lose weight with wii and nutrisystem


Get a pre-owned Wii for $29.99 or PS3 for $59.99 after rebate 11.07.16

As I dive into the world of smartphone fitness games, just to prove I haven’t forgotten about our beloved Wii and PS3 for fitness I figure I’d pass along a deal for the Wii and PS3. ūüôā¬†Not sure how long this is going to last, but you can get a pre-owned Wii or PS3 from Gamestop for only $29.99 after rebate.

Here’s how.

First, go to this page to order a Wii for $49.99 or this page to order a PS3 for $79.99.

On your receipt you’ll see a unique rebate code. Enter it at¬†https://www.gamestoprebates.com/.

That’s it. You’ll get a $20 rebate, and a used system that’s guaranteed to work. Couple it with some games from our best-of lists of exercise games for the Wii or PS3 and you’ve got yourself a cheap home fitness system. The PS3 is a deal and a half, because with your console purchase you get one of the best¬†3D Blu-Ray players you can buy “for free”.

h/t to the good folks at Slickdeals. ¬†This appears to be an unadvertised deal that is showing up on people’s receipts.

 

Review of Pokémon GO for iOS and Android 09.07.16

The¬†newest “exergame” to hit the market is a close relative to what many deem one of the first¬†exergames for¬†smartphones.

Back in 2012, Google developed a location-based game called Ingress for Android, which was ported over to iOS in 2014. In the game, you move around a virtual world on your screen, which happens to correspond to the real world. In other words, the world itself is your “game board”.

The game is essentially a worldwide¬†version of “capture the flag”.¬†In the game you join one of two sides–the “Enlightened” or the “Resistance”, and then you work with your side to “take over” areas in the real world by walking around your neighborhood, your work area, while shopping, and so on and capturing “portals” that are scattered around the virtual world (typically¬†corresponding to certain landmarks in the real world).

Ingress was hugely popular, with a reported 7 million players at its peak. The game developers spun off from Google as an independent company called Niantic in August 2015. But the game had its flaws. The first was in the premise. The science fiction plotline was clearly targeted towards “geeks”, so casual players were probably turned off, intimidated with words like “”Resonators”, “Mods”, “Amplifiers”, “Heat Sinks”, “Keys”, “Portal Links”, “MUF Capsules” and so on. The second issue was that in some circles there was widespread cheating going on, which¬†proved a disincentive to players who played the game “honestly”. Still, Ingress is definitely a game worth downloading and checking out.

pokemon go iconNiantic did something brilliant. They teamed up with The Pokémon Company and released a new game for your smartphone called Pokémon GO for iOS and Android.

Just about everyone who’s a Gen Y’er or Millennial has had a collection of Pok√©mon cards. I remember once watching some kids playing with their Pok√©mon cards,¬†reciting¬†every character, along with their info, type, heal points, stage, attack, damage, and weakness and thinking to myself…if only they used that part of their brains to memorize the Periodic Table or the Bill of Rights.

Well, those kids are all grown up now and all have smartphones and disposable income. And so the time is rife for Pokémon GO.

You start out Pokémon GO by signing into your Pokémon.com username and password, if you have one, or a Google ID.

IMG_0886When you start the game you’re greeted by a Pok√©mon¬†Professor, Professor Willow.

Do you know that this world is inhabited by creatures known as Pok√©mon? Pok√©mon can be found in every corner of the earth. Some run across the plains, others fly through the skies, some live in the mountains, or in the forests, or near water… I have spent my whole life studying them and their regional distribution. Will you help me with my research? That’s great! I was¬†just looking for someone like you to help! You’ll need to find and collect Pokemon from everywhere! Now, choose your style for your adventure.¬†

From there, you can choose a male or a female avatar and do very basic customization.

Then¬†you’re asked to give the app permission to access your camera. From there Pok√©mon GO works a lot like Ingress does. You see a virtual map on your screen where you’ll see streets that correspond to¬†the real world.

My initial view in Pokemon GO, which happens to correspond to the streets in my neighborhood.

My initial view in Pokemon GO, which happens to correspond to the streets in my neighborhood.

The good professor will hand you a few “Pok√© Balls” that you’ll use to capture Pok√©mons you encounter.

Your¬†first Pok√©mon will show up soon after that, and you’ll also be able to play with the camera feature. If you turn it on, you’ll see¬†an image of your actual surroundings in the real world, and you’ll see¬†the Pok√©mon hanging out there through the magic of augmented reality. In my case, it showed up in the baby’s playpen.

IMG_0902

You need to flick your screen to try to hit the Pok√©mon with one of your Pok√© Balls. Catch¬†him and he’ll end up in your Pok√©Dex.

