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Archive for October, 2011

How to Train Your Dragon 3D Blu-Ray available cheap at Best Buy (as well as MegaMind and Monsters vs. Aliens)

how to train your dragon 3d blurayOne thing I’ve been obsessed with lately is finding a copy of How to Train Your Dragon in 3D. Strangely, it sells for $54+ on Amazon and eBay, while other 3D Blu-Rays sell for a lot less.

I realized why this is happening. Turns out that this title has been exclusive only to people who bought Samsung 3D TVs. I’m not a big fan of these kinds of exclusivity deals, as most people aren’t going to base their decision on which $3000 TV to buy based on one movie. What it ends up doing is depriving a lot of people who buy other TVs from manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic from enjoying the movie, and it spawns a “black market” in people selling off their 3D copies. This is what’s happening on Amazon and eBay.

The good news is, Best Buy now has relatively cheap copies of How to Train Your Dragon (as well as Monsters vs. Aliens and MegaMind). Yes, it’s yet another exclusive deal with Best Buy (again, which explains why you can’t find the $34.99 price anywhere else).

Click on these links to purchase these 3D Blu-Rays at the lowest price around:

How to Train Your Dragon 3D Blu-Ray

MegaMind 3D Blu-Ray

Monsters vs. Aliens 3D Blu-Ray

I’m admittedly still not crazy about the movies still being exclusives, but at least Best Buy is pricing them fairly at under $40. If you’re planning to buy a Playstation 3D display, this is a great way to get these once-exclusive titles at a great price.

Review of Dance Dance Revolution II for Wii (2011 version)

Dance Dance Revolution II by
Platform: Wii
5 of 5 stars – DDR is back.
by ,
Written on October 24, 2011

DDR II for Wii

Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) admittedly seemed to be showing its age the last year or two. The last version of Dance Dance Revolution for the Wii to show any kind of real innovation was Hottest Party 2, which was released in 2008.
Hottest Party 3 was released in 2009, but didn’t add much new to the series except a few poorly-conceived attempts to try to incorporate the Wii nunchuk and the Balance Board. At the end of the day these attempts just detracted from what made DDR great to begin with.
In 2010, they released Hottest Party 4 in Europe. Perhaps taking a cue from successful movie “reboots” such as Star Trek and Batman, Konami decided to name the same game “Dance Dance Revolution” in the United States. But sadly, it was pretty much the same game as before. Many who ended up paying upwards of $70 for it were asking themselves why they wasted money for essentially the same game they could have bought in 2008.
In 2011, Dance Dance Revolution IIdance dance revolution (still being called Hottest Party 5 in Europe) is here. And the burning question is, does this new version bring anything new to the table? Or is it yet another repackaged version that will cause more buyer’s remorse?
For the few out there who don’t know, DDR requires the use of a 3′ x 3′ plastic “dance mat” you put on the floor with four directional arrows that you step on. As music plays, a combination of arrows will scroll on the screen to the beat, and your goal is to step on the arrows precisely. Sounds simple, but when the arrows are coming at you at breakneck speed, and things like eighth-notes, “hold” notes (where you keep your feet pressed down) and simultaneous arrows (requiring you to jump) are added, you’ll be moving your feet faster than Fred Astaire.
The first thing to get out of the way is any comparison to games like Just Dance 3 for the Wii, Dance Central 2 for the Xbox, and Everybody Dance for the PS3. Those are dancing games where you learn “real” dance moves. DDR is and always has been a “pattern-matching game more” than a “dance game”. You won’t “wow” anyone at weddings and bar mitzvahs with moves you learn on the DDR dance pad (and sadly, I’ve tried).
What DDR does have, and probably always will, over those other “dance games” is the best precision, not surprising as it has only four steps to detect as opposed to an infinite number of motions. So whether your score is high or low, you know you’ve earned it legitimately!
The opening menu of Dance Dance Revolution II is blissfully simple. There are four choices: Dance Mode, Workout Mode, Training Mode, and DDR School.
Dance Mode is where you can jump into playing. You start out by selecting the number of players, from 1 to 4. You’ll need a dance mat for each player and a Wii remote for each to control menu choices.
There are two modes of play when playing solo. The first is “Normal” mode, which is the DDR we all know and love, where you dance to progressive sets of challenges to rack up DDR points and unlock new songs and features.
Here’s me playing Selena Gomez and the Scene’s “A Year Without Rain” on Normal mode (set to Expert Difficulty). This is after about 10 tries and I still could only muster a “C”
The second is new to the Wii called  “Double” mode, where if you have two Dance Mats, you can dance using EIGHT arrows instead of four, jumping from mat to mat to try to achieve a high score. This is a feature that’s been available on the arcade version of DDR which has finally made it to the Wii version, and definitely is an innovation which really extends enjoyment (and workout potential) of the game. Here’s me attempting to playing Justin Bieber’s “Baby ft. Ludacris” using Double mode.

I did okay, right? So feeling my oats a little bit, I decided to try “Spice Up Your Life” at Difficult mode.

