The exclusive sequel to the Zumba experience arrives to Kinect finally, and it’s quite good, well in my opinion at least! If you haven’t heard of Zumba Fitness Rush, here’s the synopsis:

Every fitness expert knows – to stay in shape, you have to keep pushing yourself. Zumba Fitness puts together a supercharged workout to help you do just that! Using Zumba’s patented formula that turns your workout into a dance party, the program offers 42 new routines, including 10 made just for Kinect. Work your entire body as you move to top tracks from today’s hottest artists. Learn 24 dance styles as you exercise, like the popular Merengue and Cumbia, plus new additions including Latin Pop, Bollywood, and more. And if you’d like to add a workout partner, bring one along in two-player co-op routines.

Overview

Basically, in my opinion, this is what the first should have been, but it is still lacking some features, maybe the third round will get it right. If you are a Zumba fanatic, have the first one or the DVDs, you will probably want this game. There’s all kinds of music and dance styles included that there is probably something for everyone.

The Menu

Voice navigation has been integrated in this second round, as well as the traditional hover and lock method. You can blurt out any menu title and it will pick it for you, or if you prefer the regular navigation, you can hover around to what you want. To me, the overall structure of the menu is great, things are where they should be. As always, I’ll break down each portion of the menu.

Single Song

This section allows to you jump right into it. There are a total of 42 tracks on the disc, and more are apparently on the way. Songs are broken down in a 4 tile section, each labelling the title of the song, the dance style, the intensity level and the default venue, however the venues can be changed. There are 3 different intensity levels which are simplified to Low, Medium and High. There are quite a few venues included in Zumba Fitness Rush: New York Nightclub, Ice Palace, Bollywood, New York Alley, VIP Pool Party, LA Rooftop, Las Vegas, Rio Carnival, Zumba Dance Studio and the Miami Yacht Party.

Once you decide on a song, away you go. There is one of my complaints in here which is no sorting included. They are sorted alphabetically and that’s your only choice. If you are unfamiliar with these songs, you will not know what you want. I was looking to sort by dance style or intensity, but I had a heck of a time trying to navigate through all of them trying to figure out what is what.

The Experience

Once you start the song, you literally start right away. Again, I am not sure why this decision was made – there are no cue cards for all of the moves, only certain transitions. To really nail these songs, cue cards would be really helpful. Some songs are repetitive, some songs are not, so there really isn’t a way to learn a full routine other than playing it over and over and over. This time around, a rating system has been included thankfully. It’s your typical 5-star system, and from what I gathered, 5-starring certain songs unlocks bonus videos, but I couldn’t figure out which songs unlock which videos.

The detection system is different. I recall in the first Zumba certain areas would glow red/green when you were doing moves, but this time around, there isn’t any in-depth feedback system which kind of baffles me. Typically second releases improve and move forward, not backward. You are rated though, from nothing at all, to Nice, to Hot and if you do it perfectly, it’s Zumba! I suppose this sort of helps you, but what is so hard about outlining the incorrect body parts? Before I go further, something more ironic, the outline detection system is in the tutorials! I know, it makes perfect sense. As for Kinect detection, it works great. It does even detect your right from left and knows when one is incorrect. Now if the feedback system was in place, it’d be perfect.

Some of the songs are quite long and some are your typical 3 minute length track. I am not one to complain about full length songs, but it seems the really long songs have very repetitive moves. I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again, we don’t like repetition! I’d rather have a more complex routine that takes me longer to learn than doing the same 5 sets of moves stuck on repeat for 5 minutes. Anyhow, getting Zumba! a few times in a row automatically activates Europhia, which I am not sure if you get bonus points or something, but the camera angles change and keeps it fresh. After the song is complete, you get your score along with how many calories you burned which is always helpful, your star rating and what it labels you, I was labelled as a Zumba Rocker. That’s basically the whole game unfortunately. Here’s a video of a popular song here in the states, but as you notice it’s repetitive.

Full Class

I thought this section would have been instructional just like the DVDs, but maybe I was expecting too much. The classes are broken up into Short, Mid-Length, Full and Custom classes. There are 15 different classes and unfortunately, the only difference between the classes is the amount of songs. It’s just one big playlist. I played a short one and it wasn’t really short. 5 longer songs on class 1 took me a good 30 minutes to go through all of it. The custom section has 12 different playlists you can create, but that’s the whole section.

Learn The Steps

I know we complained about the tutorial section in the last one, so it seems we were listened to yet, it’s like an unfinished product. The steps you learn are the very basic ones, if I recall again from the first one, you could at least do the whole routine. Some of the steps you learn aren’t in all of the songs so I’m not sure what the point of it is. As I mentioned earlier, it does detect body parts and outlines in red when you are doing something wrong. I really wish this was in the regular mode.