As you walk around the real world, you’ll encounter “Pok√©Stops” (which correspond to landmarks in the real world–it’s what¬†they called “Portals” in Ingress) where you can collect additional supplies. Just sitting in my apartment, there was a sculpture right across the street that I could tap and collect a few more Poke Balls.

sculpture across street

What’s cool about this is that I’m finding even in my own neighborhood I’m learning things about the real world I never knew before–the names and locations of sculptures and public artwork I’d previously just passed by without thinking.

I could see on the map that there were more down the street, and the only way for me to get to them was to walk…and walk…and walk. And you need to walk–if you’re traveling by car or train you’ll be going too fast to “check in” to any location.

As you collect the same species of Pok√©mon enough time, you can “evolve” them into a different Pok√©mon. And¬†when you reach “Level 5”, in a concept similar to Ingress, you’ll be able to enter something called a “gym” and join one of three teams. In gyms your Pok√©mons can do battle with others with the goal of capturing the gym for your team. Unlike card games and video games the battles aren’t turn-based, but you can tap the screen, hold down your finger to build power for special attacks, and swipe to dodge attacks. The old rules from the card games and video games apply (e.g., water Pokemon are effective against fire). Battles are the most effective way to strengthen your collection of Pokemon and raise their levels.

If you live in a big city, chances are you’ll be seeing a lot of people¬†on the sidewalks in the coming weeks and months¬†with their heads glued to their smartphone screens, and occasionally stopping and swiping at them. Now you’ll know what they’re up to ūüôā Just today I saw about ten people like this on the streets of Manhattan, desperately trying to look nonchalant, but clearly obsessing over collecting Pokemon items.

This of course begs the questions, can Pok√©mon GO (or Ingress for that matter) really be considered an “exercise game”. You’re not really running, or breaking a sweat, or even getting an elevated heartrate.

This is all true, but what it is doing is promoting more movement. For example, I take the train into Manhattan every day, and then I can either take a 10 minute subway ride or a 30 minute walk to my office. For example,¬†in my daily commute after work I have the option of either hopping on the subway (at $2.75 a pop) for a 10 minute ride or taking a 30 minute walk to the train station. At the end of the day I’m usually exhausted and end up giving in and paying the $2.75. But for a time at least, trying to “catch them all” is probably going to give me all the incentive I need¬†to save the money and walk for the foreseeable future. Similarly, if I’m walking and see a Pok√© Stop just a little distance away, I find myself walking out of the way to get it.

This morning was a beautiful day and I opted to walk. Right outside Penn Station I saw a Zubat to capture (being Manhattan, people weren’t getting creeped out that I was pointing my phone at them and swiping, but YMMV depending on how weird the people in your neighborhood are).

pokemon outside penn station

Being Manhattan, my map was filled with dozens of Poké Stops, including the Eagle Statue right outside Penn Station.

penn station eagle

As I walked I encountered many more monsters, including this rat-inspired monster, appropriately near the same place in the City where I saw real rats at one point.

raticate pokemon in nyc

And the¬†early reviews show the same thing–people are abandoning their cars and buses and trains and choosing to walk sometimes ridiculous distances to play this game and find all the items they can get. In a city like New York, there are certainly a lot!

pokemon go in midtown

Niantic’s servers have had its troubles in the last few days since the app launched, most likely due to the huge amount of downloads and usage the app has gotten. This, unfortunately, has negatively affected early reviews for the game.¬†Hopefully this will just be a temporary thing.

Ultimately I’m impressed. This is a peek into the future of mobile gaming, where addictive (but rather mindless) games like Farmville and Candy Crush meet location-based services like Foursquare and Waze.¬†When I was on the train and not able to play Pokemon Go, I fired up my Candy Crush and it felt so…pointless (granted walking around collecting monsters is equally pointless, but there’s enough extra value in the augmented reality experience that your brain convinces you it’s not).

Put another way, walking around hunting for monsters and finding one every now and then gave me a thrill not unlike the thrill I get when fishing–even to the point of being more thrilled when I find and net¬†a “big one”.

It’s also is a brilliant way to extend the 20-year old¬†Pok√©mon franchise, and¬†since it has¬†a much more accessible and understandable premise than Ingress, I fully expect it to take off and be as huge as any (every) other Pok√©mon product in history.

Game: Pokémon GO
Publisher: Niantic
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Exercise supported: Walking (outdoors)
Watch Support? No
Price: Free
Download links: iOS Android.