Needless to say, I was jumping and flipping around and could only muster a “D”. This is definitely something which, as you try to master it, you’ll find yourself getting into great shape!
There are three modes of play for playing with 2 or more players. “Normal” style lets users compete head-to-head. “Friendship” style will award all players with the highest score that any player achieved. “Sync” style is the opposite: if any player gets a “MISS” or “NOT QUITE”, the entire game fails.
Next, you’ll select your song and the difficulty level (Beginner, Basic, Difficult, or Expert) that you want to attempt. If you’re playing multiplayer, each player can choose their own difficulty, so stronger players can compete against weaker players on the same song, each playing at the level they’re most comfortable with.
Something else that’s been carried over from the arcade version is the “Groove Radar”. Each song has a somewhat complex graph that rates each song/difficulty on five attributes: Stream (the overall density of steps in the whole song), Chaos (how irregular the steps are), Freeze (the number of “freeze” steps where you hold on a particular arrow), Air (the number of jump steps in the song), and Voltage (the highest density of arrows that appear at once in the song). At the end of your performance, you’re given a score based on these attributes. Since this wasn’t a big hit with the arcade version, I’m not sure why they’ve ported it over to the Wii version. In any case, if you’re someone who really wants to evaluate your DDR performance, this lets you do it with unprecented precision. If you’re not, it’s something that you can easily ignore.
There are 19 licensed songs, mostly which will appeal to teen and tween players including artists such as Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Miley Cyrus. Here’s the complete list of licensed songs:
  • Rocket (Goldfrapp)
  • Just The Way You Are (Bruno Mars)
  • Nothin’ On You feat. Bruno Mars (B.o.B.)
  • A Year Without Rain (Selena Gomez & The Scene)
  • Don’t Go (Yaz)
  • Don’t You Want Me (The Human League)
  • In My Head (Jason Derulo)
  • Just A Dream (Nelly)
  • More Than Alive (The Ready Set)
  • Baby ft. Ludacris (Justin Bieber)
  • Strip Me (Natasha Beddingfield)
  • Somebody To Love (Justin Bieber)
  • Beautiful Monster (Ne-Yo)
  • Spice up your life (Spice Girls)
  • Candy Girl (New Edition)
  • This Time I Know It’s For Real (Donna Summer)
  • Only Girl In The World (Rihanna)
  • Can’t Be Tamed (Miley Cyrus)
  • Whip My Hair (Willow)
In addition, there are 64 other songs which consist of new original songs from Konami and songs from previous releases of DDR on other platforms and arcade machines. These are mostly in the frenetic, rapid-beat, Japanese pop music-style that DDR is known for.
Something else new to this version of DDR is the ability to choose either the short version of a song (1-3 minutes) or the long version (3-5 minutes).
There are also improvements with gameplay itself. Getting from the menu to the song takes only a few seconds, where in previous version there’d be a painfully long wait. The voice of the annoying commentator with the fake British accent (“it’s 100% AWESOME!”, “relax and FEEL THE BEAT”) is now relegated to the speaker in the Wii remote, while the TV speakers play just the song (you can also turn the voice off completely under Options). As with previous versions, for most licensed songs you can view the music video in the background; for other songs you see animated dancers.
Thankfully, they’ve completely done away with gimmicks such as hand movements and Balance Board compatibility. This is DDR back to its basics–step on the arrows correctly to get a high score. And it does this as well as it ever did.
With “Workout Mode”, you start out by typing in your height and weight. From there it’ll calculate your ideal weight and BMI (discreetly hidden from view until you click the “-” button on your Wii remote). You can then select a workout target by Play Time (for example, if you want to do 30 minutes of cardio a day) or by Calories burned (for example, if you want to burn 30 calories a workout). By the way, DDR will use the scientifically-accurate term “Kcals”, but that’s the same as what you and I call “calories” (which the average adult takes in 2000 a day of). You can also choose no goal, in which case you’ll work out to your own preference and still be able to track calories and time spent.
To make your workout simpler you can turn CUT on (which ensures there are no notes less than a quarter note) and turn JUMP off (which will turn off simultaneous step arrows). But I find leaving both on make the workout a lot more fun and strenuous.
You then go to song selection, where you have the same options as in Dance Mode. Happily, even in workout mode you can still clear “Challenge Tasks” and earn DDR points. And of course, you’ll see exactly how many calories you burned for the last dance and how many you’ve burned cumulatively. You can also keep a record over time of all the calories you’ve burned.

Here’s a workout where I set a target of 70 calories, which had me playing Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World)”, Miley Cyrus’s “Can’t Be Tamed”, and Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” before I reached the goal.

Needless to say, I was quite out of breath. If you had to choose between typical step aerobics and DDR, the choice is clear–DDR is more fun, much better exercise, and much better motivation.

If you’ve got grade school kids in the house, ask them if they play DDR in their gym class (many schools are starting to do this now). If so, bringing it home is a great way not only to get them exercise, but also to give them a little bit of an “edge” in gym against the other kids 🙂

“Training Mode” lets you choose any unlocked song at any level and practice any section of it, either in Normal or Double mode. This is extremely useful at advanced levels where there’s a section of a song you just can’t master. “DDR School” is for complete newbies who need to be taught how to play from the beginning.
The verdict? I’ve admittedly been bearish on Konami the last two years, disappointed that the last two versions of DDR really did nothing to push the platform forward. But this time they’ve gone “back to basics” by getting rid of a lot of those gimmicks and focusing on what works.
I won’t say it’s a perfect game yet. I was a bit surprised at the lack of a DLC option, meaning that to get new songs we’ll probably be forced to purchase future versions. And the dance mat is still flimsy and its lack of padding is horrific for those who play on upper levels of houses or apartments.
But even so, the addition of Double mode, the improved Workout mode, and the large selection of new songs tells me that Konami is really trying again and not just resting on its laurels. Hopefully with future editions they’re continue to not just phone it in, but reinvent it in new ways that’ll continue to keep it relevant amid the competition (I know this is just a dream, but some day I’d love to see a game that teaches dance steps like the tango, foxtrot, salsa, and waltz…but I guess that would require a pretty big dance mat).
5 stars out of 5.
Now, just for Nutwiisystem readers, here’s an “insider tip”. I definitely recommend you purchase a second DDR mat, especially given the new Double mode. And unfortunately, mats from the Namco Active Life series will not work properly.
You can go to Amazon and try to buy an official Konami Dance Dance Revolution Dance Pad Controller for Wii. It retails for $29.99, and in some cases I’ve seen sellers selling it for upwards of $50.00. But my recommendation is to go to an older, less successful Konami game that bunded the dance mat like Ultimate Party Challenge with Dance Pad Bundle and look at the sellers there (I do recommend double-checking with the vendor first to make sure the mat is included). Chance are you’ll snag a dance pad for less than the $29.99 retail price, and get a bonus game to boot.

