Xbox 360 Kinect and Zumba Fitness

Will The Kinect Make Me Healthier? Week 14

We approached Zumba Fitness with no small amount of anticipation after we heard great things from several friends. The title seemed to promise health benefits and fun wrapped up in one magenta package that even we, the terrible dancers, could get in on. Would Zumba Fitness turn out to be everything we hoped it would?

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After reflecting on all the fun that we had with Dance Central, Zumba Fitness from Majesco Entertainment was an easy sell even if we had never partaken in any Zumba classes before. Our knowledge of the workout phenomenon was that it had something to do with Latin dance and is kind of the new Jazzercise. If you are also unfamiliar with Zumba, imagine all of the fast paced dancing of Dance Central with a focus on much more hip movement. Since we have also reviewed Dance Central and use it often as our "fun workout," we will compare these two titles frequently in this piece.

Unfortunately unlike Dance Central, Zumba Fitness is plagued with a horrible menu system that is a pain to navigate. We thought that perhaps it was the whole "room not large enough for the Kinect to see thing," but after we had a few friends over to review the multiplayer functions, we quickly realized it is that issue plus it not being intuitively designed. For instance, why make us use a scroll bar to swipe giant squares? Why not just recognize the hand motions that we would use to target the small scroll bar?

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For the single player Zumba offers workout options that are akin to a dance class. A very fast paced dance class, we might add. As someone who has always struggled to keep up with elementary school play choreography following along with the dancer is much more challenging in this game than in Dance Central. Even at the beginning level it was difficult to keep up! Not only did my uncoordinated limbs struggle to the match the moves my rhythm challenged self found keeping the tempo virtually impossible.

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During the multiplayer games two players appear side by side on the screen and take turns dancing to judge who has completed the same moves most accurately. Friends thought the game was fun but were highly annoyed with how difficult it was to get the game started. Unlike with other multiplayer games, this title demands that each player have an Xbox ID/Profile to play with which is no fun when you want a spontaneous game to start quickly.

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Another downside of this title is that it is not really made for a quick workout. Unlike Dance Central there is no option to choose a single dance and call it a day, but instead everything is geared around 20 minute sessions which we suppose makes sense if you are going to be serious about working out.

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While you might not be able to match the moves, the game certainly delivers quite the workout. If you are a poor dancer but don't mind getting a low score, you can still have fun playing this game. I laughed while I sweat as the instructor kept flashing red (sign of not matching the moves) and was happy that unlike in other fitness games, I was not verbally scolded for not being perfect.

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With Zumba Fitness 2 arriving this holiday season, our hope is that issues with how the menu works will be resolved and we would like to see more multiplayer options ala the new Dance Central 2. We do recommend this title and have found it to be a great workout that does not feel like a boring fitness routine and is much more challenging than dancing in Dance Central. Zumba Fitness is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii for $27 - $38.

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Have you played Zumba Fitness?

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Weeks 1-13 with the Xbox 360 and Kinect:

Thanks Abby & Sarah for helping to review this title!

(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho)

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Tech, Test Lab Reviews

Joelle loves technology and making things and is in an almost perpetual state of problem solving. She's quite fond of airplanes and coffee and is pretty sure she will eventually read all of the books in her library.

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