With the success of Wii Fit, we're beginning to see a steady increase in fitness-style game releases on the various consoles. With Move support rapidly growing in popularity among Playstation 3 owners, it was only a matter of time before the craze would hit the console and this time it's in the form of a dancing workout release. Of course the ultimate question will inevitably be, can the Move controller strapped to a person's waist offer up enough movement feedback to be able to calculate how accurately the players are mimicking the game's dance routines? And is that enough incentive to keep players coming back for more?
The overall premise of Zumba Fitness is to allow the player to tackle dance routine challenges as a means to get them to exercise and lose weight. Your ultimate goal is to mimic the dance moves of the computer-generated dancers in an effort to fill up your energy gauge. If you're able to fill your gauge up enough, you'll be able to complete the challenge and move on to more difficult and strenuous routines.
The game allows the ability for up to four players to take part in the experience. As a single player experience, you can tackle the Zumba Party mode, where you'll be able to progressively work your way through the various classes. Zumba Class and Single Routine allow you to select from a wide range of individual routines of varying length and difficulty to take on if you're looking for a quick way to get into the exercises. There's even a Workout Calendar and Journal for setting up your daily workouts and keeping track of your progress and weight loss, for those who use that as their incentive.
If you're feeling like some company, there are two ways to go about it. You can play the various game modes with additional players, even competing head-to-head against other players in challenge-based routines where you try to outperform your opponent and fill your energy gauge up to a higher level than theirs. If you don't have anyone on hand to exercise with, you can even use the game's Online Zumba Session to start your own exercise group or join in someone else's already in progress.
You can appreciate the idea behind Zumba Fitness, as dancing has long been considered one of the best ways to exercise and get in shape. The problem lies with the minimal use of the Playstation Move controller in gauging how accurately your able to mimic the CPU dancer's movements. In truth, you can basically just swing the Move controller around in your hand and actually gain energy and praise from the game much faster than actually trying to authentically keep up with the dancers, a sure sign that Move interaction between you and the game proves to be more for show than any type of realistic play controls.
Much like the actual play control system, the visual presentation in the game is every bit as minimal. While you'll be able to unlock some different dance studios, the basic overall look of the game and its dancers varies little throughout the package. The dancers are very realistic in their design and dance animations, but it's a small bright spot in an otherwise mediocre visual performance.
If there's one highlight to the game it would have to be the game's soundtrack. There's some extremely well composed music throughout the game, not to mention an impressive variety of musical styles. You'll hear everything from Salsa to Reggaeton and pretty much everything in between as you make your way through the various challenges. The only downside to this is that you can't help but wish the developers had spent more time on the other lagging areas of the game as they did the audio package.
Zumba Fitness basically ends up being a unique idea that fails to take advantage of the Playstation Move's motion sensing controls. In truth the interaction between the game and the motion controls is streaky at best and thus turns the overall experience into little more than you'd be able to get from a $5 dancing fitness DVD. Given the fairly limited feedback and almost no game-based incentive to follow the rules, it's difficult to understand why anyone would want to shell out full price for the package, let alone stick with it for more than a few minutes before losing interest altogether.