As a gamer in his thirties, I wouldn’t have thought that Zumba Fitness World Party for the Xbox 360 would be up my alley. I run four miles a day, and get alot of exercise in my real-life job, but do I want to spend time in front of my console, shaking my hips and dancing my way to a sweaty mess?
When the Kinect sensor was launched back in November of 2010, the killer app was Dance Central. From there, many developers tried to emulate the success of Harmonix’s dance fitness offering. However, the majority of them failed to live up to those lofty expectations (I’m looking at you, Michael Jackson: The Experience!). Though, despite this trend, the Zumba Fitness series has managed to keep pace.
Developed by Zoe Mode and published by Majesco Entertainment, Zumba Fitness World Party is the fourth video game based on the global dance fitness craze. It offers gamers the chance to learn different dancing styles from around the globe, meaning that everything from the Irish Step and Calypso (a personal favorite), to Blues and Salsa is on offer here.
There are 42 songs attached to the game, all of which can be unlocked by playing through the campaign-like World Tour mode. Additionally, dancing your way through seven different countries unlocks the respective dances. What’s great is that almost every song is upbeat and high energy, aiding the game’s obvious goal of keeping players wanting more, as they burn calories and have fun.
As with most Kinect-centric titles, Zumba Fitness World Party is family friendly and is easy to pick up and play. The tutorial mode is robust and very detailed, yet easy to understand. Plus, in addition to the World Tour mode, the game offers a side-by-side two-player mode as well as something called Progress Tracker Plus, which monitors your fitness goals, calories burned and dancing techniques. Setting and meeting your fitness goals then unlocks extras in the game, such as video tips from celebrity Zumba fitness instructors to keep you motivated along the way, without presenting any sort of a barrier. After all, these types of games thrive on their aforementioned accessibility.
Thankfully, the Kinect functionality in this game is top-notch. With other dance games for the console, body detection has been lacking, but right from the main menu and waving of your hands, Zumba Fitness World Party oozes precision. As I progressed through the game, the dance routines became more difficult, and the Kinect had no problem detecting my struggles. In the three-plus years that the Kinect has been out, developers have learned how to use it, and this is a prime example of those inroads. The Kinect functionality is so good, in fact, that it feels as though you are completely immersed in a dance studio, or an exotic locale. Your imagination takes hold as you boogie, and that helps to get you in the mood.
Visually, World Party is incredible. Beautiful colors and vivid, photo-realistic details are the highlights of the game. Working out in front of the TV is easier with beautiful people motivating me to keep going. There, I said it!
As mentioned previously, the song catalogue is full of high-energy numbers, with most of them being no more than 90 seconds long. There aren’t many big-name artists here, save for Lady Gaga and Pitbull, but it’s a fitness game and I found it quite refreshing (and less distracting) that I didn’t know the words to 95% of the songs. It allowed me to concentrate more on the dances, as well as pushing to the end of the songs.
All in all, Zumba Fitness World Party is a success, which encompasses what a fun, high-energy dance game should be. The focus is clearly on fitness, and that’s where it should be, though a very deep experience is also presented. Now, with that being said, one has to wonder how Zoe Mode will improve on the no-doubt-forthcoming follow up.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game, which we were provided with.
Zumba Fitness World Party encompasses what a fun, high-energy dance game should be, making it a definite success.