It's a match made in polygonal heaven - the Kinect's full-body motion tracking and Zumba's full-body workout. It was only a matter of time before the global exercise phenomenon came to Microsoft's high-tech peripheral, and "Zumba Fitness Rush" delivers an experience that rivals the best exercise games around.
The "Zumba Fitness" franchise has been around for a few years, having made two successful appearances on the Wii. But the workout you get from shaking the Wiimote pales in comparison to that afforded by Kinect.
"Zumba Fitness Rush" features 42 songs and routines, plus 24 different dance styles to master, including hip-hop, salsa and merengue. There's plenty of variety here, which helped keep things fresh as I worked up a sweat during the full-class mode, which lets you select 20-, 45- or 60-minute blocks of routines. You can also choose your favorite songs and styles to create custom routines. There is also the option to play through songs one at a time.
Routines are presented by actual Zumba instructors, who help guide you through the moves in the Learn the Steps tutorial mode. That's a good thing, too, because if you've ever attended a live Zumba event or caught the infomercial in the wee hours of the morning, you know just how fast and furious the routines can be. Being able to slow things down and learn at your own pace helps make "Zumba Fitness Rush" more accessible to even the most uncoordinated of gamer.
At the end of each routine, you're scored on your technique and shown how many calories you burned. The stat tracking helped serve as constant motivation as I found myself pushing harder to burn extra calories and earn more stars. Two-player co-op support is also included.
While the nature of "Zumba Fitness Rush" made it a great fit for Kinect on paper, I was concerned that the camera would struggle to read my movements during the up-tempo routines. Thankfully that wasn't the case as the Kinect had little trouble interpreting my steps. The Kinect's voice recognition is also integrated into the game, allowing you to navigate menus without having to use a controller.
In what is quickly becoming a rather crowded genre, "Zumba Fitness Rush" stands out from the rest of the exercise options available by presenting a fun, fast-paced experience that can be enjoyed by gamers of all skill levels. If you've ever considered Zumba as a fitness option, this is a great way to experience it for yourself -- and in the comfort of your own home.
"Zumba Fitness Rush"
Developer: Zoe Mode
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment
Available for: Kinect for Xbox 360 ($49.99)
Rating: E+10 for everyone 10-and-up