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Review of Zumba Fitness World Party for the Wii

zumba fitness world partyZumba Fitness World Party is the latest version of Zumba Fitness to hit the Wii (for those keeping score, the other versions have been Zumba Fitness, Zumba Fitness 2, and Zumba Fitness Core. This review is for the Wii version, but I’ll follow up with a separate review on the Wii U version.

When you start the game, you’ll see a video of Beto, Priscilla Satori, Gina Grant, Loretta Bates, Peter Lee, Nick Logrea, Melissa Cruz, Heidi Torres, Armando Salcedo, Kass Martin, Eric Aglia, and Dr. B and the Bhenga Bros dancing in locations around the world. It’s a great way to introduce you to both the instructors and the locales you’ll be encountering in the game.

The options on the main menu are:

  • World Tour
  • Full Class
  • Quick Play
  • My Zumba
  • Options

When you select World Tour, you first select your profile. It took me a few tries to realize that I had to click on the small round icon next to “profile” to create a new one.

For your profile, you enter your name, date of birth, gender, weight, and height in inches.¬†Whoever designed the interface for this thing needs to go back to user experience design class. You’re limited to seven characters for your name, you need to enter your height in inches (not feet and inches), and inexplicably, to change your weight or height you can’t just hover over up and down arrow buttons and press the button nor even use the arrow keys–you need to position your cursor over a tiny area and click, click, click for every pound or inch you want to add. It would have been nice if, like on Wii Fit, it let you use the Balance Board to check your weight, and it gave you the option to hide your weight from prying eyes.

In fact, this will be a recurring theme throughout the review: navigating through all the menus can be a chore, as you need to be oh-so-precise with your Wii remote.

Once you get started, you then see another video of montages of different cities around the world. Then a Welcome message:

Welcome to the Zumba Fitness World Tour! Earn Zumba Miles to unlock new songs in each destination. Collect postcards and souvenirs from these exotic locations!

The areas of the “world” you’ll be visiting include Brazil, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, India, Los Angeles, and Puerto Rico. When you visit each part of the world, the playlist reflects the music of that region, which is pretty cool. Here are the songs in each region, along with the genres and exercise intensity:

Brazil (Afro Samba, Capoeira, Brazilian Funk, Samba, Axe, Brazillian Pop, Reggae)

  • Na Ponta Do Pe – Medium Intensity
  • Batucada Dance – High Intensity
  • Garota Nacional – Medium Intensity
  • Ruas Encantadas – High Intensity
  • Coisa Brasileira – Medium Intensity
  • Mas Que Nada – High Intensity

Caribbean (Dance Hall, Cumbia, Calypso, Reggae)

  • Vibes – Warm Up
  • Marioneta – Medium Intensity
  • Loco – Medium Intensity
  • Caribbean Dream – Medium Intensity
  • Pega Pega – Medium Intensity
  • True to Myself – Cool Down

Europe (Irish Step, EDM, Burlesque, Russian Folk, Flamenco)

  • Clarity – Warm Up
  • The Beggerman Jig – High Intensity
  • Una De Salao – Medium Intensity
  • Russian Dances – High Intensity
  • Put the Gun Down – High Intensity

Hawaii (Hawaiian Pop, Traditional Hula, Modern Tahitian, Hawaiian Reggae)

  • Maoli Girl – Low Intensity
  • Haleiwa Hula – Low Intensity
  • 1865 (95 Degrees…) – Low Intensity
  • Jungle – High Intensity

India (Bollywood)

  • Mashallah – Medium Intensity
  • Indian Moonshine – High Intensity
  • Boro Boro – High Intensity
  • Kaim Rahe Sardari – High Intensity

Los Angeles (Pop, Hip-Hop, Swing, Blues)

  • Beam Me Up – Warm Up
  • Born This Way – Medium Intensity
  • Shake Your Hips – High Intensity
  • Next to Me – Cool Down
  • Exotic – Medium Intensity
  • Puttin’ on the Ritz – High Intensity
  • Do You Feel Like Moving? – High Intensity
  • Came Here to Party – High Intensity

Puerto Rico (Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Latin Pop, Reggaeton, Girly Funk, Bomba/Plena)

  • Limbo – Medium Intensity
  • Bailando Por Ahi – Medium Intensity
  • Echa Pa’lla – Medium Intensity
  • Corazoncito Bonito – Low Intensity
  • Perros Salvajes – High Intensity
  • Aguanile – Medium Intensity
  • Zumba Boricua – HIgh Intensity

For each country, you earn “Zumba Miles” for dancing to the first two songs, and then use those to unlock subsequent songs.

During the course of the “World Tour” you’ll unlock “passport stamps”, “souvenirs”, and “postcards” as you dance. There’s really not much challenge to earning these–just dance with some semblance of accuracy and throughout your dances you’ll see these goodies awarded to you every couple of seconds.

To get started, you first put your Wii remote into your Zumba Fitness Belt, which is included with the game. There’s nothing really special about this belt other than having the Zumba logo on it, it’s just a piece of flimsy plastic with a pocket that your put the Wii remote in. If you’re playing a used or rented copy and don’t have the belt, don’t worry, all you need to do is find a way to strap the Wii remote to your right hip, for example, using an old belt, a right pocket, or even just wedging it under a tight waistband. There are also options you can buy on Amazon. The key is to put the remote “up-side up” so that the power button is closest to your face and the “A” button is facing towards the TV.

