Zumba Fitness World Party
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2014-01-18 Xbox One Music/Rhythm E (Everyone) Majesco / Zoe Mode

A little over 3 months ago, I could barely survive a day of work, let alone think about playing a rhythm game. In fact, just moving the furniture to make space to be able to play anything of the sort was already exhausting to me. As I started getting back to the daily routine, I found that I actually had a little bit of energy left that I could put to good use. Or in other words, something more fun than house chores. So I gave Zumba Fitness World Party a try.

My first attempts at catching up with the highly energetic trainers in Zumba Fitness World Party was a mix of tripping, blinking in disbelief and standing there trying to coordinate myself with them. I even laughed at the clumsiness of my on-screen self. Obviously, jumping right into the World Tour portion of the game wasn't the best choice, as it kept locking me into a series of songs, many of them I couldn't even catch up with.

Alright, so I am still totally out of shape and this was probably not the best choice to get back to some physical activity after years of chronic illness and months of surgery recovery. But even during my first incredibly clumsy sessions I felt comfortable enough to keep going up to about 35 minutes of jumping around like a giggly jerky marionette, without falling over in pain.

Zumba Fitness World Party is not newbie friendly, as I soon discovered. Being thrown into a series of complicated steps of Irish Step and Russian dancing on my first try made me realize these people must have super-human powers. Puny gamers like myself will be in way over their heads with all the physical activity, but fortunately there are options to tailor the game to our talents or lack there of!

The World Tour Mode has you dancing through series of songs from seven destinations from around the world, introducing you to local music and native dance moves. Each location is unique in their look and music, and some even sport traditional costumes. This is basically your story mode, where you are rewarded with collectibles such as passport stamps, postcards, souvenirs and behind the scenes footage.

There is a tutorial where you can learn some basic steps for each type of dance: Salsa, Merengue, Hip-Hop, Tahitian, Calypso, Bollywood, Cumbia, Reggaeton, Irish Step, Plena, Blues, Capoeira (which is actually misspelled in the in-game menu), Flamenco, Samba, Russian and Girly Funk. You can practice the steps in normal or slow mode, which is useful for later on to get over some tricky parts of certain songs.

There are plenty of achievements, and most of them are pretty easy to get. Well, I guess I shouldn't say easy, since you do need the stamina to keep up with the trainers... But they are accessible to anyone and not some ridiculous goal for an unrealistic number of hours of played time or whatever.

Speaking of goals, Zumba Fitness World Party also lets you set personal fitness goals or work towards pre-set ones to unlock bonus rewards and fitness tips. You can choose the number of workouts you want to do, how many calories you want to burn, or how long you want to dance for, and assign a deadline for your goal. This is a really interesting and important feature, since it lets you set realistic goals that are appropriate to your skill and fitness level, and helps motivate you to continue. You can see how you are doing in the Progress Tracker Plus, which shows you all of your stats, such as calories burned, time played, total score and goals that you've already met.

The game also offers a good number of pre-set classes in three intensity levels (low, medium and high), and you can also customize your own classes by building the playlist of your liking from the available songs.

As far as movement tracking, Kinect does a really good job at registering movements, but I found the game was very forgiving. There is no way I was doing that well to be receiving "Hot!" or "Great!" ratings for what I was doing. In fact, tutorial moves on slow are harder to get right than a complex series on normal speed. Oh, and like most Kinect multiplayer games, watch for where you stand when playing with a friend, or legs and arms might hit you unexpectedly.

While I was pretty intimidated at first by the muscular male trainers and highly energetic ladies on screen, I've been having quite a bit of fun with Zumba Fitness World Party. I like how the more we dance and do the correct moves, the more people show up on screen dancing with the trainer until eventually there will be a huge crowd in the background, all in fantastic resolution. Add to that special effects and lots of sparkles, and you would expect some slowdowns, but that never happens. It is a treat to see people come together in any given world background, and their good spirits and energy is pretty contagious (and to me, encouraging).

My favorites are Flamenco, Salsa and Merengue. I've discovered Hula really isn't as easy as it seems, Russian dance seems to defy the laws of gravity (and makes me want to play Tetris), and Irish Step is probably going to make me fall on my face eventually. Either way, tripping all over myself or not, I'm having fun while exercising. And at the end of a workout, I still have energy left to put the furniture back!