The Average Gamer

Zumba Fitness 2 Review (Wii)

Generally, Christmas is a time of excess. Mince pies are consumed by the dozen and the mere mention of fitness is banished to the naughty step with the rest of the never-fulfilled New Year’s resolutions. Where the only exercise you’ll see is two people trying to hold on to just a bit more of a cracker, so they can be the first to look like a proper twat in an idiotic pink hat made of paper so thin someone’s hot breath could split it.

It’s with this in mind that we cast a slightly bloated eye on a new videogame incarnation of the popular dance/fitness craze known as Zumba. The high energy, Latin based-dance has made its way back to the Wii in the form of Zumba Fitness 2.

Supplied with the game is a belt that you strap around your waistline just above the hips, with a pocket right on the hip for the Wiimote. The concept is simple: choose from one of the 32 already unlocked tracks and get your groove on to the guy or girl depicted on screen. The more accurately your moves match what’s occurring in front of you, the more points you earn. Your rating can range from ‘Cool’ to ‘Hot’ all the way up to ‘Zumba’. The more ‘Zumbas’ you obtain then the more stars you have by the end of the track. The next dance move is shown on the right hand side of the screen, so you’re ready to get into the right pose to get the highest points, much like in Kinect’s Dance Central.

Don’t expect Zumba Fitness 2 be a walk in the park, though. Things can get very tough, very fast. Gone are the difficulty levels from the previous game to be replaced by a more familiar mechanic of having the tracks you can dance to going from slow to fast paced, depending on your competency (and fitness) levels.

However, just because you’re getting hot under the collar as the tracks gets faster doesn’t mean that Zumba Fitness 2 is low on fun. It’s got it by the bucketloads. Shaking your booty and working muscles you never knew existed is a brilliant laugh, especially when you’re so out of breath by the end of it. Above all there’s a warm fuzzy feeling that it’s done some good, too.

There’s plenty of variation on offer in Zumba Fitness 2. Dance styles can vary from a hip-shaking Mambo to a sultry Flamenco and beyond. For the sequel, Majesco as also thrown in new styles such as Pasodoble and even a Bellydance, should you feel adventurous. Zumba creator and all-round dancing legend, Beto is represented in all his digital glory showing off the latest moves to vainly attempt as you stumble around the living room trying to master the Merengue.

Even if you’re not too hot on the moves as they show up, there’s a neat training mode to help you pick up the steps at half speed, before breaking them out on the dance floor. You can tackle dances one at a time, or if you’re feeling adventurous or really energetic you can go in for the classes.

These are split into three different workouts, (short, medium and long) of which you choose the tracks you want to dance to. Don’t be fooled by the ‘short’ class though as it’s five dances long. Even if you’re a beginner it can be a bit of a hard slog. Unlockables can be obtained by completing the classes and/or getting a certain number of stars on the dances.

Zumba Fitness 2 isn’t without its flaws and niggles. Menu navigation is controlled by the Wiimote in your hand as normal, however the dancing focuses on your hip movements, so has to be placed in the side pocket during play. How tight you wear the belt can mean the difference between the track starting before you had chance to put the Wiimote in its place and having the belt around your ankles by the first move. Removing the ‘mote can be an equal struggle just to navigate the menus and choose and different track. The belt could have been modified so it you can clearly see the buttons through the holster and use the D-pad rather than motion controls to change songs. It all seemed a bit unnatural and stunted the flow.

When playing a track on Zumba Fitness 2 the moves show on the right hand side so you can see which one is coming next. However, this doesn’t always happen. There are times where moves are hardly explained as they are performed, leaving the player confused and in danger of losing the flow. In other games of this ilk, each move is displayed even two steps before it happens so as a player you’re ready to hit the next one.

Overall, the game nails a lot of the moves it sets out to. Instead of sitting on your ass, you can shake it to some of the most intense tunes out there, or you can slow it down to a slow and groovy salsa. It might not make you a better dancer in the real world but it’s one of those few Wii titles that doesn’t condescend or judge. Zumba Fitness 2 rewards your efforts in a way few games in this genre can. Yeah, it’s not perfect but it does utilise moves and steps you didn’t think you could in a fresh and fun environment. You can create your own class without the embarrassment and pressure of a real Zumba class surrounded by people a lot fitter than you.

So don’t worry about all those extra stuffing balls you polished off over Christmas. With Zumba Fitness 2, you’ll be shaking off them and all manner of other things. Just think, that resolution just might hold up this year.

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