on February 12, 2011
Zumba Fitness is an exercise game based on the exercise series that is present at many gyms around the country as well as a series of home exercise DVDs. It holds the promise that you can do your entire Zumba exercise routines in the comfort of your own home with accompanying tutorials, dance routines, an exercise calendar planner, and online/local multiplayer dance parties.
Installation is your typical Xbox affair with an optional hard drive installation of 3.9 GB (for comparison, Dance Central optionally allows you to install 1 GB to your hard drive). When you first boot Zumba, if you don't have Kinect ID configured, it will show guest 1 as the player. You're then supposed to choose your Xbox live account. From then on in that gaming session, it'll associate your face with that account. If you do have Kinect ID configured (the preferred way), when you boot Zumba, it should show the name of your account already in place rather than a generic guest 1. If it's the first time the player has ever played, you'll see a prompt for your storage device and then it'll ask if you want to create a game save. The pros and cons of setting up Kinect ID is the same for all the Kinect games. If Kinect ID recognizes you well in your chosen lighting condition, that's the way to go. You stand in front of the TV and wave your hand and Zumba Fitness knows which account to use. If you like playing in the dark or Kinect ID has a problem recognizing your face due to insufficient lighting, then don't use Kinect ID.
Even if you don't set up Kinect ID, there is some type of facial recognition going on with Zumba Fitness. When I stepped out of the range of the Kinect, my account wasn't shown on-screen. But when I stepped into view, it correctly identified my xbox live account. Also once inside the main menu, it'll say hello <whatever your gamertag is> at the bottom of the screen. If you step off the screen, it'll disappear. But if you step back in view, it'll say hello <gamertag> so there is some facial recognition going on.
Once you get past the account log-in screen, you are at the main menu where you have "Edit player", "Play", "Workout Calendar", and Extras as your options.
Under the "Edit Player", you can change the color of your silhouette (i.e., purple, blue, yellow, red, etc.), difficulty level, and age.
Under the "Play" heading, you have Tutorials, Zumba Party, Zumba Class, Single Routine, Multiplayer (local, meaning everyone in the same room), and Xbox Live multiplayer (playing with people over the Internet, up to 16 players).
Under the workout calendar option, you can create your own workout schedule or you can select from a number of preset calendar choices that cover the entire range (from 2 beginner workouts a week for 20 minutes each workout all the way to the "Zumba Glow" schedule which is an expert workout every day of the week lasting 45 minutes or 20 minutes per workout).
Now, if you're looking at my review, chances are awfully good that you're thinking of getting the Kinect version of Zumba Fitness. For Kinect, there are a whole slew of choices for dance games and workout games. But the premiere dance title is Dance Central. If you're expecting Zumba Fitness to be Dance Central with Latin music, you'll be severely disappointed. If you want a game that teaches you to dance with a great tutorial system, Zumba Fitness is not for you.
If your intent is to play Zumba Fitness just like you play Dance Central, you'll be severely disappointed. Although they have a similar superficial structure (tutorials and dance routines), they are designed differently. Whereas the tutorial in Dance Central matches the difficulty level you choose (i.e., you pick Easy level for Poker Face, you get a breakdown of the easy level steps for Poker Face), the tutorial section in Zumba Fitness does not distinguish between easy, medium, or expert. Each tutorial has all the steps of all difficulty levels for that particular routine. The Zumba tutorial starts with an easy step such as stepping forward then backward. Then it progresses to a more advanced version of the step such as including the hips. Then it incorporates the arms. The Zumba Fitness tutorials do not have a slow motion of the steps like in Dance Central. Also, in Dance Central, you can keep doing the exact same step interminably if you choose so. However, in Zumba Fitness, that is not the case. In fact, the tutorial section is essentially "broken". I've played Zumba Fitness on the Kinect and the Wii and have watched many tutorial vids on the Playstation Move and it's broken across all platforms. Let's face it. The tutorials section is not good. But the way to use the game is to play the single routines. There are multiple game types: Zumba Class, Zumba Party, single routines, etc. The problem with the tutorials is that they combine all the steps of all difficulty levels into the same tutorial. So for example, the Calypso Basic tutorial contains easy, intermediate, and expert steps.