There are only 4 different styles you can learn, with 4 steps from each style. They only included Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton and Cumbia. I’ll be honest, I have never heard of Cumbia and I would have expected Bollywood to be in there before Cumbia. When you choose a step, it starts you off slow. If you keep perfecting the move with “Zumba!”, the voice over will instruct you to try it at full speed. You can simply say, change speed and it will speed it up to normal. Once you perfect it again, the voice over will say, try something else. That’s all there is to it. Here’s a video of one of the moves so you can judge yourself:

Progress Tracker

This section was a needed addition. There’s a statistics section that actually keeps track of the days you play the game along with the amount of calories you burned. You can sort in this section by Time, Technique (How accurate you are) and Calories, but you can also sort by the days, weeks and months. There’s also an achievements section which just lists the achievements and your bonus videos are accessed here. There are a total of 19, but one of them is just the introduction video which is all FMV by the way. Again, I am not sure how to unlock them, but I’m guessing it’s by getting 5 stars on certain songs. I had no luck with the 20 songs I played, this game tired me out and I had no stamina left to try any others.

Zumba World

This is an unknown section at the time, however there is a note that says some features will be accessed here such as Zumba News, Locate Nearest Live Class and New Routines. I say its unknown because it’s a note that pops up, there’s no navigation in here or anything so we can only assume what will be here or if it will actually work. I really wanted to see how the Live Class thing works – apparently you can join into a live class in your neighborhood with real people while you play the game, sounds interesting I know!

Options

The last section is your options, but they are fairly straight forward which include your settings for Visual Cues, Music and SFX volumes. The Kinect Guide and Credits can also be accessed from here.

Graphics & Sound

I would like to note the graphics in this one, compared to the first one, these ones are amazing. Realistically though, the venues themselves are standard. What I found really amazing were the actual avatar graphics or if its converted FMV, it’s quite hard to tell the difference but they look amazing – even the girls hair is perfect, and let me tell you, video game long hair rarely looks realistic. Their movements and even the way their clothes move with the dancing is perfect. As you progress, the venues become alive as well, such as the more stars you earn, the more backup dancers (which don’t have the perfect avatar quality) show up.

The sound is all authentic, well from what I know. I only knew about 3 songs out of the bunch. Again, if you are open to music, you will probably enjoy all of these tracks. Speaking of the tracks, I’ll provide you with a 123Kinect.com exclusive again. I put the tracks in their default order and labelled what style of dancing it is so you can get an idea. I did not bother to look up the artists of all of these songs so if you want to hear one, you will probably have to search.

The Soundtrack

  • Activao (Cumbia)
  • Aires Habaneros (Tango/Salsa)
  • Bubuzela Masal (Samba/Hindu)
  • Caipirinha (Batucada)
  • Chilin Bombon Guajira (Rumba Flamenca/Guajira)
  • Chismosita (Mambo)
  • Como Es Que Se Llama? (Cumbia)
  • Contigo (Salsa)
  • Dance Dance Dance (Hip-Hop)
  • Don’t Let Me Down (Swing)
  • El Batazo (Reggaeton)
  • El Merengazo (Merengue)
  • Hindu-Cumen (Hindu/Cha Cha Cha)
  • I Know You Like It (Hip-Hop)
  • I Wanna Move (Hip-Hop)
  • I’m Going On (R&B Ballad)
  • La Matanga (Cumbia/Warm Up)
  • La Perla (Swing)
  • La Rumba De La Papaya (Flamenco)
  • Lo Que Traigo (Pasodoble/Cha Cha Cha)
  • Mi Vecina (Bachata)
  • New Day (Slow Swing)
  • Pause (Urban Latino Dance)
  • Perror Amor (Reggaeton)
  • Poison (Electronic/Dance)
  • Que Onda (Axe)
  • Que Te Pasa (Cumbia)
  • Quebra As Cadeira (Axe)
  • Quiebralo Bob (Quebradita/Ragga)
  • Salsa Sabrosa (Cha Cha Cha)
  • Sukumbiarabe (Indian)
  • Ta Picao (Calypso)
  • Tigre (Merengue)
  • Tu Bomboncito (Cuban)
  • Tu Remedio (Cha Cha Cha)
  • Un Corazon (Pop Ballad)
  • Un Solo Pueblo (Salsa)
  • Uno Sabe Bien (Latin Pop)
  • Vem Na Zueira (Axe)
  • We Speak No Americano (Swing House/Electro Swing)
  • Zoka Zumba (Calypso)
  • Zu Bailadito (Quebradita)

Multiplayer

Multiplayer is nice, any play mode is always looking for a second player, however there is no drop-in/drop-out method. The additional player needs to be added in the beginning. You will also need tons of space with 2 players, moves have you utilizing the entire playspace area. Kinect works fine with 2 players as expected.

Conclusion

I know the review sounds like it’s a bad game, but Zumba is a different type of genre. You will either love it or hate it. If you love Zumba, then you will love this game which is why my rating may seem high. I don’t know if this would be classified as a party title or a fitness title, it’s just Zumba in my opinion. There really aren’t any goals with the game, so I suppose if your overall goal is just to stay fit and not care about anything else, then Zumba is a good choice.

If the developers stay on top of this title and keep it fresh with new content, then its a no brainer to choose this Zumba over the first one. If you are still on the fence about it, hopefully a demo comes out soon enough so you can see for yourself, as you really have to try Zumba to see if you like it and not really base it off one’s opinion or review.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Zumba Fitness Rush
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?