Review of Everybody Dance for Playstation Move

everybody dance for playstation fitness

Back in 2009, Ubisoft’s “Just Dance” for the Wii introduced the concept of dance games using “real dance moves”. It was a huge success, selling over 4.3 million copies. Its sequel, Just Dance 2, was even more successful, selling over 5 million copies. The game appealed to people on all kinds of levels. Individuals could play it to learn real dance moves and get a great workout. Families and friends could play it together and have a ton of fun with the choreographed routines.

A year later in 2010, Microsoft introduced “Dance Central” for the Xbox. It brought to the table accurate full-body motion tracking of the Kinect and sold 2.5 million copies.

For all this time, the Playstation has been left out in the cold a bit. Singstar Dance was an early attempt to cash in on the “real dance move” craze, but at the end of the day it was a karaoke title with dancing spliced in as an afterthought.

Everybody Dance is Sony Computer Entertainment’s long-overdue dive into the genre. And it’s a pretty good one.

The game starts out with a rather superfluous video of random people in different places dancing with a Playstation Move controller in their hands. The next step is pointing the flashing motion controller at the Playstation Eye and pressing the Move button to calibrate the control. As with Just Dance, only one controller per player is used, which you hold in your right hand. The system supports a maximum of two players.

You have a couple menu options:

Dance Now: Here, you can dive right into one of the 40 songs that the game comes with by selecting an album cover using your Move controller. Each song has an “energy level” indicator from 1 to 3. The songs are:

– Amerie – 1 Thing (2)
– Barry White – You’re the First, The Last, My Everything (1)
– Basement Jaxx – Where’s Your Head At (3)
– Billy Idol with Generation – Dancing with Myself (3)
– Bodyrockers – I Like The Way (2)
– Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting (1)
– CeCe Peniston – Finally (1)
– The Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy Hey Girl (2)
– Chromeo – Night By Night (2)
– Dam-Funk – Hood Pass Intact (1)
– Deadmau5 – Ghosts ‘N’ Stuff feat. Bob Swire (2)
– Diana Ross – Upside Down (2)
– Duck Sauce – Barbara Streisand (2)
– Elle Goulding – Starry Eyed (1)
– Elton John – I’m Still Standing (3)
– Fatboy Slim – Praise You (2)
– Groove Armada – Superstylin’ (2)
– Ida Corr Vs Fedde Le Grand – Let Me Think About It (1)
– Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne – Down (1)
– Kool and the Gang – Get Down On It (1)
– Lady GaGa – Born This Way (3)
– LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem (2)
– M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up the Volume (3)
– Miami Sound Machine – Dr Beat (3)
– New Kids on the Block – You Got It (The Right Stuff) (2)
– Nicole Scherzinger – Don’t Hold Your Breath (1)
– Ok Go – Here It Goes Again (3)
– OutKast – The Way You Move (1)
– Puretone – Addicted to Bass (2)
– Raphael Saadiq – Radio (2)
– Republica – Ready to Go (3)
– Rihanna – Rude Boy (1)
– R. Kelly – Step In The Name Of Love (1)
– SNAP! – The Power (3)
– Sublime – Santeria (1)
– Tiesto v Diplo feat Busta Rhymes – C’mon (Catch ‘Em By Surprise) (3)
– Tinie Tempah – Pass Out (1)
– Usher featuring Pitbull – DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love (2)
– Usher featuring will.i.am – OMG (1)
– Willow – Whip My Hair (2)

Overall, I’d say the artist selection is “hipper” and less mainstream than Just Dance or Dance Central, the kind of set list you might see from a DJ in a club. This may be an advantage or a drawback depending on your musical tastes, but I found at least 7 songs that were familiar right away.

Once you select a song, you can choose one of three levels: Beginner, Intermediate, and Professional. I’d say Beginner and Intermediate are about the difficulty of a typical song on Just Dance, with relatively simple and repetitive motions from side to side. Professional, on the other hand, rivals a professional dancer where you’ll be doing the same basic moves, but adding complex movements, spins, jumps, and more intricate choreography. Here’s a video of me dancing in Professional level to Republica’s Ready to Go (I’m dressed in the same Ninja outfit I designed for Kung Fu Live to cover my face on account of me being so bashful!)

Finally, you can select a length. “Normal” songs range around 3-5 minutes, while “Short” versions last about 1-2 minutes. You then take a picture of yourself, which will be used to identify you in replays and any saved copies of your performance.

Gameplay itself is fairly simple. As with all the other dance games, your goal is to match the on-screen dancer as closely as possible by mirroring his or her moves. While Just Dance has a silhouette to follow and Dance Central uses a hipster doofus cartoon character, Everybody Dance displays a real video image of a human dancer which I personally prefer, as you can see the precise moves to follow.

The on-screen dancer’s image is in a grey color so it stands out yet doesn’t interfere with the background. He or she is holding a Move Controller, so you know exactly where your right hand needs to be at any given time to score point. The choreography is distinctly in the style of the song’s artist, and in many cases, the moves mimic the same ones the artists perform in their video. The on-screen character even look and is dressed like the original artist.

As with Just Dance, the more accurate your moves are, the more points you’ll rack up and are awarded one to five stars at the end. As with Dance Dance Revolution, you’ll also be rewarded for “streaks” of contiguous successful moves. You hold the Move controller in your right hand through the whole song. As with Just Dance, if you stand still and just wave your arms in the right way, you’ll be able to rack up points. But of course, the fun in this game isn’t in collecting points, it’s in performing the real dance moves.

