Wii Fitness Game Reviews 21

Review of Zumba Fitness for Wii

Update 11/2011: For those of you curious about the issue of overzealous lawyers trying to shut down my YouTube account, I contacted the lawyers via email and got no response; later, I challenged the DMCA takedown order and again they failed to respond, meaning my YouTube account has been restored to good standing. Thanks to everyone for your good wishes and support in the comments!

I’ve since posted a review of Zumba Fitness 2 for Wii, which was released last week. I’m happy to say that a lot of the issues I reported below with the original version have been resolved. So I wholeheartedly recommend it if you’re a Zumba fanatic. Let’s just hope the overzealous counselors accept my endorsement with a little more grace this time!

Original post follows:

For almost a year now, many of you have been asking about Zumba Fitness for the Wii. And as we approach Christmas, it’s easily the second most-searched for title on this site (next to EA Sports Active 2).

For those of you who don’t know, Zumba is a fitness craze started by dancer Beto (choreographer for Shakira, among others) back in the 1990s. Since then, it’s swept the world. Zumba classes are given in more than 90,000 fitness centers worldwide, and over 10 million people have tried it. In fact, one just opened up just around the corner from my apartment!

Zumba is a simple concept. Standard aerobics exercises become repetitive and stale. But , you can latin dance moves and have fun? I’m happy to say I finally received my review copy, and have put the game through the motions, so to speak.

You start out by putting the belt on. It’s not the most solidly constructed belt in the world, but it gets the job done. You fit it around your waist (it looks like it’ll accomodate anyone with as much as a 40-50 inch waist), and secure it with velcro. There’s a pocket in the front in wich you put your Wii remote, vertical and facing forward (you need to take the protective plastic cover off before and after putting it in the pocket, which is a bit annoying, but luckily I had a used Wii remote I wasn’t using, so I just used that).

The starting menu is simple–you use the arrow buttons on the Wii remote to choose from the options (I’m guessing they chose not to use cursors knowing that people would be wearing the belt while navigating the menus).

The options are: Create / Edit Player, Play, Workout Calendar, and Extras. You can start dancing single routines immediately, but in order to access most features, you’ll need to create a player.

The player creation is pretty quick. You enter your name, and select your difficulty level (easy, medium, hard). There’s a bit of sloppy programming, in that there’s never confirmation that you’ve successfully created a player (you get sent back to the “Create” button), but when you go back to the Main menu, you’ll see a bunch of new options open to you: Tutorials, Zumba Party, and Zumba Class.


The Tutorials are broken into several parts. Learn the Steps lets you learn a wide range of Zumba steps, including:

– Calypso (Basic)
– Calypso (Single Single Double Pump)
– Calypso (Basic with a Travel)
– Cumbia (Basic)
– Cumbia (Machete Step)
– Cumbia (Sleepy Leg)
– Merengue (March)
– Merengue (Que Te Mueve)
– Merengue (Pump)
– Reggaeton
– Reggaeton (Bounce)
– Reggaeton (Single Single Double Basic)
– Salsa (Travel)
– Salsa (Forward and Back)
– Salsa (Cuban)

The tutorials were pretty weak. The graphics weren’t very impressive, but that’s understandable given the limitations of the Wii (it’s tough to get high quality full-motion video on the Wii, which is required for learning Zumba, so they made the instructor a glowing silhouette). The real weakness of the tutorials was that you really weren’t “taught” anything. It’s up to you to figure out what the on-screen instructor is doing and to mimic her moves. The biggest annoyance is, no matter what move you make in response to the on-screen instructor, the system will tell you “great!” and then move you on to the next step. You can see what I mean with this Salsa Tutorial:

<video deleted>

I’m guessing that the developers who made this game heard all the negative comments about games like Just Dance not picking up moves correctly, so they went too far in the other direction and decided that it’d accept ALL moves. I would much preferred to have had the instructor showly break down the moves, step by step, and let me decide if I understand them and want to move to the next step, rather than ingratiate me by telling me I did great when I didn’t.

So ironically, in order for me to use the tutorials effectively, I had to take the Wii remote out of the belt. I started the tutorial, and mirrored the moves of the on-screen instructor until I learned the move. Then, when I was ready for the next move, I’d pick up the Wii remote, waggle it a little. At that point, the game would tell me “great” and go to the next move. This worked well for me with the Reggaeton tutorial:

<video deleted>

Ridiculously oversensitive Wii remote aside, as far as the tutorials themselves they were pretty good. They broke each dance move into different steps which start with basic movements and get progressively complex. I felt that as long as I used my approach, I was able to learn a lot of the basic Zumba steps.

