Since the early 1980's, Fitness games have been an integral part of the games industry but only since the advent of more modern technology has the genre really been able to flourish. Gone are the days of watching and pausing VHS tapes of your favourite Z-list Celebrity, now you can indulge in countless hours of fitness/based waggling and hand gesturing. A key part of this area of gaming has been the less obvious fitness side, which is the dancing game. More recent games like Dance Central has ushered in so many refinements and additions to a fairly rigid formula. So where does this leave Zumba Fitness - Core for Kinect?
For the uninitiated, Zumba started in the 1990s but has only recently become a more mainstream thing. Millions and millions of people take Zumba classes, so it was only natural that games would also focus around this popular dancing pastime. From the outset, the game i.e. the back of the box, tries to inform you about the wonderful possibilities within the game and the joys of learning Zumba but the stark reality that confronts you is that the game is really not suited for beginners.
This isn’t that the game is too hard, but it’s the approach to the tutorial to explain what you can do is woefully lacking. If you are just thinking about getting into Zumba but don't really want the nerves associated with public classes, then a game sounds like the best idea right? Unfortunately the game does not feel that friendly to beginners. Part of the issues do stem from the controls, and this time its really not the Kinect's fault!
As mentioned in the outset, Dance Central has done some great things for dancing games and overall Kinect usage, especially when it comes to menu layout and how we get around those menus. Zumba Fitness – Core feels more like a Kinect launch title in terms of its Kinect Integration. Motion control is there, but it is super twitchy. You have to quickly navigate a menu, else the game thinks you want something else. Voice control is rudimentary at best and it only seems to work when it wants to. Since Zumba is a dance focused thing, then you would hope that the dancing part of the game is excellent. Sadly, it is pretty basic and does a poor job of feeding back your skill, or lack of skill, as you progress.
The main question people have when it comes to fitness games is “Does it actually work?” Zumba Fitness – Core seems to suit people who actually attend Zumba classes and who want to extend their training beyond their weekly classes. The game does cover all of the regular Zumba bases, including a variety of musical tracks and dance moves for you to practice. Again, for the untrained Zumbie the game will help to reinforce much of what you will learn in real lessons and then help you practice them in your own time.
From the outside, you can choose single tracks of variety intensities, or you can got for various timed lessons. This can be a little problematic since the majority of tracks are set to high intensity, so if you wish to explode with Zumba joy, then feel free to jump in, but the option of a custom class is also there for those that don't wish to detonate all over the living room. It is a shame that the game does not pre-start you with some basic sets to ease yourself in and learn the basics.
So, is the game all bad? Actually no. After testing it on a small group of Zumbies, they all agreed it was very entertaining and gave them something else to do outside of their lessons. It matches the intensity of real lessons and the ability to custom make a lesson also feels much like a regular class, but they all agreed that it does not really suit someone who wants to try Zumba for the first time. So if you dabble in the Zumba arts from time to time, Zumba Fitness – Core is a perfect game to compliment your normal lessons and for getting your gamer friends to laugh at you.