As much as the game is derivative of previous dance games, there are a couple features in Everybody Dance that are truly innovative. While you’re playing the game, you can watch the original artist’s video playing in a rectangle in the background. Press the “triangle” button and the image in the rectangle switches to a live video image of you. You’ll even see a “trail of light” that shows your Move controller’s motion. This feature is extremely useful when you’re learning the dance moves, as you can compare your image to the on-screen character’s moves one to one.

Once the dance is over, you’ll see your point total, number of stars, and longest streak. You’ll also be able to view a 30 second video clip of your performance, as well as 10 snapshots that were taken during the performance of you in various poses. You have the option of saving them to the PS3 hard drive or posting them to Facebook or Twitter (and to the PS3 Community). Here’s some free advice: be VERY careful about using this feature if you happen to be dancing in your skivvies, unless you want to be the next Internet sensation.

By default, you dance in solo mode until a second player turns on their Move Controller. Once that’s done, the menu changes to “Battle Mode”, where  you can compete against each other in all the songs in Beginner, Intermediate, and Professional levels. Alternatively, you can also dance as “Dance Partners”, where each player gets his or her own unique choreographed moves. Bear in mind that for two players, you need at least 8-10 feet of space in front of the Playstation Eye so that both of you fit comfortably in the picture.

“Party” mode is another pretty cool innovation. It starts off by asking you to take pictures of each person who’s participating, from 2 up to 20 people. Then, it’ll pair two competitors at a time to a dance-off. The two selected dancers can choose a song, difficulty level, and song length to compete to. The rounds keep going until you stop, at which time you’ll be shown the overall winner (based on number of songs won, awards won, and longest streaks), rankings, and the biggest rival.

The “Dance Studio” menu offers three options: Dance Creator, Dance Class, and Dance Workout.

Dance Creator lets you record and play your own routines, either solo or with a partner. You’re shown a full-screen image of yourself (with the music video playing in the corner) and you basically record yourself dancing. You record an “album cover” by taking a snapshot of yourself, and then you can then play your (or others’) routines from the Dance Now, Party, or Dance Creator menus. As with any other song, you can play custom routines either with the original music video or your live video image playing next to the recorded image.

“Dance Class” is a great way to learn the dance moves, highly recommended for the “Professional” difficulty level. The system will break down the song into short sections of about 30 seconds each, and you loop through each section 4 times. Once you’ve mastered each section you’ll get a star, after which you can move on to the next section. Surprisingly, it took me only one or two times going through each section to master it for most songs, even at professional level. Here’s me learning the first few bars of “Kung Fu Fighting”. Note my gradual transition from neophyte to kung fu master!

With “Dance Workout”, you start out by setting up a new profile. You take your picture and set your weight using the Move Controller (a painful process the more pounds over 130 you are!). Then, you select a pre-defined workout which consists of similar songs bundled together at different difficulty levels. Here’s the “Charts Cardio” intermediate workout which includes Snap, Lady GaGa, and Tinie Tempa:

Each workout consists of 3 songs and lasts about 10 minutes (Professional+ workouts consist of 5 songs and last 15-20 minutes).

Beginner: Party Warm Up
Beginner: Pop Cool Down
Beginner: Retro Recreational
Beginner: Tune Up
Intermediate: Charts Cardio
Intermediate: Hot House Melodies
Intermediate: R&Burn
Intermediate: Sensual Session
Professional: Constantly Shuffling
Professional: Dance Drills
Professional: Fat Burning Beats
Professional+: DJ Got Us Sweatin
Professional+: Fat Fighters
Professional+: High Energy Exercise Professional+: Ultra Endurance Tunes

As you work out, a calorie meter is displayed on top of the screen showing you the target calories for each song. As long as you match the hand movements, you’ll get credit for the calories, but of course to get a true workout you need to be “honest” and really do all the motions you’re asked to do with your whole body.

“Get More Songs”: This option will quit the game and take you to the Playstation Store to download additional DLC. As of this writing (October 21, 2011) there were no songs available yet, but expect that to change very soon.

“Galleries”: This is where you can go to visit all your past saved performances, either ones you saved to your hard drive or uploaded. You can also visit the “Community Gallery” which shows the 30-second videos and photos that others around the world have uploaded. You can vote for videos you like which will  help them rise in popularity.

As of this writing the game has only been out for a few days, and yet there are already hundreds of videos out there, a few surprisingly good, most not quite ready for prime time just yet, and almost all with inadequate lighting. Some other observations: people generally seem surprisingly sober and clothed (probably because there’s a “report inappropriate videos” feature), men seem to outnumber women by a large margin, and grown men should really think twice before uploading a video of themselves dancing to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair”.

You have the option of turning “singing” on and off. If you turn singing on, you can sing into the Playstation Eye microphone, or into a USB microphone or wireless headset. After each song you’ll get a “singing rating”, but otherwise there’s really no benefit, your singing isn’t recorded or anything.

Everybody Dance is an interesting game to rate, mainly because it naturally leads to comparisons with the games that came before it. I’d say from a “pure fun” perspective, Just Dance holds the crown. From a “motion detection accuracy” perspective, Dance Central’s full body tracking is arguably superior for games like these.

