This review is for an older version of EA Sports Active. For the latest version, see the updated Review of EA Sports Active 2 for the Wii.
An improved six-week exercise regimen, an impressive number of new exercises that use the leg strap and resistance band in new ways, and some new and very fun fitness activities catapults EA Sports Active back to the top of our Best Wii Exercise games list.
November 13, 2009
While it’s designed for people who already own EA Sports Active (it doesn’t come included with a resistance band or a leg strap for the nunchuk), you actually don’t have to have the original game to play it. in other words, if you choose to purchase a resistance band and leg strap separately (you would need to get the EA Sports Active Multiplayer Pack), you can play the game on its own.
When you start the disc up for the first time, if the system detects that you have a profile from the original EA Sports Active, it’ll let you import it in just a few clicks. Something else that’s new in EA Sports Active: More Workouts is the use of trophies to motivate you. You even get a trophy for successfully importing your profile 🙂
One improvement is that you can now use the Wii Balance Board to check your weight. In this sense, they’ve caught up to games like Wii Fit and The Biggest Loser. Speaking of the Balance Board, it’s still optional for use in the actual exercises—you can certainly do most of the exercises without one. That said, if you do have one, they did an excellent job of incorporating it into the exercises, and it definitely enhances the experience.
You start out by recreating your profile. Once again, you can customize your on-screen character. You’re still limited to only a handful of body types, skin colors, and hair styles, but for some reason you now have 25 caps to choose from and 24 pairs of shoes.
Once again, you can choose a male or a female trainer, still the same somewhat creepy animated figures who shout out encouragement to you.
Once you get to the main menu it looks about the same with the same catchy music. The biggest difference is that instead of a 30-day challenge, you now have the option to take a 6 week challenge.
The new 6 week challenge is a vast improvement over the 30-day challenge of the original, more in lines of the type of training program you’d sign up for in a gym. For those who found the workouts in the original too easy, you’ll be pleased to know that you still have the option to choose intensity levels of easy, medium, or hard, and hard really is hard. The workouts are expertly designed to focus on different muscle groups more intensively throughout the workout, an improvement over the original where you’d work on one set of muscles and then alternate to another. One other major improvement is the ability to choose the days of the week to work out, rather than being forced into every other day. For me, I chose Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, mainly because I’m too busy during the week to take more than two weekdays.
Setting up a 6-week workout.
Another improvement is the Journal. This is where you can keep a virtual diary of your diet and exercise. When you click on the journal, you’ll be able to take daily surveys which ask you questions such as “how many glasses of water did you consume yesterday” and “how many restaurant/fast food meals did you eat”. Like a personal trainer, the Wii will give you advice based on your answers. There’s also a place in the journal where you can enter other physical activity you did outside of EA Sports Active More Workouts, letting you choose from a wide range of activities from walking and running to dancing and yoga. By selecting “Other”, you can record workouts you did in other Wii games.
The reporting tools are also pretty impressive. You can look up a weekly fitness tracker that shows 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 has a huge array of new exercises. Something I found impressive is that while they didn’t reproduce the exercises from the original, they came up with 30 completely new exercises that work out every part of your body, from lower body to upper body. One other nice addition is a warm-up and cool-down period, instead of rushing straight into the more intense exercises. Something else that impressed me was that they thought of new and creative ways to use the resistance band. For example, to do one-arm rows, you’re instructed to fold the band in half and step on the band in a way that you really do get great resistance on your biceps.
Other new exercises using the Leg Strap and the Resistance Band
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, the fitness activities are so much accurate simulations of the sports activities as they are clever ways to get you to mimic exercise movements (like squatting and lunges) in repetition without realizing you are. It’s tedious to go through dozens of 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.
Squash, a clever way for you to do lunges and arm motions
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 once you’ve made them (and often give you false positives and false negatives—if I hear Jillian Michaels one more time yelling at me unjustly I’m going to scream). EA Sports Active More Workouts actually responds to your exact movements as they’re making them. And if you mess up, it doesn’t yell at you.
The game, of course, takes place on an island which seems to be a trend. After visiting Wuhu Island in Wii Fit, Jillian’s Island in Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010, and the virtual Biggest Loser Resort, I feel like I’ve worked out all over the Carribbean. But I admit, there’s something soothing about escaping for 20 minutes a day with the sound of the surf pounding on the shores.
All in all, I was impressed with EA Sports Active: More Workouts, so much so that it will once again regain position #1 in the list of Best Wii Exercise Games. While it may not be as “fun” as Wii Fit Plus, and the graphics aren’t as good, the workout regimen itself is a tough one which really gets you working out, and the fitness activities are a good balance of fun plus an effective workout. It’s not a game you can play with the family (although there is an option to exercise with someone else, side by side), but on the other hand it does the best job of any Wii Exercise Game to balance fun and fitness.