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Review of The Biggest Loser for Wii

4 out of 5 stars

A Wii fitness title which provides an impressive set of calisthenic moves and accurately captures the spirit and entertainment value of the TV show.

Reviewer: Nutwiisystem
October 14, 2009

The Biggest Loser for Wii was just released this week. Since 2004, The Biggest Loser has been one of the most popular shows on TV. The premise of the show, of course, is that overweight contestants compete against each other to see who can lose the most weight. They’re helped along by expert trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels. Aside from being a runaway hit TV show, The Biggest Loser has spawned books, cookbooks, exercise videos, kitchen appliances, exercise equipment, protein shakes, music CDs, clothes, and more.

So, it was only a matter of time before a Biggest Loser Video Game for the Wii came out. Now, I admit I was a bit skeptical at this one. Typically when game publishers buy rights to great brand names and trademarks, the games they create are anything but great. From Daisy Fuentes Pilates to Jillian Michael’s own Fitness Ultimatum 2009, game publishers often get lazy knowing that the brand name will guarantee them a certain number of sales regardless of the quality of their game. And so they get sloppy with the game design or the quality assurance.

I’m happy to say that The Biggest Loser bucks this trend. It’s a very solid fitness title for the Wii. I don’t use the word “game” because it’s not exactly fun like a game. It’s more like an interactive fitness video. In fact, it reminds me most of Ubisoft’s My Fitness Coach in that way, but they’ve come a long way since My Fitness Coach (so much so that The Biggest Loser has officially bumped My Fitness Coach out of our Top 10 list of best Wii Fitness games).

The core of The Biggest Loser is its very comprehensive list of dozens and dozens of Single Exercises, which are essentially calisthenic exercises (i.e. exercises that don’t use weights or equipment). They really hit a home run with these. Every calisthenic exercise you can think of is included, including exercises for a cardio workout; for working out the upper body, core, and lower body; and even yoga poses. Each exercise ranges from light, moderate, challenging, hard, and intense. Each one is identified by an icon (color-coded by intensity). As you select each icon in the menu, there’s even a figure telling you exactly what muscle groups you’re working out.

When you start each exercise, an on-screen figure will show you very clearly how to do the exercise, including the correct posture, moves, and timing. You basically follow along. The exercises typically use the Wii-mote and/or the Balance Board passively to “check” your progress. For example, when you choose the jump rope exercise, you hold the Wii-mote like the handle of a jump rope and make small circles with it. When you choose “tire drills”, you put the Wii-mote in your pocket and run in place, simulating the kinds of drills that football players do when they run through tires. Similarly, “fast skaters” is an exercise where you simulate a speed skater waving his or her arms. There are a number of exercises which use the balance board such as the “plank” (where you press both hands against the balance board), a “T-Raise” (where one hand is on the balance board and the other is stretched out). Some exercises will be very familiar (jumping jacks, push ups), but even the ones that aren’t familiar are very intuitive once you watch the on-screen character doing them.

I should note that for the most part, you’re on the “honor system” as to how closely you follow the on-screen examples. Even if you get a little sloppy in your form or don’t do the exercise properly, more often than not it’ll still register and Bob or Jillian will continue to shout out praise and encouragement. That said, when you do it exactly right, you’ll usually see confirmation on-screen.

You can do each of the exercises a la carte, but more likely you’ll want to choose Exercise Routines, which combine multiple single exercises into comprehensive pre-designed programs to work out your full body, upper body, core, lower body or do yoga exercises. You can also create a custom routine, made up of your favorite single exercises. As with single exercises, you can choose anything from light to intense exercise.


Sample Exercise Routine, Part 1

Sample Exercise Routine, Part 2

And of course, you can choose the full Fitness Program. You enter your name, sex, birthday, height and weight (conveniently, you can use your Balance Board to measure your weight, both your initial weight and in your very own “weigh ins”). Then, you pick your favorite real-life Biggest Loser contestant to play as, whether it be Matt Hoover from Season 2, Ali Vincent from Season 5, Michelle Aguilar from Season 6, or from a list of five others. You can customize the color of the T-Shirt your character wears, and then you pick whether you want to hear Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels as “your trainer”.  From there, you can pick a personal goal: whether you want to simply maintain your current weight and improve your health, lose a little weight, or lose a lot of weight. You’ll also pick a skill level and a program length. Based on all the things you enter, the system will calculate a specific exercise regiment for you, complete with dates. If you’re really committed, you can also input the number of calories you eat every day, as well as log any additional training you do outside of the program (such as walking, running or biking outside), and the program will adjust itself accordingly.

An interesting part of this title is a menu option called Health and Lifestyle. Here, you’ll find a large number of recipes, straight out of The Biggest Loser Cookbooks (they’ll even show you the cookbook the recipe came out of). There’s a pretty impressive list of food for breakfast (e.g. blueberry muffins, breakfast patties), healthy snacks (e.g. pesto pizzettas, creamy onion dip), lunch (e.g. BLT burger, chicken soup, cajun salmon), main dishes (e.g. broiled cod, sweet and sour chicken, chicken skewers), sides (e.g. noodle salad, squash casserole), and dessert (e.g. strawberry pie-lets, quick rice pudding, Italian hot chocolate). It’s a bit awkward reading recipes on the Wii, as your Wii is probably not in your kitchen. But still, the recipes are generally short enough that you can jot them down on a piece of paper. Under this menu option you’ll also find a large number of “quick tips” from past Biggest Loser participants, including short video clips from Bob and Jillian themselves. Finally, there’s an extremely useful feature called the “Calorie Counter”, which calculates the daily calorie intake recommend specifically for you based on your weight, age, and goals.

Health & Lifestyle Screens
The most interesting part of The Biggest Loser for Wii are what they call Challenge Events. Here, your chubby on-screen character will compete against other characters (all off-screen) in a number of interesting events, the types of which you’d see on the show. In a clever twist, you make your on-screen character perform by doing specific exercise routines, which must be done precisely and timed perfectly. As on the show, you start out competing with 7 personalities from the show, and after each round one is eliminated. I found this by far the most effective part of the game, because my instincts to compete far exceeded any resistance to exercise. While it’s a bit contrived to have you controlling a character’s progress by doing single exercises (I would rather have done something which simulated the on-screen character’s movements rather than some random exercises), the bottom line is it got me motivated to work out more than I probably would have normally without getting bored.

Challenge Event: Light Cycle


Challenge Event: Skate or Splash


Challenge Event: Highflyers

There are a couple minor annoyances. If you connect your balance board and the balance board power goes out, the game is completely hung up until you turn it back on. The controllers are passive, meaning that instead of actively tracking your movements accurately, it’ll just check whether you come close to making the on-screen movements. Sometimes the controllers will not register properly, and I admit I was a little disappointed that most of the activities didn’t take advantage of the unique capabilities of the Wii and its controllers. And one thing to keep in mind is that you need a LOT of room to move around.
But still the bottom line is, they have an impressive number of exercises to work out all different areas of your body, and when I chose “intense” level, it really did make my heart pound and gave me a great workout that rivaled any kind of workout I’d get at the gym, for a fraction of the price.
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