Is Pokemon GO free?
Yes, it’s completely free and you can enjoy the game without ever paying a dime. However, there are in-game purchases that can enhance your enjoyment, such as purchasing Pokeballs, Incense, Lucky Eggs, Lures, Egg Incubators and upgrades so you can store more items and Pokemons. Purchasing each of these will require use of Pokecoins, which is fake money that you purchase with real money :).
Does Pokemon GO use a lot of data?
No, the average use will use about 5-10 megabytes of data for every hour of continuous play, and most sessions last much shorter than that. Even though it uses the same GPS as a mapping app, it uses substantially less data.
Is Pokemon GO safe?
It really depends. The game hasn’t been out a week and there are already reports of people getting robbed, people crashing cars, people falling into ditches and walking into oncoming traffic and each other, and so on. The key is to remind yourself of what it says on the opening screen–“Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings.” Use your common sense. Don’t keep your face buried in your phone as you walk–your phone will buzz is there’s a Pokemon or a PokeStop nearby. If you’re on a crowded street and a Pokemon pops up, don’t walk and throw PokeBalls at the same time, but calmly step to the side and dispatch of the Pokemon calmly. If you’re alone at night and see a Pokemon or a PokeStop in an isolated area, let it go.
Help! My Pokemon GO hung up! What do I do?
Stay calm. If your Pokemon Go freezes after you’ve just caught a Pokemon, wait for the little “loading/saving” icon to appear in the upper left hand corner. If it does, your accomplishment was successfully saved, and you can force-quit the app and start over without losing anything. If you quickly re-open the app, chances are all the PokeStops and Pokemons that were there before will still be there. Unfortunately this is happening quite a bit, but expect it to get better as Niantic improves their servers and a lot of the curious users start dropping off.
How do I catch Pokemon?

As you walk, from time to time different Pokemon will appear on your map (you don’t need to be constantly looking at your screen–your phone will vibrate to let you know). Tap on the Pokemon and you’ll be switched to an augmented reality view of your world with the Pokemon in front of you with a circle in front of it (my first bit of advice is to turn AR off using the switch in the upper right-hand corner–it’s cool the first few times but just gets in the way after repeated playings). Fling a Pokeball at the circle. It takes practice, but the key is to line up the Pokemon so it’s right in front of you, and then then watch the animated circle. Hold the ball down with your finger and then when the circle is at its smallest point, flick with the first angle and force to throw, aiming for the middle of that small circle.

A red, yellow, or green circle shows how difficult it is to catch–green is easiest to catch, red is extremely difficult. The more advanced ones will move more and sometimes need several attempts to bag. You’ll get a bonus if you’re accurate and throw the ball into the ring it’s small. You’ll increase your chances and get a little bonus by making a little circular motion with your finger to “wind up” the ball and then fling it at an angle to shoot it in a “curveball”.

Does Pokemon Go have to be open to hatch eggs?
Yes, you need to walk anywhere from 2 to 10 kilometers (the requirement is listed under the egg) with the app open. For those who don’t know what we’re talking about, the eggs you’ve collected at PokeStops can be found in the Pokemon menu. You can carry nine eggs at once–once you’ve filled up with 9 you won’t be able to carry any more. You’ll need to put the egg in an incubator (you get one unlimited orange one at the start of the game, and you can purchase additional blue ones that are good for three uses) and walk. Right now I have 9 eggs, two that requires a 2k walk (1.2 miles), six that require a 5k walk (3.1 miles), and one that requires a 10k walk (6.2 miles). It’s a great way to get you to do more exercise.
How do gyms work?

After you reach level 5, you pick a team–the red team, the yellow team, or the blue team. Ask other friends playing the game first what team they choose–once you choose a team you can’t change it. When you pass a “gym” (usually a public landmark¬†of some kind), you’ll see which team it’s controlled by by its color. If you click on the gym you’ll see trainers like yourself who have occupied that gym.

If you go to a friendly gym (your team’s color), and there’s an empty slot, you can take that slot by adding your Pokemon to the gym. If there’s no empty slot, you can still challenge the gym to a “friendly fight”–if you win the fight it’ll increase the gym’s “prestige”. If you happen to get the gym to the next level, the next slot is yours (until a rival team kicks you out, in which case your Pokemon will be returned to you).

If you go to an unfriendly gym (another color), you need to put your best Pokemons against their best ones. Your mission is to defeat as many of their trainers as possible to drain their “prestige” to zero. Once that happens, you can take over the gym for your own team.

