The Best Wii Workout Games, Part 2
So, you’ve decided to use your Wii for a good workout. With all the Wii games out there, which are the ones which will get your heart pumping and the calories burning? We pick out the very best Wii Exercise Games and review them here.
These are workout games that were once in the Top Ten but have since been bumped by newer games. But they’re still great games in their own right, and are a perfect way to complete any collection of Wii Workouts games. Better yet, because these tend to be older games, chances are if you look on eBay, you’ll find it at a steal.
Be sure to visit the Top 10 Wii Exercise Games list for the latest and greatest list of top Wii Workout games.
Do you know of another Wii game that fits on the list? Or, do you want to share the story of how you use the Wii as your workout? Add your comments below!
Wii Workout Games: The Best of the Rest
Something many of you have been clamoring for is a Zumba game on the Wii. Your wishes have been heard: Majesco released Zumba Fitness in October 2010. I wrote a review of Zumba Fitness on the blog. Long story short, if you’ve never done Zumba before, it’ll be a bit of a challenge to learn using the game itself, as the tutorials are a bit clunky, and hard to follow.
Having said that, if you are a seasoned Zumba’er (Zumbaist? Zumbaite?), you’ll be thrilled about how you’re now able to perfect all kinds of Zumba steps in the comfort and privacy of your own home. While the motion controls leave a little to be desired, as with Just Dance, most Zumba fanatics won’t mind a little inaccuracy given how much fun it is to dance along with the on-screen instructor to the beat of the latin-inspired music. As millions who have taken Zumba classes know, there are few exercise methods that make it more fun to work out.
Just Dance 2
Just Dance 2 is the sequel to Just Dance, which was a new concept in dance video games. While previous games were mindless pattern games where you had to move your arms a certain way to the beat, Just Dance introduced real choreographed dance moves to actual popular songs. The motion control wasn’t very good, but that didn’t stop the game from selling over 4 million copies worldwide.
With Just Dance 2, Ubisoft made a number of improvements, the most notable one being the motion tracking. Motion tracking is actually accurate now, and it still uses only one Wii remote with no MotionPlus. They also added a fitness mode, where each day you can set goals on how many calories to burn each day. You haven’t worked out until you’ve danced Tina Turner’s moves in the "fast part" of Proud Mary! 🙂
Finally, the multiplayer options are much improved over the original version. There are fewer motivators stronger than competition, and I suspect many people will get great cardio workouts just trying to beat their friends’ scores (or their own). With these improvements, Just Dance 2 moves towards the top of the charts of our list of best fitness games. Visit the blog for the complete review of Just Dance 2.
If you’re a fan of Michael Jackson’ music, moon-run, don’t moon-walk to get Michael Jackson The Experience. This is essentially Just Dance 2 with all Michael Jackson songs and actual choreographed moves from his musical videos, which are broken down for you in videos by his actual choreographers.
There have been a lot of attempts to create games that families can play together. By far, the best in the bunch is the aforementioned Active Life: Explorer, which is perfect for teens and tweens. But if your child is a bit younger than that, you can’t do much better than Nickelodeon Fit. This game encourages children to exercise along with their favorite characters Dora, Diego, Kai-Lan, and the Backyardians, and was developed in collaboration with a physical fitness expert who specifically focused on the fitness needs of kids.
The game features some very creative mini-games. Some are of the "waggle the remote" variety, but others are surprisingly interactive and fun, especially when the whole family plays together and competes against each other. While some of the exercises may be too simple for adults, kids will get a kick out of interacting with some of their favorite Nickelodeon stars. Visit the blog to read a full review of Nickelodeon Fit.
Gold’s Gym Dance Workout
Gold Gym Dance Workout consists of three main types of exercises: a pure "dance workout", a "boxing workout", and "mini-games".
In the "dance workout", you perform fast-moving choreographed dance steps using your arms and feet. It’s not exactly like "Just Dance" in that the choreography doesn’t really contain any "signature moves" for the song. Rather, the dance is made up of a series of basic latin dance steps (i.e., merengue, samba, salsa, reggaeton, and cumbia). You first go through a series of tutorials to learn the steps, and then you put them together through beginner, intermediate, and advanced stages of increasing difficulty and speed. Just as you’d do in a dance class at the gym, you follow the lead of an on-screen workout instructor shouting out steps to you to the beat.
In the "boxing workout", the game has come a long way since its predecessor. Again following an on-screen instructor, you upper-cut, jab, punch, and hook to the beat of music. And thankfully, Ubisoft decided to license a whole slew of popular songs, so you’re not stuck to boxing to "Eye of the Tiger" over and over and over. The motion controls are remarkably accurate in detecting specific boxing moves, and the workouts were fast-moving and fun.
I admit that I loved the "mini games". Unlike other fitness games where minigames are an afterthought, Ubisoft seems to have put a lot of thought into these, and I love the touches of humor in the games.
There are a variety of new and original mini-games, you can dodge charging bulls (ducking from side to side while holding your Wii remotes), try to balance yourself on a bucking bull (on the balance board), canoeing (using a combination of your Wii motes as a double-plated paddle while sitting on the balance board) and running (basically making rapid punching movements, made more interesting when you get chased by the occasional lion!). There are also a few games clearly borrowed from Wii Fit and Wii Sports resort (chopping things with a samauri sword, boxing a kangaroo, and karate-chopping certain items).
You can either jump into the various workouts immediately, or have your virtual trainer prepare a weekly workout routine for you. You can also choose two-player mode, which lets you exercise along with a friend (there will be two trainers on the screen, and when each person follows their trainer, not only can they compete to see who scores the highest, but to the casual bystander it looks like they’re doing a cool latin dance together).
One thing I was impressed with was the accuracy of its controls, which is head and shoulders above previous Wii exercise games. It allows for the use of two Wii remotes. That Ubisoft eschews the use of the nunchuk is a good sign that they’ve taken accuracy in motion controls more seriously than they have in the past.
The one big thing I wasn’t crazy about at first was how very difficult it was to follow and learn the dance steps. The first few times you play the dance workout games, even at the tutorial level it’s very easy to get very overwhelmed. You have to basically follow the on-screen trainer and mirror the moves she’s making, but she’s moving so fast that it’s incredibly difficult to follow, especially trying to do it in a mirror image. They provide a series of video and audio cues to help you, but it’s still terribly difficult to follow her feet and to match them to yours.
The good news is, for each dance they offer a "practice" mode which breaks down the dance into different sections, lets you review each section, with three different camera angles to view the instruction, and lets you view the whole thing in slow motion. I would definitely suggest playing the entirely in "practice mode" until you get the arm and leg movements down and memorized, and then proceed to the workout. This may take days or even weeks for each song, so if you don’t have the time or inclination to do this, you might be disappointed. On the other hand, once you commit the moves to memory, they’re yours to do over and over again. And it probably goes without saying that you need a LOT of room.
And so while the game isn’t for everyone, I think it’s a great new Wii fitness title after a very long string of disappointing ones. Once again, Ubisoft has set the bar, let’s hope upcoming fitness titles like EA Sports Active 2, Zumba Fitness, and the Dance Dance Revolution reboot continue to move the bar forward.
