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Review of Just Dance 2015 #justdance 28.10.14

just dance 2015 boxIt’s been a while since I reviewed a Wii fitness game and for good reason–seems that over the last year the genre has all but dried up. Just a few years ago it seems that I couldn’t go by a week without finding a new Wii exercise game, and Sony and Microsoft were falling over each other trying to get into motion controls. Today, third party developers have fled the Wii, Nintendo is focusing on trying to recover from its Wii U missteps by releasing traditional games like Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros Wii U, Sony has all but abandoned the Move, and Microsoft paid dearly for trying to force the Kinect onto users.

But one thing is as sure as the dawn: Ubisoft coming out with yet another Just Dance. I admit, when it came time for me to try out Just Dance 2015 (or if you’re keeping score, what should be “Just Dance 6″), I wasn’t particularly enthused. As someone who’s played every version of Just Dance since the first one in 2009, I was admittedly getting “Just Dance Fatigue”. Sure, it’s been a lot of fun over the years, but I wondered if there was really anything more that Ubisoft could add to the franchise that hasn’t already been done?

After playing Just Dance 2015, I’m happy to say that Ubisoft yet again has pushed the franchise forward. And this time they did it with the online play, which they finally got right.

Before I talk about the online play, I’ll review a lot of what I like about the rest of the game.

You start out Just Dance 2015 by creating a “Dance Card” which will be your identify throughout the game. You start by choosing an avatar from a selection of cute cartoon faces. There are 227 avatars in all to choose from. You’ll start out with only 14 but can unlock additional ones by spending “Mojo Points” (the in-game “currency” you earn each time you dance). You also enter a nickname, your country (choosing from 135 country flags), and your age range (which again to the chagrin of us older adults only goes up to 40+).

Once your dancer card is set up, you can track a bunch of statistics, including the number of songs you played, the number of calories you burned, the number of avatars you unlocked, the number of stars you’ve earned, your online level, and the amount of Mojo Points you earned. It’s definitely addicting to come back to the game to try to earn more points

As for the features, most of these are features Ubisoft perfected in previous versions of the game and wisely decided to continue in this version.

The Song List – Once again, the song list is fantastic and has something for just about everyone, from this recent hits like Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailando”, One Direction’s “Best Song Ever” and Pharrel Williams’ “Happy. For the nostalgic among us, there are old songs like Los Del Rio’s “Macarena” (complete with authentic moves)…

…and Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding OUt for a Hero”. And for the real old-timers among us, there are classics like Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and a cover of “Only You” by the Platters. For the kids there’s the song we all can’t get out of our head: Disney’s “Let It Go” from Frozen…

They even have the theme music for the video game “Tetris”.

Choreography - The choreography, once again, is fantastic. As they usually do, they did a great job of capturing the spirit of the songs, in some cases using actual moves from the original artists’ video. While 1-4 players can dance to any song, certain songs are choreographed for 2, 3 and 4 players and the moves can get pretty intricate and interactive (making it as much fun for people watching as it is for the people dancing).

Overall, the steps are simple enough that newbies can play along, but complex enough that they’ll look impressive on a real dance floor if you master them. As a bonus, as you play you’ll be able to unlock alternate choreography for many of the songs. For example, “Happy” has a “Sing Along” mode and “Diamonds” has a “Seated Dance” mode.

Motion Controls - Ubisoft pretty much perfected the motion controls a few years ago, at least as well as they can be on the Wii. Even though you still hold a single Wii remote in your right hand, they’ve gotten really good at detecting whether you’re truly doing the dance moves correctly. A lot of people felt over the years that Microsoft would own this category with Dance Central, but as the dust has settled the king of the hill is still Just Dance on the lowly Wii.

Artwork - Again, Ubisoft stuck to the formula of using simple cartoon drawings and backgrounds, and it still works. Some of the artwork is beautiful, others are hilarious, and the animations that build up as you dance really keep you engaged during the game.

Workout - With Just Dance 2015, Ubisoft did away with the confusingly named “Just Sweat Mode”, and simply allows you to turn on calorie tracking for any song as you play the game. Similar to “Just Sweat Mode” in past games, there’s also a Playlist mode that lets you select songs to dance to for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes, or non-stop. Unfortunately, you still don’t have the capability to save playlists.