Having said that, Everybody Dance still does both of these things quite well. And the innovations that Sony brought to the table, including more advanced choreography that truly matches the original artist’s style, the community features, the accuracy of the “Dance Creator” (which is definitely superior to the same feature on Just Dance for the Kinect), and the ability to dance side-by-side with the on-screen character all catapult Everybody Dance into the same echelon as those other games, and of course is easily the best dancing game available for the Playstation Move right now. I’ll give it an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Review of Just Dance 3 for Wii

Just Dance 3 by
Platform: Wii
5 of 5 stars – The best dance franchise on the Wii gets better.
by ,
Written on October 20, 2011

In the beginning there was DDR. Video game “dancing” consisted of mashing your feet to certain patterns. It was fun, it was a great workout, but at the end of the day it wasn’t really dancing.
Then along came Just Dance, which introduced the world to dancing to popular music using “real dance moves”, the kind that you could practice at home and then wow everyone with on the dance floor. It was slightly annoying that the controller accuracy was a bit off, but the dance moves were so fun we didn’t care.
Just Dance 2 introduced much better motion control accuracy. Plus, it introduced the concept of “duets”, where people could dance cool choreographed routines together. And it was another winner.
Because of the popularity of Just Dance, this spawned a lot of “copycat” titles from Ubisoft to cash in. Dance on Broadway. Michael Jackson The Experience, Just Dance for Kids. Even Just Dance with Smurfs. They were fun, but at a certain point they started to get a bit tiring, as they were all variations of the same theme.
And so, we’ve all been waiting to see what Ubisoft would do for an encore with Just Dance 3. Could they push the genre forward, even as copycat titles like Dance Central on the Xbox and Everybody Dance on the PS3 encroached on their turf? I’m happy to say that Just Dance 3 pushes the platform even further and does it with great success.
When you start up Just Dance 3, the first thing it asks is if you’ll connect Just Dance to the Internet so that “Ubisoft can learn more about the way you play to make Just Dance even more groovy”. I wasn’t sure quite how to answer the question, but I figure since Just Dance 3 doesn’t use a video camera like those other systems, there wasn’t too much harm in it.
The opening menu, like in Just Dance 1 and 2, is delightfully simple. There are only a couple choices:
1) Dance!
As with the previous versions, you just right into the dancing. What I love about Just Dance 3 is that getting started is extremely simple. No silly things to take up your time like creating avatars. No adjusting of cameras or calibrating of equipment. You just shake your remote to see what “color” you are on the screen, and get started.
You can create a profile at any time; your name is limited to 5 characters. If you don’t create a profile you’ll be dancing by default as “Happy” (as opposed to “Sunny”).
As with previous versions, your job is to dance the “mirror image” of a colorful silhouetted on-screen figure showing you the dance moves. I’m happy to say that the motion controls are better and more accurate than ever. Granted, it still only detects the movement of one arm holding the Wii remote, so technically you could still just hurl your arm the right way and build up points. But of course the fun of the game is to get into the dance with your full body (and in fact, if you follow the choreographed moves perfectly with your whole body, your score will be better than ever). One other subtle improvement over previous versions is that the audio cues coming through the Wii remote (for example, when you hit a milestone while dancing) are much louder and clearer than before.
The choreography and backgrounds are as fun and in some cases as quirky as ever. For example, in Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1000 Dances” you’re following a dancing alligator in a fancy suit dancing in a schoolroom. And yes, you “do the alligator” 🙂 If you dance well on some songs, you can even see the background animate and change.

As with Just Dance 1 and 2, each song has a “technical difficulty” indicator from one to three gears, and a “workout intensity” indicate from one to three drops of sweat. There are over 45 great tracks to suit everyone’s tastes, and most of the songs are popular and familiar. For example, here’s Katy Perry’s “California Girls”

Multiplayer is where this game really shines. There’s “Dance Crew Mode” which is like Duet Mode, except that up to 4 players has their own independent choreography (and a chance to shine with a solo performance). There’s also a “Dance Til Dawn” party mode where you can just start the game up and it’ll cycle through songs all night, without the need to go back through menus again.
2) Just Sweat
As someone who follows Wii exercise titles very closely, this option was the one I was most excited about. You can choose from a “Free Session” (an instant fitness session for up to 4 players) or the “7-Day Challenge” (A selection of challenges to boost your fitness during 7 days).
For “Free Session” You can choose from a variety of options for the kind of music to work out to, including:
  • Speed Shuffle
  • Non-Stop Shuffle
  • Pop! Pop!
  • Rock Party
  • R&B Vibes
  • Electro Sounds
  • Just 80’s
  • Oldies but Goodies
  • Fancy Dress Ball
  • Around the World
  • Extreme
  • Sweat Attack
There are also fantastic options for working out in a group, including:
  • Duets
  • Dance Crew
I tried Sweat Attack, and sure enough I was sweating up a storm after just one song. The songs kept going and the more points I collected (on both Dance and Just Sweat modes), the more filled it up a “Mojo” meter by collecting enough points. Once the “Mojo Meter” was filled, I unlocked a “gift (Simon Says Mode). There are 27 “gifts” to unlock, ranging from new songs to new choreography to new playing modes, so it’ll definitely motivate you to keep coming back and building up those points. The songs in my case before I collapsed of exhaustion were Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You”, The Black Eyed Peas’ “Pump It”, Anja’s “Dance all Night”, Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1000 Dances”, and appropriately, a cover of C&C Music Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)..all very energetic and lively (and fun) songs.