Next comes the dancing. You’ll see a street scene from the area of the world you’ve visiting, and a Zumba instructor will be in the center of the screen. As with all these kinds of games you’ll need to mimic his or her moves as if you’re looking in a mirror. You’ll also see a running count of the “Zumba Miles” you earn.

You’ll also see a number of attractive professional Zumba dancers dancing along; the better you dance, the more Zumba dancers will join in. In a clever touch of humor and realism, in some scenes you’ll also see a crowd of “amateur” Zumba dancers in the background who like you and me may not exactly be following the moves correctly (but like you and me, are trying their best).

As with other games of this ilk, you’ll also see an animated preview of the next dance move that’s coming in a postage stamp-sized window in the upper right-hand corner. I didn’t find this very helpful, as it didn’t really break down the moves for me, but as I play the game more I can see how this can be helpful in anticipating the next moves.

Unlike previous versions of Zumba Fitness, instead of an animated cartoon figure or a faceless silhouette, you’ll see the actual video image of the instructor. This makes it a whole lot easier to pick out the moves they’re doing, and is a lot more like a realistic Zumba session than ever before.

When you hit a right moves, you’ll see the words “Zumba!”, “Nice!” or “Hot!” appear on the screen, and the more precisely you dance, the more stars you earn. They did a pretty good job with motion tracking–as an experiment I just sat on the couch and waggled my remote to coincide with the music, but the system did a pretty good job of not rewarding me.

On the other hand, the scoring is pretty lenient as long as you’re “close” to the right moves. If you just go through the motions (literally), you’ll easily earn 4 or 5 out of 5 stars. So you’re kind of under the “honor system” to really put your all into the dancing and to try to really put the precise technique into practice each time you play. There isn’t an option to “break down” each song to really learn them, so you’ll need to learn them by practicing repeatedly and by mastering the basic steps in the dance tutorial (which I’ll describe below).

With the World Tour, you have to dance all the songs in your country in quick succession. In another bit of a user interface annoyance, you get only about half a second when you’re between songs to look at a screen showing how many songs you’ve played in the round, how many rewards you earned, and how many Zumba miles you’ve collected. Blink and you’ll miss it. It would have been nice for them to allow you to pause and read this screen, but perhaps they deliberately designed it so that you have to go to the next song immediately to keep your cardio going.

The “Full Class” option is more like a traditional Zumba class where you can choose one of 15 Short Classes (between 9 and 22 minutes), one of 15 Medium Classes (each about 40 minutes), one of 15 Full Length Classes (about 60 minutes each), or your own custom class. In the Full Classes, you basically dance to songs in the playlist continuously until the time is up. Your star rating will appear under each class, so if you don’t hit five stars, you’ll have incentive to go and play the class again.

With “Quick Play“, you can jump in and start dancing to any of the 40 songs.

My Zumba” lets you view your progress. You can see how many days you’ve been playing and get weekly reports on the amount of time you’ve played, the calories you’ve burned, the number of sets you’ve danced. You can also set goals for yourself and view the bonus videos, levels, and awards you’ve unlocked.

You can also view your postcards (signed by Zumba instructors standing in front of scenes from the different countries) and souvenirs (photos of cultural trinkets and knickknacks) in your “World Scrapbook”.

This section also has “Learn the Steps” where you can choose a dance style, basic step, and speed and master it. As I mentioned before, there’s no training option where they break down each individual song, but by mastering the basic steps for each song you’ll basically be able to tie them together when dancing the full songs. In yet another minor annoyance with the user interface design, you can’t use the arrow keys on the Wii remote to change steps or speed–you have to take the remote out, press the + button, point it at the screen to make your new selection, and replace it.

Here are the Dance Styles and Steps you’ll be able to practice:

  • Axe Samba – Basic Samba, Samba Box
  • Bollywood – Basic Bollywood Step, Step Together Cross Arms
  • Brazilian Funk – Booty Pop, In-Game Step
  • Burlesque – Hip Up and Down, Throw Arms
  • Capoiera – Balanco, Ginga
  • Cumbia – Front and Back, Sleepy Leg
  • Hip Hop – Cat Daddy, In-Game Step
  • Hula – Kaholo, Umi
  • Irish Step – Cross Over Leg, Knee In and Up
  • Merengue – 6 Count, Pas De Bouree
  • Pop – Booty 180, Kick Ball Change
  • Reggaeton – In-Game Step, Knee Lift
  • Salsa – In-Game Step, Side Step

My impression of Zumba World Class is pretty much the same as my reviews of past Zumba games. It’s quite literally the next best thing if you can’t make it to a real Zumba class. You get instruction from the top Zumba dancers in the world, you get 40 great songs to dance to, and you can dance any time of the day or night.

There are some minor annoyances in the game. There’s no excuse for still having such a poor user interface after so many releases. And anyone who’s a stickler for accurate and precise motion tracking in a game may be a bit disappointed.

Still, as before, if you’re a Zumba enthusiast, chances are you’ll be very happy with this one. The live action video dancing is an excellent new feature, and the new “world travel theme” that really provides incentives for you to keep dancing. Very highly recommended for Zumba fans; for those just looking for exercise and fitness I’d still give the edge to a game like Wii Fit U or Your Shape 2013.

 

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