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Review of 10 Minute Solution for Wii


10 Minute Solution

Reviewed by Nutwiisystem on August 16, 2010.
Summary: While not bearing as much resemblance to the popular DVD series of the same name as I would have liked, this a title that stands on its own as a solid and very affordable Wii fitness game.


I’ve had a copy of 10 Minute Solution for Wii for quite a while now. I noticed a lot of people on Amazon leaving less-than-stellar reviews, but their reviews mostly seemed to reflect their initial reactions to the game. So I thought I’d play it myself for a few weeks to make sure I gave it a fair shake. Here’s what I found.

As most people know, 10 Minute Solution is a highly popular set of DVDs where you can start and finish a complete exercise routine in 10 minutes. The DVDs each feature a fit and attractive fitness expert on a mat demonstrating different aerobic workouts to you, shouting out instructions and encouragement each step of the way. The way the series works, you can do one 10-minute routine each day, or you can string together multiple routines to make a more rigorous workout. There’s an astounding variety of aerobic exercises across the different DVDs.

This, of course, seems like a great concept to convert to a video game. And so when I heard they were coming out with 10 Minute Solution for the Wii, I was wondering if they could capture the magic of the video series.

Unfortunately, the answer is…not really. Aside from the name and the fact that exercises are broken into convenient 5-minute chunks, the routines bear little resemblance to the ones that made 10 Minute Solution videos so popular.

To show you what I mean, here’s an excerpt from one of the DVDs:

I think what made these videos work is their simplicity–one workout trainer standing in front of a video class on a mat and giving instructions on how to do a variety of interesting exercises, step-by-step.

On the other hand, 10 Minute Solution for Wii seemed to eschew the simplicity and the formula that made the DVDs so popular. Instead of the feeling an intimate one-on-one training session with an instructor, it feels like the standard kind of Wii fitness game we’ve seen before, like Gold’s Gym Cardio workout, where you just perform a series of repetitious actions with your balance board or Wii remotes to on-screen cues.

You can choose to have “an instructor”, but instead of an instructor with lots of personality shouting out specific unique moves for you to do, you get an amorphous, faceless on-screen animated character that’s typical of these kinds of games.

You do have the option to choose the instructor’s voice (“male or female” and “helpful or bossy”). But even so, the voices really don’t have any personalities themselves. The ‘nice’ woman’s voice is just a bit too sweet and bubbly, complete with the meaningless and repetitious “Yeah! Way to go! Have you done this before?” kinds of encouragement that are typical of Wii games. On the other hand the “bossy” woman’s voice sounds just plain sarcastic, like a cranky middle-aged person who’s smoked a few too many cigarettes in her lifetime–after two minutes of listening to her, I just wanted to jump out the window. The men’s voices are a little better, but similar.

When compared to the instructors on the 10 Minute Solution video series, who are all very pleasant and encouraging, the voiceover actors they used left a little to be desired. Thankfully, there is an option to turn them off altogether.

I suspect that most negative reviews are from fans of the 10 Minute Workout series who were expecting more of the “personality” of the DVD series comes to through in the game, but perhaps didn’t find it.

But having said that, I’ll be focusing my review of the game strictly on its merits as a fitness and exercise game. And in this area, it is a very solid title.

Much like My Fitness Coach, you can select a male or female trainer, music from a set list of generic tunes, and the environment you’ll be working out in (you can choose from a Chinese courtyard, Venice, a Japanese tea garden, a beach, a middle eastern palance, and a gym). The graphics are very well done, and I appreciate the subtle details that help keep the exercise interesting (such as a plane flying outside the window of your gym).

There are basically two different varieties of exercises you can do with your virtual trainer: cardio boxing or step aerobics. For each, you can choose from six different workouts ranging from simple (one star) to advanced (three stars). You’ll find the one-star exercises are far too easy; you hardly break a sweat. On the other hand, you will get your money’s worth with the three-star exercises. When I filmed these videos of the three-star exercises in the game, I got a great aerobic workout, complete with sweating, increased heartrate, and a great feeling afterwards.

There is also a category called “mixed games” which allows you to control your on-screen character in one of four sports simulations: volleyball, badminton, catching a frisbee, or fighting with pugil sticks. As with games like EA Sports Active and The Biggest Loser, you’re not really playing the sport itself–you’re performing a series of cardio boxing or step aerobic moves, and if you hit the moves precisely your on-screen character performs the sports task. So while the “sports exercises are pretty much the same as the standard exercises, it does add a nice bit of variety.

