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Archive for December, 2010

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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

Review of NewU Yoga and Pilates Workout for Wii

NewU Fitness First Mind Body Yoga & Pilates Workout
Reviewed by Nutwiisystem on December 16 .
Summary: The best yoga and Pilates workout title in an admittedly lackluster field.

yoga and pilates for wiiwii yogaIt’s been a long and hard road for those looking for good Yoga and Pilates programs on the Wii. Wii Fit provided some Yoga exercises which by most accounts, while a decent demonstration of the potential of the Wii balance board, were a bit rudimentary and disjointed. The first “pure Yoga” title for the Wii, Dreamcatcher Yoga, was an unmitigated disaster both from a Yoga perspective and a technical perspective. The first “pure Pilates” title, Daisy Fuentes Pilates, didn’t fare much better.
New U Fitness First Yoga and Pilates is actually the second “NewU” fitness game developed by Lightning Fish games to hit the US Market. The first was a game originally released in Europe as “NewU: Fitness First Personal Trainer”. However, when Ubisoft (the US publisher) brought the game to the US they inexplicably changed its name “My Fitness Coach 2” (In a boneheaded move, they apparently attempted to cash in on the huge success of the original “My Fitness Coach”, but ended up alienating fans of the original My Fitness Coach and short-circuiting any possible interest in the NewU title, which was a decent workout title on its own merits). Anyway, I’m happy to see that the new publisher, Deep silver, was wise enough to keep the original name for NewU Fitness First Yoga & Pilates.

In any case, if you have My Fitness Coach 2, you’ll see similarities between that game and this game, most notably the “swooshing” 3-D menus and the cheeky reaction of the trainers after you’ve done something well.

When you start NewU Fitness First Yoga and Pilates, you first create a profile. You’ll enter your name, sex, your “build” (skinny, average, or overweight), and you’ll also select your experience level with yoga and Pilates (a complete beginner, someone who’s taken a few classes, or an expert). You then enter your date of birth, height, handedness, and then choose from one of 10 goals (ranging from weight loss to relieving back pain to improving posture to de-stress; women will also see an option for post-natal exercise).

You then choose one of three “teachers” (all female) each with different personalities and styles who will take you through all the exercises. They tried to make the teacher selection as realistic as possible–you can even read each teacher’s bio and hear a taped introduction from each of them. Finally, you choose a location (relaxing nature vistas ranging from a mountain valley to a beachfront), and then have the Wii balance board calculate your weight. By the way, the balance board is not required for this game, but it definitely does augment most of the exercises.

You then see a series of menus:

Toning – This is where you can do your daily classes, each of which is basically a string of yoga or Pilates exercises put together one after the other for about 30 minutes. You can have the system select a class for you, if you’re in a hurry you can choose a “quick class”, or if there are certain exercises you like you can create a custom class.

From here, you can also practice exercises, perform Pilates Core Skills (Water Tilt, Zip Up, and Drawing In), or try some Challenges which really do test your endurance (e.g. Pilates 100, Side Plank, Crescent Moon Standing, Tree Pose, or Perfect Warrior III). Here’s a video of the Pilates 100, Crescent Moon Standing, and Perfect Warrior (note in the Perfect Warrior the moment I fall flat on my face).

Meditation – This is a very interesting part of the program where you can try different meditation techniques, such as Healing, Let Go, Third Eye, Energizing, and Calming. After a particularly stressful week, I did try the “Let Go” exercises and I have to say it helped. The instructor will calmly say instructions to you, calm images will appear on the screen, and peaceful music will play. You can choose Meditation any time from this menu, or you’ll be given the option to meditate after a workout.

As for the workouts themselves, they are typical yoga and Pilates moves (weighted more on the yoga side), such as airplane, dancer’s pose, dog tilt, crescent moon standing, and sun salutation (I counted 30 moves total under the “Advanced” setting; other settings will have fewer). As you perform each, you’ll see a video image of your instructor in front of the vista you selected (the teacher was basically filmed in front of a blue screen and is superimposed over a picture of your environment).

