Not that long ago Zumba Fitness arrived on our doorstep. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this game for months but when it came, I was sick so I had to wait until I was ready to get up and shake my moneymaker. After playing the game for about a week, I can tell you one thing: Zumba Fitness is unlike any other dance/exercise game out there.
I will admit that I had to take my time and pace myself, but that was only because of two factors: one, I am ridiculously out of shape and two, I have a heart condition so I have to be mindful of what cardio I do and how it affects me. Aside from those two thorns in my side, I enjoyed every second of Zumba Fitness.
As far as graphics go, it was perfect for the sort of game it is. The colors were vibrant, everything was smooth and simple, and there were no distractions so I was able to fully concentrate on the instructor that would move and show me what I needed to do. The menu was easy to navigate through as well, and I had no trouble making sure that I was selecting modes and routines that were at my level of fitness. Everything is so clearly and cleanly labeled, that it would be difficult for somebody to mistakenly select an Expert routine when they meant to select a Warm-Up or Beginners.
When you create your own player, you manually decide if you want to play on Easy, Medium, or Hard. Obviously I chose Easy, but for those of you who can play on Hard successfully, I tip my imaginary hat to you. I did think that, even though the game allows you to decide which level you are comfortable with, the overall fitness/learning curve of the game is a bit steep. Yes, I am not in the best shape, but I do have rhythm and there were times I had some difficulty keeping pace but I’m sure that is something I’d easily acquire with regular sessions of the game.
In the menu there is even a Workout Calendar where you can manually decide which days of the week you wish you workout on, along with which dances you want to focus on, or there are presets you can flip through where some of them only have you down for 2 days a week, while the more extreme ones have 6 days a week blocked off. Doing Zumba Fitness for 6 days a week might sound a bit daunting to some, but all of the Zumba Party routines are very reasonable in length. The minimum is 20 minutes, while the more hardcore sessions are only 45 minutes. There is also a great Tutorial section where you can practice 5 of the 9 of the dance styles (Calypso, Cumbia, Merengue, Reggaeton, and Salsa), or watch and listen to tutorials on how to play. I appreciated that section because I felt it made the game more accessible to a wider audience, and I can see myself going back into the Tutorial to practice the dance styles on a regular basis.
As I mentioned, there is a mode called Zumba Party. There are a couple of Beginner routines that last 20 minutes, four Intermediate routines with two being 20 minutes and the other two at 45 minutes, four Expert routines with two at 20 minutes and the other two at 45 minutes, and then there is Zumbathon, which I imagine is non-stop Zumba Fitness fun. My favorite mode was Single Routine. I was able to flip through 30 different songs, with each having their own dance style and difficulty level. What’s great about this game is that, when doing a routine or a single song, you are working every single muscle group in your body. Obviously you have your legs moving about, but you also are moving your hips, your core, and your arms. It allows a person to feel like they are dancing in a club, or attending a dance class. It’s really enjoyable and made me feel like I wasn’t in my living room dancing around in my monkey pajamas.
Whenever you are moving and doing a Zumba Fitness session, you will always know when you are doing the right moves when your Instructor turns green. Sometimes there will be little sparkles at the top of the screen, but since your main focus is on the Instructor, look for them when they turn that lime hue. Having a subtle change like that further allowed me to become immersed in the game and it was nice not having to look over to the side of the screen like in other dance/fitness games.
You can play with another individual, but since the game requires a lot of space for one person to move freely, I’d make sure you have everything set up in a large room without a lot of furniture. Also, make sure to purchase another one of the Zumba Fitness belts since the game only comes with one. Unlike the 360 version (because it utilizes the Kinect), the PS3 and Wii versions come with these really comfortable belts that go around your waist. They are soft, use a large section of Velcro to close, and there is a section on the side where you can put in your PS Move controller or Wii-Mote. Make sure, if you’re playing the Wii version, that you remove any jacket you might have on it as it won’t fit with that on. I’d probably suggest removing the wrist strap as well.
Since you are moving to a beat, a game like this needs to have a solid soundtrack to groove to. Zumba Fitness has a ridiculously catchy soundtrack, and I’d easily see myself wanting to listen to the music while doing other things like cooking, doing the dishes, or even sitting at the computer doing work. Some of the beats reminded me of Shakira songs, while others made me feel as if I were sitting in a Latin club. My favorite track was Bla Bla Bla, and the Single Routine for that song is a blast.
Overall, Zumba Fitness is a really fun game and it lived up to my expectations. I enjoyed it immensely, was sore after the first time playing it (so it clearly worked), and you learn the actual dances while having a ton of fun. You don’t have to sign up for a gym membership, you don’t have to take any specialty classes, and you can do something good for you in the comfort of your own home.
Zumba Fitness, by Majesco Entertainment, is available now for Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 for $39.99, and Xbox 360 for $49.99.