EA Sports Active: More Workouts
In November, 2009 EA Sports released the much-anticipated sequel to EA Sports Active. I’ve written a full review of EA Sports Active: More Workouts on the blog as well as on Amazon’s product page, but the best way I can sum it all up is that EA Sports made enough substanative improvements in this version to catapult it back to #1 on this list of the best Wii exercise games. As of right now, it does the best job of any Wii Exercise Game to balance fun and fitness.
You technically don’t need the original EA Sports Active disc to play this game, although you do need the special accessories that came with it: the Leg Strap for the nunchuk and the Resistance Band. Neither are included in this game, so you’ll either need to purchase the original or buy the accessories separately with the EA Sports Active Multiplayer Pack. When you start up the disc for the first time, the system detects your old EA Sports Active profile data (if you have one) and instantly converts it. It’ll also ask you to validate your vital statistics. One huge improvement is that now you can use the Wii Balance Board to check your weight.
At first blush, the game looks a lot like the original. The most obvious difference is the ability to take a 6 week challenge, which is a vast improvement over the old 30-day challenge. The length is a much more realistic one for weight loss, the workouts are much better designed to focus on different muscle groups more intensively throughout the workout, and you can choose from easy, medium, and hard levels. You can also choose the days of the week to work out, great for someone like me who has more time on weekends than weekdays.
They’ve improved the Journal, where you can keep a virtual diary of your overall diet and exercise progress, and the reporting tools, which tracks calories burned, a chart of your weight, and the number of workouts, total exercise time, and number of miles covered in your EA Sports Active workout.
EA Sports Active: More Workouts contains a new set of 30 exercises and 6 fitness activities which weren’t in the original. Unfortunately, you can’t integrate the exercises from the original into the new version, but for the most part the new exercises are so improved I don’t miss the old ones too much. They work out every part of you, from lower body to upper body. One other nice addition is a warm-up and cool-down period, just like a real training program. As before, you get comprehensive video demonstrations for each exercise that clearly talks you through how to hold the resistance strap and how to perform the exercise.
The highlight of the title has to be the new fitness activities. As with its predecessor, EA Sports Active More Workouts has some great fitness activities: water skiing, paddle surfing, cardio boxing, step aerobics, squash, and an obstacle course. As with the fitness activities of the original, these are not so much accurate simulations of sports activities as they are clever ways to get you to mimic exercise movements (like squatting and lunges) in repetition without getting bored. While it’s tedious to go through countless reps of squats and arm movements; on the other hand, it’s a blast to be doing it playing a fast-paced game of virtual squash (and quite a workout). The balance board is still optional, but they make really good use of it that it’s worth using.
The controls are spot-on. Unlike games like The Biggest Loser and Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010, which passively “check” to see if you’re making the right movements (and not always accurately), EA Sports Active’s on-screen character will actively reflect your exact movements as they’re making them. Every now and then the controls do get frustrating (not registering something when you know you’ve done it), but not too much to ruin the experience.
All in all, I was impressed with EA Sports Active: More Workouts being an improvement over the first version. Admittedly, Wii Fit Plus is more “fun”, has better graphics, and has better responsiveness. But with EA Sports Active, the workout regimen itself is a tougher one which really gets you working out.
Active Life Outdoor Challenge
Like a lot of Wii games, Active Life Outdoor Challenge is not necessarily designed for grown-ups, but it’s one that provides some nice aerobic workouts. It’s also a ton of fun to play with others, especially if you have kids or have a bunch of friends over. The game consists of a bunch of mini-games, each making use of a mat (similar to the DDR mat, but with extra buttons) that you use either your hands or feet to control. Each game varies in terms of the workout intensity you get. There’s even an "exercise" mode (see video to the right) that allows you to do a circuit of exercises by intensity level and what kind of exercise you want to do (the video was me doing "endurance exercises", and by the end of the video, my heart was pounding and I was sweating just like after any great workout. It’s definitely a cut above its sequel Active Life: Extreme Challenge Bundle.
Timber Trail (Workout intensity: 5 of 5, Fun: 3 of 5): This is a game where you basically have to run in place, and occasionally jump to hurdle over logs that are running in your way. It’s a great aerobic workout, but I find the mat is not always responsive, which takes two stars from the fun.
Mole Stomper (Workout intensity: 5 of 5, Fun: 5 of 5): Think "Whack a Mole", but instead of a hammer, you’re using your feet to stomp on the moles popping up from six holes in the ground. At advanced levels, this is a real workout, especially when you stomp like mad to put the giant blue mole in the middle in his place.
Kayak Attack (Workout intensity: 2 of 5, Fun 1 of 5): Good idea, but poorly executed. This game simulates a kayak floating down rapids. You swing your game controller like it was a paddle for your kayak. The problem is, the control really doesn’t work too well. If you try to paddle harder, you get an error message telling you you’re padding too hard. And yet if you don’t paddle hard, more often than not you’re just sitting in one place. I’m guessing the people who programmed it wanted to simulate a "real" rapids, but this one is one bad mini-game in the midst of a bunch of excellent ones.
Pipe Slider (Workout intensity: 2 of 5, Fun 5 of 5): This is a game that’s more fun than exercise. For want of a better analogy, it’s a lot like a luge or a bobsled run. You sit on the mat, and instead of your feet controlling the mat, your hands do. You basically tap down on the mat with your hands to accelerate, and you press down on the mat to steer around some obstacles.
Mine Cart Adventure (Workout Intensity: 3 of 5, Fun: 5 of 5): This is a great little game that uses both the hand controller and the mat. You’re riding a mine cart through a long and winding track (a la Indiana Jones). You shake the hand controller to accelerate (pretty much the workout part of it), and you lift your right or left leg to tilt the cart (to steer). Occasionally, you’ll need to use the hand controller as a gun to shoot obstacles that get in your way.
Mountain Boarder (Workout Intensity: 3 of 5, Fun: 5 of 5): This is a skateboard simulator. Not much aerobic exercise, but certainly some good hand-eye coordination balance work, and a lot of fun. You basically simulate movements with your hands and feet to jump, duck, and do tricks in the air.
Speed Roller (Workout Intensity: 4 of 5, Fun: 5 of 5): This is a rollerblade simulator. You get a pretty good workout by moving your feet to increase your speed, plus there’s some good balance and coordination work by jumping on rails and avoiding obstacles, including jumping to different levels and avoiding skating over the edge.
Lake-Top Trampoline (Workout Intensity: 4 of 5, Fun: 4 of 5): Just what it sounds like, your goal here is to jump on a virtual trampoline and then perform tricks in the air using some fancy footwork. Seems simple, but you’ll be surprised at how much exercise you get, not just by performing the tricks but by trying again and again until you get it.
Stone Stepper: (Workout Intensity: 3 of 5, Fun: 4 of 5): Another Indiana Jones-esque game, this is a great little game where you’re on top of stone pillars and need to time your steps to the left or the right and avoid falling to the ground to your demise. Another one of these games where the workout itself isn’t a lot, but you’ll do it again and again to win it.