Community Remix - There’s a feature for the Xbox and Playstation that allows you to record your dances with your console’s camera and share it. While this feature isn’t available on the Wii, you will be able to play remixed videos that feature montages of actual people around the world leading you with their moves. Currently, there’s a version of Pharrel’s “Happy” that’s a lot of fun, and there’ll be more.

If that were it, I’d probably give this game 3 1/2 or 4 stars–it’s a solid game, but up to this point there wasn’t much new. But what blew me away with Just Dance 2015 were the vast improvements in online play.

You might recall that Ubisoft tried their hand at online play with Just Dance 2014 and did a pretty bad job of it. Just to participate in online play, you had to sign in with your Nintendo ID, then sign in again (or create) something else called a “Uplay ID”, agreeing to a bunch of disclaimers on the way. And even after going through all that, chances are their server would kick you out or crash on you.

It’s a world of difference with Just Dance 2015. First of all, there’s no setup nor “Uplay account” necessary. You can just jump right into online play in two ways:

World Dance Floor - On the lower right-hand corner of the main Just Dance 2015 screen, you’ll see the words “World Dance Floor”, along with the number of dancers around the world currently dancing and the song everyone is dancing to. Click on it and within seconds you’ll see a single button that says “DANCE NOW”, along with the avatars of everyone who’s online at the moment and what country they’re from.

Once you click on it, you’ll be placed into a “Party” of about eight dancers. You can compete against each individually, and also choose a “side” (Dog vs. Cat, Sun vs. Moon, etc.).

As you dance to the song, you’ll see how well you’re doing vs. the others in your party. As you hit moves and improve your score, you’ll see your avatar’s position rise against other players. I have to admit, it’s addictive trying to beat your fellow dancers and get that #1 spot. And even if you can’t keep up with the top players, the better you do the more you’ll be helping your “side”.

Once you finish dancing, you’ll see whether your side won, and you’ll also see how you compare not just to your own party but to everyone around the world dancing at the moment. Similar to Wii Sports Club, you’ll also be able to use your Wii remote’s buttons to communicate short, pre-programmed phrases to the community (like “Lol” or “I love it” or “Oh no”). In some cases you’ll be able to vote on the next song to dance to. When you decide to stop, you’ll see your current “online level”, how many minutes you danced, and how many different dancers you were dancing with from how many different countries. I love how they simplified now just the process of joining in the World Dance Floor but the gameplay as well.

Dance Challenger Mode - With typical Just Dance songs you can dance with up to four players holding four Wii remotes. For the first time, you’ll also be able to activate “Dance Challenger Mode” which will fill up any empty slots with online players OR against your best performance from the past. Unlike with World Dance Floor, you’re not competing against live players, but you are competing against real people’s performances.

There’s only one major glitch I encountered; at a certain point when I was configuring avatars, the game crashed my system, resulting in a freeze that required me to unplug my unit and plug it in again. Hopefully that has just a one-time thing.

In addition to continuing to be one of the most entertaining video games you can play at family gatherings or parties, Just Dance 2015 is still one of the best ways you can get exercise while playing a video game. Ubisoft did a great job of carrying over the best things about previous versions of Just Dance, but it’s the updated song list and the improvements in online features that make Just Dance 2015 worth buying.

Here’s the complete track list, along with the number of dancers each song is choreographed for:

Problem – Ariana Grande Ft. Iggy Azalea and Big Sean (solo)
Happy – Pharrell Williams (solo)
The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) – Ylvis (3)
Love Me Again – John Newman (1)
Dark Horse – Katy Perry (3)
Love Is All – The Sunlight Shakers (2)
Me And My Broken Heart – Rixton (2)
I Love It – Icona Pop Ft. Charli XCX (1)
Tetris – Dancing Bros. (4)
Walk This Way – Run-DMC & Aerosmith (4)
Let It Go – Disney’s Frozen (2)
Built For This – Becky G (1)
Bailando – Enrique Iglesias Ft. Descemer Bueno & Gente de Zona (2)
Summer – Calvin Harris (1)
Don’t Worry Be Happy – The Bench Men (3)
Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix) – The Girly Team (4)
Black Widow – Iggy Azalea Ft. Rita Ora (1)
SING ALONG – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (2)
Get Low – Dillon Francis & DJ Snake (2)
Bang Bang – Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj (4)
Fatima – Cheb Salama (1)
Holding Out For A Hero – Bonnie Tyler (1)
Birthday – Katy Perry (1)
Only You (And You Alone) – Love Letter (2)
Diamonds – Rihanna (1)
She Looks So Perfect” – 5 Seconds of Summer (4)
XMas Tree – Bollywood Santa (2)
Best Song Ever – One Direction (4)
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga (3)
Never Can Say Goodbye – Gloria Gaynor (1)
You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) – Dead Or Alive (1)
4×4 – Miley Cyrus (4)
Epic Sirtaki – The Bouzouki’s (3)
It’s My Birthday – will.i.am Ft. Cody Wise (3)
Burn – Ellie Goulding (1)
Mahna Mahna – Frankie Bostello (3)
Speedy Gonzalez – Los Pimientos Locos (2)
Maps – Maroon 5 (1)
You’re On My Mind – Imposs Ft. J. Perry (4)
Addicted To You – Avicii (1)
Till I Find You – Austin Mahone (1)
Video Remix

4 of 5 stars

p.s. quick favor…if you liked this review, could you go over to Amazon and “like” my review (titled “Still one of the best video games for groups or workouts, improved by a great song list and vastly improved online capabilities”) over there? It’s a silly thing, I know, but I kind of like having my review rank there :) Thanks!!

GameCube controller Adapter will not work with DDR, Cyberbike, or Active Life :( 10.10.14

The good news is that Nintendo has FINALLY confirmed a launch date for Super Smash Bros., November 21.

While I’m certainly a fan of the game, as I’ve mentioned on previous posts, the thing I was most looking for was the release of the GameCube Controller Adapter. Early indications from Nintendo was that this would allow you to use the GameCube controller (and presumably other devices that used the GameCube connector like the Cyberbike, DDR dance pads, and Active Life controllers) with the Wii U. Even as recent as last week, their Web site proclaimed that the adapter would let you use a GameCube controller with “any game that already supports the Wii Classic Controller, Wii Classic Controller Pro, and Wii U Pro Controller”.

Very quickly, Nintendo scrubbed that from all of its Web sites and released an announcement to the media reiterating that the adapter would work only with Super Smash Bros for Wii U, and would NOT allow other games to use GameCube controllers, nor would it enable GameCube controllers to be used on later versions of the Wii that ripped out the GameCube sockets.

Obviously, this puts a damper on all of us who had hoped to breathe new life into their Wii U consoles by playing old Wii games from the golden age of motion control games. I’ll still plan on buying one and testing it with my legacy controllers, just to see if Nintendo’s converter fares any better than Mayflash’s attempt. So still stay tuned…but don’t get your hopes up. :(

Wii Fit U and Balance Board and 2 Fit Meters Bundle on Sale at Groupon #wii #wiifit 05.10.14

Have you been putting off buying Wii Fit U, the Balance Board, and Fit Meters? Your procrastination has paid off! Groupon has a deal where you can get a hard copy of Wii Fit U, a brand new Balance Board, and two Fit Meters for only $50.

Just to break down the price, the Wii Fit U + Balance Board + 1 Fit Meter bundle usually goes for $89.99 retail (street price around $79). An extra Fit Meter usually runs you about $19.99 retail (street price around $17). So you’re paying $50 for something worth at least $96.

Some of us spent well over $100 for this same thing, so if you haven’t gotten one yet, this is a great opportunity. But hurry, this is only good for the next week!

Wii Fit U, Balance Board and 2 Fit Meters bundle on Groupon.

 

 

Wii Fit U Update to Version 1.3.0 03.07.14

For those of you who missed it, 2 weeks ago there was an update to Wii Fit U. There were the typical updates of bug fixes and UX improvements.

For those of you who, like me, use the Fit Meter every day I can, you’ll be happy to know that there are a bunch of new Fit Meter Challenge Courses.

For the walking courses, in addition to the existing courses:

Chicago – 26 miles
New York – 13 miles
London – 26 miles
Hawaii – 133 miles
Tour of Italy – 653 miles
Sydney – 23 miles
Berlin – 26 miles
Tokyo – 26 miles

You’ll have these new trails to conquer as well, complete with new cultural and historical information.