How do battles in the gym work?
First, you need to build up your Pokemon’s CP (combat points) by training and evolving it. You don’t want to be putting a Pokemon with a CP of 10 against one of 1000. Then, it’s time to fight (again, fighting a friendly team is just a “training fight” with one Pokemon that can help you increase the gym’s control for your team, fighting an enemy team is where you set up six¬†Pokemons to attempt to knock them down or out). Battling itself is just a lot of tapping and swiping. Tap the screen to have your selected Pokemon perform its basic attack. When you see a “flickering” animation, it means the enemy Pokemon is about to attack and you need to swipe to get out of the way. There’s a blue meter called a Special Attack bar–once it’s filled up press down on the enemy for a few seconds to unleash the attack. Each Pokemon has a certain amount of “Hit Points (HP) and your goal is to wipe out your opponent’s HP before yours is. Your Pokemon will “faint” if defeated. In either case, you can bring your Pokemon back to fighting strength for the next time by using “Potion” and “Revive” medicine (which you collect at PokeStops).
How do I train or evolve my Pokemon to have higher CP?
Every time you catch or hatch a Pokemon, or place your Pokemon in a gym to defend it you’ll collect Stardust (which can be used for any Pokemon) and Candy (which apply to an individual “species”). You can use these to increase the CP of your Pokemon.
Come on, is this really exercise?
I’ll speak from personal experience. In the past I’d usually be too tired after work to take a walk, but I’ve gone out three times in the humid summer night. In the past I probably would have taken the subway from work to the train station a few times but decided instead to walk (Manhattan has PokeStops every couple of steps). At home there have been several times I otherwise would have driven somewhere but opted to walk instead. In the past, I always looked for the shortest walk, but now I’m encouraged to take longer roads, and I’m learning a lot about my own city and New York City at the same time. So it’s worked for me. ūüôā
When will this madness end?
Well, the good news for you if you’re completely annoyed by the zombies walking around with their heads in their phones swiping monsters is that like all fads, this one will eventually quiet down, just like Farmville, Mafia Wars, Draw Something, Angry Birds, and Candy Crush normalized. But until that happens, why not just download it and enjoy it? But as you live in augmented reality, don’t forget to live in actual reality too. ūüôā

iPhone and Android Fitness Games Reviews 01.07.16

Since 2009 I’ve reviewed console games that can be used for fitness and exercise on the Wii, PS3, the Wii U, and over at our sister site XboxFitness.Org for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. By most¬†accounts, exergaming hit its peak around 2010-2011 on the Wii. Excellent games like Walk It Out, Wii Fit, Just Dance, EA Sports Active, DDR, Wii Sports and others turned the Wii from a curiosity to a bonafide platform for a new genre of games. When all was said and done, over 100 million Wiis were sold, and among them over 22 million people had purchased a Wii Fit or a Wii Fit Plus. At a retail price of over $80 (and when the Balance Board was constantly sold out, people shelled out a lot more), that was a pretty serious commitment to a lot of people to start using gaming to exercise.

Publishers started¬†falling over themselves to churn out fitness games (most of them horrible). Microsoft and Sony scrambled to figure out motion gaming in an attempt to capture some of that “casual gaming crowd”.

And then the bottom cratered out.

What happened? A little thing called the iPhone, followed by Android, went mainstream and all of a sudden, the same “casual” gamers who had been boxing and hitting baseballs on the Wii discovered that they could fling birds, plant farms, crush candies, and waste their time in thousands of new ways that did nothing for the mind or the body.

The effect on the video game industry was swift. The Wii U will end up selling¬†just about a tenth of the number of consoles the Wii did. “Hardcore” gamers reclaimed the console space by eschewing features that Sony and Microsoft were creating for “casual” gamers. They firmly rejected the Sony Move and when Microsoft tried to force users onto the Kinect they revolted by choosing the Playstation over the Xbox One two to one. Just last week, Microsoft threw in the towel, announcing that they were abandoning their vaunted Xbox Fitness service altogether.

Is fitness gaming on consoles dead? By no means. If you were to go on eBay and purchase an old Wii console and a number of the top Wii exercise game, you’d still have a fun and effective exergame workout system for your home gym (after all, your heart doesn’t care if you’re working out to video games from 2009 or 2016, it’ll beat just the same). But as far as new fitness games for any console to look forward to in the next few years, I think with the exception of a few scattered games on the Xbox One, you won’t be seeing many new ones. My prediction will be that the next wave of fitness games will happen with Virtual Reality–it’ll be interesting to watch whether active gaming takes off when the PSVR launches later this year.

But for now, the winner of the “casual gaming” space is clearly your iOS and Android smartphone. And thus begins a new phase for this site. I’ll still review Wii, Playstation, and Wii U workout games as they happen, but I’ll also start reviewing exergames for smartphones.

FireShot Capture 216 - 7 Minute Workout Challenge on the App_ - https___itunes.apple.com_us_app_7-As you’ve probably seen, there are hundreds and hundreds of fitness applications for smartphones. The vast majority of them are either traditional workout routines such as 7 Minute Workout Challenge or Sweat with Kayla, two excellent fitness apps which are currently the #1 fitness apps on the iTunes store.