I do like the fact that they used video, because you can see exactly what the instructor is doing. In addition, before each exercise, you can select “show me first” where the teacher will literally talk you through a step-by-step tutorial. You can also view an ‘About this Exercise’ blurb which explains the goal of the exercise.

I’m a total novice when it comes to yoga, so I chose the beginner’s path. The exercises were just right for my level, not too complex, not too strenuous. At the more advanced levels, the instructor goes much faster, and there’s a presumption that you know the moves already (she’ll yell out instructions like “step back into a downward dog” or “lower chest down into a baby cobra”).

I asked my girlfriend, who has taken both yoga and Pilates classes, to go through a class at the “advanced” level and let me know her opinion. She did, and afterwards told me she did get a pretty good workout, comparable to a class. She said the moves were indeed accurate and that exercises like the “Sun Salutation” sequence were challenging in a very good way.

On the negative side, she said the instructors at times seemed a little “robotic” and dry in their explanations–they’ll shout out literal instructions, whereas the best “real” instructors would have put a little more personality and creativity into them. Also, some of the sequences were much too fast, and at times it was a bit awkward to have to look up at the screen while performing the move (this is where more descriptive vocal commands would have helped). Still, after a few rounds of practice, she got the moves down and was doing them naturally. And she did like details such as the instructors telling her how to breathe, as she did the relaxing music.

The controls are decent. The system makes good use of both the balance board (to check how much in balance your forearms or feet are as you perform certain exercises) and the Wii MotionPlus (to check how steady your hand is for certain exercises where you need to stretch your hands). An indicator in the upper left-hand corner will show how steady and centered you are. While most exercises are intuitive, there are some where no matter how “correctly” you think you’re doing the exercises, the system will tell you you’re not–and will not tell you what’s wrong. That, of course, is a frustration many of us have gotten used to with Wii games.

Overall, I’d say if you’re interested in “Western Style” fitness, your best bet is EA Sports Active 2, Biggest Loser Challenge or Zumba Fitness. However, if you’re interested in “Eastern Style” fitness, this one is clearly the best choice to date, although admittedly there wasn’t a very high bar set. While it’s no substitute for a real class, it’s a great way to get a decent yoga and Pilates workout in the privacy of your own home when you just don’t feel like going out.
4 of 5

Review of Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2011

Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2011

Reviewed by Nutwiisystem on December 9.
Summary: Not a stellar sequel to an already-disappointing series.

With Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2011, D3Publisher decided to take the game in a new and intriguing new direction than the previous Ubisoft versions. Unfortunately, just as with the 2009 and 2010 versions, the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

For those of you who tried Ultimatum 2010 (and who suffered through Ultimatum 2009), this game is a completely different beast. While those were more “pure” exercise games with Jillian taking you through a bunch of exercises, here they decided to wrap the exercises around a story. Specifically, you’re a secret agent that’s helping Jillian destroy the evil corporation FPF (which produces processed foods to poison the masses) and the evil corporation CureAll (which produces a chemically-based elixir that makes people who eat FPF’s food “feel better”). Even as far as video game stories go, this one is kind of weak, but I figured I’d give them a pass on it, since the focus is on the fitness.

You start out the game doing “training”, which is essentially a series of stretching exercises. Each is worth 50-100 “points”. You need to collect 500 points in order to start the “missions”. Problem is, there’s no visual indication of the number of points you’ve collected after you finish an exercise–you just see the “Start” button again and again. After a while I figured out to go back, where I saw the “Mission” button unlocked.

The exercises themselves are okay, but nothing earth-shattering. I did like how they incorporated the “360 camera angle rotation” from the 2010 version, so you can see exactly how your on-screen character is doing the exercise. Unfortunately, the annoyances far, far outweigh anything positive. It honestly felt like I spent more time calibrating the Wii Balance Board and the Wii MotionPlus than I did actually playing the game. One thing that 2009 and 2010 had in common was horrible motion control detection. This version is not much better. No matter how hard you try to follow the on-screen character’s motions, invariably the system can’t detect you properly on far too many of the exercises. And for reasons which I’ll describe below, this is unbearably frustrating in this game.