Sprint Challenge (Workout Intensity: 5 of 5, Fun: 3 of 5): Just what it sounds like, in this game you’re running in place at breakneck speed. Not much of a challenge, but great aerobic exercise as you try to beat your "personal best" each time.
Head-on Hurdler (Workout Intensity: 5 of 5, Fun: 4 of 5): Like the Sprint Challenge, but with hurdles. Like the log game above, the timing of the jump takes some getting used to.
Log Leaper (Workout Intensity: 4 of 5, Fun: 5 of 5): A game where you stand on a round pillar and try to avoid logs being rolled from all directions by jumping over them. Starts out slow, but as the logs come rolling faster and faster (and surprises like logs popping out of the ground come up), you’ll find yourself exercising without even knowing it.
Conveyor Runner (Workout Intensity: 5 of 5, Fun: 4 of 5): You basically run in place to try to stay on top of a conveyor belt that goes faster and faster, jumping to avoid hurdles and pitfalls that pop up. Starts out slowly, but pretty soon you’re huffing and puffing to stay up.
Seesaw Battler (Workout Intensity: 2 of 5, Fun: 4 of 5): This is more a game of reaction than a workout game. You use your hands to press the mat and time it to beat your opponent in a "hot hands" game.
Jump Rope (Workout Intensity: 5 of 5, Fun: 5 of 5): Just like what it sounds like, this is a game where you jump rope. Two square-headed animals control the rope, and twirl it faster and faster. Just like real jump rope, you’ll need to time your jumps quickly and precisely, and after a short time you’ll be sweating up a storm.
The Biggest Loser
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, helped along by expert trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels.
The Biggest Loser for the Wii is 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 made a lot of improvements (so much so that The Biggest Loser has officially bumped My Fitness Coach out of this list).
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 imaginable 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 clearly identified by an icon (color-coded by intensity). As you select each exercise, there’s even a diagram 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.
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.
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.
And of course, you can choose the full Fitness Program. You enter your vital information (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 from a list of eight past contestants. You can 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, lunch, main dishes, sides, and dessert. 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.
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. As on the show, you start out competing with 7 personalities from the show, and after each round one is eliminated. I should note that you don’t really simulate the actual movements of the character on screen, but instead you do various "single exercises", and your character performs only when you do the exercises precisely and timed correctly. I found this by far the most effective part of the game, because my instincts to compete far exceeded any resistance to exercise. The bottom line is it got me motivated to work out more than I probably would have normally without getting bored.
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. Sometimes the controllers will not register properly, and in many cases, 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, Bob or Jillian may continue to shout out praise and encouragement). 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 in the same innovative ways that Wii Fit Plus does. 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 fundamental exercises to work out all different areas of your body. Especially when I choose “intense” level, it really does make my heart pound and gives me a great workout that rivaled any kind of workout I’d get at the gym, for a fraction of the price.
We Cheer 2
The original We Cheer was one of the first games for the Wii to really make full use of the Wii’s motion sensor capabilities. It was a hugely popular title for Namco-Bandai and for good reason. It’s a cheerleading simulation, a fun and challenging rhythm game, and a unique way to exercise, all rolled into one. I’m happy to say We Cheer 2 is a worthy sequel. It adds a fresh new soundtrack, new dance moves, an improved workout mode, and fixes some of the annoyances from the old game, such as the overuse of dialogue.
The primary audience for the game is quite obviously girls from ages 7-15, but it can certainly be enjoyed by people of all ages. The We Cheer world is a bright, colorful world with wide-eyed cartoon cheerleaders with big eyes and bubbly giggles. The music is licensed and recognizable music from such teen pop stars as Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Avril Lavigne. Even Fergie’s “Glamorous” is the “Clean Version”. You definitely won’t find suggestive moves or skimpy outfits, it’s all very family-friendly.
As for the gameplay itself, I found it very impressive. You hold the Wii remotes in your hands like pom poms, your on-screen character will dance in a cheerleading routine, and your job is to mimic her moves as closely as possible, with an on-screen arrow and animated “timing star” showing you the precise moves you need to make and the speed you make them in. If you follow her moves precisely, the screen says “Cool!” and you hear a jingling sound. If you miss, the screen will say things like “too fast” or “too slow” or even “needs more energy”.
We Cheer 2 literally simulates an actual cheerleading routine. You’ll clap your hands, dance from side to side, tilt and twist your body, shake your virtual pom-poms, and twirl and wave your hands. The choreography is actually pretty impressive; after playing the game over and over again (especially on expert mode), you can literally dance a full cheerleading routine that rivals the kinds you see at high schools and colleges.
As in the first version, the game publishers made a smart move NOT to use the Wii Nunchuk, instead giving you the option of using one or two Wii remotes. This greatly improves the accuracy of the controls at Beginner and Intermediate levels, which were spot-on. At the Expert Level, the motion tracking was not 100% accurate. Still, after making some adjustments to my movements, I was able to start clearing expert routines after a lot of practice.
One thing I really liked about the game was the mode called “Exercise Mode”. In it, your on-screen character will take you through a Jane Fonda-like aerobic workout, shouting out various instructions to you. The options seem fairly limited (you can only choose between a 2-minute and a 4-minute workout), but over time you can unlock more. The storylines in exercise mode are pretty amusing; as in the first version, there’s a tubby fellow (and in one case a grizzly bear) who approaches you and asks for help to lose weight. As you do the workout, you can see the pounds “poof” right off as you do the exercises correctly.
Overall, We Cheer 2 is a worthy successor to the original We Cheer, a lot of fun, and great exercise to boot. While most Wii exercise games focus on lower body, We Cheer provides a great low-impact upper body workout. Sometimes the best fitness titles are ones that aren’t fitness titles at all, because you end up playing the game over and over again to try to beat the game, without realizing you’re working out.
Ironically, the best fitness game title to come out of Ubisoft isn’t a fitness game at all. It’s Just Dance. And it is fun!
The biggest thing that impressed me about this game was not only the wide range of very fun songs, but that in playing the game you learn the actual dance moves to the songs! You’ll learn the “Mashed Potato” that was all the rage in the 1960’s to Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time”. You’ll learn the best disco moves of the 70’s with songs like “That’s the Way I Like It”. And my personal dream come true–you can make your own “Hammer Time” with “U Can’t Touch This” (parachute pants not included).
Admittedly, the one thing I was skeptical about when I first saw the game was that it only used one Wii remote. They went for a decidedly simpler approach. Considering it’s using one Wii remote, the controls are fairly accurate as far as detecting whether you’re dancing correctly or not. For each move, you’ll be given a grade of “Great”, “Okay” and “X”.
Now, I won’t lie and say the controls are the most precise in the world. But where this game triumphs is that even though the controls may be off, the game is so fun that you really don’t care. You’re not really “scolded” for getting an “X”. And you also find that the more you practice the moves and “feel the music”, the better your scores become. You may never get to 100%, but you learn to take 60% to 70% “Great” or “Okay” as a major accomplishment. For some hints on getting the best results, see my full review of Just Dance on the blog.
