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Zumba Fitness 2 - Wii Review

Game Info
Zumba Fitness 2

Wii | Majesco / Zoe Mode | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote; Zumba Fitness Belt
Related Game: Zumba Fitness 
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7th February 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

Because of the underlying issues I had with the original game, I was no longer sure how to view the concept of a Zumba game. Despite the controls preventing it from achieving widespread critical success, this didn't stop Zumba Fitness from becoming a hit. It was only a matter of time before Zumba Fitness 2 was announced, and when it was first unveiled, I was very interested to see how the sequel would turn out. Early screenshots actually had me hopeful that the developers were going all-out to make sure this was an effort they could be proud of. There's no denying that there was more work put into this new release, but was that enough?

    Just like before, the game comes included with a Zumba Fitness Belt, and for owners of the original title, what this now means is you now have the ability to play multiplayer more readily. In terms of mode selection, you can choose Single Song to select from the track list and just jum into the experience, or select Full Class for a non-stop progression across varying lengths of time. Learn the Steps has carried over from the original and still serves as the practice area. This time, though, you don't have evaluations to indicate how you're doing as you try to learn from the on-screen instructor.

    One notable change this time around has to do with the Progress Tracker mode. It's true that this still mainly functions as a display area for personal improvement, but this feature now has a new, secondary purpose. It seems like Ubisoft and Majesco were on the same wavelength, because both in this game and in Just Dance 3, they've made it so that Stars players earn actually mean something beyond bragging rights. In playing the game again and again, you can gradually unlock new stages, awards, and other things like behind-the-scenes artwork (presented in the form of a semi-professional video).

In the eyes of the developer, another major improvement made in this sequel is the inclusion of recognizable tracks. Popular songs featured include Pitbull's "Pause" and "We Speak No Americano" by Yolanda Be Cool & DCup. Aside from these, you also have your usual latin-inspired tracks with percussion and stringed instruments in the background to keep with the overall infectious theme of the game.

    I was pleased to see the developers saw reason to have more of a Hip Hop presence this time around. This doesn't take up a major part of the track list, but the fact that they've included these songs at all is great. "I Know You Like It" was just one of the highlights for me. There's even an R&B ballad called "I'm Going On" -- a rather surprising choice for a game like this, but still quite welcome. Or at least, that's what I thought when I first read the description. The routine just consisted of stretching exercises with absolutely no indication that that was the purpose behind this song.

    Compared to the first game, I could tell the developer­­­­­­s put in a lot more effort into the making of Zumba Fitness 2, and this is best exemplified by the greatly improved presentation values. Beyond just the environments looking a lot more fleshed out and inviting, nothing about it appears choppy or even remotely sloppy. Good performances will trigger multiple effects to do with the stage lighting and other flashy elements. Along with this, the camera will zoom in on the on-screen dancer and activate a blur effect, terming this special event as "Euphoria". These abrupt presentation changes can disrupt the player's vision as new patterns are introduced to a routine, but the overall look is definitely commendable. The only thing I didn't like were the character intros at the start. Seeing them appeal to the crowd every single time is just plain annoying. This isn't a soccer game for goodness sake! Aside from that, the developers did a job well done in this department.

The developers did not forget what gave the original title substance despite the issues that were present, and thankfully they've retained the challenge factor. The routines are very involved with choreography that will make you feel like you're getting real hands-on training from an expert instructor. The visual cues in the top right corner don't always prepare you for everything that's coming up, which isn't a bad thing. The game loves to integrate variations on the same patterns rather unexpectedly as a routine plays out. This serves a twofold purpose of minimizing repetition and making sure players are engaged at all times. The moves they gradually add in take the form of slight tweaks on the required footing, or even hand movements that may incorporate some boxing moves.

    As much as I'd love to go on about how great the game is, this is the part where I stop praising the game and address some legitimate concerns. First and foremost, I have to say the developers made an oversight in their explanation of how to play the game. I found there was conflicting information on how to play properly between what was stated in the manual versus what you were told on some of the loading screens. There was an early point in my experience with the game where ­the controls weren't picking up my movements at all, with a single evaluation appearing in a session that lasted about 10 minutes long. To get the most out of the experience, you need to place on your right hip with the Wii Remote facing up (not down), but the instructions needed to be made more clear to avoid any kind of confusion.

