Game: Zumba Fitness Rush
Developer: Pipeworks Software
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment
Available on: Xbox 360 Only
Gymnasiums are very intimidating places. Non gym-goers have it in their heads that once you walk through those glass doors, you’ll be greeted with many people who are working out with smiles on their faces and bodies that are akin to those of popstars. Men bodies like Greek Gods, women who are toned and have curves in “all the right places”, and personal trainers that are like drill instructors screaming at their soldiers, “C’MON, PUSH IT!!!”. That isn’t entirely true, but that stigma is most certainly there. For those of us that are lacking that “conventional beauty” that magazines, TV and Hollywood push down our throats, it’s tough to enter the Lion’s Den of exercise.
The Wii Fit franchise launched over here in April of 2008 and grabbed the attention of many that want a personal trainer, but at their beck and call. It was a massive success and the rest, as they say, is history. Wii Fit became a bench mark for many games to come. One of the stand outs in exergames is the Zumba Fitness franchise, selling over 6 million already in less than 2 years. This almost mirrors the craze of the Zumba exercise classes that have become a mainstay in many towns around the globe. Zumba’s blend of aerobics and dance has captured the imagination of gamers who are looking to get off the couch and get active. However, does Zumba Fitness Rush achieve this with style and aplomb or is it just left panting and struggling for breath?
STORY: You play the role of a fat man or woman who wants to get skinny and look like one of those celebrity types off the telly…Ok, seriously, there is no story, thankfully. The game knows exactly who’s playing the title and focuses their efforts on the gameplay as opposed to some silly career mode where you become the new Mr. Motivator for GMTV…although…how cool would that be!
GRAPHICS: Every routine and workout is performed on a wonderful and vibrant stage. The whole thing is brimming with energy and colour. There are a numerous venues where you can get your sweat on, and they all look pretty nice. All of the Zumba instructors in the game look really well rendered and the character models are as realistic as you would expect; it doesn’t break any new ground, but it does what it needs to do.
SOUND: Packing an impressive 42 tracks, Zumba Fitness Rush has plenty of tunes for you to shake your ass to. Not all of the tracks included are well known, but many will recognise that “Americano” song, Pitbull, Nicole Scherzinger and a few others. The range of songs are really well laid out too, from the booty poppin’ to the more measured and deliberate. The way they’re implemented, it even feels like a lot of the more popular songs were made just for the Zumba workout.
GAMEPLAY: For those that don’t know. Zumba Fitness, by their own definition is, “…an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party”. It is like an aerobics class that is fused with Latin style dance moves. All of that translates really well to Zumba Fitness Rush. You have a few options on the easy-to-follow main menu that walks you through the steps to start dancing. It comes highly recommended to do the tutorial first as it does really help. Here, there are 4 different dance types, with 4 different dance moves within. The ability to slow the moves down to a snail’s pace is also a welcome addition in the tutorial as once you’re in the thick of a routine, things get pretty frantic, pretty fast.
In the tutorial, and for every routine in the game, an instructor is on screen, whom you must mirror in order to shed those pounds and get those stars! All of the instructors are actual Zumba trainers, which are modelled really well on their real-life counterparts. In every song, your performance is judged on a 5 star scale. In music/dance games, the star system has become common practice, but this is the only point of Zumba Fitness Rush that feels like a game. There is no score on screen until after each song. At points in the performance, stars start to pop up at the bottom of the screen. This is based on your technique and energy during the routine, which is all given a percentage at the end of the performance.
The player can choose to play a single song at a time, or they can choose to do a full workout. Each song and workout is predicated on an intensity level; low, medium and high. There is a difficulty curve and high intensity is a far tougher workout, but even at the low level intensity, moving every limb of your anatomy is tough for a prolonged period of time. The option of a full class allows the player to choose whether to do a 20, 45, or 60 minute workouts. There is also a custom class, where you can choose what in-game songs you’d like to workout to and in what order. This allows the player to workout at his/her own pace.
The dances themselves have a similar look to something from Dance Central. You must copy the dancer on-screen and before each dance move, a box in the right hand corner pops up to show the next move that will be performed. That preview window is quite misleading really. It only stays on screen for a small amount of time and it’s difficult to interpret the instructor’s next step without losing rhythm. It shows a brief version of the next move, but normally the instructor will perform a more complicated version of that step. However, in all honesty, that’s all redundant. The game does reward the player for effort and the Kinect sensor works incredibly well at recognising your moves as you pant your way to a slimmer you. Zumba Fitness Rush isn’t so much a game, as it is a substitute for a dance or aerobics class.
The multiplayer option is great too for those that want to workout together. It’s as simple as someone getting into the Kinect’s view and raising their arm before a routine and hey, presto, you have an exercising buddy. The star system is still in place in this mode and you are both scored on technique at the end.
LONGEVITY: As long as you can stick to your exercise regime, Zumba Fitness Rush will be there for you. There are plenty of routines for you to try and master. That’s the key really, if you can master these dances you will get more out of the game, scorewise, however, you will also lose more weight, and become fitter by performing all of the moves just like the smiley people in the game. There’s plenty of content in the title that will have fitness gamers coming back for a go, again and again.
VERDICT: If you aren’t willing to dance, then you obviously won’t like this game. Unlike some other fitness titles where you work on specific areas of your body, Zumba Fitness Rush is all about moving everything, even parts you didn’t know you had. Believe me when I say, you will sweat. Regardless of your fitness level, if you choose to do a 45 or 60 minute workout, you will be drowned in your own perspiration.
It is quickly becoming a crowded market that contains some more stereotypically “girly” games like this one, or UFC Trainer that is focused more towards men. But honestly, if you are intimidated by gyms, or want a cheaper and more accessible way to lose those man boobs and muffin tops, Zumba Fitness Rush is definitely the game for you.