As in the Dance mode, you rack up points when you hit the right dance moves. In addition, as with Just Dance 2, they don’t count calories for some reason, but rather, they count “sweat points”. With Just Dance 2, the consensus on the Web was that 4.2 sweat points = about 1 calorie burned, and it seems about the same with Just Dance 3. In all honesty, I’m not sure why they didn’t just use calories, which would have made things a lot easier. But still, as long as you do the math in your head, you can pretty much figure out how intensive a workout you’re getting (3500 calories burned or about 25-30 vigorous songs danced do equals about 1 pound of fat lost). As you reach certain points, the system will give you an indication of how much exercise you’ve done (after completing 1000 sweat points, it told me “You’ve just walked across Central Park”; after 2000 points, it said “you’ve just run 10 rounds of the Wembley Stadium”).
For “7-Day Challenge” you’re presented with three options for the next 7 days: The Fresh Start (3500 sweat points a week, the equivalent of walking 30 minutes a day), The Healthy Choice (7000 sweat points a week, equivalent to running 30 minutes a day), and The Sweat Explosion (21000 sweat points a week, equivalent to swimming for 30 minutes a day).
Overall, I loved Just Sweat mode, but I would have liked to see the ability to chart progress over days and weeks. Still, it’s a great improvement over previous version and definitely one of the best workouts you can have on the Wii.
3) Store
This is where you can purchase downloadable content (DLC) if your Wii is connected to the Internet. As of this writing (October 8, 2011), the store contained only the following songs:
  • Baby Don’t Stop Now (Anja)
  • Jambo Mambo (Old Orquesta)
  • Soul Searchin (Groove Century)
  • Twist and Shake It (The Girly Team)
But a bunch of empty icons indicates that there are more coming soon. Each song costs 250 Wii Points, so if you buy a 2000 point card for about $20, this comes out to about $2.50 a song.
4) Extras
This is where you can adjust options, such as whether to display lyrics, display pictograms (the icons telling you what move to make), display help screens, and track usage. You can also view the medals you earned.
I think one of the questions most people will have on their mind is: is Just Dance 3 on the Wii still relevant when there are so many new “real dance move” games out for systems like the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. My answer is a resounding “yes”. Not only does Just Dance 3 hold its own in terms of fun and accuracy–it actually has an advantage over those other systems. While those systems force players to squeeze into a camera view of 6 feet across, with Just Dance, players can stand anywhere in the room, and it doesn’t even matter if there are spectators or “dancers without controllers” standing among them.
Long story short, I think Ubisoft has taken a great franchise and moved it even further. Just Dance 3 for the Wii is another winner.
5 of 5 stars.
Here’s a complete song list:
  • Apache (Jump On It) – The Sugarhill Gang (difficulty=3, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Are You Gonna Go My Way – Lenny Kravitz (difficulty=1, intensity=3, dancers=1)
  • Baby One More Time – Britney Spears (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=4)
  • Baby Zouk – Dr. Creole (difficulty=2, intensity=3, dancers=2)
  • Barbra Streisand – Duck Sauce (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Beautiful Liar – Beyoncé and Shakira 3 (difficulty=1, intensity=2, dancers=2)
  • Boogie Wonderland – Earth, Wind & Fire (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=4)
  • Boom Reggaeton Explosion (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • California Gurls Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen (difficulty=3, intensity=2, dancers=2)
  • Da Funk – Daft Punk (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=2)
  • Dance All Nite – Anja (difficulty=3, intensity=1, dancers=1)
  • Dynamite – Taio Cruz (difficulty=1, intensity=2, dancers=4)
  • Forget You – Cee Lo Green (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Giddy On Up – Laura Bell Bundy (difficulty=2, intensity=1, dancers=1)
  • Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)*  – C+C Music Factory (difficulty=2, intensity=3, dancers=1)
  • Hey Boy Hey Girl – The Chemical Brothers (difficulty=3, intensity=3, dancers=1)
  • Hungarian Dance No. 5 (U) – Johannes Brahms (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=2)
  • I Feel Love – Donna Summer (difficulty=2, intensity=1, dancers=1)
  • I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ – Scissor Sisters (difficulty=3, intensity=3, dancers=1)
  • I’m So Excited – The Pointer Sisters (difficulty=1, intensity=3, dancers=1)
  • I Was Made for Lovin’ You – KISS (difficulty=1, intensity=2, dancers=4)
  • Jamaican Dance – Konshens (difficulty=1, intensity=2, dancers=2)
  • Jump (for My Love) – Girls Aloud (difficulty=3, intensity=3, dancers=2)
  • Kurio ko uddah le jana – Bollywood Rainbow (difficulty=3, intensity=2, dancers=2)
  • Land of 1000 Dances  – Wilson Pickett (difficulty=1, intensity=3, dancers=1)
  • Let’s Go to the Mall – Robin Sparkles (difficulty=3, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Lollipop – Mika (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Mamasita (U) – Latino Sunset (difficulty=3, intensity=2, dancers=2)
  • Marcia Baila – Rita Mitsouko (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Night Boat to Cairo – Madness (difficulty=1, intensity=3, dancers=4)
  • No Limit – 2 Unlimited (difficulty=2, intensity=3, dancers=2)
  • Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and Goon Rock (difficulty=3, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Pata Pata – Miriam Makeba (difficulty=1, intensity=2, dancers=2)
  • Price Tag – Jessie Jfeaturing B.o.B (difficulty=2, intensity=1, dancers=1)
  • Promiscuous – Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=2)
  • Pump It – The Black Eyed Peas (difficulty=3, intensity=3, dancers=1)
  • Satellite – Lena (difficulty=1, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • She’s Got Me Dancing – Tommy Sparks (difficulty=3, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Somethin’ Stupid – Robbie Williams featuring Nicole Kidman – (difficulty=1, intensity=1, dancers=2)
  • Spectronizer Sentai Express (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=4)
  • Take On Me – A-ha (difficulty=1, intensity=3, dancers=1)
  • The Master Blaster (U) – Inspector Marceau (difficulty=3, intensity=1, dancers=2)
  • Think – Aretha Franklin (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • This Is Halloween – Danny Elfman (difficulty=2, intensity=2, dancers=4)
  • Tightrope – Janelle Monáe (difficulty=3, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Venus – Bananarama (difficulty=1, intensity=2, dancers=1)
  • Video Killed the Radio Star – The Buggles (difficulty=2, intensity=1, dancers=1)
  • What You Waiting For? – Gwen Stefani (difficulty=2, intensity=1, dancers=1)
If you purchase at Best Buy you’ll get these additional songs:
  • Teenage Dream – Katy Perry (difficulty=2, intensity=1, dancers=1)
  • E.T. – Katy Perry (difficulty=1, intensity=2, dancers=1)
If you purchase at Target, you’ll get these additional songs:
  • Airplanes – B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams (difficulty=1, intensity=3, dancers=1)
  • Only Girl (In the World) – Rihanna

MIO Heartrate Watches on sale at Groupon now!