But when you do the single routines (e.g., Calypso beginner), you only do steps for that difficulty level. So the tutorial is actually harder than the actual routine! Plus, the single routines are fixed times and have repetitive steps so for example, in one single routine which is about 4 minutes long, there's quite enough repetition for you to get the routine down. Whereas for the tutorial, the tutorial's length of time changes and it's very difficult to repeat the steps before the tutorial ends. So I would recommend you do the single routines and get the steps down. For example, do the Calypso beginner routines (there's 2 of them). Then go on to maybe merengue beginner routines. etc. etc. or maybe something like the Calypso beginner routines, then the intermediate routines, etc. Once you get all the steps down in the single routines, then go on to the Zumba Classes or Zumba Party modes. There's really no point in doing the frustrating tutorial mode. sidenote: For some of the tutorials, I ended up recording the tutorials and then setting them to 0.25X. So the tutorials sit on my PC and I stream the video to the 360 so I can do the tutorial at 0.25x to get the nuance of the hip movements and the rotations.
Beyond the tutorials are the actual game modes: Zumba Party, Zumba Class, and single routines.
Zumba Party includes: Beginner 20 minute class 1, Beginner 20 min class 2, Intermediate 20 min class 1, Intermediate 20 min class 2, Intermediate 45 min class 1, Intermediate 45 min class 2, Expert 20 min class 1, Expert 20 min class 2, Expert 45 min class 1, Expert 45 min class 2, Zumbathon.
Zumba Class includes: Beginner 20 min, Intermediate 20 min, Intermediate 45 min, Expert 20 min, Expert 45 min, Zumbathon.
Single routines include: Asalto (reggaeton / cumbia intermediate) 4:56, Baila pa emociona (calypso, warm-up beginner) 4:11, Bla blab la (cumbia/reggaeton expert) 2:58, Bring it on girl (latin dance expert) 3:49, Con movimiento (raga / dancehall expert) 4:53, Don't stop (samba expert) 2:39, Echa pa un lado (meringue / swing intermediate) 5:02, El amore el amore (meringue beginner) 4:20, El bacilon (meringue intermediate) 3:57, El twist de la munequita (rock `n roll beginner) 4:43, Enciendemela (cumbia/rumba expert) 3:31, Feel like dancing (ragga / dancehall intermediate ) 3:52, Funkizinho (warm-up expert) 4:57, Hala (reggaeton expert) 3:57, La bruja de la cosquilla (meringue expert) 4:40, La luz del flow (meringue / hip-hop expert) 3:51, Mawa sillah (calypso intermediate) 3:54, Mueve la cadera (meringue expert) 5:38, No quiero mas (salso intermediate) 2:57, Pa la discoteka (techno/cumbia expert) 4:13, Quiero volver a mis (bachata expert) 4:10, Sahara oasis (belly dance, cool down intermediate) 4:10, Sigue gozando con zumba (salsa expert) 4:05, Slide (warm-up intermediate) 3:12, Tu boquita (cumbia beginner) 4:50, Vamos DJ (conga/hip-hop expert) 5:04, Zocalypso (calypso, warm-up beginner) 5:35, Zumba lluvia (cool down expert) 4:06, Zumba mami (reggaeton beginner) 3:34, and Zumba sueno (salsa beginner) 4:37.
As you can see, you have a whole slew of different dances ranging from salsa to merengue to bellydancing to rumba, etc. etc.
Zumba Party is just like your typical Zumba class that you attend at the gym. It is either a 20 minute or 45 minute session that incorporates many different routines within that time frame. You can choose your difficulty level as well (beginner, intermediate, expert). Zumba Party is very intimidating because it's a very long session and it quickly jumps from one routine to another with somewhat abrupt transitions. If you don't know the steps, it can quickly become frustrating and makes it feel like you're flailing. Remember, to learn the steps, use the single routines. The single routines will also help you build up your fitness level and endurance since the single routines are only 2-4 minutes in length rather than almost nonstop 20 or 45 minutes. Once you do know the steps, the Zumba Party is fun but the steps are a problem since the tutorials are essentially broken. The goal of Zumba Party is to complete 10 classes from beginner to expert. Once you complete a skill level, it unlocks the next set of classes on your punchcard.