To sum up, Just Dance is an instant classic “exercise game that’s not called an exercise game”. And even though I was constantly out of breath, I invariably still wanted to try it again and again until I got it right. To me, that’s the sign of a great exercise game.
Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout
Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout is another good title on the Wii for working out by Ubisoft (the same company that makes My Fitness Coach).
It retains some of the same features as My Fitness Coach, such as scheduling workouts and maintaining a calendar of your exercises. Overall, I’d say it’s a decent workout game, nothing spectacular, but a nice game to have in your arsenal of Wii workout games.
There are really two major parts of the game: 1) Boxing, and 2) traditional cardio workouts using the Wii Balance Board.
The boxing part is pretty realistic, and certainly a cut above Wii Boxing. . The on-screen instructor teaches you all about how to properly throw different kinds of punches such as jabs, hooks, upper cuts, crosses, as well as defensive techniques like weaving, and dodging. You go through training for each kind of punch, and you can even take a series of exams to see how well you do. As you pass each test, you unlock new exercises and you earn “Gold” (in some shameless product placement) to buy on-screen clothes and accessories. While you can use a Wii and a Nunchuck, two Wii-motes are highly recommended to get the precise movement down.
The cardio part uses the Wii balance board, but it doesn’t use it as part of the actual exercise as much as just as a “spotter” for counting the number of reps you do dor things like squats and situps. It’ll measure shifts in your weight to determine if you’re doing the exercise correctly. For example, when doing squats, a voice will tell you to “squat down” and “rise up”, and you have only a short time to do the rep for it to count in your total.
Both these kinds of exercises come together in the “Workout session”. You can follow a prepared regimen, or you can choose exercises a la carte. When you select a prepared workout, like the other Ubisoft title “My Fitness Coach”, you get a virtual trainer who’ll talk you through the exercises.
I wouldn’t say it’s an all-in-one exercise program, but certainly a good supplement to some of the other games on this page, and probably the of the bunch so far for upper body workouts, like traditional boxing and sparring.
Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip
Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip
and its sequel Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage both use the Wii Balance Board to simulate snowboarding. Unlike other games with celebrity endorsers, this game was built with the full cooperation of Olympic gold medalist Shaun White and it shows. While of course the experience isn’t literally the same as going up to the slopes, it is probably the closest a video game can come to the experience. The game makes excellent use of the Balance Board in simulating a snowboarding experience. As with a real snowboard, you lean forward and back to steer and you lift your body to perform jumps and tricks. You also can use the Wii remote to perform tricks. While it’s not an intense aerobic exericse, it’s one of those games you play often to try to master all the venues, and after a while, you may feel your thighs, calves, and ankles getting a great workout.
Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010
The answer is yes, but mainly because you could hardly get worse than the previous version. If you’re a die-hard fan of Jilian Michaels, and have collected all her books, videos, exercise equipment, and supplements, there are enough improvements here to make this a worthwhile game to get. However, if you’re looking for the best Wii fitness game, this isn’t it.
The exercises are definitely more intense than the ones you’ll find on most other gamesThere’s are nine exercises that use the Wii Remote (water pump, sledge swing, hip twist, oblique, side lunge, back kick, jumping jack, squat jacks, running) and nine that use the balance board (boat pose, crunch, swing kick, lunge kick, bicycle, side plank, pelvic thrust, push-up, closed push-up).
You can do Single Exercises or choose “Circuit Training”–combinations of exercises that Jillian herself recommends or five you choose yourself. While you’re doing each exercise, the game will show an animated Jillian performing the exercise, showing you exactly how to do the exercise, complete with the Wii-mote or the Balance Board. You can use a 3-D camera to rotate and view exactly how to do it from any angle. This is a neat feature that isn’t available on other games.
Overall, the graphics are not bad; the environments have rich graphical experiences and great background audio.
Where the game is lacking is still its still extremely spotty in its use of Wii-Mote or Balance Board to measure how well you’re doing the exercise. While marginally improved over the 2009 version, it’s still not very accurate and a lot of it is “trial and error”. In most cases the controller really doesn’t add much to the experience and you’re on the “honor system” to do the exercise right. And overall, the user interface is horrific. There are a number of awkward or non-standard ways that controls and interface elements are programmed. Sometimes navigation through menus is unresponsive, sometimes buttons are so small you can hardly select them. There are "bonus features" in the game which to be blunt, seem more like afterthoughts than anything else.
If you’re committed to exercising, you’ll get some benefit out of this, but there really aren’t any huge innovations here. You’ll find that Wii Fit Plus is more fun, EA Sports Active is more precise in its controls, and The Biggest Loser for Wii has a much larger variety of equally intense exercises. The main audience for this one are die-hard fans of Jillian Michaels who enjoy her no-hold-barred style and love the idea of her acting as your virtual personal trainer, even at the expense of a very polished video game experience.
In all honesty, I hesitated to put this on the list of top 10 exercise games because of its deficiencies, which you can read in my review of Your Shape on the blog. But I decided to give this one another "A for effort".
In all honesty, I hesitated to put Your Shape on the list of top 10 exercise games because of its deficiencies, which you can read in my review of Your Shape on the blog. But I decided to give this one another “A for effort”.
What sets this title apart is the inclusion of an “Innovative Motion Tracking Camera”. It turns out this is just an ordinary USB Webcam.
Still, I wanted to give it a chance, and this was an idea which, done properly, could have revolutionized the whole genre.
At the end of the day though, Ubisoft bit off a little more than it could chew technologically. The result is a game which is nothing short of amazing when you can get it to work properly (about 35% of the time), and just plain infuriating when you can’t (the other 65%).
When you exercise, an on-screen animated Jenny McCarthy is juxtaposed with your video image, so the two of you will literally make the same movements at the same time. Plus, every exercise has an optional tutorial where you can learn how to do it.
From a pure exercise point of view, this title is really no different from Ubisoft’s previous title My Fitness Coach. The exercises are “old school” calisthenics moves with names like “double heel jacks” to “turn steps” to “grapevines”. The package touts that it has “over 400 exercises”, but the truth is there are just 400 variations of jumping, swinging your arms, moving your feet, and stretching. Not that there’s anything wrong with that–it’s a very complete set of routines. An added benefit is that you can incorporate exercise equipment in your workouts: an exercise bench, a fitness ball, or hand weights. And it really helps that you can see your own video image next to the animated Jenny, to see precisely how she does the exercise.
The fatal flaw of this title, however, is how inconsistently the camera tracks movements. Worse, your workouts will be adjusted based on your “failures”, so you’re basically going to be penalized whenever the system doesn’t detect you properly. Certain exercises I tried, such as the “warm up march” were fairly amazing at detecting my precise movements. Others, like “jumping jacks” were a disaster–the system failed to properly detect my arm movements at all, despite trying on different colored outfits, exaggerating my movements, adjusting speed and timing, and changing the lighting. The remaining exercises were hit or miss, and unfortunately the system missed a lot more than it hit.