And of course, there are the ever-popular apps tied to wearable devices, the most popular being FitBit. There are also GPS tracking apps for runners and bikers that work with a variety of devices; my personal favorite (which I use every day when I bike in NYC) is one called Strava. Runtastic is also a popular one.

All of these apps, and many more, are very well made, but they all presume one thing–that you’re already committed to exercising. Of course the goal of this blog has always been to find games that are so fun to play that you forget, don’t mind, or don’t even realize until after the fact that you’ve gotten a great workout.

A few enterprising companies have created active motion fitness games for smartphones, and some of them are downright brilliant. And so for the next few months, until we see how Virtual Reality fitness games pan out in a few months, I’ll start identifying reviewing the best of the best games for your smartphone that you can use for fitness and exercise.

Granted, there’s a fine line between a¬†“fitness app” and a “fitness game”. So here’s how I’m going to select games to review:

  1. It needs to be a bona-fide GAME, not just a regular workout app with “gamification” features such as giving you points for distance or reps. In other words, the primary purpose should be¬†playing the game, and exercise would just come as a secondary benefit.
  2. It needs to run on multiple OSes, typically¬†iOS and Android. This is usually a reflection of a game’s popularity and longevity.
  3. It has to have rave reviews, both in the App Store as well as in the press.
  4. It needs to be FUN–an experience where “you have so much fun you forget you’re exercising”.

Hope you’ll join me in this new frontier! ūüôā

 

Why I’m going with the Playstation VR for Virtual Reality Gaming 23.03.16

We’ve talked about this a little before, but the next big thing in gaming looks like it’s going to be virtual reality gaming. And like every other big new technology, from Betamax vs. VHS to HD DVD vs. Blu-ray to Mac vs. PC to Playstation vs. Xbox to Android vs. iOS, this is going to be one heck of a fight for supremacy.

Virtual Reality is the next logic step in gaming. As someone who’s used the Xbox 360 and the PS3, I honestly wasn’t super impressed with the Xbox One and the PS4; the specs were certainly much more impressive but the gameplay really wasn’t that different.

Microsoft, in particular, put a ton of eggs in the Kinect basket, hoping to force the same excitement on the masses that Nintendo created with the Wii, but a lot of that egg just ended up on their face. I think the industry made the incorrect conclusion that users just didn’t like motion gaming anymore, but the truth is that game developers just wouldn’t–or couldn’t–put out high quality games that used motion controls to their fullest potential.

VR has the potential to change all that. With console games today, you can roam virtual worlds but you’re still watching that world on a flat screen. Virtual reality is going to let you put on a pair of glasses and stand in the middle of that world, looking up, down, left, and right to see the entire scene around you. I had the opportunity to try a few demos over the years, and

The contenders are Facebook with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Playstation VR. And all three are launching this year. The first two are going to require pretty advanced gaming desktop PCs (no laptops), while the third will, of course, require a Playstation 4 (or if the speculation the media’s making is correct, a “Playstation 4.5” with more advanced specs than the currently PS4).

First, let’s get this out of the way. They all look ridiculous. Generations from now kids will look at pictures of grown adults wearing these things and laughing at them, just as they laughed at the guys in the 1970’s with their brick-sized car phones.

But just as those guys in the polyester suits didn’t care how they looked as long as they were talking to someone in a moving car, chances are you won’t mind how ridiculous you look once you experience virtual reality.

 

htc vive headset
By just about all accounts, the HTC Vive has the most impressive technologically. It comes with two base stations called “Lighthouses” which will provide the most immersive experience, as you’ll be able to walk around your room to play (it’ll work within a 15 feet by 15 feet). This probably means that the Vive is going to be the best equipped to handle fitness-style games. Its headset will have a front-facing camera, along with an accelerometer and gyroscope and will come with two wand-like controllers. It’ll have a resolution of 1080 x 1200 per eye and a field of view of about 110 degrees, the widest of all the units. It’ll be launching in May at a price of $799, but the real price is going to be upgrading or buying a new gaming PC, which will be a minimum of about $1000.

oculus_rift2The Oculus Rift is the one that started all the hype. In 2012 they started a Kickstarter campaign to fund their fledgling project and by 2014 the deep pockets of Facebook bought them up. Like many others, the Oculus was the one I wanted at first. It’ll sell for $599, but again you need a powerful gaming PC to run it. Like the Vive it’ll have 1080 x 1200 resolution per eye. Unlike HTC’s two sensors, the Oculus come with just one external sensor.

