Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Video game number three hundred and fifty two: Zumba Fitness

Video game review number three hundred and fifty two in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Zumba Fitness".

I decided to kick off the morning with a little video game Fitness. I hadn't tried Zumba yet, but it's supposed to be a dance based workout, so I figured it was at least worth a try. When you boot the game, your ears are assaulted with the catchiest salsa theme song you've ever heard. People like to say "Salsa".

Apparently, the theme song (and the dances themselves) will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched (or participated) in a Zumba fitness class. If you're like me, you were never actually aware of such a thing, and when you heard the name "Zumba", you instantly thought of "Zuma", a puzzle game involving multi-colored jewel matching. My wife let me know that this game was a "real thing", which somehow made it more interesting to me.

My first impression was that the menus are absolute garbage, and getting to a point where you can play the game is incredibly frustrating. I'm intimately familiar with hundreds (if not thousands) of gaming menus, so I was able to do this...but later this evening, when my wife was booting up the game to give it a try herself, she was stuck.

The interface for Zumba is probably the most unnatural one I've seen for Kinect yet, and it makes you want to SCREAM for a controller to navigate your way around. It's not set up intuitively, and the motion controls are ass. As far as Kinect goes, Heather has only played Dance Central and Your Shape Fitness by herself so far, and she's had an easy time with those. Walking into the world of Zumba Fitness is like entering a foreign country, where nothing is quite the way you expect it to be, and you don't speak the language.

I heard her complaining and came out into the living room to help her get a game setup. I could hear her getting vocally frustrated with how hard the stupid menus were to navigate through, and I flashed back to my own experience with the game this morning. "Just let me play the game already!" pretty much summed up her thoughts on the ordeal. If Zumba was trying to capture the kind of gamer who might actually know what "Zumba" is and might be excited about playing it...they have failed miserably.

Anyway, back to me. This morning, I grumbled my way through the menus and set up a character. There weren't near as many options as Your Shape Fitness (all you can really enter about yourself is your age), and I thought that was strange for a workout game. I started the tutorials, and they seemed to be dance lessons. The dancing was incredibly hard.

Unlike Dance Central, they expect you to just "know" how to dance, and the moves are incredibly fast paced. Fortunately (I suppose) unlike Dance Central, the scoring seems really loose. I can't dance at all, and I certainly wasn't following the moves 100% accurately, but somehow I managed to pass the lessons.

I started a 20 minute workout...which was basically 6 or maybe 7 songs. During that time, the announcer fed me all sorts of nonsense that had nothing to do with my actual performance.

"You're doing great!" it would say, after I KNEW I had just messed something up.

During the workout itself, there isn't really a "Score" so to speak, but there is a progress bar...and mine seemed to be filling up no matter how well or how badly I thought I was doing The entire workout consists of following the onscreen dance moves of someone who is a much better dancer than you are, and honestly...I didn't feel like what I was doing mattered that much. By the end of the match, I had achieved a score of 385. I'm not sure how good that was, but that was my score. No calories burned, no progress simply told me how long I had danced, and asked if I wanted to dance again. I did not.

Overall Score? 3/10. This is an awful "game", that barely feels interactive at all. If you're a big Zumba fan, maybe you'll want it...but it won't be much different than dancing along with the TV. This game can automatically track how many days you play it (on a workout calendar), and that might be the only feature worth using. Everything else is just confusing fluff. Your Shape Fitness is a FAR better game...and after 20 minutes of Zumba, I went back to Your Shape and played for 30 or so.

Achievements? These are fucking ridiculous. Half of the achievements are almost impossible to get, and I'm convinced that whoever came up with these was severely delusional regarding the kind of person that might be playing this game.

Before we get into the achievements I got, I'd like to call out a few I did not (and will never) get.

For a moment, let's pretend I really liked this game. No matter how much I REALLY like it, would I really play it on 100 different days? That's more than I've played any video game I owned, including Call of Duty and Halo. Eventually, most workouts (even the ones you love) end up becoming boring, but apparently, the game designers think you need to play this one at least 100 times if you want all the gamerscore. F that.

Next up, we have:

Good fucking luck. I tried to dance online with someone, and I couldn't find any matches. I started my own match and no one joined. There are achievements for dancing with 50 people and with 100 people...and I can't even find one. I'm not sure how these could EVER be achieved.


30 days in a row? Really? All you need to do is have a life, and it would be nearly impossible not to break your streak. I almost want to try this one, just to see if I can do it...except...I don't really like Zumba at all, and the idea that I'd need to play it 30 days straight (which would take me into January of next month) just annoys me.

I'm not even sure I ever want to play this game again...but here are the achievements I earned while I was playing:

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