Unlike in the first title where flawed controls sometimes stemmed from a lack of movement recognition, when you play Zumba Fitness 2 the way you're supposed to, you won't encounter situations where you do movements correctly and aren't given points for it. In that sense, the controls appear to have been refined. Furthermore, I'm pleased to see that can't just play with the Wii Remote and swing it around; the belt really is indeed a required component to play the game. That doesn't mean I'm letting the developers off the hook for the control scheme through.

    Although at first glance it may not appear this way, the revamped system still doesn't work great at all. Even if you don't perform a movement perfectly, many times you'll still be awarded a "Zumba" rating; yes, the system once again fails to give players any semblance of accuracy to rely on. I really didn't feel comfortable being called a "Zumba Legend" and earning such a high score when I know I did not do that well. I even found a loophole where you can stand in place and repeatedly jerk your knees forward and you'll be awarded Zumba scores like crazy. It's really hard to get around a system that doesn't help validate the concept behind this being a "game" and further exemplifies how much players are expected to grin and bear it.

    In viewing the Results screen, seeing the number of calories you've burned may not be totally off, but just seeing the word "Technique" here really bothered me because it doesn't mean what it should. There's still a nagging concern about relying on the evaluation system as a reliable indicator of one's progress in the game, and that's not a good thing for something that's designed as a fitness program. Because goal-oriented players don't have that welcoming environment where they can set benchmarks to strive for, what really counts (i.e., progress) means squat when there's no reliable method of judging skill and improvement. The resulting effect has players pretending to care about scores they inwardly aren't attached to. 

Sometimes the game can be almost negligent of the very target they're aiming at, as evidenced by the menu navigation. You aren't able to use the D-Pad to scroll through options and must instead use the point-and-click method, which becomes a nuisance whenever you pause the game. The whole sequence of having to pull your controller out of the belt to select options on the Pause Menu, and then to be instantly shot back into the experience before you can even readjust the belt is hardly intuitive. Yet another surprising oversight.

    How you feel about the game depends so much on how you want to look at it, and if we're being completely realistically here, the target audience Majesco had in mind for this project probably won't care all that much. Viewing it like a program, it functions the way you want it to, which leads me to believe Zumba Fitness 2 will still earn an abundance of praises from casual users. Guest players will be perfectly content with dancing on their own terms without using the controller at all, and therein lies the problem with justifying this as a game. Couple this with the flawed controls and evaluation system, and this might as well be an exercise DVD. I always give praise where it is due, and it bears repeating that what the developers did to make the visual presentation more appealing has definitely made a difference. But despite these and other positive attributes, at the end of the day, I'm still left questioning the validity of this game altogether. 

    It's too bad the gameplay isn't up to snuff, because had it not been for the questionable controls and a couple other seemingly minor things, Zumba Fitness 2 totally has the makings of a quality fitness title. Great choreography, enjoyable skill-based routines, greatly improved presentation, good song selection, and the new unlockable system all make Zumba Fitness 2 a well-rounded package. Despite this being Majesco's second go at it, the controls still make you question the foundations on which this was built on, and the looming question of whether or not this can still pass as a game never goes away. There's no doubt that casual users will be quick to embrace Zumba Fitness 2's new look, but when it comes down to it, none of the positive changes have resulted in stronger gameplay. Instead, what we are left with is a sequel that still tries desperately to justify its existence but ultimately comes up short in more ways than one.

19/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 4/10 - Inaccurate method of control that's hard to get around, setup is unclear, possible to cheat the system, great choreography once again
Presentation 8/10 - Great mix of infectious tunes, greatly improved visuals with new Euphoria sequences, navigation isn't intuitive, minor annoyances
Enjoyment 3/5 - Controls take away from the experience especially with this being the second title, progress means squat, challenging routines
Extra Content 4/5 - Multiple classes to choose from, new unlock system, dance stages, multiplayer modes, scores are a poor judge of progression

Equivalent to a score of 63% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Zumba Fitness 2
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