Zumba Party and Zumba Class

It took me a while to figure out the difference between “Zumba Party” and “Zumba Class”. From what I could figure out, they’re pretty much the same, except that Zumba Party is a more compressed series of 10 levels (which you unlock one by one by completing it). These are the levels for Zumba Party:

– Beginner 20 minute Class 1
– Beginner 20 minute Class 2
– Intermediate 20 minute Class 1
– Intermediate 20 minute Class 2
– Intermediate 45 minute Class 1
– Intermediate 45 minute Class 2
– Expert 20 minute Class 1
– Expert 20 minute Class 2
– Expert 45 minute Class 1
– Expert 45 minute Class 2
– Zumbathon

Zumba Class, on the other hand, consists of many more levels.

– Beginner 20 minute Class 1
– Beginner 20 minute Class 2
– Intermediate 20 minute Class 1
– Intermediate 20 minute Class 2
– Intermediate 20 minute Class 3
– Intermediate 45 minute Class 1
– Intermediate 45 minute Class 2
– Intermediate 45 minute Class 3
– Intermediate 45 minute Class 4
– Intermediate 45 minute Class 5
– Intermediate 45 minute Class 6
– Expert 20 minute Class 1
– Expert 20 minute Class 2
– Expert 20 minute Class 3
– Expert 45 minute Class 1
– Expert 45 minute Class 2
– Expert 45 minute Class 3
– Expert 45 minute Class 4
– Expert 45 minute Class 5
– Zumbathon

In each “class”, you’re basically go through a series of Zumba workouts, one after another, until you hit about 30 minutes. As you hit the right moves (or rather, as the system interprets you hitting the right moves), your on-screen character will turn green and you’ll see a progress bar on the bottom fill up. Successfully finish a class, and the next one will unlock.

<video deleted>

The difficulty levels are a little confusing. You can choose Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced when you set up your character. But in addition to this, you can unlock Night Club, Factory, Rooftop, and Stadium levels. And in addition to this, you can select Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert Classes.

Having said all this, Zumba is such a fun way to exercise that the idiosyncrasies of the game can’t stop it from being fun. My recommendation would be that if you haven’t learned Zumba yet, you probably won’t master it from this game–in that case your best bet is still to go to a class with instructors who can give you real feedback. Also, just as with Just Dance, you need to set your expectations properly. This game will NOT capture your motions 100%. As long as you can live with that, you’re in for a ball.

On the other hand, if you’re an avid Zumba dancer, this game will definitely help you hone your skills and get you in shape on those days when you can’t make it to the gym or can’t afford going every day. As of December 2010, I see that Zumba is sold out all over the Web, which is a great sign that the game is a winner.


  • Reply
    Amanda "Blueyez1288"
    Jan 06, 2011 4:01 am

    I love this game and I have had it since christmas of 2010 and I have started the 45 minutes intermediate routines and It is so much fun but very much a workout!!!

  • Reply
    Jan 19, 2011 5:34 am

    It is hard to follow a dance instructor that is facing you. Has anyone found a way to turn the instructor around so that you can follow them from a bank view?

  • Reply
    Jan 30, 2011 10:45 am

    I found the tutorials almost worthless. I haven’t been able to turn the instructor around, have only mastered the basic step before it skips right through the variations then spends a great deal of time on the hardest level – not able to push any button on the remote that will skip that. Took several classes in person at our local Curves and tried the Wii game again – still having problems following the instructor – I am moving so that is a plus. The game is a real disappointment – wish I could have tried before buying because I would not have bought it. Will keep working with a real instructor until I get all the steps down.

  • Reply
    Kari Miller
    Feb 05, 2011 11:15 am

    I like the intermediate levels. They give me a great workout. The more that I do them, the better I get and the more that I enjoy it. The expert level is horrible…The guy is terrible and not a workout at all. I like doing the Zumba on the Wii, but I also like going to a live class, because of all the energy in the room. Zumba is very fun!!

  • Reply
    No Zumba for me
    Feb 05, 2011 10:10 pm

    I was interested in this game, but if they’re abusing the DMCA process (pretty obvious that your videos fall under fair use) instead of thanking you for the free advertising, I’ll pass.

