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Archive for May, 2012

Adidas MiCoach Release Date is July 24, 2012 – Preorder Now

Well, I’ve been talking about Adidas MiCoach for it seems like an eternity now, but at LONG last the pre-order link is available on Amazon. The pricing will be $49.99 and the original list of athletes that were promised to be part of the game will be there: Kaka, Dwight Howard, Manuel Neuer, Jessica Ennis, Jose Mourinho, Ana Ivanovic, Will Genia and Eric Berry. The athletes aren’t just generic computer animations with their faces painted on–word has it that the athletes actually did the exercises and skills challenges themselves, and it’s their actual performance that’s part of the game.

Early reports of the game had said it’ll come with additional hardware, but since the game is priced at $49.99 I doubt that hardware will be the MiCoach pacer nor even the speed cell. Perhaps there’ll be a heart rate monitor such as the one that came with EA Sports Active. We’ll see about that.

One thing the MiCoach will definitely come with is an already active online community where you can track your progress online and compete in challenges against friends or even strangers. Again, early news reports said that you can earn points that you can exchange for discounts on Adidas products.

In other words, early indications are that this will for all intents and purposes be the next progression forward for EA Sports Active 2 (we all know by now that from all appearance EA Sports has abandoned that product). Time will tell, of course, but I for one plan to be one of the first in line for this.

More information as it comes, as always.

Harley Pasternak Workout for Wii announced by Majesco…again

Yesterday, Majesco announced a new game coming out in the fall for the Xbox and the Wii called Harley Pasternak’s Hollywood Workout. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Majesco made the same announcement back in December 2010. The difference being that the game was originally scheduled to launch in Fall 2011, but now it’s slated for Fall 2012.

If you don’t know Harley Pasternak, chances are you know some of his clients, from Lady Gaga to Megan Fox to Katy Perry. Pasternak has published a best-selling book called 5-Factor Fitness: The Diet and Fitness Secret of Hollywood’s A-List which details his “workout to the stars”, and now it’s coming to the Wii.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the developers of this title really provide us something new and unique. From the description in the press release it doesn’t sound too different than what we got with My Fitness Coach back in 1999, but if they can really capture the essence of his best-selling book and the things that keep all those celebrities coming back to him, we may see another hit on our hands. As always, I’ll post more details as they come.

The President’s Active Play Challenge

Interestingly, it looks like the White House is getting into the action (literally). Recently, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition announced an initiative to encourage Americans to start exercise using…wait for it…active video games!

I should explain that the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition is not political in nature. Its history goes back to 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower established “The President’s Council on Youth Fitness”. The council continued through President’s Kennedy and Johnson, and most recently, was re-invigorated by President George W. Bush and continues under President Obama today. It consists of 25 volunteer citizens with a lot of familiar names: New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, Olympic Gymnast Dominique Dawes, and other sports legends from Grant Hill to Billie Jean King to Michelle Kwan…they were nominated under both the Bush and Obama administrations, and they don’t get paid a salary for their involvement, which is commendable.

On April 30, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition made a joint announcement with the Entertainment Software Association on the Active Play PALA+ Challenge. The challenge, in a nutshell, is that if you’re an adult you have to commit to playing an active video game at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for six weeks. If you’re a kid, you need to play an hour a day.

How do you keep track of the time you work out? They’ve got a site for that. You can create an account to track all of your activity online (if you’re paranoid about the government tracking your every move, you can always create a fake Gmail account :)).

Once I created an account, I was a little surprised to find that I was placed into a “group” along with 50 people I didn’t know. Okay…not too creepy.

presidents challenge with strangers

It’s not a very complicated site. The gist of it is that you sign in every day and log what kind of exercise you did that day along with the number of hours. Surely enough, there’s a drop-down option for “video games – activity promoting”, along with a huge list other physical activities like walking, baton twirling, rodeo sports, and…um…”wallyball”.. You get “points” for every exercise you put in. Obviously, you’re on the “honor system” as to whether you really do it.

Presidents challenge logging activity

You can also set “nutrition goals” for yourself, by basically choosing some “tips” from a list and saying you did them. For example “I ate seafood”, “I drank water instead of sugary drinks”, and so on. You get “points” for each goal you set. The goals are:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Make half the grains you eat whole grains.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt, or cheese.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Choose lean sources of protein.
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup and frozen meals and choose foods with less sodium.
  • Eat some seafood.
  • Pay attention to portion size.

Not bad advice, of course.

The site also lets you post a message to the group of strangers. When I got onto the discussion board, there was whopping 2 topics posted 🙂

Now, I won’t kid you. While this isn’t a bad idea, the execution is kind of weak. It looks like the site is trying to be like the EA Sports Active online experience, where each member of the “team” could see how many “points” they got cumulatively and compare it against others. But I don’t think I’m going to get into the habit of signing into this site every day and inputting every little bit of physical activity I did. And I doubt I’m going to feel like I’m in a “community” anytime soon with 50 strangers. The one thing that the developers probably are finding out right now is that these kinds of “log in every day and mark down every minute of the day you spent playing wallyball” sites just don’t work. Think about it–how many people do you know who are fastidiously logging their daily activity into Wii Fit Plus or EA Sports Active?