Vancouver Island Trail – 409 miles
John Muir Trail – 211 miles
Appalachian Trail – 2160 miles
Florida Trail – 761 miles
Via Augusta – 1108 miles
Orient Express – 1799 miles
Romantic Road – 228 miles
Tour of Crete – 298 miles
Kyushu – 249 miles
Shikoku – 746 miles
Tokaido – 306 miles
Hokkaido – 511 miles

Similar, in addition to these old Altitude challenges…

Statue of Liberty – 305 feet
Grand Canyon – 7260 feet
Eiffel Tower – 1062 feet
Pyramids – 446 feet
Mont Blanc – 15780 feet
Burj Khalifa – 2716 feet
Mount Everest – 29028 feet
Mount Fuji – 12388 feet

You’ll get these new ones.

Mount McKinley – 20236 feet
Half Dome – 8835 miles
CN Tower – 1814 miles
Machu Picchu – 7972 miles
The Shard – 1017 miles
The Matterhorn – 14692 miles
The Eiger – 13025 miles
Mount Olympus – 9573 miles
Mount Yari – 10433 miles
Yatsugatake – 9511 miles
Tokyo Skytree – 2080 miles
Mount Bandai – 5968 miles

Rather than stuffing everything on one map, they’ve kept the original world map but created new maps by region that you can scroll to. Here are the hiking trails in North America:

wii fit u map of north america

Here’s what the Appalachian Trail looks like. I do like that as you hit each checkpoint, you can read information about the location that can even help you plan a real-live trip. Unfortunately, if you’re doing a lot of miles at once, you won’t see these pop up for each checkout. But if you enter a little bit of data at a time, you can vicariously relive the experience of hiking the long trail. There’s something cool about taking your normal walk and “applying” the miles to a real-life hiking trail.

IMG_1734

It’s been a while since I input my altitude data, so I decided to relive my visit to Tokyo Skytree last December.

tokyo skytree on wii fit u

Lo and behold, I got a new hat out of it!

new hat!

 

The timing of these improvements to Wii Fit U couldn’t be better for me, as I’ve recently started on yet another experimentation in changing daily habits and weight loss. I signed up for New York City’s oft-maligned bike share program. I decided while there’s a lull in fitness video games, I might as well start doing a little blogging about my Citi Bike experiences. Feel free to take a gander if you’re interested…if not, stay tuned for a review of a new Wii U fitness game shortly!

 

Wii Sports Club is coming…again 26.06.14

As I mentioned on this blog before, Wii Sports Club has been available for some time as a downloadable title on the Wii U. Even though only a few sports were available, I did put it on my top ten list of Wii U Fitness games. In particular, boxing can provide a fantastic workout, baseball and tennis can get you some light to moderate exercise, and golf and bowling, well, if you’re like my nephew who jumps wildly up and down every time he crushes me in a game, you’ll get a workout there too.

wii sports u box art

While Nintendo originally announced that Wii Sports Resort would be a download-only game, they’ve wised up and decided to make it an actual physical disc. It’s not free like the original Wii Sports, but at $39.99 it’ll be cheaper than most new Wii U games (as well as cheaper than buying them separately online). And if you have a Wii U, I’d say it’s worth it for the much more detailed graphics, the more precise MotionPlus controller support, and the really good online gameplay.

If you’ve already purchased some titles online, it probably makes sense for you to finish buying the rest online (golf was released in December and baseball/boxing became available today). But otherwise, if you can wait until July 25, you can get all the games for a great price–and have a physical disc you can bring to a friends’ house.

You can pre-order it at Amazon here.

Release Date for Gamecube Adapter for Wii U and Super Smash Bros Bundle 15.06.14

I have the feeling that Mark Twain’s line saying “rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” will be getting used more and more for Nintendo Corporation.

By most accounts, Nintendo has had a few very good weeks lately. The release of Mario Kart 8 saw 1.2 million copies of the game sold, helping to quadruple sales of the Wii U and put it on line to be on par or even surpass sales of the Xbox One and PS4, at least for the month (although that’s not likely to last).

And during the latest E3 conference, a lot of the buzz was about Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U and the 3DS, which we discussed last time.