Ubisoft came up with a great idea here, but they just couldn’t get it working. I’m not a software engineer, but my gut tells me the money they paid for a celebrity could have been better spent on more R&D, doing something like providing reflective arms straps or leg straps which could be better detected by the camera or supplementing the video information with Balance Board, Nunchuk, or Wii remote information.
To sum up? A great idea, and if everything worked I’d be touting it as the new king of the hill. But at the end of the day the poor responsiveness makes it too frustrating to deal with. Exercise-wise, there’s nothing here you can’t get in the $19 My Fitness Coach. So the question you need to ask yourself is, is it worth an extra $50 for a low-end Webcam and the thrill of seeing your own image on-screen, knowing that the motion-detecting technology is frustrating and probably years away from being perfected?
Wii Sports Resort
Remember the thrill you got when you first hit a tennis ball or a baseball on Wii Sports? Prepare to experience that thrill again. On June 8, Nintendo released the Wii MotionPlus, a new device that plugs into the bottom of your existing WiiMote and provides your Wii a whole new playing experience. While the Wii-mote without the attachment could detect simple movements left, right, back and forth, with the MotionPlus, it can detect the speed you swing your arms, the angle you move your wrists, and overall much more precise and accurate detection of movements.
Of all the games that use the Wii MotionPlus, by far the most impressive demonstration is Wii Sports Resort, released in late July, 2009. It comes bundled with a Wii MotionPlus, and you can buy additional ones from Amazon.
On my blog, I’ve written a comprehensive review of Wii Sports Resort, but of the dozens of games on the disc, here are the highlights from the perspective of using your Wii for exercise:
Canoeing: While not necessarily the most fun game, this is definitely the most intense of all the games on Wii Sports Resort for working out. You hold your Wii-mote like a canoe paddle and row furiously to the left and right to steer your boat and to control your speed just like a real canoe around a winding course, avoiding obstacles from weeds to giant things dropped in your way. The MotionPlus can tell how fast you’re rowing and how deep in the water your paddle is, and the courses get longer and more and more challenging to finish in the time you’re allotted. Great way to get your heart pumping, whether you’re racing against the clock or a friend.
Cycling: This is a lot like the running game in Wii Fit, but it’s made all the more brilliant because you actually simulate the strategy of a bicycling race like the Tour de France or Olympic cycling. You alternate "paddling" your Wii-mote and Nunchuk up and down to simulate your biker’s pedaling. Wave too hard, and your biker will go out of breath or even need to stop for a bottle of water. Wave too lightly, and you’ll be left in the dust. Like in real cycling, you can "drift" off of other riders by riding behind them, move from pack to pack of bikers, and save your energy at the end for a mad sprint to the finish line.
Swordplay: Swordplay is lot like Wii Boxing. Like Wii Boxing, the early levels are easy, but the intensity of the workout will increase the more levels you increase. Basically, it’s a fencing game where you wield your sword, and swing it high or low and in every direction and angle. You can fence against a single computer opponent in a two-person duel, or face hoardes and hoardes of Mii chasing after you with reckless abandon. But my favorite game is when you compete with the computer (or a friend) to see who can be the first to slice an object thrown at you (ranging from sushi to a diamond to a boiled egg to a strawberry shortcake).
Basketball: This one takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do you’ll find it does a fairly good job of simulating a real basketball workout, both as a classic NBA-style three-point contest and a game of three-on-three pickup basketball. For the three-point contest, you pick up a ball from a cart by reaching with your Wii-mote pointed down and pressing the “B” button to pick up the ball. In one motion, you lift the Wii-mote in the air (which will make your on-screen player jump), and then make an arching motion with your hand (just like you’re shooting a real basketball). You let go of the ball by releasing the “B” button, putting a little spin on it to make the ball spin, just like in real life. Just like in the NBA you repeat until you’ve finished five racks of five balls.
The pick-up game uses similar controls for shooting, except you have to avoid defenders, and you also play defense by blocking shots and going for steals. It’s one of those games which isn’t the most strenuous workout, but you make up for it because it’s so addictively fun you’ll plan over and over again.
The controls can be frustrating at first, but you’ll soon find out that (just like in real life) you need to use a different amount of force and spin and the precisely correct angle for each location you shoot from. It’s a lot of trial and error, just like you’re on a basketball court. The trick to this game is to release the ball when you’re at the very top of the jump, to flick your wrists to put spin on the ball, not putting too much or too little force in your throw, and to aim the ball right at the basket when you let go, compensating for your shot slightly if you feel your ball is too far to the left or right. Try it a few times and you’ll get the hang of it. The more you envision yourself shooting a real basketball, the better you’ll do.
Table Tennis: This is another one where you scratch your head and wonder how they got it so close to the real thing. The MotionPlus makes your control of your paddle extremely accurate; I still can’t get over how precise the paddle is–you can move your racket up and down, tilt it with your arm, and twist it with your wrists, and the motion is captured accurately on the screen. Like in real ping pong, a sure way of success is to put a little spin on your ball (you do this by hitting the ball with your paddle angling slightly up, and then when the ball hits your paddle, quickly turning your arm and wrist in a forward circular motion so the ball "spins"). It’s one of these games that may not be the most strenuous workout, but it’s so addicted you’ll play over and over again and get pretty decent exercise. If you’ve played ping-pong on Wii Play or Mario and Sonic at the Olympics, prepare for a whole new experience.
Wii Sports Resort ws designed as a fun game first and not an exercise game, of course. So it wouldn’t replace games like EA Sports Active or Gold’s Gym Cardio for workout. But all that said, it’s one of the funnest games out for the Wii this year and as with Wii Sports, some of them are so addicting you’ll want to play them over and over again until you beat your computer opponent or a talented human opponent (I must have spent hours before I finally beat "Lucia" in Table Tennis and by the time I finally beat her I was covered in perspiration and my biceps were rock solid from all the swinging and slamming!
Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2
First, let’s get something out of the way. I’m an adult, and if you are too this game (like several other games listed) is not necessarily designed for our demographic. But cast your self-consciousness to the wind, and just have fun. This particular game is by far the best workout you can get on the Wii. Just pull the blinds, make sure no one in the house has a video camera and a YouTube account, and everything will be fine.
For those of you who may not know what Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) is, it’s a game that comes with a mat that plugs into a port on top of the Wii. As pop music plays, you step on one of the four arrows on the mat to coincide with the arrows on the screen. The music will have you jumping and hipping and hopping and bipping and bopping until you’re panting for air. DDR for the Wii adds the use of the game controller and Nunchuk, which let you react to hand movements. You can also stick your cartoon Mii’s head to a hipster’s body, which is a nice, if bizarre, touch.
There are several modes. The one I find most useful for working out is the "Groove Arena" mode. You’re presented with a series of challenges to keep clearing. You’ll be surprised at how good you get. It gets progressively hard, and you’ll get some challenges you swear you’ll never be able to beat. But be persistent and believe it or not you will (and you’ll lose a lot of weight in the process). The overly-enthusiatic emcee gives pretty good advice–just "feel the music" and let your body react naturally to the music. Admittedly t took me about two months and over 50 tries to get past "I Want Candy" at Expert Mode. The video to the right was the moment I FINALLY beat the thing…ironically, the fact that I want candy is the reason I need to do this in the first place.