I think the first company that figures out how to integrate a video game, a smartphone, and a PC into an integrated exercise experience will crack that nut (do you hear me, Adidas or Nike?)

Still, since your and my tax dollars paid for it, I figure maybe I’ll stop by from time to time to try to get my money’s worth 🙂

Another odd thing I noticed about this program is the games that the Entertainment Sports Association claimed are “active games”. Take a look at this list (the links take you to the information the publishers provided on how to use their games as part of the PALA+ Challenge)

Really, EA Sports? Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is your exergame of choice? To me, this just confirms to me that EA Sports has given up on the exergaming genre, after all those units of EA Sports Active and EA Sports Active 2 that we bought from them. First they discontinue their online support. Now, they name a game where you stand and swing your arms as an “active game”, when they have one of the better exercise games out there (but their marketing department just doesn’t want to push it anymore). You’re better than that!

My gut tells me that Sony is also walking a thin line by putting  MLB 12: The Show  on the list while they’re dragging their feet in releasing Move Fitness to the US, but I’ll let you know for sure when I review MLB 12: The Show on PS3Fitness.Com.

That said, the other games seem to be pretty good for active gaming (Nickelodeon Dance is a little light in the workout intensity, but perfectly suitable for little kids). But this list definitely doesn’t represent  the best (then again, that’s what you have this site for, along with xboxfitness.org and ps3fitness.com, right? :)).

Overall, I’m not sure exactly how popular this initiative is going to be; while it seems very well-intentioned, other than putting up what appear to be hastily-assembled splash pages about it on their Web sites,  it just doesn’t feel that any of the ESA members are really putting much of a push behind it (which I’m sure the PCFSN was hoping for when they reached out to the ESA). And the Web site that the PCFSN put together to track fitness goals wasn’t even nearly as advanced as what even games like Wii Fit were doing years ago.

So, I just played an hour of video games and went back to the site to update it, and this is what I found:

Yes sir, your tax dollars at work…although one interesting tidbit you can see here is that the site is hosted at Indiana University, which means it’s probably a bunch of college kids putting together the site using some grant money.

Okay, I’m being a little cynical, but like I said, the thought was a good one. Obesity is a growing problem in this country, and whatever the public and private sector can do to bring awareness to better nutrition and better physical activity, more power to them.

Plus, there’s some added incentive to complete the program. According to the Web site:

Individuals who achieve the physical activity and healthy eating goals will receive a certificate signed by PCFSN Co-chairs and are able to purchase a certificate signed by the President of the United States!

Now while this sounds great, I’m guessing the “certificate” from Drew Brees and Dominique Dawes will be an attachment in an email, but I’ll let you know in six weeks (and yes, I’ll do it honesty :P). I’ve already seen the certificate “signed” by the President. It costs 50 centers, plus only $5.95 for standard shipping that’s arrive in 18 days. Uh huh. And I doubt that President Obama is really signing these, although maybe they’ve got Joe Biden in the White House basement doing it…

Just kidding of course…even if the signatures aren’t real, just the ability to get a certificate of some kind will probably be appealing to kids (Kids love certificates–I still have my prized “presidential fitness” certificate from 3rd grade “signed” by Jimmy Carter!). So this might be a fun thing to challenge the kids to do for a few weeks. And who knows, they (and you) might just pick up some good habits from it, which I think is the whole point of the program!

 

EA Sports Active 2 for Playstation: Is It Still Worth It?

Back in 2010 when I reviewed EA Sports Active 2 for PS3, I loved it. It was a fairly good port of the Wii version which at the time was far and away the best video game workout for any system.

Daskreeh and Alexey both asked a very good question in the comments section of the post. With EA’s recent pulling of online support, is the game still worth having?

I’m a little torn on this one. For one thing, at a street price of Around $155, this is a great price for a game that works (as long as you stick with it, of course). Remember that for the $15, you not only get the game, you get the resistance band and the heart rate monitor. That’s a deal and a half considering that the game originally retailed for close to $100.

On the other hand, EA’s pulling of support for its online community is troublesome. The online features were never earth-shatteringly good (you could view your progress online and participate in group workouts which helped motivate you, but the signup process and the user interface were both very clunky). But what troubles me is that EA Sports had every chance in the world to improve it (unlike the video game, their online features could have been improved continuously) and they never did. I expected them to continue to evolve their online features to last through EA Sports Active 3, 4, and beyond. Instead, the recent actions of EA Sports lead me to believe that it was just a gimmick all along to get us to buy the game and that they never intended to build it into anything more.

The fact that they treat online support of EA Sports Active 2 no differently, say, than online support for outdated versions of their other sports games leads me to conclude that they just don’t understand the fitness gaming community. They treat us like “gamers”, but as anyone who’s sweated out a 9-week routine, that’s not what we are.

Worse, there is not a peep from EA Sports about a sequel like EA Sports Active 3, which makes me wonder if they’re abandoning the fitness gaming genre altogether. Which is a shame, because there is so much more they could have done by doing more “simulation” type games that combined their traditional sports games with Move.