While it’s been hyped up over time–and the hype will only get bigger given the megaphone that Facebook has–the fact that it only track body movements of the head and upper torso and uses an antediluvian Xbox controller makes it seem almost outdated before it even launches (although it’ll beat everyone to the punch with a launch date of March 28).

playstation-vr-1The Playstation VR is Sony’s entrant into the field. The difference with the PSVR is that it’ll work with the Playstation 4, so if you don’t already have a gaming PC you’d just need to spend $300 or so to get a PS4, and then another $499 to get the PSVR bundle which includes the headset, Move controllers, and a PS4 camera. With resolution of 960 x 1080 per eye PSVR’s specs aren’t as impressive as either of its PC competitors, but on the other hand it’s higher refresh rate will likely make for smoother images, something that might help with motion sickness. From a pricing perspective it’s a clear winner–you’re talking a grand total investment of under $800 to experience VR on the PS4 vs. $1600-$1800 to get a fully equipped PC.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I believe the VirZoom is going to be the “killer app” for virtual reality fitness, and happily it’ll support all three systems. Pricing is the main reason I’ll be going with a PS4–the slight difference in resolution quality doesn’t justify an extra expense of $1000+ to me.¬†The rumor that the PS4 will reportedly handle 4K Blu-Ray around the time the PSVR launches is another plus (I’ve actually never owned a standalone Blu-Ray player because my trusty PS3 has been able to play regular and 3D Blu-Rays for years). Finally, if this VR thing turns out to be a total dud, at the very least I’ll have a PS4¬†to play with vs. a gargantuan PC I won’t need, given that I do all my PC work on an old Windows laptop and a MacBook Pro.

So that’s the latest. If you’re looking to order the Oculus Rift, you can do so here. HTC Vive pre-orders are happening right now here. And the PSVR just went up for pre-order at retailers like Amazon and Best Buyicon. Whatever you choose, it’s going to be a great new way to experience gaming, and with apps like VirZoom, a great new way to work out.

Welcome PS3Fitness.Com Fans! 19.03.16

Those of you who’ve been with me since I started blogging about exergaming back in 2009 may know that I also ran a few other sites. There was PS3Fitness.com for those who wanted to use the Playstation Move to exercise, XboxFitness.org for those using an Xbox 360 or Xbox One, and of course Nutwiisystem.com for fans of the Wii and Wii U.

Just as I decided to retire the Nutwiisystem name, I’ve also decided to consolidate all my past PS3Fitness.com posts into Gaming.Fit. If you’d like a trip down memory lane, you can browse all my old Wii and PS3 reviews from this site now.

While the exergaming craze that began with the Wii has died out for a while, the concept of “working out without realizing you’re getting a workout” is not dead, not by a longshot.

The biggest thing in the last few years has of course been wearables, thanks to the enormous success of the Fitbit, followed up by smart watches like the Apple Watch (by the way, for those of you keeping score at home, I did buy an Apple Watch but I decided to return it mainly because I didn’t think its short battery life made too much sense for me as a full-time fitness device…I’ll be giving it another shot when Apple Watch 2 launches later this year).

But just round the horizon is brewing a new breed of exergaming. As my last sporadic posts have hinted at, it’s going to be amazing. Check back here from time to time and I’ll be sure to give you the latest!

VirZoom Early Bird Special! 18.12.15

If my last post about the VirZoom exercise bike for Virtual Reality systems (Oculus, Playstation VR, or HTC Vive) intrigued you, you might want to read on.

VirZoom just announced today that they are giving free lifetime VirZOOM Plus memberships to the first 1000 people who pre-order. “Plus” memberships are going to cost $9.99 a month at launch and will give you access to things like online multiplayer mode, leaderboards, fitness tracking for your household, and access to any new games they produce for life.

It’s not hard to do the math…at a value of $9.99 a month it means that your entire price will be paid for in two years, and if the demo I saw is any indication this is a company that’ll be sticking around for a lot more than that. This is the kind of product that’ll drive people to buy VR systems, I know it will me.

You can read more on their blog post here.

http://virzoom.com/blog.html

We’re changing our name! 17.12.15

So, I’ve used the name “Nutwiisystem” since I started the site in March 2009. Back then I had a brilliant idea for losing weight–combine exercise on the Wii with a diet plan like Nutrisystem and voila, you’ll find yourself happier, healthier, and fit.

For those of you who followed my earlier posts, you’ll see how I got down to a healthy weight (I even had a daily tracker where you could follow). The funny thing is, it affected more than my weight. I suddenly felt happier, healthier, and more confident. Maybe not altogether coincidentally, it was within a few months after starting the blog that I met the lovely Lisa and long story short, we got married in October 2011 and today we have a beautiful 4-month old daugher, Maddie.

Over time, this blog evolved to focus less on the diet portion and more on the exercise. Specifically, what fitness games for the Wii and the Wii U were so much fun that you didn’t even realize you were getting a workout?