The graphics are lower quality than they were in the 2010 version, but that’s by design–the entire game is meant to evoke a “comic book” look and feel. You still get Jillian’s real voice, but you get a comic book version of her visually.

When you start your “missions”, you see that there are a total of nine to get through, with one “Ultimate Mission”. You get through each “mission” by performing about 20 minutes of various exercises. As you do the exercises, your on-screen character will play through the story. Each mission is unlocked as you complete the previous one. You can choose from different difficulty levels: Easy, Medium, and High Intensity. I chose High Intensity.

Mission 1 is “Recon Northern Environments”. That’s it. No description of where you are or what you’re supposed to do. You just find your character in an abandoned warehouse.

You need to start by doing 30 “swing kicks” (15 for each leg) using the balance board. Once this is done, you run in place with (or just shake) your Wii remote to make your on-screen character run. Your character then comes to a garage door, and you need to do jumping jacks to open the garage door.

All well and good so far. Problem is, when it came to the jumping jacks the system kept telling me I was doing them wrong (I’ve been doing them since I was 3, so I think I know what I’m doing). It became farce-like, with me frantically contorting my body trying to figure out what kind of jumping jack it wanted me to do, and Jillian constantly yelling at me the whole time saying I was either too fast or two slow.

Suddenly–the screen goes blank. Then, a screen with Jillian’s image shows up, telling me that I need to “go back to the gym”. Worst of all, I had to start the mission (including the 30 swing kicks, the Wii remote shaking, and the jumping jacks) again.

I tried at least three times before I finally made it through. Your character next opens a manhole cover and runs through some underground graffiti-filled tunnels. At first I thought, “this is cool” and that it did make running in place a lot of fun. But after a while you realize you spend minute after minute tediously running through the same halls over and over again.

You stop in the middle of the empty corridor and for no reason start doing boxing exercises. It would have made more sense if an attacker came out of the shadows and fought you. But no, your character just decides to start boxing. The game developers didn’t even bother to try to detect your motions on this one–Jillian will just yell out commands, and you’re on the “honor system” to follow them.

After what seems like an eternity of running, you climb up the ladder, through another manhole, and out onto an empty street. You have to press a series of buttons to jump over something in the street.

After a while you go on to “squat swings”. At this point you have to stop to calibrate the Wii MotionPlus. There’s no indication of what you have to do next. I tried waving the Wii remote to match what my onscreen character was doing, but no dice. After a few minutes of trying and Jillian yelling at me, you guessed it, I see a screen with Jillian scolding me, telling me to go back to the gym. Mission over, and I need to start all over again. Which means 10 minutes of wasted effort. I later found that there is a “help” screen, but it’s just a line drawing of Jillian in a “before” and “after” shot of what the exercise is supposed to look like. Jillian’s voice explains how to do the exercise, but it’s drowned out by blaring music.

Starting up the game. Note the ridiculous storyline, the constant need to calibrate the equipment, and the annoyingly abrupt way your mission “fails”

After a few more times I got through this step. You then go down another manhole (I figured out by this time that “Recon Northern Environments” just means the mission is for your character to run aimlessly through the environment). You run through a bunch of other hallways for an eternity. You finally come out and see a little bit of new scenery. You run to one building to do lunge kicks, run to another building to do pushups, and then go underground to run through more hallways!

When I was just about done with this exercise in tedium, it came time to do crunches. I’ve been doing crunches for about as long as I’ve been doing jumping jacks, but the game kept telling me I was doing them “too slow” and then “too fast”. But I got through them.