They provided more details about the use of GameCube controllers and Super Smash Bros. The adapter by itself will be available for a suggested retail price of $19.99. It’ll allow up to four wired or wireless GameCube controllers to be attached to the Wii U.

gamecube adapter smash bros

The company is keeping mum about whether it’ll just work with the handheld GameCube controller, or whether it’d make all GameCube controllers like the CyberBike, DDR Game Pad, Active Life Game Pad compatible as well. It also hasn’t officially mentioned compatibility with games other than Super Smash Bros (although I’d be shocked if they didn’t make it compatible with Virtual Console games). So far, they’ve only officially announced that it’ll work with one controller and game: the classic GameCube handheld controller playing the new Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

[UPDATE: as of 7/16/14, a few retailers like Best Buy have published updated product copy that states things like "Play a variety of games on your Wii U using your classic GameCube controller" and "Play your favorite Wii U games with the controller experience you know and love". Whether this is a little bit of advanced insider knowledge or a low-level copywriters making stuff up, time will tell. It's a shame we have to play this guessing game, but something tells me that Nintendo themselves are still figuring this stuff out as we speak as well...]

The official launch date for this adapter in North America has still not been confirmed, although they do say to expect it in “4th Quarter 2014″. You can pre-order it at Amazon for $19.99. If the price drops between now and then Amazon will refund the difference.

gamecube controllers on wii u

There will also be a $99.99 bundle that includes a copy of Super Smash Bros, a brand new GameCube controller with the Super Smash Bros. branding, and the adapter.

From the photos it looks like it’ll take up two of your four precious USB ports on the Wii U, so if you have things like a USB drive and an Ethernet adapter installed, you’re going to start feeling a little squeezed. But a good USB Hub should serve you well if you want to add additional things like a keyboard or a microphone.

Fingers still crossed that the GameCube adapter will bring all those old peripherals to life. Nintendo certainly needs all the help it can get to get old Wii users to make the jump to the Wii U, especially since publishers like Namco Bandai, Konami, and Big Ben seem to have all but abandoned the idea of active gaming with the Wii U.

Gamecube Controller to Wii U adapter from Nintendo is coming 01.06.14

h/t to Jayne for this news :)

So it turns out for the release of Smash Bros, Nintendo will be releasing its own Gamecube Controller-to-Wii U adapter, as they just announced on their Twitter feed.

Interestingly, this announcement took just about everyone by surprise. Everyone had pretty much written off Nintendo’s support of the old Gamecube controllers since they ripped out support from the last version of the Wii and all Wii Us. Mayflash had made a valiant attempt to come up with a converter, but as we concluded here, their attempt fell short.

Could this mean that all your old GameCube controllers, such as the Cyberbike, the DDR dance pad, the Active Life gamepad, might have new life on the Wii U? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Nintendo hasn’t released any other information other than this teaser, so it’s not clear yet whether these will be available to be purchased at retail, bundled with Super Smash Bros for the Wii U, or otherwise. I’ll put up an update once they announce that.

With this announcement, as well as Nintendo’s generous free game promotion for purchasers of Mario Kart 8, it’s clear that Nintendo is trying to use its popular old franchises to try to entice old owners of the Wii to upgrade to the Wii U. We’ll see if they do.

Mario Kart 8 Is Coming 11.05.14

One exciting piece of news to come out from Nintendo is the upcoming launch of Mario Kart 8 on May 30.

It’s no secret that sales of the Wii U have been moribund. But if there’s ever been a game launch that might help revitalize console sales, this is it. Early indications are that Mario Kart 8 is going to be a hit. The Nintendo Store in NY tweeted that they’d have a limited edition version of the game for sale. I went in to the store the next day, and they already sold out of all their inventory.

I was a bit aggravated, as I work only two blocks from the store and should have gone in earlier in the day. But que sera sera. I ended up pre-ordering it on Amazon.

An added bonus (and why I predict this game is going to sell out quickly) is that if you register your game on Club Nintendo between May 30 and July 31, not only do you get Club Nintendo points for the game, you’ll also receive a download code for one of four great games: Pikmin 3, Super Mario Bros U, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Walker, or Wii Party U.