Here’s a deal and a half from Groupon. That’s right, Groupon, the folks who bring you half price restaurants and dance lessons and pottery making classes.

mio heart rate monitor

For $39, you can get a Motiva Heart Rate Watch that sells on Amazon for $64.22 and retails for $119.99. For $25, you can get a MIO Heart Pro watch that sells on Amazon for $42.03 and retails for $69.99.

Reviews are decidedly mixed, but if you’re just looking for something quick to use with your PS3 workouts that doesn’t require pesky chest straps, you can’t go wrong with this. But jump on it while you can, as the dreaded “limited quantity available” message is already up!

Click here to buy yours now!

Heartrate Monitor Watches from MIO for cheap from Groupon

Here’s a deal and a half from Groupon. That’s right, Groupon, the folks who bring you half price restaurants and dance lessons and pottery making classes.

mio heart rate monitor

For $39, you can get a Motiva Heart Rate Watch that sells on Amazon for $64.22 and retails for $119.99. For $25, you can get a MIO Heart Pro watch that sells on Amazon for $42.03 and retails for $69.99.

Reviews are decidedly mixed, but if you’re just looking for something quick to use with your Wii workouts that doesn’t require pesky chest straps, you can’t go wrong with this. But jump on it while you can, as the dreaded “limited quantity available” message is already up!

Review of Get Fit with Mel B for Wii

Cyberbike by
Platform: Wii
4 of 5 stars – Decent aerobic fitness game led by none other than Scary Spice.
by ,
Written on October 4, 2011

Get Fit with Mel B was a game originally released for the Playstation Move back in October 2010. When I reviewed it for our sister site PS3Fitness.Com, I found it to be a great and innovative fitness title for the PS3.

In a bit of a reversal from the norm, the PS3 version was ported to the Wii. The Wii version was released last week. Personally, I think this is a brilliant move by the publisher, as there is definitely a shortage of Wii fitness games right now (only Ubisoft is making a push into active gaming with the upcoming Just Dance 3). So if Get Fit with Mel B is worth its salt, it may be a huge hit for Christmas 2011.

For those who don’t know, Mel B. is better known to us old-timers as “Scary Spice”. You know, the only Spice Girl who you felt could (and would) beat you up after spicing up your life.

Starting up the game, it asks you to verify that the time and date on the clock are correct. You’re treated to a video introduction from Mel B, which is of surprisingly good quality for the Wii. You start out by entering your name on an on-screen keyboard, telling her if you’re male or female, entering your birthdate, and entering your height. You then choose your “build” from three icons (a lot more pleasant than entering your weight), and then tell her if there are any foods you don’t eat (by choosing from icons representing pork, beef, fish, etc.).

You can then choose a “workout location” from the following choices: Central Park, The Maldives, Infinity Pool, Forest Meadow, Apartment, or Luxury Yacht. I chose Central Park (which incidentally doesn’t look a thing like Central Park).

You then select a goal. You first choose a goal category from one of the following:

  • General Health
  • Lifestyle (fitness to make you feel better in everyday life)
  • Special Occasions (exercises to get you ready for a big event coming up in your life like a wedding)
  • Sports and Activities (exercises that help boost your performance in specific sports)
  • Shape (working out different parts of your body).

Choosing a category will show you goals within the category. For example, under General Health you have the choices of Weight Loss, Detox, Lower Cholestrol, or Healthy Heart.

Depending on whether you’re male or female you may see different choices for each category (for example, men will see “Six Pack for Summer” or “Slim Down for a Suit” under “Special Occasions”, while women will see “Bikini Fit”, “Drop a Dress Size”, “Red Carpet Ready”, “New Mom”, “Get Fit for an Active Holiday”). Other categories are the same for men and women (for example, under “Lifestyle”, you can choose “All Day Energy”, “De-Stress”, or “Keep up with the Kids”; under “Sports” you can choose general sports, golf, tennis, skiing, or dance).

You can choose up to two goals. I chose “weight loss”, and as a secondary goal I chose “De-Stress”. You then choose whether you want to work on both goals equally or one more than the other (I chose 80-20).

Choosing goals will customize the types of workouts you get later on in the game. In all honesty, I think this is more smoke-and-mirrors than anything else…there seem to be a pretty finite set of exercises, so there is going to be a lot of overlap from one workout to another.

Next, you can choose optional equipment to use, something we haven’t seen on a Wii exercise game since the original My Fitness Coach. You can choose to include a Fitball, a Resistance Band, Wrist Weights, or Ankle Weights in your workout. I went with the Resistance Band.

The next step is calibrating the Balance Board. Once this is done you’ll see a message:

I’ll schedule a different workout for you each day. You can just choose “Today’s workout” each day if you want to stick to the schedule, or you can use “Choose workout” to pick one of the types.

The next screen is a menu selector that’s reminiscent of “My Fitness Coach 2”. This is no accident, as that game had been developed by Lightning Fish games and had been called “NewU Fitness First: Personal Trainer” in the UK. However, when the game was brought to the United States, the publisher, Ubisoft, foolishly chose to change the name to try to “cash in” on the success of My Fitness Coach. But because the new game was completely different, fans of the original were disappointed and felt they’d been misled (which, in fact, they had been). They never gave NewU a chance. Happily, Deep Silver, the new publisher of Get Fit with Mel B in the US, was smart enough to keep the original name.

Ironically, Get Fit with Mel B feels in many ways like the true sequel to My Fitness Coach that we’ve been waiting so many years for. As with that game, you can choose your workout environment (which is a photorealistic setting, not a cartoon), you can choose your own equipment to work with, you can watch your trainer make the exact moves (again, as a video instead of a cartoon), and your workouts consist of reps of many different activities strung together. You really feel like Mel B is your own “personal trainer”. I’d go so far as to say that if you were a fan of My Fitness Coach and have been disappointed by wannabes (no pun intended) like Jillian Michaels, 10 Minute Solution, or Zumba Fitness, you’ll feel like you’ve come home with Get Fit with Mel B.