You then run up another manhole into a park, where you do hip twists using the MotionPlus and “curtsy lunges” using the balance board. Then, you guessed it, back underground to run through more hallways. Finally, after about 17 minutes of exercising, it came time to do 20 “back kicks” using the Motion Plus. I read the help text and tried my best to do a back kick, but the game kept telling me I was doing it wrong. Then, all of a sudden, you guessed it. The screen goes blank, and Jillian tells me I’ve failed and have to start all over! 17 minutes of effort down the drain!

The closest I came to completing the mission. Ultimately “failed” because the game wouldn’t recognize a “back kick”, despite my doing them perfectly.

At this point I just felt like tossing the game out the window. I would sooner jump out the window than try to get through 10 missions, much less the first one. I don’t mind a tough game, but when you’re doing everything right in the game but the system fails to recognize it and then punishes you by making you start from scratch, that’s frustrating beyond description. And it’s worse when Jillian keeps yelling at you. I guess it would have been cute and motivational if the game worked. But because the failure is on the part of the game and not you, it just becomes maddening and annoying.

So while I applaud D3Publisher for recognizing the drawbacks of the old versions (they were just too boring) and trying to bring this game in new directions. Unfortunately, I just can’t recommend it due to the poor execution of the game. As with 2009 and 2010, die-hard Jillian fans may appreciate the fun of hearing Jillian’s voice as you make your way through different exercises. But for everyone else, you’re better off with titles like EA Sports Active 2, The Biggest Loser Challenge (which also features Jillian, in a much more polished game), or even Active Life: Explorer (which does drama and adventure much better than this).

Jillian Michaels has a strong brand and her no-holds barred style on The Biggest Loser have helped millions. Unfortunately, she seems to be getting horrible advice as far as video games go. For her sake, I hope if there’s a Jillian Michaels 2012, she surrounds herself with people who can give her much better advice than the people behind 2009, 2010, and 2011 did.
2 of 5

Review of EA Sports Active 2 for the Wii

EA Sports Active 2
Reviewed by Nutwiisystem on December 6, 2010 .
Summary: The best gets better.ea sports active 2 for wii

The box for EA Sports Active 2 is more compact than its predecessor, yet contains a lot more. When I opened the box, I noticed a lot of goodies. There was a USB dongle, two new motion controllers, one green resistance band (still a giant rubber band) and two straps, the EA Sports Active 2 disc, four AAA batteries, and an instruction sheet.

contents of ea sports active 2 for wii package

When you start EA Sports Active 2, you hear the familiar old “do do dodododo do do” music. You’ll see a short video showing beautiful images of the “desert oasis” where you’ll be exercising (still drawn in the same old cartoony style), and teasers of new activities like “mountain biking” and “fitness trail running”. You’ll also be introduced to the most dramatic new feature: the new motion controllers that are included in the box.


By far, the thing that frustrated me the most about the first EA Sports Active was its use of the Wii’s Nunchuk controller. Aside from being spotty in its accuracy, I would constantly get tangled in the wires. EA Sports did something very smart and did away with the nunchuk altoether. Instead, it included its own wireless controller which straps right on to your leg (it communicates with a wireless USB receiver you plug into the top of the Wii). So now, you have full range of motion. The system does an excellent job of tracking your leg movements.

EA Sports has also included a Built-in Heart Rate Monitor, which also communicates wirelessly with the game. So throughout your workout you can track your heart rate (displayed on top of the screen along with your calories burned). The Heart Rate Monitor also doubles as a controller that detects your arm motions for many exercises. For certain exercises you still need the Wii remote, and you can optionally use the Balance Board for a handful of exercises as well.

The resistance band is slightly less flimsy than the previous version. Strangely, there were no instructions whatsoever in the documentation of how to put it together, but if you follow the same instructions I gave with the original version, they will still work for these.

Getting Started

You start out by confirming that your Wii has the correct time and date. This will be especially important if you’ll be tracking your progress online (more on this later). The game will then look for previous profiles from EA Sports Active or EA Sports Active: More Workouts.