To be honest, I expected from day one that someone at Nutrisystem would contact me about the domain name, but that never happened. I’d done my research and it was clear to me that this name isn’t a trademark variation–from the day it launched it’s never caused confusion nor suggested sponsorship or endorsement of the trademark owner and any jury in the world would see that as I’ve stated by the logo, it’s just a bad pun.

In fact, in the years when this blog was bringing a lot of business for Nutrisystem I notice they kept pretty quiet because they knew I was a big advocate or them.

But the inevitable happened–this morning I received a note from an associate online marketing manager at Nutrisystem. Admittedly the note was a little more terse than I would have liked. A “hey, we appreciate all you’ve done over the past seven years to help spread the word about our product, but the domain is causing some confusion internally so we’d appreciate your help” would have been nice, but whatever.

Normally, I’d argue back with them, but on the other hand, I’ve been thinking for a while about changing the name of this blog anyway, as the blog has clearly outgrown the name.

First of all, I don’t hock Nutrisystem diets anymore (I still believe in their concept of a low glycemic diet, but let’s face it, being on their food for an extended period of time really makes you miss “real” food. I’d rather apply their principles to my own meal planning).

Secondly, as I’ve lamented in past posts there’s less and less news about the Wii and the Wii U. And all the news of the Nintendo NX next year points to it focusing more on mobile gaming and less on motion gaming. Nintendo’s apparent abandonment of their Quality of Life initiatives after the untimely passing of Sarotu Iwata, it seems that there won’t be much news out of Nintendo in the future.

Times change, but as you’ve seen in the most recent posts about the VirZoom, fitness gaming still has a bright future. And so rather than letting this site suffer the same demise as its sister site, PS3Fitness.com, I thought I’d pivot this site to talk than more than the Wii. I want to expand it to talk about things like Oculus, Playstation VR, Apple Watch, fitness on mobile devices, and many more things.

And so I’m unveiling a new name for the site. It will be…

Gaming.Fit

Sort of catchy, isn’t it? ūüôā I was shocked that the domain was still available. So over the next few weeks you’ll see this site’s design and domain transform.

Are you a die-hard Wii fan? Don’t worry–so am I, so all the great content about the Wii will still be here (including the highly popular Top 10 list for the Wii and the Wii U), and I’ll still keep reviewing Wii and Wii U fitness games as they are developed (which at the very least will be all the Just Dance we can take :P).

For those of you who’ve been following this blog for years thanks so much for sticking with me over the years. I promise many more great things to come.

Ridiculously low price on Wii Fit U and Balance Board #wiifitu #firesale 17.12.15

In a sign of the times when it comes to the Wii U and fitness gaming, B&H Photo is clearing out their Wii Fit U packages, including the balance board, the game, and the sensor for $19.99. That’s right, for the price some of us paid for the original sensor, you get the whole thing.

It keeps going in and out of stock, but jump on yours if you can here. If you already have one, you may want to think about getting another given that once they stop making these, they’re gone forever (unless you count the gazillion you’ll be able to get on eBay :P).

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1102764-REG/nintendo_wupraste_wii_fit_u_with.html

Virtual Reality Exergaming is About to Become Very Real @VirZOOM #VirtualReality 16.12.15

We have seen the future of Exergaming, and it is…VirZoom

As promised, I’ll be posting my belated experiences with using the Apple Watch as a FitBit alternative shortly (I did order my Watch on Black Friday but I’ve been so busy at work it’s just been sitting in the box).

But rather than being a laggard in posting stuff about 7 month old technology, I have the extreme pleasure of being one of the first to tell you about the next big thing for exercise fitness and exergaming. It’s something called VirZoom. And having tried it in person a few weeks ago, it is AMAZING (in fact, I’ve been chomping at the bit to share my experience with you, but because the announcement was embargoed I’ve had to stay quiet…until now).

Since I started this blog you’ve heard me say that the best exergames are the ones where you’re having so much fun you don’t even realize you’re getting a workout. We’ve come close over the years. The balance exercises in Wii Fit and Wii Fit U, the live action fighting in Kung Fu Live on the Xbox 360, and of course the dancing in games from DDR to Just Dance.

As you probably know, next year we’re about to see the next big step in gaming. The Oculus Rift, after years of being hyped up, will finally be released. Not far behind is Sony’s Playstation VR which will be an add-on to the PS4 (hopefully managed a little better than the Playstation Move). And the HTC Hive will also be in the mix.

When I tried an Oculus a few years ago at a demo at the US Tennis Open, I honestly wasn’t very impressed. Yes, you could look up, down, left, and right but it seemed more like a gimmick than anything that I’d eventually pay thousands of dollars for when you factor in the console and all the games.