The Menu options are extremely simple. They are:

1) Today’s Workout: This takes you right into each day’s scheduled workout, which is a different workout each day based on the goals that you selected.

2) Choose Workout: This gives you a couple more options:

–        Workout. You choose between standardized “Fitness” and “Aerobics” workouts, customizing the length of the workout.

If you choose “Fitness”, a standard workout comprised of fitness activities is customized to your goals and put together. You’ll see a breakdown of each of the individual fitness activities (mine consisted of 15-20 reps of push ups, see saws, crunches, jumping jacks, hip swings, squats, chest presses, tricep kick backs, and bent rows).

If you choose “Aerobics”, you can choose from step, dance, combat, cardio, or advanced cardio aerobics. Again, you’re shown a breakdown of the different aerobic moves (Advanced Cardio has you doing pulldown knees, shuffles, jumping jacks, ice skaters, swinging star jumps, toe touch jump squats, side jumps and drop squats, spring hops, twisting tuck jumps, rotating hamstring curls, jumping jacks and drop squats, jumping single leg lunges, high knee runs, and side ski jumps). And happily, all the aerobics exercises use the balance board, and use it well–if you bought a Balance Board for step aerobics but were always disappointed by Wii Fit’s weak “plink, plink, plink” step aerobics, you’ll love how they use the Balance Board here.

You can choose the length of the workout, and then just start working out.

–        Custom Workout: With custom workout, you can literally build your own workouts, choosing the fitness or aerobic move, and then choosing how many reps of each move you wish to make. It takes a while to set up, but the resulting workout is yours alone, which you can play over and over again.

There is a staggering number of individual moves which you can choose from. Here’s a list of Fitness Moves:

  1. Rotation push-ups
  2. Lateral Step-ups
  3. Drop Lunges
  4. Three point push-ups
  5. Push-ups
  6. Push-ups on knees
  7. Staggered Push-ups
  8. Cat crawl push-ups
  9. See Saws
  10. Mountain Climbers
  11. Long arm crunches
  12. Roll up crunches
  13. Squats
  14. Wide squats
  15. Lunges
  16. Side lunges
  17. Squats with kickbacks
  18. Reverse lunges
  19. Jumping jacks
  20. Lunges with running arms
  21. Ice skaters
  22. jumping lunges
  23. Canoe
  24. Twist crunches
  25. Diagonal lunges
  26. Hip swings
  27. Split Squats
  28. Prisoner Squats
  29. Cobra
  30. Flys
  31. Chest presses
  32. Bicep Curls
  33. Hammer Curls
  34. Tricep kick backs
  35. Tricep extensions
  36. Shoulder presses
  37. Shoulder scaptions
  38. Upright rows
  39. Bent rows
  40. Side raises
  41. Front raises
  42. Reverse flys
  43. Seated rows
  44. Single shoulder presses
  45. Front/side raises

…and a list of Step Aerobic Moves:

  1. Step on, step off
  2. kicks
  3. side kicks
  4. steps with turns
  5. diagonal knee raises
  6. hamstring curls
  7. Front knee raises
  8. Side steps
  9. Kicks and leg raises
  10. Hamstring curls and presses
  11. Turns with arm circles
  12. Heel digs and bicep curls
  13. Sideways high knees
  14. Front kicks with scissor arms

There’s a similar list of moves for dance, combat, cardio, and advanced cardio aerobics.

– Practice: Here, you can choose any single exercise and practice it as many times as you like. This becomes handy with some of the more complex moves.

– Challenges: If you’re up for a challenge, these are intensive groups of exercises where you’re pushed to complete a set of themed exercise routines (Dance, Abs Attack, Legs of Steel, Fighting Fit, or Cardio Test) within a certain period of time. I would have liked to see this section be a little more “fun” and interactive, but it’s really not much different than the standard workouts, just a bunch of tougher ones strung together.

3) Nutrition: Here, you’re presented with six meal plans and 140 heathy recipes. I do like the sentiment–any successful workout routine will be coupled with healthy eating. If you have your Wii hooked up to a printer or set up in the kitchen, this section will be useful to you. In other words, this section is pretty worthless. But on a positive note, the recipes do look delicious and they are all relatively short, so it might be worth you copying down by hand.

Whether you select Today’s Workout, a standard Workout, or a custom Workout, they’re all similar. You’ll see a video image of Mel B in the milieu you selected, and she’ll call out the moves you need to make and demonstrate on-screen how to do them. Unlike the Playstation or the upcoming Xbox version, there is NO support for a video camera image of yourself next to Mel B.

Having said that, I didn’t really miss having a video image all that much. The on-screen rendition of Mel B is pretty clear, and the vocal instructions she shouts are very understandable and easy to follow (unlike games like Jillian Michaels, where the on-screen Jillian would shout mundane and irrelevant platitudes).

As for the accuracy of the controls, the game does use the Balance Board for certain exercises, and for most exercises it uses the Wii MotionPlus. But by now we all know that because it’s a Wii, the controls are not the most precise in the world. Most exercises will err on the side of being generous in “awarding” you accuracy points, and of course, it’s easy to “cheat” by moving your hands but not the rest of your body. Of course, if you want to get the most out of the workout, accuracy points aren’t the most important thing–the most important thing is doing the exercise.

Long story short, if you’re looking for a simulation of a real personal trainer working out with you at a gym, in many ways Get Fit with Mel B comes closer than any other game since the original My Fitness Coach. Given the paucity of new fitness titles for Fall 2011, Get Fit with Mel B is a great choice if you’re looking for something a little new and different, especially if you enjoy cardio and aerobic sessions at the gym. 4 of 5 stars.