The next step is choosing a trainer: “Devon” (who is a strength and conditioning coach who will push you) or “Niki” (a fitness, nutrition and power yoga instruction who stresses “discipline, focus, and motivation”). I ended up choosing Devon.

You then enter personal information about yourself (if you imported a profile, it’ll use that data as the default). This includes your gender, age, height, and weight (which can be measured with the Balance Board). It’s very important to be accurate here, as this will be used to estimate things like your ideal heart rate, your calorie burn rate, and more.

You then customize your avatar, selecting body type, skin tone, hair type, outfit, shoes, socks, hat, and sunglasses. You can probably find some combination that’ll approximate what you look like (or if you don’t want to bother, you can just select “randomize”).

In the next step, you enter your name and whether you want to use the Wii Balance Board in certain exercises.

Your trainer starts by setting three weekly goals for you: number of workouts in a week, amount of time exercising, and amount of calories burned. As you get familiar with the game, you can start setting your own goals as well.

In the next step, you can set up your online account. You’ll need an Internet connection to your Wii for this one. You first need to read and accept the online terms and conditions. Then, you need to set up your “EA Online Account”. More on this below.

You then see another video with more details on what you need to do to get started: make sure you’re wearing good workout clothes and make sure you have plenty of room to work out. It’ll then introduce your new sensors and show you clearly how to put batteries in your motion controllers and how exactly to put them on your arm and leg. The heartrate sensor is placed directly on your arm just below your elbow so the front of the sensor faces away from you when your arm is to the side (like a wristwatch). The leg sensor is placed high on the front of your upper right thigh. You then push a button on both sensors to allow them to communicate with the Wii console.

You’re finally ready to get started. You can choose the workout you wish: a 9 Week Program for total fitness (you can choose light, medium or hard intensity) or an introductory 21-day Program of moderate intensity that focuses on cardio. I chose the 9 Week program. You can also enter track your progress in a journal, create or join a workout group, see your workouts, and read up on different fitness and nutritional advice.


I do like the innovation EA Sports put into the activities. There are over 70 to choose from, ranging from basic exercises like stretching and running in place, to more advanced activities. As in the original version, most sporting events basically consist of you doing repetitions of exercise movements that approximate the movement that your on-screen character does. Most exercises will use your arm and leg sensors and in some cases the Wii remote or the Balance Board to check to make sure you’re doing the exercises (there are some which are on the “honor system”, where no controller is used at all).

What I really like about EA Sports Active 2 is that they’ve incorporated some more interactivity and “video gaming elements” into some of the sporting activities. For example, in the skateboarding and mountain biking activities, you need to leap at just the right moment to avoid obstacles or perform jumps. In the Basketball event, a cursor will move over the basket, and you need to time your jump correctly to score.

When your workout is done, you’ll see in-depth graphs and data on all kinds of information from your workout, from the time you spent, to the calories burned, to your heartrate. The system will keep track of your progress each day so you’ll be able to compare today’s workout with all your previous ones.

The 9-week regimen isn’t just a random assortment of exercises each day, it was clearly put together by a real fitness expert. You choose four days of the week to exercise (leaving three days to rest). You work progressively on different fitness goals as each day and week goes by. Each day starts with warm-up stretches and ends with cool-down activities, and there’s a good variety of activities throughout to keep the workouts interesting.

Another great improvement is the ability to work out with (and compete against) someone else, if you purchase a second set of controllers. There’s something about competition that makes exercise go by so much faster.

One annoyance, as other reviewers have noted, is that because many of the exercises don’t use the Balance Board or the Wii remote, both will time out throughout the game, which interrupts the flow of the exercises. I understand that their intent is to save battery power, but at the very least it would have been good to have an option to prevent the controllers from shutting off (for example, those who use rechargeable batteries don’t care as much).

Your Online Account

I moved my description of the the Online Account to the bottom of this review because signup is probably the weakest and most convoluted part of the game right now, but to be fair, they do clearly say that it’s in “Beta”.