What, pray tell, does this have to do with Wii exercise? Well, for one thing, since Wii Fit U there hasn’t been a whole lot to report on, not just with Wii exercise but with the Wii U in general. I’ve been using Wii Fit U pretty regularly, and always have my Wii Fit Meter on, but other than that there’s not much to report.

But the thing I’m looking forward to is dusting off the old Cyberbike and the Mayflash adapter and seeing if I can squeeze a little bit more utility out of that.

I’ll report on my findings here. In the meantime, if you’re in the market for a Cyberbike,

you should still be able to find some used ones floating around on eBay. But hold off until my post in a few weeks, where I’ll let you know if it was worth it or not!

Review of Zumba Kids for Wii 15.04.14

It’s funny how time changes things. A few years ago, it seems that every time you turned around another company was spewing out another exergaming title for the Wii, and Microsoft and Sony couldn’t wait to get in on the action. These days, it seems that interest has waned to the point where I’m only reviewing one Wii game every few months.

Sadly, I don’t think it’s because there’s a lack of interest in the genre among us enthusiasts. The bigger problem is that back in the days when exergaming was hyped up so much, so many of the titles were just lackluster “me too” titles that game publishers pushed out to cash in. Sure, there were the occasional ones that bucked the trend like EA Sports Fitness and Wii Fit, but those were the exception.

Zumba Kids was a game that was released in December 2013. You can tell from the amount of time it took me to review it that I wasn’t necessarily knocking down any doors to play it. And surely enough, after playing it, as I suspected there really wasn’t anything new.

When you start Zumba kids, you see a splash screen with three kids in colorful outfits. Most of the dancers in the videos, not surprisingly, are kids who do a pretty good job as junior Zumba instructors.

Once you press “A” to start, the game has four menu options:

– Quick Play
– Full Party
– My Zumba
– Options

Select Quick Play and you can scroll through the song choices. A preview of each song will play as you hover over it.

One interesting thing to not is that ALL songs are labeled as “medium intensity”. When they produced this game, they eliminated a lot of the most complex dance moves, as well as a lot of the more “suggestive” moves you might see in adult Zumba. That said, there are some parents who might still consider the moves here too “suggestive”. I won’t get into that discussion here, other than to say that if you’re a parent considering buying this, just watch some of the videos below and decide for yourself what is age-appropriate for your kids. The good news is that from a lyrics perspective, none of the songs seem to be as “controversial” as the playlists that Just Dance for grown-ups has.

You can choose from a different venues in the background: Los Angeles (pink), Caribbean (red), Brazil (green), Europe (blue), Hawaii (orange). As with the adult version of Zumba Fitness, the playlist is comprised of selections from each geographical location, making for a pretty diverse list.

Here’s a list of the songs, their medium intensity, their dance style, and the venue:

123 Shake – Medium Intensity – hip hop – Los Angeles
Baila Pa Emociona – Medium Intensity – Soca – Carribbean
Beauty and a Beat – Medium Intensity – Hip Hop – Los Angeles
Boogie Wonderland – Medium Intensity – Disco – Los Angeles
Barnaval, carnaval – Medium Intensity – Samba – Brazil
Beltic morning – Medium Intensity – Irish Dance – Europe
Clap, Stomp, Jump – Medium Intensity – Hip Hop – Brazil
Dance, Dance, Dance – Medium Intensity – Hip Hop – Brazil
El Batazo – Medium Intensity – Hip Hop – Brazil
Fireball – Medium Intensity – Hip Hop – Los Angeles
Fish & Poi – Medium Intensity – Hawaiian Reggae – Hawaii
Fur Elise – Medium Intensity – Ballet – Europe
I Like to Move It – Medium Intensity – Hip Hop – Hawaii
Jala Ke Jala – Medium Intensity – Latin Pop – Puerto Rico
La Cachumbalera – Medium Intensity – Cumbia – Carribbean
La Gallina – Medium Intensity – Cumbia – Caribbean
Lento – Medium Intensity – Hip Hop – Puerto Rico
maue Soca – Medium Intensity – Soca – Puerto Rico
Miss Fusion – Medium Intensity – African/Soca – Europe
Mr. Fusion – Medium Intensity – Sino/Bollywood – Europe
Otea Tahiti – Medium Intensity – Tahitian/Samoan – Hawaii
Oye Como Va – FAmily Jam – Salsa – Puerto Rico
Queibra as Cadiera – Medium Intensity – Axe – Brazil
Quiero – Medium Intensity – Rock and Roll – Puerto Rico
Say Hey (I Love You) – Family Jam – Pop/Reggae / Carribbean
Spread Love – Medium Intensity – Hip Hop – Los Angeles
Swing Thing – Medium Intensity – Swing – Europe
Tutuki – Medium Intensity – Tahitian – Hawaii
Wipe Out – Medium Intensity – Surf Rock – Hawaii
Zumbazoka – Medium Intensity – Techo Soca – Carribbean