    I’m new to the Wii and I really appreciate your thorough reviews. I’ve got some physical limitations to work around, and the back of the box isn’t terribly helpful. Thanks for taking the time to do this 🙂

    Zumba Fitness, LLC can sod off.

  • Reply
    Feb 18, 2011 6:02 pm

    I can’t follow the tutorial at all. It goes way too fast on everything but the basic step. Wish I wouldn’t have wasted my money on this.

  • Reply
    Mar 22, 2011 5:42 am

    Zumba isn’t about mastering the steps and doing them perfectly. Zumba is about dancing, shaking, and having fun. Just move the same direction, try to put the right foot out at the right time, sweat, and HAVE FUN! Also, the instructor facing the class is the Zumba method, it is the way all instructors are suppose to teach the majority of their class. I’ve been an instructor for 2 1/2 years, I love ZUMBA! This game is great, but it dosn’t give the full experience of a class.

  • Reply
    Mar 24, 2011 2:22 pm

    After reading reviews, I was interested in this game, I rented one to try before buying. I have mixed feeling on it. It moves me, but it is very hard to follow. I am not sure if I should buy one or not as this game is not designed for someone who has to learn Zumba from the scratch.

    Now, I have decided not to buy this one, just because they’re nagging you.
    They should actually pay you for their advertisement, not just say “thank you for free advertisement” or abuse the DMCA process.

    Thanks for exposing the cunning legal people at Zumba Fitness, LLC. I don’t spend my money for them. Sorry, I will rely on something else.

  • Reply
    Apr 04, 2011 3:35 pm

    How do I get to other levels? I have completed all the dances, but cannot get to other platforms (roof etc) or other dances. I agree the expert guy is terrible, but the intermediate is great!

  • Reply
    Apr 28, 2011 4:30 am

    Ok so have the Zumba and love it, but I’m still wondering how to unlock the different dances like factory and rooftop is there a certain number of points you need to accumulate in order to unlock these dances?

  • Reply
    May 18, 2011 9:19 am

    The intermediate levels are good, but the expert level is horrible!! Beto is a show off and the workout is hardly any. I am latin and a pretty good dancer, but his movements are just weird. I stick to the intermediate level.

  • Reply
    Jun 03, 2011 7:04 pm

    je narive pa a creer un joueur, ni a aller dans tutirals,sil vous plaie ki peux m’aider

  • Reply
    Jun 10, 2011 12:58 pm

    I think it’s pretty great…there aren’t any zumba classes offered in my little rural part of the Midwest, so this is all I’ve got…and I’m working up a sweat. I’m moving, having fun, and I think that’s worth it alone. I don’t think zumba needs to be a skill you have to learn every technicality of to enjoy…if you mess up, so what? So I’m not worried about “oh I’m not doing it perfectly with the virtual instructor”

    I am still confused on how to unlock other stages, too. But I do think it’s funny that people are like “lololol Beto sucks at expert!” he created Zumba! I think he can do it however he wants xD

  • Reply
    s smith
    Jul 05, 2011 5:52 pm

    i am sick of dancing in the night club. how do i unlock the next venues?????

  • Reply
    Sep 07, 2011 10:01 pm

    I was wondering if you can do the same one everyday for a week then switch or do different ones daily.

  • Reply
    Oct 22, 2011 3:54 pm

    Because of what I heard about their legal action I’m not buying them. I was so close too. I’m so glad you posted this.

  • Reply
    Dec 05, 2011 8:36 pm

    I love zumba and yes!!!! Beto really sucks on the expert …..I thought I was being weird but it was him and he wasn’t even dancing on time with the right moves as the music plays along ……I’ve been dng this for seven days str8 and feel good I just recently got to expert where beto instructs you and now I just feel like I skipped at least two days I don’t feel like I’m as tone …..he made my toneness go away….lol….ok good luc to those out there!

  • Reply
    Jan 05, 2012 8:42 am

    Is this for zumba 1 or zumba 2 because I haven’t gotten zumba 2 yet?

  • Reply
    Feb 08, 2012 1:09 pm

    i wish they had step buy step like the wii dance off, they go way to fast. i wish it is easier to step the way u want it up. also i dont like in the signial route u have to go back to the first one why cant it just place u on the class u just finished. they sould come with 2 waste beals i cant find anymore. how are my friends going to play along. :{
    in all i wish i didnt waste my money, i wont be buying anymore of these games!!!

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