Sometimes when reviewing games it’s important to detach yourself from who you really are. For a few hours remove the hardcore gamer t-shirt, leave those potentially misjudged preconceptions behind, get your out-of-body on and erm………….Zumba!
Of course I’m not completely naïve when it comes to the dance-fitness craze sweeping the planet. I’ve seen the signs screaming ‘Zumba classes this way’, seen the shadowy characters muttering about samba beats and salsa shimmys on the streets and it only took me a fortnight to realise it wasn’t a new addition to the Rainbow cast. Geoffrey, George, Bungle, Zippy and Zumba, admit it, it works.
No I’d heard all about Zumba, felt I had a rough idea of what it entailed and was ready to review this sucker. I donned the dayglow legwarmers dug out the Dunlop headband and prayed I’d still be able to walk the next day.
Zumba Fitness Rush then, the latest in an ever expanding line of fitness based games for Kinect with hopes of reducing the ever expanding waistlines of a nation of gamers raised on comfy sofas, shots of coffee and the twin sticks of power, or control pad as it’s more commonly known. And to be perfectly honest, as well as to my own surprise, it’s a whole lot of sweaty, red cheeked fun.
The game itself keeps things simple, there’s no career mode or storyline interwoven into things just a high octane fitness/dance fest from start to finish.
As a complete newbie to Zumba, or dancing of any sort to be fair (although I did once Conga on New Years) I was expecting a tough introduction. I was right.
It’s not that the moves required are particularly tricky or unachievable it’s just that from the opening beats of the track it’s go time and you never really let up until the final note fades. This undoubtedly moves the game away from the dance genre and more into the fitness genre. You can choose to partake in a Zumba class if you wish, deciding length of session and song choices, but be warned, choosing a longer class can be a punishing experience.
Classes come in 4 different sizes: short, mid-length, full and custom with a total of 15 in all. Sadly the only thing to really differentiate between these is the number of songs in each. The routines remain largely the same. This of course leads, at times, to a feeling of repetition with the moves and again brings home the feeling that this is far more about fitness than having a good old boogie.
But it’s not a bad thing, in fact Zumba Fitness Rush perhaps bridges the gap between fitness gaming and the dance genre and in turn should appeal to both sides.
There are 42 tracks on offer in a variety of musical styles. Each song has information concerning just how intense the session will be ranging from low to high. The tracks themselves aren’t particularly inspiring but do provide the means to a panting, slumped on the sofa end. DLC is promised and if done right and at fairly regular intervals should keep the game fresh.
Now to the dancing itself and this wasn’t exactly plain sailing. It’s probably due to me being completely green when it comes to Zumba but I found it nigh on impossible to keep up with the on screen routines during the first few attempts. The instruction offered by any of the six in-game instructors is minimal, a brief prompt appears top right displaying the next move and your away, or not as it turned out in my case. Had it been possible to fail a routine I may have given up early doors on this title but thankfully even those less than blessed dancers can continue flapping until the bitter end, and I certainly flapped. Each routine is rated between 0 and 5 stars but I’m not sure exactly how this is scored, at times it felt just keeping the movement and tempo up was enough to prevail.
Experienced Zumba’ers will probably take to this like a duck to hoi-sin sauce but for the newbies it will take some time and perseverance.
After each session you’re presented with a calorie count of what you’ve burnt which is a nice touch and makes it all worthwhile, this calorie count is also saved in the Progress Tracker allowing you to see overall calorie loss. I liked to read through this while munching pie, chips and gravy washed down with Irn Bru. Lovely.
I found the Kinect detection absolutely spot on, vital with this sort of game, and the newly added voice recognition also worked a treat, no surprises really, for all it’s faults gamewise Kinect is an outstanding bit of kit and this is highlighted in Zumba Fitness Rush. Even when two players ‘Zumba’ side by side in the two player mode Kinect copes with ease.
The graphics are excellent, the instructors look suitably lifelike and are nicely personable and the venues, which take us to a number of exotic locations, are colourful and well presented.
But how do I score this?
Honestly, I had a good time with the game, my wife and kids had an even better time, well they’re easier pleased than a hardened, battle worn digital warrior like myself, ahem. I personally won’t be seeing too much Zumba time but this doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. In fact if you really want to feel the burn following a fitness/dance game then Zumba Fitness Rush brings a flamethrower to the party. It’s a beautifully exhausting workout session with the fun kept in. Fans of the Zumba craze will undoubtedly adore this game, gamers looking for an effective workout session will also find much to rejoice about, while those purely seeking a dance title should probably look elsewhere.
It’s a difficult one as it’s a game that crosses genres but, as it mentions ‘fitness’ in the title I’ll judge it on that. And in that case it’s a cracker.