So my recommendation–at the price it’s at now, I’d definitely still recommend it as a game you can play and completely benefit from “offline” — there was never any dependency on the online features to do things like the 9-week workout.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that’ll be supported for the future and a company that will continue to grow its online features, I’d suggest holding out for Adidas MiCoach instead. Because Adidas’s cloud-based online features are already established (for people using MiCoach with their PCs, iPhones, etc.), those aren’t going to be abandoned like EA did. Of course, we’ll have to see if the workout routines for MiCoach improve upon EA Sports’.

3D Playstation Display at the Lowest Price I’ve Seen #playstation #3d

Best Buy now has the Playstation 3D Bundle for $249.99. Makes those like me who paid $600 for it feel a little sheepish!


Sony Computer Entertainment America PlayStation 3D Display Bundle

Playstation 3D Bundle at the cheapest price yet #ps3 #bestbuy #3d

Back when the Playstation 3D monitor was released, I was a big fan. I drove to my local Gamestop and picked it up. Even though I paid the full retail price $499 I was pretty happy with it. My thought at the time was that Sony was brilliant for introducing 3D at such a “low” price point to try to get us to adopt it just like they got us to adopt BluRay.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem like the 3D Monitor has quite taken off. I’ll chalk it up to the general state of the economy, not to mention some poor decisions by Sony (not including a TV tuner or a remote control with the unit, for example). Don’t get me wrong–I still love my 3D monitor. It serves as a terrific HDMI monitor for my computer, and I love the option of watching 3D Blu-Rays and 3D cable TV, even if it is on a smaller screen.

If you’ve been on the fence about this one, I very strongly recommend you check out a deal that Best Buy has going on now.


Sony Computer Entertainment America PlayStation 3D Display Bundle at Best Buy

For $249.99, this unit is a steal. Let’s do the math. Here’s everything that’s bundled with the unit.

Motorstorm Apocalypse (decent game with street price of about $35)
3D Glasses ($60 retail value)
HDMI Cable (about $10)

So, factoring all these things in you end up getting the monitor for about $155! Especially if you have a home gym or fitness room. While things are a little slow on the PS3 gaming front, expect that to change in the summer when Adidas MiCoach is finally released!

I’ve been a little slow on posting reviews, but I’ll be posting a review of MLB 12: The Show soon, and of course I’ll cover gameplay on the 3D monitor. Stay tuned!

The Wii U Will Have Fitness Games!

In our last post we talked about the paucity of exercise games and posited that perhaps a frivolous lawsuit was behind it.

Another possibility, of course, is that developers are simply not creating new games for a system that’s facing obsolescence as its manufacturer is planning for a new system. I’m talking, of course, about the Wii U, the sequel to the Wii which is slated to be released sometime this year (I don’t see a release date yet on Amazon, but I’ll be posting updates here as I hear about them.

News is starting to trickle in about games for the Wii U. The rumor mill was set abuzz last week when a purported launch list of Wii U games was spotted. The good news for fitness and motion game enthusiasts is that the list includes Your Shape 2013 (which should be much better than the last iteration of Your Shape for the Wii which starred creepy cartoony Jenny McCarthy) and Just Dance 4. I had feared that with the new funky tablet-like controller that motion games might go away, but Ubisoft seems to be holding down the fort if these rumors are to be believed.

We’ll know more in early June when the E3 conference kicks off and Nintendo releases its official launch date and games list. Stay tuned!

Adidas MiCoach for PS3 and Xbox Back on Track for Summer Release

Happily, it looks like Adidas MiCoach is back on track, set to be launched in summer 2012. Those who have been following this game know that it was originally slated to be released earlier this year but it was unceremoniously pulled by its original publisher, THQ. This resulted in lawsuits between Adidas and THQ which happily have been resolved.

It turns out that 505 Games will now be releasing Adidas MiCoach for the Xbox and the PS3. 505 Games has previously published games such as Michael Phelps: Push the Limit and Grease Dance.

Something I learned that I didn’t realize before was that the developer behind this game is none other than Lightning Fish Games (now known as Chromativity) , who was behind other excellent fitness games such as NewU Fitness First Personal Trainer (a great Wii game whose distribution in the US was royally screwed up by Ubisoft) and Get Fit with Mel B (the first decent exercise title for the PS3). So you can be sure to expect a solid title.

Among other things, MiCoach will make use of existing Adidas MiCoach Fitness Technology, currently used by athletes and fitness buffs around the world to track real-time data such as heartrate and exercise time. Furthermore, the game will make use of the Kinect on the Xbox and the Move on the PS3 to run players through over 400 exercises. Actual athletes such as Kaka, Dwight Howard, Manuel Neuer, Jessica Ennis, Jose Mourinho, Ana Ivanovic, Will Genia and Eric Berry will provide “Master classes” for their sport.

I’ve been bullish on this game ever since it was first announced a year ago. Early indications are that it seems poised to pick up where EA Sports Active 2 left off. Of course, much will depend on how interactive and enjoyable the game ends up being. Stay tuned!