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Zumba Fitness: World Party announced for Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U and the upcoming Xbox One

Here comes the next installment in the legend of Zumba, Zumba Fitness World Party. It will be released in October on Wii (no, it ain’t dead yet!), Wii U, and Xbox 360 Kinect. It will also be on the just-announced Xbox One console, which doesn’t have a release date yet, but should arrive in time for holiday trees.

But wait, there’s more! According to this press release, a mobile app called Zumba Dance is coming this summer. It’s a motion-based app that will track your calorie burn while you shake your booty.

Just Dance Disney Party for Wii: for kids of all ages

The Just Dance franchise, after producing two “Kids” games that lean more toward preschoolers with Wiggles and “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, finally has a “family” game that the whole family can enjoy. Just Dance Disney Party, available on both Wii and Xbox 360 Kinect (I tried the Wii version), combines both tween Disney Channel hits with classic tunes their parents and grandparents love.

Just like all the other Just Dance games, basic gameplay consists of picking a song and mirroring the dancing avatar. The dancers are films of real people superimposed on colorful backgrounds. You score points by holding your Wii remote as you dance. Some songs are “duets” with two dancers doing different moves, and if you’re playing alone, you have to select a dancer before the song begins. Multiplayer modes include “freeze and shake” where at points in the song, you either have to freeze or shake your remote as hard as you can. (We tried it, and prefer conventional dancing.)

There’s no real workout mode, but you can create playlists or play nonstop random songs for a certain period of time. In addition, a parents’ dashboard lets you see how long the game was played on what days and how many calories were burned, and there are even some health tips.

On the down side, there are only 25 songs, which is rather stingy for a dance game, especially at more than a dollar per song. (And some of them could be considered filler, like 2 songs from Tangled – why not 2 songs from Mary Poppins instead?) That said, they treat them really well; instead of soundalikes and generic backgrounds, they use the actual soundtracks (as far as I can tell) and iconic Disney art. On the movie-soundtrack songs, they have animations of scenes from the movie – e.g. “Everybody Wants To Be a Cat” from The Aristocats shows the jazz cat band in the background – and scrolling lyrics are especially enjoyable with songs like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Be Our Guest.” There’s no Pixar, but they more than make up for that with the Muppet Show theme which has become the most-played song in our house. (Too bad this came out before Disney acquired Star Wars; it would’ve been fun to dance to the cantina song.)

Just Dance Disney Party should please Disney fans both old and young, and there’s plenty of material left for sequels!

(I received a free review copy of this game through the Amazon Vine program.)

NBA Baller Beats seems to be a slam dunk

NBA Baller Beats (with ball) for Kinect

Of this year’s crop of dance and exercise games, NBA Baller Beats (Xbox 360 Kinect only) is without a doubt the most different.  It’s like playing Guitar Hero with a basketball:  bounce a ball to the beat of hit songs, following a scrolling guide visual.  The scroll includes authentic basketball moves like pump fakes and behind-the-back, and even comes packaged with a genuine basketball.

As with Zumba, Walk It Out and other “where no game has gone before” games, I was skeptical about whether this could really work.  Well, according to Amazon and other reviews, it scores!  Already there are some gameplay videos on Youtube, such as this one from Kinect Addict, bouncing to the beat of the new party anthem, “Party Rock Anthem”:

Now I couldn’t bounce a ball off the broad side of a barn, but I want this game anyway.  The soundtrack includes some real treats (for me) such as Santigold’s “Disparate Youth” and Onyx’s “Slam”, not just the same old Rihanna and Katy Perry stuff.  And look how that guy is sweating and panting at the end.

Unlike some other moms, I’m ready to play ball in the house!

Brand new Xbox with Kinect for only $99!*

Xbox Live Marketplace

Xbox Live Marketplace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*There’s a catch – why wouldn’t there be?  According to Joystiq, some GameStop and Best Buy locations are selling Xbox/Kinect console bundles, normally priced around $250-300, for only $99 provided you also sign up for Xbox Live Gold for 2 years at $15 per month.

If you do the math, which Joystiq did for you, you will actually end up spending about $60 more over the next 2 years under this contract, than if you bought the bundle at retail plus two 12-month XBLG cards for $50 each.  So basically it’s the same marketing trick as rent-to-own or building up debt on your credit card:  pay less now, but more in the long run.

It should be interesting to see how well this cell-phone pricing model works for Xbox.  Just FYI, you can still do a lot on Xbox Live for free, without paying for the extra Gold subscription.  You can still buy downloadable add-ons and songs for games like Just Dance 3 and Dance Central, use Your Shape‘s online workout-tracking features, and download free demos of Kinect games (you may have to wait a week or two for them to become available to non-Gold members).

Dance Central 3 is coming, with more music variety and enhanced calorie-counting

Dance Central 3 for Xbox 360 Kinect

And we don’t stop dancin’ – Dance Central 3 is coming this fall, again a Kinect exclusive.  They aren’t doing much to mess with the success of the first two Dance Central games, but they appear to be broadening the song list from mainly hip-hop and club to hits of the 20th century such as “The Hustle”, “Da Butt” and “Electric Boogie”, each with their signature dances.

I have Dance Central 2, and have been enjoying the workout mode, which takes a cue from the workout modes of DDR on PS2 by offering courses (called “playlists”) of songs played back-to-back.  You can also make up your own continuous playlists.  DC 3 is promising “expanded and enhanced calorie tracking features”.  Keep in mind that any calorie tracking in a video game is going to be a ballpark guess.

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