Written on October 4, 2011
Get Fit with Mel B was a game originally released for the Playstation Move back in October 2010. When I reviewed it for our sister site PS3Fitness.Com, I found it to be a great and innovative fitness title for the PS3.
In a bit of a reversal from the norm, the PS3 version was ported to the Wii. The Wii version was released last week. Personally, I think this is a brilliant move by the publisher, as there is definitely a shortage of Wii fitness games right now (only Ubisoft is making a push into active gaming with the upcoming Just Dance 3). So if Get Fit with Mel B is worth its salt, it may be a huge hit for Christmas 2011.
For those who don’t know, Mel B. is better known to us old-timers as “Scary Spice”. You know, the only Spice Girl who you felt could (and would) beat you up after spicing up your life.
Starting up the game, it asks you to verify that the time and date on the clock are correct. You’re treated to a video introduction from Mel B, which is of surprisingly good quality for the Wii. You start out by entering your name on an on-screen keyboard, telling her if you’re male or female, entering your birthdate, and entering your height. You then choose your “build” from three icons (a lot more pleasant than entering your weight), and then tell her if there are any foods you don’t eat (by choosing from icons representing pork, beef, fish, etc.).
You can then choose a “workout location” from the following choices: Central Park, The Maldives, Infinity Pool, Forest Meadow, Apartment, or Luxury Yacht. I chose Central Park (which incidentally doesn’t look a thing like Central Park).
You then select a goal. You first choose a goal category from one of the following:
- General Health
- Lifestyle (fitness to make you feel better in everyday life)
- Special Occasions (exercises to get you ready for a big event coming up in your life like a wedding)
- Sports and Activities (exercises that help boost your performance in specific sports)
- Shape (working out different parts of your body).
Choosing a category will show you goals within the category. For example, under General Health you have the choices of Weight Loss, Detox, Lower Cholestrol, or Healthy Heart.
Depending on whether you’re male or female you may see different choices for each category (for example, men will see “Six Pack for Summer” or “Slim Down for a Suit” under “Special Occasions”, while women will see “Bikini Fit”, “Drop a Dress Size”, “Red Carpet Ready”, “New Mom”, “Get Fit for an Active Holiday”). Other categories are the same for men and women (for example, under “Lifestyle”, you can choose “All Day Energy”, “De-Stress”, or “Keep up with the Kids”; under “Sports” you can choose general sports, golf, tennis, skiing, or dance).
You can choose up to two goals. I chose “weight loss”, and as a secondary goal I chose “De-Stress”. You then choose whether you want to work on both goals equally or one more than the other (I chose 80-20).
Choosing goals will customize the types of workouts you get later on in the game. In all honesty, I think this is more smoke-and-mirrors than anything else…there seem to be a pretty finite set of exercises, so there is going to be a lot of overlap from one workout to another.
Next, you can choose optional equipment to use, something we haven’t seen on a Wii exercise game since the original My Fitness Coach. You can choose to include a Fitball, a Resistance Band, Wrist Weights, or Ankle Weights in your workout. I went with the Resistance Band.
The next step is calibrating the Balance Board. Once this is done you’ll see a message:
I’ll schedule a different workout for you each day. You can just choose “Today’s workout” each day if you want to stick to the schedule, or you can use “Choose workout” to pick one of the types.
The next screen is a menu selector that’s reminiscent of “My Fitness Coach 2”. This is no accident, as that game had been developed by Lightning Fish games and had been called “NewU Fitness First: Personal Trainer” in the UK. However, when the game was brought to the United States, the publisher, Ubisoft, foolishly chose to change the name to try to “cash in” on the success of My Fitness Coach. But because the new game was completely different, fans of the original were disappointed and felt they’d been misled (which, in fact, they had been). They never gave NewU a chance. Happily, Deep Silver, the new publisher of Get Fit with Mel B in the US, was smart enough to keep the original name.
Ironically, Get Fit with Mel B feels in many ways like the true sequel to My Fitness Coach that we’ve been waiting so many years for. As with that game, you can choose your workout environment (which is a photorealistic setting, not a cartoon), you can choose your own equipment to work with, you can watch your trainer make the exact moves (again, as a video instead of a cartoon), and your workouts consist of reps of many different activities strung together. You really feel like Mel B is your own “personal trainer”. I’d go so far as to say that if you were a fan of My Fitness Coach and have been disappointed by wannabes (no pun intended) like Jillian Michaels, 10 Minute Solution, or Zumba Fitness, you’ll feel like you’ve come home with Get Fit with Mel B.
The Menu options are extremely simple. They are:
1) Today’s Workout: This takes you right into each day’s scheduled workout, which is a different workout each day based on the goals that you selected.
2) Choose Workout: This gives you a couple more options:
– Workout. You choose between standardized “Fitness” and “Aerobics” workouts, customizing the length of the workout.