The other useful modes for workouts are "Training Mode" (which let you input the number of calories you want to burn that day, and it’ll put together a program for you and keep track of your workout history). If you have a spouse, friend or child you want to exercise with, the "Dance And Defend" mode lets you have a dance-off against someone else (if you have a second mat connected to your Wii). There’s no better motivation to keep at it than trying to beat a live human and not a computer.
If you have kids in the house (or if you’re just a big kid yourself–and no, there’s nothing wrong with that), you might want to consider Dance Dance Revolution Disney Grooves. It’s the same great fun, the same great workout, but with a couple family-friendly improvements. First, it comes bundled with two dance mats (compatible with Hottest Party 2, and vice-versa). Secondly, it allows multiplayer support for up to four players. It lets you really customize your character (including your Mii) with Disney outfits and accessories. And finally, it contains 40 classic Disney songs to dance to from Disney movies, TV shows, and theme parks. So instead of songs like "Bust A Move", you’re dancing to songs like "Turkey In The Straw" and "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo".
30 minutes of dancing at Advanced or Expert level is a very intense aerobic workout. But don’t worry, when people at work ask you how you lost the weight, you can always tell them it was playing rugby or sparring at the gym. They won’t know the difference.
EA Sports Active
This is EA Sports’ response to the Wii Fit. While the Wii Fit was designed in Japan and has decidedly eastern exercise techniques such as yoga and an emphasis on "internal wellness", EA Sports was designed with western exercise techniques in mind, focusing on cardio, upper and lower body exercises, and exercises that simulate sports movements, namely jogging, boxing, baseball, basketball, volleyball, and inline skating.
EA Sports Active comes with two additional controllers (using the term loosely): a specially designed leg strap which holds the nunchuk and tracks movements from your lower body, and a "resistance band" (actually nothing more than a giant rubber band) which helps with upper body exercises. The "resistance band" was flimsier than I expect, but I was surprised at how effective they were when used in conjunction with the exercises.
There are dozens and dozens of exercises to choose from. A virtual "personal trainer" will walk you through video tutorials as you need them for each kind of exercise. You can either choose pre-configured exercise routines (they have 20-minute daily workouts and 30-day challenges ready for you to use, mixing up the exercises so they never get boring), or you can create your own workout routines a la carte.
The cardio exercises are a combination of boxing, kicking, step, and running exercises.
They’re similar to the cardio exercises you find in Gold’s Gym Cardio and Wii Fit, but one thing I find is that the detection of the Nunchuk and Wiimote are far more precise than in either of those games. As they should, they do get your heart pumping, although you’ll need to string several of them together to get the 20 minutes of sustained elevated heart rate you need.
The exercises are a series of curls, shoulder presses, and lifts all using the resistance band. By holding the Wii-mote and Nunchunk in your hand, along with the straps for the resistance band, your virtual trainer can monitor your progress and shout encouragement.
I won’t say this is a huge tool for massive muscle growth, but I was surprised at how effective the resistance band was at toning specific muscles.
These exercises consist of lunges, squats, and jumps to help your lower body. They use the Nunchuk knee/thigh strap at keep tabs on whether you’re doing them properly.
It’s important to set your expectations for these sports games as to what they are and what they aren’t. These aren’t replacements for console sports games or simulations. You won’t get to play a full game as in Wii Sports. The best way to describe these games is that they should be considered exercise routines that use sports movements to make exercising fun. And as long as you go in with that expectation, they’re great.
Basketball exercises get you moving your upper body from left to right. You grab the ball, pass it to a target by thrusting your arms forward, and shoot the ball by lunging your arms up with a certain amount of force. Similarly, Volleyball exercises use the motions you’d use to serve, set, and bump (it’s remarkably accurate–time the ball wrong and you’ll hit it behind you instead of over the net; fail to hit with enough force and you won’t clear the net). Baseball lets you move your arms by hitting, catching (which is less catching motion and more of a swiping motion), and pitching (which is a lot of fun). Inline skating is sort of like the skiing or snowboarding balance games in Wii Fit; you crouch down to go faster and lift your leg to avoid obstacles. Tennis lets you volley and serve to try to hit targets. All in all, I’d say these aren’t the most strenuous exercises you’ll do, but because they’re so much fun, you’ll probably spend more time doing them, and getting your heart rate up.
All in all, I’d say EA Sports is the game a lot of us were hoping for when Wii Fit came out. It gets you off your butt, gets your body moving, gets your heart pumping, and is fun to play alone or with a friend. Highly recommended.
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games
It says something about a title when it was released in 2007 (in time to commemorate the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beiing), but continues to be a best-seller to today. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games is an oldie but still holds up as a goodie.
The table tennis game and archery games are a bit dated now that Wii Sports Resort and the Wii MotionPlus has changed the game (literally), but most of the other games are still a lot of fun. Most of the running and swimming games involve some kind of frenetic waggling of the Wiimote and Nunchuk. The trampoline game is a ton of fun, requiring you to bounce high off the trampoline and perform tricks using a combination of buttons. The rowing game is also fun, require you to waggle the Wiimote and Nunchuk and press a series of buttons for each stroke. The track and field games also require a combination of waggling and well-timed button pushes. One of the running games is a particularly good workout–it was the precursor to Mario Kart and works the same way as a Mario Kart race as you run around a course, except that you’re getting a great workout in the process.
On October 13, 2009, Sega released Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games in time for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. While this title is fun, it doesn’t contain enough physical activity to be considered a workout game for our list.
Wii Fit (Original)
The Wii Fit, of course, is Nintendo’s own entrant into the world of fitness gaming. And unlike the two games above it, you can be a grown-up and play it. In fact, all but a few of the games on the included disc will not be of much interest to kids.
The Wii Fit comes with what’s called a "balance board". This little ingenious device is basically a slab of plastic about the width and length of a breadbox. You don’t need to plug it anywhere, it’ll communicate wirelessly with your Wii unit. When you stand on it, it does two things. First, it acts as a controller using the pressure your body puts on the board. Second, it can tell your weight (if you’re touchy about those sorts of things, make sure you don’t step on the balance board in the middle of a room full of people).
Wii Fit keeps track of your progress over days, weeks, and months. When I work out using any of the games on this page, I always save Wii Fit for the end, because it’ll run what’s called a "body test" where it calculates your BMI, your weight, and your balance, and it’ll graph it for you. Make sure to weigh in at the same time every day for best results.
After weighing you, it’ll tell you your weight status (underweight, normal, overweight, or obese), and as an added benefit, it’ll adjust the picture of your Mii to match, complete with sound effects (mine at the moment is pleasantly plump, with belly flapping to the sound of a tuba, bomp bomp boooompp). It’ll also give you a "Wii Age". To show you how out of shape I am, I’m pushing 40 with a Wii Fit age of 50. My coworker’s pushing 50 with a Wii Fit age of 20. It’s great incentive to get back to my proper weight and age.
