Since the release of Wii Fit, the Wii has become home to a number of fitness titles. Likewise, ever since Just Dance hit the system, it has also become home to a good number of dance titles that don't require peripherals beyond the standard Wii Remote. It was only a matter of time until a game merged both genres, and last year, Zumba Fitness did just that. Based on the popular exercise craze, the game sold rather well and spawned an imitator in the form of ExerBeat earlier this year. Looking to capitalize on their success, publisher Majesco and developer Zoe Mode pushed out the sequel, Zumba Fitness 2. There are a good number of improvements here, but a few fatal flaws keep this game from being the best of both the fitness and dancing worlds.
Zumba Fitness 2 plays like just about any other dancing game on the market. Once the song begins, you essentially try to follow the moves performed by the on-screen dancer as closely as possible. Doing the moves correctly will fill up a star rating meter, which is your grade for the song. By the end, you get your final grade and a count of how many calories you've burned off.
The game features several different modes, though none is really much different from another. Single Song allows you to play any of the songs you want, though the difficulty of each song and who will be dancing it doesn't change at all. Full Class lets you go through a full Zumba workout class from warm-up to cool-down. Classes are broken up into short, medium and long lengths, but you can also set up a specific playlist for your class time. Finally, there's Learn The Steps, which teaches you some of the basic steps used in each of the dance styles incorporated into the workout.
The flaws appear the minute you begin playing one song. Like all other dance games, this one uses a preview pane that pops up every now and then to let you know which move is coming up. The problem is that the preview pane is often incomplete, as it shows you one move but fails to show you the one after that. It almost has an every other move effect, where you'll see one move but have to learn the other move on the fly before the pane shows you the next move. Initially, this can lead to lots of confusion and stumbling.
The biggest issue with Zumba Fitness 2 has to be with the controls. The game gets points for letting one use a special belt to hold the Wiimote, giving you a mostly hands-free experience with the exception of menu navigation. However, no matter what you do, it never feels like any of the moves are getting registered. Leaving the remote in the belt results in no stars being earned per song. The same occurs if you decide to hold the remote in your hand or simply shake it. In all three cases, the end result is zero stars being earned and zero effort being recorded by the game. In fact, the only time it did record any effort was when the shaking was more violent than normal, and even then, this wasn't always the case. For those who are playing this as a game, this is disastrous, especially since there are parts of the game that require earning stars to unlock. With such a poor-reading control scheme, you're better off forgetting about scoring at all or counting calories burned and just dancing along to the choreography.
Graphically, the game has a much different presentation than its predecessor by ditching the silhouette view in favor of standard dancers in different venues, similar to Dance Central. Instead of having a random character do the moves, though, the game uses one of the three celebrity spokespeople for Zumba to perform it while a few others perform the same moves in the background. The animation is rather good, and while one knows that the Wii could do better with the characters, it isn't all that bad. The environments also look fairly decent, with the scant few background dancers present being better than none at all. Overall, this works out better than before even, though it isn't anything special.
The high-energy Latin music theme of the first game is back in this one, with around 32 different songs available. The big news this time around is that there are a few recognizable artists here, such as Pitbull and Nicole Scherzinger but, for the most part, the songs and artists will only be familiar to those who love the Latin music genre. With a few exceptions, the music has the right kind of energy so it doesn't feel strange dancing to it, much less exercising with it.
Zumba Fitness 2's improvements are greatly overshadowed by its lack of instruction as well as poor controls. You'll get over the lack of clear moves after some time, but the non-responsive controls completely break this as a game. As a fancier instructional video, however, the game does the trick because it still provides some fun for those who don't care much about keeping score. The audience for this game will be limited to those who, for one reason or another, would rather watch Zumba on the Wii as opposed to simply buying the DVD set.
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