If you choose “Fitness”, a standard workout comprised of fitness activities is customized to your goals and put together. You’ll see a breakdown of each of the individual fitness activities (mine consisted of 15-20 reps of push ups, see saws, crunches, jumping jacks, hip swings, squats, chest presses, tricep kick backs, and bent rows).
If you choose “Aerobics”, you can choose from step, dance, combat, cardio, or advanced cardio aerobics. Again, you’re shown a breakdown of the different aerobic moves (Advanced Cardio has you doing pulldown knees, shuffles, jumping jacks, ice skaters, swinging star jumps, toe touch jump squats, side jumps and drop squats, spring hops, twisting tuck jumps, rotating hamstring curls, jumping jacks and drop squats, jumping single leg lunges, high knee runs, and side ski jumps). And happily, all the aerobics exercises use the balance board, and use it well–if you bought a Balance Board for step aerobics but were always disappointed by Wii Fit’s weak “plink, plink, plink” step aerobics, you’ll love how they use the Balance Board here.
You can choose the length of the workout, and then just start working out.
– Custom Workout: With custom workout, you can literally build your own workouts, choosing the fitness or aerobic move, and then choosing how many reps of each move you wish to make. It takes a while to set up, but the resulting workout is yours alone, which you can play over and over again.
There is a staggering number of individual moves which you can choose from. Here’s a list of Fitness Moves:
- Rotation push-ups
- Lateral Step-ups
- Drop Lunges
- Three point push-ups
- Push-ups on knees
- Staggered Push-ups
- Cat crawl push-ups
- See Saws
- Mountain Climbers
- Long arm crunches
- Roll up crunches
- Wide squats
- Side lunges
- Squats with kickbacks
- Reverse lunges
- Jumping jacks
- Lunges with running arms
- Ice skaters
- jumping lunges
- Twist crunches
- Diagonal lunges
- Hip swings
- Split Squats
- Prisoner Squats
- Chest presses
- Bicep Curls
- Hammer Curls
- Tricep kick backs
- Tricep extensions
- Shoulder presses
- Shoulder scaptions
- Upright rows
- Bent rows
- Side raises
- Front raises
- Reverse flys
- Seated rows
- Single shoulder presses
- Front/side raises
…and a list of Step Aerobic Moves:
- Step on, step off
- side kicks
- steps with turns
- diagonal knee raises
- hamstring curls
- Front knee raises
- Side steps
- Kicks and leg raises
- Hamstring curls and presses
- Turns with arm circles
- Heel digs and bicep curls
- Sideways high knees
- Front kicks with scissor arms
There’s a similar list of moves for dance, combat, cardio, and advanced cardio aerobics.
– Practice: Here, you can choose any single exercise and practice it as many times as you like. This becomes handy with some of the more complex moves.
– Challenges: If you’re up for a challenge, these are intensive groups of exercises where you’re pushed to complete a set of themed exercise routines (Dance, Abs Attack, Legs of Steel, Fighting Fit, or Cardio Test) within a certain period of time. I would have liked to see this section be a little more “fun” and interactive, but it’s really not much different than the standard workouts, just a bunch of tougher ones strung together.
3) Nutrition: Here, you’re presented with six meal plans and 140 heathy recipes. I do like the sentiment–any successful workout routine will be coupled with healthy eating. If you have your Wii hooked up to a printer or set up in the kitchen, this section will be useful to you. In other words, this section is pretty worthless. But on a positive note, the recipes do look delicious and they are all relatively short, so it might be worth you copying down by hand.
Whether you select Today’s Workout, a standard Workout, or a custom Workout, they’re all similar. You’ll see a video image of Mel B in the milieu you selected, and she’ll call out the moves you need to make and demonstrate on-screen how to do them. Unlike the Playstation or the upcoming Xbox version, there is NO support for a video camera image of yourself next to Mel B.
Having said that, I didn’t really miss having a video image all that much. The on-screen rendition of Mel B is pretty clear, and the vocal instructions she shouts are very understandable and easy to follow (unlike games like Jillian Michaels, where the on-screen Jillian would shout mundane and irrelevant platitudes).
As for the accuracy of the controls, the game does use the Balance Board for certain exercises, and for most exercises it uses the Wii MotionPlus. But by now we all know that because it’s a Wii, the controls are not the most precise in the world. Most exercises will err on the side of being generous in “awarding” you accuracy points, and of course, it’s easy to “cheat” by moving your hands but not the rest of your body. Of course, if you want to get the most out of the workout, accuracy points aren’t the most important thing–the most important thing is doing the exercise.
Long story short, if you’re looking for a simulation of a real personal trainer working out with you at a gym, in many ways Get Fit with Mel B comes closer than any other game since the original My Fitness Coach. Given the paucity of new fitness titles for Fall 2011, Get Fit with Mel B is a great choice if you’re looking for something a little new and different, especially if you enjoy cardio and aerobic sessions at the gym. 4 of 5 stars.