As for the games on Wii Fit, you’ll find that many aren’t "games" at all. Kids who are expecting to dance or to beat people up may be disappointed. But as a grown-up, you’ll be delighted at the variety of exercises you can do to boost your fitness and balance your body, not to mention your checkbook (the same instruction at the gym would cost hundreds of dollars).
Yoga: You can choose a male or female instructor. Once you get over the fact that they’re just a little bit creepy (think a department store mannequin, albeit a very fit one), you’ll find their advice pretty good. They’ll take you through a series of yoga poses and instruct you on where to breathe. It’s an interesting introduction to yoga for those who have always wanted to try. While not for everyone, some say that the health benefits of yoga can range from helping you to relax to improving your muscle’s range of motion and making you more flexible and less vulnerable to injury.
Strength Training: Of course, for those who prefer, there’s a whole section of old-fashioned strength training exercises. Your trainer tranforms from being a slightly creepy yoga guru to a slightly creepy gym trainer. Instead of lifting weights, your body serves as the weight as you do various exercises from push-ups to step exercises. For this you will need a LOT of room and a nice soft padded mat (I’ve tried it on a hardwood floor, and trust me, you don’t want to go there).
Aerobics: Okay, this is where the kids’ attention will perk up again. There are a bunch of fun little mini games here designed specifically to get your heart pumping. For those who haven’t been able to hula-hoop since the third grade, there’s a series of games where you just have to stand on the balance board wiggle your hips as vigorously as possible, catching tossed hula hoops like a trained seal (and yes, in case you’re wondering, 0:19 seconds into the video, in real life I did fall on my face). The board is remarkably accurate as far as capturing your movements.
Another series of games lets you run around Wii Fit Island. This game doesn’t use the balance board, but rather, you put your Wii controller in your pocket and you run in place. It’s never boring, because there’s beautiful cartoon scenery to keep you distracted, and you’ll find different paths to run down.
Balance Games: These are the funnest parts of Wii Fit. They’re not particularly strenuous workouts, but these games certainly help you with balance and coordination. My personal favorites: a ski slalom game and snowboard slalom game where you ski down a hill and turn and twist your body to go through the gates (both pretty good simulations of the real thing–in the slalom game you even move the balance board vertically). There’s a ski jump game where you need to maintain proper balance to achieve the highest jump; a soccer game where you need to twist to the left and right to bounce soccer balls off your head (while avoiding shoes and, speaking of creepy, panda heads being thrown in your way). As you get better at the games, you unlock new games.
I doubt you’d lose a lot of weight if you stuck to just the workouts on the Wii Fit disc, but they certainly will help keep you in shape at a price a lot lower than a monthly gym membership. And the price you pay is worth it for the balance board alone. This is going to be the peripheral that many, many game companies are going to develop games for in the future, and the games you see today are nothing compared to the games they’ll come up with in years to come. Also, having a daily graph of your weight loss (and having the cute cartoon Balance Board call you everything short of a fatty) is certainly motivation to keep the weight off.
Grand Slam Tennis
One of the first games to use the Wii MotionPlus attachment to your Wiimote is EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis.
All in all, it’s a very fun game, once you get used to the increased sensitivity of the MotionPlus. While Wii Sports Tennis relied just on timing and would let you flick your wrist to hit the ball, Grand Slam Tennis measures the angle, the velocity, and the follow-through of your shot, much like real tennis.It takes some getting used to the controls, and after seeing how well Wii Sports Resort made use of the
The game is remarkably detailed as far as taking you through all four Grand Slam events, and the surfaces and sounds accurately reflect the grass courts of Wimbledon, the clay courts of Paris, and the hard courts of Queens and Australia. If you bend your knees and react to each shot as you would a real tennis game, you’ll find it a surprisingly good workout. There’s even a chart you can view after each match that shows how many calories you burned.
One thing to watch out for is to avoid injury. Because there’s no resistance with games like this as there is when playing real sports, you may find yourself overextending your joints and muscles and even ending up with tennis elbow or shoulder tendonitis. The most important thing to remember is to stretch properly before playing and most importantly, to play in moderation!
Dancing With The Stars: We Dance
The first thing to know about Dancing with the Stars for Wii is that it’s not really a dancing game. You don’t learn dance steps and you don’t even use your feet. The best way to describe the Dancing With the Stars Wii game is "Dance Dance Revolution for your hands and arms". It’s a fun game that’ll get your heart beating and your arms moving.
To play it, you hold the Wii Remote in one hand and the Nunchuk in the other hand, and you move your arms left, right, up, and down to the beat, like DDR. The more accurate you are with hitting the beat on time, the more points you’ll score. In addition, from time to time you’ll need to employ some special "flair moves" like "Maracas", "Bang the Door", "Mashed Potato", "Twist" and "Shake It" which will fill up a meter and boost your score.
Where Dancing with the Stars for Wii really shines is in how it faithfully reproduces a season of the TV show. Every detail is there, from the images of dancers from Seasons 2, 4 and 5 like Joey Fatone, Jennie Garth, Mark Cuban, jane Seymour, and eventual winners of Season 5 Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough; to the feedback of judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and and effervescent Bruno Toniolli. And even though you’re just moving your arms to the beat, the animated characters on the screen do dance the actual dance steps to the music, from the Mambo to the Tango to the Rumba to the Waltz. As on the show, you’re graded by the judges (each judge rates a different technical aspect of your performance), and the audience will "vote’ you to the next round. The music is all licensed, popular music, and just like on the show it ranges from "She Bangs" to "Waltz of the Flowers" to "Bootylicious".
All in all, I’d say that the game is average from a gameplay point of view. The controllers are mostly accurate, but from time to time as is common for games like this it might fail to register motion. Nothing too bad that’ll detract from the game.
But the game really shines for die-hard fans of the TV show. There’s are mini-games like "Simon", where you have to memorize a sequence of motions, and even a trivia game about the show. The game itself isn’t difficult to master, but you can extend the fun when you have a friend you can compete against or dance with in "Duet" mode.
There are actually two Dancing with the Stars games for Wii out there. You’ll want to get the newer one called Dancing With the Stars: We Dance! (in some cases, it’s also called Dancing With the Stars: Get Your Dance On).
I decided to try out Punch Out for the Wii. Reviews of this game have been overwhelmingly positive. You play the part of a little boxer named Little Mac and work your way through a boxing circuit, facing a series of 13 colorful characters with increasing degrees of difficulty. Each boxer is bigger than you and has his own personality and very, very annoying traits and mannerisms, so annoying that you can’t rest until you’ve beaten the snot out of them.
Once you beat all 13 it doesn’t end there: the game actually goes into a “Title Defense” mode where the vanquished boxers come back, angry and harder to beat.
The controls take a little getting used to. Like in Wii Sports Boxing, you mainly thrust with your hands to throw punches. I found Wii Boxing to be more responsive, and I preferred the way that Wii Sports Boxing allows you to block punches by putting your hands together in front of your face and weaving back and forth (with Punch Out, you use Nunchuk joystick to block, dodge, and duck).