Now the single routines are where you really learn how to dance and it allows you to specifically dance the routines that you enjoy rather than a continuous jukebox of routines. The personal problem I have is the organization of the single routines. They are arranged not by difficulty or by style of dance. Rather, then are arranged by alphabetical order according to the Spanish words. So for example, if you just want to do calypso, you have to scroll through the entire list to get to Baila pa emociona (beginner), Mawa sillah (intermediate), and Zocalypso (warm-up beginner). I don't know Spanish so scrolling through a big list was not fun. And once you finish a routine, you are put all the way back at the beginning of the list ("Asalto") rather than at your last selected song.
Now, if you don't go online with Zumba Fitness, you have single player, cooperative players, Zumba Attack!, and 2p vs 2p available. Cooperative players is where you and a friend are dancing together and you share the energy bar and you have to work together to build it up. Zumba Attack! is similar to Dance Battles in Dance Central. You are alternating turns and whoever builds the highest energy bar wins. 2p vs. 2p is you have 2 teams of 2 players each. Whichever team builds the highest energy bar wins. One team performs a whole routine. Then the next team performs the whole routine.
So once you get tired of dancing Zumba Fitness all by yourself in your home or run out of friends to dance with, the major selling point of Xbox is the online community, Xbox Live. Zumba Fitness allows you to find other people dancing online. You can either create your own Zumba Dance party with up to 16 players or you can hop into someone else's party that's already going on. It's like going to the gym to dance with other people but not actually having to go to the gym. You can chat with each other via headsets as well which brings the communal aspect into play.
When I was testing the online for this review, I was playing Zumba Fitness on the west coast at 11PM. That's 2AM for people on the Least Coast. So you can imagine there aren't a lot of Zumba classes going on at 11PM or 2AM and it couldn't find any sessions for me to join. I tried other times such as 9:30PM Pacific time and was able to join a class. And once you join the class, it's pretty cool. Being able to chat and do Zumba with other people. Now, you can't see the other people (which is a good thing or bad thing depending on your perspective), but you can chat with each other. So my advice is to find some Zumba friends, get to know them, and set up regular Zumba parties rather than depend on randomly finding a class to join.
Okay, so let's summarize. I would rate this game somewhere between 3.5 stars and 4 stars. If the tutorials worked, it would definitely be a solid 4 stars. If you like Zumba, like Latin music, and can work without a great tutorial system, it's most definitely 4 stars. The game itself is nearly identical between the Wii, 360/Kinect, and Playstation Move so nearly all the comments here apply to all platforms. So whatever platform you have, Zumba Fitness is a good game. With the Kinect, you don't have to wear a belt, there's nothing to hold, and the motion detection is more accurate (check out the Wii and Move videos on youtube: with the belt system, all you have to do is shake the controller and you'll be green meaning you did the move "correctly"). The online community is a very cool touch and it's easier to find a Zumba class on the 360. Zumba for the Wii has up to 4 players whereas you can have up to 16 on the 360. If you're expecting Zumba Fitness to be Latin Dance Central, don't buy it. The music is Spanish and also very unfamiliar to English speakers. The beats are good and the melodies are interesting. But for most people, they won't recognize any of the music. I also have the Michael Jackson dance game for the Wii and I find Zumba Fitness for the Wii to be superior (I guess I don't like MJ songs that much and it's not really an exercise game). Now for those that must have comparisons, Dance Central is a far superior dance game with an outstanding tutorial mode. Plus, it has popular music that English speakers can easily recognize. But Dance Central doesn't have any nonstop jukebox mode so there are long pauses between songs as you select your songs whereas Zumba Fitness is almost nonstop (which is essential for a true workout). A Zumba session will have you sweating far more than Dance Central.
If you have any questions, hit me up and I'll do my best to answer them. Oh! forgot! there have been 2 updates to the Kinect version of the game, trying to fix some of the problems people had. If you do not have your 360 connected to the Internet, bring it to someone's house that does have the Internet and hook it up to update the game. The updates pretty much fix all the problems except for the bad tutorials. If you don't want to hook your 360 to the Internet for whatever reason, then send your disc back to Majesco and they'll send you a new disc that has the fixes built in. Go to the Majesco site for details.