You can choose Zumba Routines or Freestyle Mode.

Zumba Routines work just like the grown-up version, where an on-screen dancer will demonstrate choreographed moves and you need to “mirror” them. One difference between this game and Zumba Fitness is that instead of putting your Wii remote in a Zumba belt, you hold it in your right hand just like Just Dance.

As you can see “Medium Intensity” doesn’t get into very intricate footwork or arm movements. This is good in some ways—kids will just get frustrated trying to follow choreography that’s too complex. But I think it backfires in other ways. From an energy perspective, kids have so much of it to burn, so these routines might get boring for some of them. That said, if they string together a bunch of them, there’ll still be some decent cardio benefit.

As with the adult Zumba game, each time the system detects that you’ve hit a move perfectly it’ll award points and flash the word “Zumba” on the screen.

One thing I noticed is that the tracking was simply not very accurate. I danced these videos virtually perfectly, but as many times as I tried it the system would never award me more than 2 or 3 stars in most cases.

I tried everything, even to the point of getting on my knees to simulate more of the height of a kid playing the game. Taking a cue from adult Zumba fitness, I even held the remote upside-down. Believe it or not, once I did these two things I started getting much better scores.

I suspect a lot of parents won’t mind poor motion tracking, as a lot of kids are happy just to be jumping around and won’t be paying too much attention to how high their scores are. Still, given that this is something Ubisoft figured out a long time ago, I only wish that the developers of this game were as detail-oriented.

“Freestyle” mode was a weird one. You can select any song, but you won’t see dancers on the screen. Instead, as the music plays you’ll see an on-screen meter that gauges how strenuous your activity is. Fill the meter, and you’ll see paint blotches and strokes appearing on the screen. Along the way there’ll be mini-games, such as having to “freeze” completely for a period of time and “coloring in” different pictures, all controlled by waggling the Wii remote. Clearly this was made for very young players who might otherwise feel “left out” when the bigger kids are dancing to the choreography, but I personally didn’t find either the features nor the execution particularly intriguing.

The “full party” option is basically the same as a regular Zumba “class” on the adult version, where you can play a string of songs spanning a certain number of minutes. It consists of three categories of menu options.

short (20 minutes) – 10 classes
medium (45 minutes) mini games – 10 classes first 5 have mini games
full (60 minutes) – mini games all 10 classes
custom class – make your own playlist

I tried a class and *finally* scored a 5 of 5 stars with a ballet routine, of all things.

I did like that the music and choreography was more “kid friendly”. In fact, throwing in choreography like the one simulating ballet and the other simulating Irish Dance is a decent way to introduce kids to all kinds of dancing.

That said, while this wasn’t a horrible title, but it also didn’t really add much we haven’t seen a million times before. There’s no excuse for spotty motion tracking these days, and some of the “extra features” such as “freestyle mode” seemed almost thrown in without very much thought. I’d give it 3 of 5 stars; probably not worth a purchase unless you happen to be a Zumba enthusiast and your kids are interested in following in your footsteps (literally).

Rating: 3 of 5 stars.

Wii Fit Meters under $10 at NewEgg #wiifitu 10.04.14

Here’s a great deal–NewEgg has standalone Wii Fit Meters for $9.99 right now. These are great if you’re looking to purchase the downloadable version of Wii Fit U, or if you need additional meters to track friends or family (or put one on the dog’s collar for some really interesting stats).

The meter usually goes for $20, so this is a great deal if you’re looking to stock up on them. They’re the black version of the meter, not the green version you’ll get in the packaged versions of the game. But hurry–this one won’t last long!