Each exercise is precisely 5 minutes each, so you basically put together your own 10 minute workout each day by choosing two exercises from the sixteen choices.

As far as comparisons go, there are going to be two obvious ones: How do the step aerobics compare with Wii Fit, and how does the boxing compare with Gold’s Gym Cardio?

Until now, there’s really only been one decent title with step aerobics that uses the balance board: Wii Fit (you know, the game where your Mii steps on the balance board to the “plink, plink, plunk” sound). This is one area where this game shines. The three-star step aerobics has you doing lunges, squats, and fast-moving splits that are far more complex than in Wii Fit, and all clearly demonstrated with animated footprints on a small image of the balance board. And the pace is more “plinketyplinketyplinkety”. So I’d say it’s a step above Wii Fit (no pun intended).

As far as the boxing, the game has you doing crosses, hooks, jabs, and uppercuts at a really quick pace. As with Gold’s Gym Cardio, a series of icons will scroll upwards, and you need to perform the boxing move when the icon hits a little square. But in many ways it surpasses Gold’s Gym Cardio. For one thing, the beat of the music actually matches your punches (what a concept!). I also love the fact that you can use two Wii remotes instead of a nunchuk–this makes your movements much, much more accurate. The only thing I had trouble with was the “bob”, but a little practice helped (you basically need to lunge down AND up all while the icon is in the green square).

As with all these kinds of games, you get out of it what you put into it. For example, in the boxing, if you shuffle your feet around while punching, you’ll get a great aerobic workout. Similarly, with the aerobics, if you have a pair of hand weights and move your arms, you’ll enjoy a complete workout.

One of the things I like most about this game is its simplicity. A lot of other Wii fitness games try to stuff in a bunch of fillers and nonsense, such as recipes (who in the world has a Wii set up in their kitchen?) and dressing up the on-screen characters, all to justify a higher price tag. With 10 Minute Solutions for Wii you have three choices from the startup screen: an instant workout (which picks a 5-minute workout for you randomly), a custom workout (where you can pick and choose two 5-minute workouts to make one 10-minute workout), and a fitness plan (where you can mix and match activities for each day of the week for anywhere from a 5-minute to a 30-minute workout each day). I applaud Activision for not being tempted to stuff gimmicks in, and for making the list price a very affordable $19.99.

I also like the fact that each exercise routine is exactly 5 minutes long, no more, no less. As with the video series, there’s something nice about having that kind of consistency.

The game is not perfect, of course. There are little glitches here and there. One example is if the Balance Board shuts off, which is always does, the game tells you to change the batteries. But overall, I’d say it’s a solid exercise game. It doesn’t really add anything new to the genre, but it does a nice job of executing the basics and correcting some of the flaws that its predecessors have.

Again, be sure to go in with the right expectations. It’s not the video series, and it’s not a $59.99 game, so as long as you don’t compare it to either of those, you have a pretty solid and very affordable Wii fitness game to add some variety to your workout routines.

And so, I’ll give the title a solid four stars. I almost see it as the last entry into the “first generation” of video games that started with My Fitness Coach, and continued with games like Wii Fit, EA Sports Active, The Biggest Loser, Gold’s Gym Cardio, Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum, and Your Shape. I like that Activision brought accurate controller response (as long-time readers of my reviews will know, this is my biggest pet peeve), and simplicity to the genre.

I see this Fall’s introduction of Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s Move, along with the new wireless EA Sports Active II for the Wii, as the beginning of the “second generation” of Wii fitness games. In many ways, Wii fitness games are starting to all look like each other, and I see the new innovations and competition being a very good thing for the genre. And of course, I’ll be keeping you up to date here!

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Note that since writing this review, it’s been pointed out to me that 10 Minute Solutions for Wii has its own YouTube Channel here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/10MinuteSolutionWii#p/a

For me, this is exactly what was missing. Activision did a very smart thing and filmed their cover model Jessica Smith (who in all respects fits the description of a 10 Minute Solutions instructor I described above) demonstrating the proper form for some of the basic moves that need to be performed in the Wii game, including switches, lunges, squats, and boxing moves.

When the videos on this YouTube channel are used in conjunction with  the game, it obviates some of the initial concerns I had with the game. Here are the videos for your reference:

Simple Switches:

Squats:

Boxing Tips:

Lunges:


Rating:
4 of 5

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