A few weeks ago I was invited to demo something called VirZoom, and as a bonus I got to demo it on a pre-production Playstation VR. And as someone who’s been following exergaming since the days of My Fitness Coach and DDR, I can say that the dream of having a full immersive exercise experience is finally here.

What is VirZoom? Well, on the surface it’s an exercise bike.

virzoom exercise bike

I know what a lot of you are thinking. That looks a heck of a lot like an old a Cyberbike. But that’s like saying that a Lamborghini is like a Model T.

The bike itself feels great. It’s light enough to carry and ship without am army of people to lift it, but it feels solid to ride. Unlike the Cyberbike (which felt like a rock against your posterior and seemed like it was going to fall apart at any second), the VirZoom bike was comfortable and had decent resistance when pedaling.

But what set this experience apart was when I put on the Playstation VR glasses. They ran me through a couple different games, most of which can be seen in this gameplay reel.

What this video doesn’t capture is that you don’t just see the screen in front of you, but you can turn your head up, down, left, and right and be immersed in the scene.

All the games were from a first person POV. In the first game, I felt like I was riding a horse. I could look around the whole scene and see an entire Old West town, and as I pedaled faster the horse I was on would gallop faster. Once I got over the initial “this is cool” factor, I focused in on the task of lassoing the bad guys, which felt incredibly realistic. And yes, by the time I lassoed all of them I didn’t even realize I’d pedaled a decent amount.

The next demo had me driving a racecar. While you might think pedaling at 12 MPH to control a race car at 200 MPH would be disconcerting, it felt strangely natural.

They saved the best game for last–one when you’re on a Pegasus. You start off on a road at the edge of a cliff and then ride your horse off a cliff, at which point you realize you’re flying through the air. The sensation of looking down at the earth far below was stunning.

A few things surprised me. First, I was surprised at how comfortable the glasses felt–they were a bit bulky but certainly stayed on my head securely.

The credentials of the team who developed this system are impressive. The co-founder served as the head tech engineer for Harmonix. One of the developers led the development of the accelerometer that made the WiiMote possible. As brilliant as these guys are technically, their most brilliant move is probably getting in on the ground floor of what will be one of the “killer applications” for VR.

I just had a quick 20 minute look at this, but from my gushing you can probably tell I was impressed. If you want to get in on the ground floor of something big, head on over to their Web site at http://www.virzoom.com/. They’ll be selling the first 300 units at $199.95, which I suspect will go quickly. The regular price will be $249.95, which is an amazing price point for new technology.

Of course, you’ll need to wait until the Oculus, Playstation VR, or HTC Vive to actually use it (the VirZoom will ship in the first half of 2016, presumably after these manufacturers release the products for general availability).

Needless to say, just as exergaming itself is evolving, I’ll be looking forward to providing you with updates as these products go live. To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the death of video game fitness are greatly exaggerated.

More on this in the first half of 2016!

What’s next for Nutwiisystem.com? Watch! 28.11.15

So, if you recall a few months ago when I saw there weren’t a ton more Wii games coming to review, I mentioned I would be considering getting a fitness tracker like a FitBit or an Apple Watch. But for the longest time I just couldn’t justify spending $400 on a watch, and as for the FitBit, my Wii U tracker was giving me all the information I needed, thank you very much (plus, the FitBit doesn’t let you use your accrued miles to climb Mount Fuji).

Well, as often happens, Black Friday changed my mind. Specifically, Apple Watches on Best Buyicon were going to $50 off, something you never quite hear of happening with Apple products. Target had a nice sale too where they’d give a gift card for buying a watch, but I liked the straightforwardness of the Best Buy discount. By the way, if you’re reading this the weekend of Black Friday you still have time to get one for even more–$100 off
icon.

I was wondering where to take this blog, now that publishers have all but abandoned the Wii. In a way it’s not a bad thing, because it got to the point where there was just so much garbage being developed by publishers who wanted to cash in on the crazy while it was happening. As you can see from the two “best of” lists, the ones that did work worked great (and I’m still using my Wii U as part of my exercise routine).

In addition, Nintendo announced years ago that they were going to be developing more gadgets, games, and systems focusing on quality of life and fitness. That never came to pass and there’s some speculation that the company has abandoned the idea, another unfortunate bit of news after the very untimely passing of Satoru Iwata,

And so while from time to time I’ll revisit the old games and talk about new ways to use them, and of course I’ll update you as soon as I hear anything about Nintendo’s forays into things like its Quality of Life initiative and the vitality sensor, I’ll also turn my attention to other devices that make “fitness so fun you forget you’re working out”. So that, plus Black Friday 2015, pushed me to getting my own Apple Watch. Yes, I’m months late to the game, but hopefully I’ll make up for it with my detail as I attempt to maximize the use of all its fitness capabilities.

More soon!