, and the Zumba Dance Studio.
I tried a short class, and it consisted of 5 songs, clocking in at a total of 25 minutes! I was completely wiped out. Needless to say, I haven't tried a mid-length or full-length class yet!
"Learn the Steps" is the tutorial portion of the game. It is much, much improved over the first version of the game, which had a tendency to sweep you through the lessons without teaching you much of anything. Here, you'll go through a tutorial of basic dance moves. The dance moves aren't comprehensive, but at the very least you can master the basics that are used in many Zumba dances. They are:
Salsa: Sidestep, Forward and Back, Travel, Backstep
Merengue: March, Two Step, Six Count, Zumba Shuffle
Cumbia: Two Step, Forward and Back, Sleepy Leg, Sugar Cane
Reggaeton: Stomp, Knee Lift, Destroza, Bounce
You can practice the steps at slow speed and then speed it up to normal speed once you get the moves right.
The "Progress Tracker" will tell you how many days you've played the game, how many minutes you've played this month, your average score for the week. Then, it'll allow you to view graphs of your weight (no Balance Board support, so you need to manually enter it each time), time played, technique, and calories burned. It'll also show you how many of the 26 medals you've earned, and allow you to collect "extras" by earning stars on each song (the first extra you unlock is a cool "behind the scenes" video of concept art for the Miami scene). Long story short, there are definitely a lot of incentives to keep you dancing.
All in all, I'm very impressed by Zumba Fitness 2. Majesco could have easily phoned in the sequel and still sold a lot of copies, but it looks like they put real time and effort into making this a genuine improvement. If you're a Zumba fan, this is a must-have. If you've always been curious about Zumba, unlike the last version I can wholeheartedly recommend this one.