But then again with Punch Out, the boxing is much more involved. Each boxer has a different pattern (which can in fact change through the course of playing the game), and as you go through each one you need to identify the pattern and have quick enough reflexes to strike or duck out of the way when a boxer tips off which way he’ll go (conveniently, the boxer will glow red right before he strikes, but in some cases you have a fraction of a second to respond).
The graphics and animation, while still cartoony, made it a more complete experience than Wii Sports Boxing. Unlike the repetitiveness of Wii Sports Boxing (which you can eventually beat easily by looking for patterns), Punch Out provides a good variety of fighters that use a variety of techniques and require you, as in real boxing, to look for their weaknesses to beat them. Listen to your coach between rounds to learn what the weaknesses are (or, if the coach is telling you how much he likes chocolate, chances are you’ve figured it out already).
It’s a classic Wii workout game in that it’s so fun and so addictive that you can work up a real sweat without even realizing you’re working out. Case in point: by the time I won this fight against “Mr. Sandman”, the final fighter between you and the title, I had lost over 100 times (but in the losses got great exercise)!
While the balance board addition was a good thought, the responsiveness was just too poor to use seriously. The Wii didn’t quite respond accurately when I bobbed and weaved on the board–either the timing would be off or the screen would display something completely different than I was doing. At the end of the day I stuck with the nunchuk controls.
So the question is, was it a good workout? Yes it was. It wasn’t an exhausing, full-body workout, but I most certainly did sweat and get some good aerobic exercise. Unlike the boxing games in Gold’s Gym Cardio and EA Sports Active, this one immerses you in the storyline which provides plenty of motivation for you to continue.
If you like Wii Sports Boxing, this is a nice little step up.
Active Life Extreme Challenge
I had high hopes for the sequel to Active Life Outdoor Challenge. I had been hoping that they’d come up with a game with better graphics, better responsiveness, and better mini-games. The best way to sum up this game is that it’s largely the same as its predecessor; it’s still fun, it’s still a great workout, but there’s not much "new" here.
Like its predecessor, it comes with a specially designed mat. The Jump rope game works the same, except that you’re jumping "double-dutch" instead of having two critters swinging one jump rope. "Street luge" plays a lot like the Pipe Slider game in Outdoor Challenge, where you sit on the mat, accelerate, and steer with your hands. "Kite Gliding" reminds me of Mountain Boarder, where you do jumps and press different buttons on the mat to do tricks while in the air.
BMX biking is a lot like Speed Roller, except you steer with the Wii-mote, "pedal" by alternating your feet, and jump by jumping into the air. I was a little disappointed by the sluggishness of the controller on this one. Similarly, Wakeboarding might have been cooler if I hadn’t already played the far superior version of Wakeboarding on Wii Sports Resort.
The two games which do introduce interesting new concepts are rock climbing and inline air. Rock climbing is pretty interesting; you kneel on the floor in front of the mat and press the right buttons to scale up a wall. With inline air, you go down a ramp using inline skates and you need to quickly tap the right buttons on the map in the right sequence to score.
Instead of cute cartoony characters, the characters are drawn to look more teenage and "hip". I suppose this is meant to appeal to a teen and young adult crowd. After unlocking all the beginner courses, you do have the option to use your Mii, but it’s a bit creepy seeing a gargantuan cartoon head on top of a fit and trim body.
Long story short, if you’re a fan of Active Life Outdoor Challenge, you won’t be disappointed in this game, but you won’t be blown away either. If you’ve always wanted to get an extra mat to play against friends and family, it’s a great idea to order your copy of the game and mat at Amazon. This way, you not only get the mat, but a new game with more ways to use it.
Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party
If you’ve never heard of the Raving Rabbids, you’re either in for a treat or a shock. This is a series of games which can best be described as irreverent–and side-splittingly funny. What do I mean by irreverent? Well, just think flying cows, disco dancing, games where you steer vehicles with your bottom, and even a game where you stand on the Wii Balance Board and you aim a single stream of yellow liquid at weeds in a garden (the yellow liquid, of course, is pesticide).
There have been three Rayman Raving Rabbids games, each similar in concept: they consist of many "mini games", some which offer great workouts. Rayman Ravid Rabbids TV Party kicks it up a notch by incorporating the Balance Board in ways that I’m sure the designers of the Balance Board didn’t have in mind. For example, in one game you sit on the board and move your "cheeks" to the left or right to steer through a slalom course whilst sitting on top of a cow (cows are not given much respect in the Rayman Ravid Rabbids world).
There are dozens of mini-games that don’t necessarily provide much of a workout. Some are so-so, but others are great fun for playing with family and friends. Some of the standouts include a Guitar Hero knockoff,
The best mini-game is one which provides a pretty good workout, and is a blast to play in a group. It’s "Shake It TV". In this game, you use the Wiimote, Nunchuk, and Balance Board to dance to some popular songs that Guitar Hero or Rock Band wouldn’t be caught dead with such as "Jungle Boogie" and "Soul Bossa Nova" (think Austin Powers). Up to four players can play at the same time, and each has their own "American Idol" style judge critiquing their performance. One of the funniest parts of the game is that the moves all seem to be purposely simulating cheesy disco moves, so your game will be as much fun for the spectators in the room as for you.
Another good mini-game that provides a decent workout is "Missfit", a parody of a TV workout game. It’ll give you a series of 10 different workout routines which you have to mimic. The routines are randomized, so you won’t get the same workout twice. Some of the routines are surprisingly effective (my first instinct was to follow the tubby cartoon character’s movements on the screen, but in actuality you need to follow the instructions as quickly and intensely as you can).
None of these mini-games provide a sustained workout, but that’s where the "practice" portion of the game comes in handy. You can play the mini-games over and over again and get your 20 minutes of aerobic exercise that way.
Samba de Amigo
Samba de Amigo was a huge hit in arcades and later on the Sega Dreamcast. Now it’s been ported over to the Wii. The game can best be described as Dance Dance Revolution for the hands. You basically hold the Wii-mote and the Nunchuck controllers in each hand, and you shake them like maracas (they even sell actual Samba Maraca Covers which turn your controllers into real Maracas). There are six circles on the screen (two to the top, two to the bottom, and two in the middle), and the game will cue you as to which spot to hit. The soundtrack on the game is great, consisting mostly of upbeat Latin and Latin-inspired music.
I’d rate it with one or even two more stars for "fun" if it weren’t for the klunkiness of the controls. They’re not the most intuitive controllers to use. You’d expect to be able to raise your hands to hit the hit beats and to lower your hands to hit the low ones. It took a lot of trial and error, as well as some investigation on the Web, and it turns out you need to do some special things to make it work. First, it’s best to use two Wii-motes, instead of a Nunchuck. Second, the front of the Wii-motes (with the buttons) should be facing the Sensor Bar. Finally, the game will be most accurate if you hold your Wii-mote pointing vertically up for the high beats, horizontally for the medium beats, and pointing down vertically for the low beats. It’ll take some time, but you’ll get used to it. Once you do, the game is a blast, especially to play with others.