When I got to this part in the setup process, I was abruptly told “there is no EA Online account associated with this email address”–before I even had a chance to enter an email address! On the next screen, there was a place to enter an email address and password, but they didn’t seem to differentiate between “sign up” and “sign in”. So I tried an email address I thought I’d set up on EA Online before (for Grand Slam Tennis, I believe). Turns out I typed it wrong, but it set up a new account for me anyway, which I didn’t realize until after I’d done my first exercise. So now, I had two EA Online accounts that couldn’t be merged together.

Adding to the confusion, you’re next asked to enter a “Persona Name” which will be your online identity. They let me enter a name with hyphens using the keyboard, but when I tried to continue I was told “only letters and numbers are allowed” (why, pray tell, did they let me enter them in the first place). It would have been nice if they just took the name you entered a few steps earlier and checked to see if it was available. One good thing they do do is that if the Persona you entered is not available, they’ll give you alternate suggestions (basically the name you entered followed by a random number).

You then get an email to the Inbox on your PC with a link to http://www.easportsactive.com. When you come to the site, it just looks like an advertising site for the game. But when you sign in (on the top of the page which is easy to miss) with your email address and password, you’ll get brought to a personalized page where you can view graphs of your latest workouts; a calendar showing completed workouts, missed workouts, and when your next workout is; your goals; your milestones; a newsfeed; a place to review your progress (including graphs of your number of workouts, workout duration, calories burned, heartrate, and distance “run” over time); and a place to set up groups where you can invite up to 30 friends to exercise together (you’ll see aggregate data of everyone in the group).

EA Sports Active 2 Online Portal

The usability of the online portal does leave a little something to be desired. Only group names 10 character long or under are allowed (probably so it could fit on the Wii screen, but you gotta think they could have worked around this). When I tried to change my password it told me–I kid you not–that “This Password appears to be profane. Please try another entry to continue.” No, the password I chose was not “profane”!

So the best advice I can give to ensure a smooth signup process is to first think of any EA Sports game you might have played online on the Wii, PS3, or Xbox (e.g., Grand Slam Tennis, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, etc.) and to make sure you use your same username and password. If you’re sure you don’t have one yet, rather than attempting to register on the Wii, I would strongly recommend first going to http://www.easportsactive.com on your PC and clicking the “Register” button in the upper right-hand corner to sign up for your EA Online Account. Then, go back to the Wii and use that to sign in.


Slight annoyances with the controllers timing out and the poor usability of the online portal signup process notwithstanding, overall, I’d say that EA Sports has maintained their position as the king of the hill as far as Wii workout games go.

It comes at a price–there are definitely other good-quality workout games that aren’t $100. Then again, when you compare the $100 you pay for this game to the $1000s you’d otherwise pay for gym memberships, exercise equipment, and personal trainers, it’s definitely a great deal–and by getting family members involved or getting together with friends in workout group, you can encourage each other to work out. In fact, if you’re interested in joining a Nutwiisystem workout group, let me know and I’ll be happy to set one up (I’ll be using EA Sports Active 2 myself to attempt to shed at least 20 pounds :)).

This one is highly recommended, and EA Sports Active retains its position as #1 on the top of our best Wii Fitness Games list.Rating: 5 of 5

EA Sports Active 2 is on Sale at the EA Store

NEW: Read the updated Review of EA Sports Active 2 for the Wii!
If you go to the EA Store, you can find EA Sports Active 2 on sale at the unheard of price of $69.99. Just go to the Wii Games section of their Web site and you should see the special pricing. But hurry! There’s no indication of how long this promotional price will last (it’s even lower than the lowest prices I’ve seen at Amazon or Toys R Us this year), but my guess is it won’t be for long.

I’ve tried the game out and am currently working on a very detailed review with videos, which I hope to have up by the weekend. But I’ve seen enough already to name it the best Wii fitness game of the year.