Zumba is a new dance/fitness craze taking the world by storm, incorporating various dance styles like salsa, hip hop and reggae with a dash of aerobics. Like most popular things nowadays, Zumba now has its own video game series.
Zumba Fitness Rush, the sequel to last year's Zumba Fitness, aims to bridge the gap between fun and having a workout, and by using the motion control of Xbox 360 Kinect, could this game actually be good instead of being more Kinect shovelware?
Various modes are available to you from the main menu, such as Single Song, Learn the Steps (tutorial mode), Zumba World, Full Class and the Progress Tracker.
Learn the Steps is where you would want to start, especially if you have no idea what Zumba is. In this mode you able to learn a few basic steps in a variety of dance categories like salsa, reggae, cumbia and merengue.
As the dance move is demonstrated on screen, the Kinect camera will pick up your body movements as you try to mimic the actions on screen. Once you perform all the moves, you can now attempt the Single Song mode to start off easy. The only problem is, it's anything but easy.
In Single Song you can choose from a number of various songs of different styles, ranging from low intensity to high intensity. Upon choosing a song, it becomes quite evident that the tutorial was inadequate in teaching you the basics because, as you progress, the in-game instructor will perform moves that were not in the tutorial.
Although the game does indicate what move you have to perform next, it's pointless if you've never practised it. But this isn't really a problem as the game is fairly lenient in picking up your dance moves, so it doesn't have to be perfect. It just would've been so much better if the game incorporated a tutorial such as the one used in Dance Central that teaches you all the moves, step by step, of any given song.
To finish a song with a good rating, knowing that you did not pull of all the moves correctly, isn't very rewarding.
Next we have the Full Class mode, which is supposed to be a full workout class, but is in fact a couple of songs strung together.
The Zumba World mode is quite interesting as, in addition to allowing access to the game's downloadable content and Zumba related news feeds, you can also join active Full Class sessions online. As interesting as this feature is, I was unable to experience it as I could not find any classes online.
To round off the modes, we have the Progress Tracker which keeps track of various stats such as time spent, calories burnt and how good your technique is.
For the most part, the Kinect integration works well for the actual gameplay. It does have issues for the menu navigation though. Trying to select songs became a chore with the on-screen navigation arrows being too sensitive. Although Kinect speech is supported for option selections, I feel more time should have been spent fine tuning Kinect menu controls instead.
Zumba Fitness Rush will not replace the actual Zumba fitness programme, but will be a fun introduction to it. The game features a two-player mode as well, making it especially suitable for kids.
It might not be the best example of a Kinect game to make you lose weight (that honour belongs to Dance Central 2) but it's a fun Latin-inspired alternative. Pretty visuals and catchy tunes just sweeten the deal.
If only it had thorough tutorial and a more intuitive menu system, it would have been a must-have. As it stands now however, only buy this if you like Zumba or if you're bored of Dance Central.
Score: 7 out of 10