Archive for the 'Wii' Category

Wii Exercise Games – 3 Fitness Games Reviewed and Compared

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

I’m a video game fitness nut I guess. I own “Wii Fit”, “My Fitness Coach” and most recently got “EA Sports Active” (it was on sale) about two months ago.

I thought I’d do a comparison review of the games as I’ve experienced them so far. I’ve owned “Wii Fit” the longest and you can see my preliminary review of “Wii Fit” here.

First off the games are quite different from each other. “Wii Fit” is the game which comes with the Balance Board and started the whole “fitness game” craze. It separates exercises into a few categories, Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics and Balance Games. The Balance Board is used for most of these but sometimes you just use the Wiimote and nunchuk.

“My Fitness Coach” on the other hand does not use the Balance Board at all, it is structured as an exercise program, no “sports game” element is included and it flows more like a regular workout with an instructor. It does however adjust exercises to what external equipment you might have (or want to do) on a given workout. For example, you can tell it you have one, all or none of the following: hand weights, an exercise ball and a step platform. Workouts are not separated except that you can choose a Yoga workout or a “regular workout” for a regular workout you can choose an emphasis such as aerobics, core strength, upper body strength, etc or you can let the game choose it for you based on your overall goals you set up in your profile which guides all of your workouts. The game also has you do a challenge test every so often in which you need to weigh yourself, take measurements and do exercises to failure. I found this game to be the closest to a workout DVD in the sense that everything just flows so I feel it was the best for aerobic workouts. It also seems to have the biggest variety of exercises. However, whenever a new exercise is introduced you have the option of hitting a button and the trainer will show you how to do the moves before continuing on with the program. Another big plus is that after certain sections your trainer will ask you how that section felt and adjust it accordingly for next time. For example if you answer that it was a piece of cake she’ll make it harder, or conversely if you could barely keep up she might step it down. I really like this aspect of the game.

“EA Sports Active” is the newest game I’ve tried but I’ve had it for over a month now. It is the most ambitious in terms of integrating your movements into the Wii. A balance board is an option and it will ask each workout if you have one (or verify that you still do) but inside the “EA Sports Active” box a resistance band and a strap to hold the nunchuk are included. “EA Sports Active” also incorporates different sports such as boxing and an inline skate simulation (which is not like real skating at all but makes for a fun game). I find the resistance band to add nicely to exercises though depending on your height and existing strength you may want to buy your own. The straps that are intended to be used with the resistance band will work with other bands. One thing I noticed about the game though is that you must hold the wiimote and nunchuk exactly as pictured. I had trouble getting the game to recognize that I had lowered my arms on the second half of a bicep curl/shoulder raise drill and then realized it was because I didn’t quite have my nunchuk held the way the digital trainer had hers. I’ve also found that the nunchuk cord occasionally gets in the way but I can just hold the extra length. Another option folks seem to use is to buy a wireless nunchuk.

My Opinion
I think each of these games has its place. I’d go with “Wii Fit” to get the Balance Board and as an introduction to video game fitness. I liked learning Yoga poses with the “Wii Fit” as one is able to choose a front or back view of the instructor so it makes it easier to compare your pose to his/hers, also I liked that you got additional feedback when you used the balance board, for example, in standing tree pose you stand on the balance board and it shows you a dot for your center of balance and a larger pale yellow target area. The downside of “Wii Fit” is that after each exercise or game you must hit the A button to continue, which really breaks up a workout. Also if you just want to play games, for example you and a friend want to do the ski slalom game and compare scores, there isn’t a fast way to switch Miis. You have to exit back to the start screen to load up your Mii then go back to the slalom game. Of course you could just use the same Mii, but then the top scores wouldn’t reflect who had won what and you won’t get a workout credit for the appropriate Mii.

After getting “Wii Fit” you’ll want more of a challenge if you really want to get in shape. Your next choice is either “My Fitness Coach” or maybe “EA Sports Active”. To me the basic difference between the workout portion of these two games is in the level of micromanaging it does. “My Fitness Coach” tells you to do things and it’s up to you to make sure you have proper form and that you actually do them, not unlike a DVD. “EA Sports Active” counts reps you do since it uses the Wii accessory sensors and to some extent can tell if you are not using proper form. But then that can get frustrating as evidenced in my example above. Also it seems to break the flow of a workout even on the “Hard” workout option.

One feature in “EA Sports Active” is that you can review what exercises will be coming up in a given workout and check or uncheck them accordingly (for example you see that squats will be included but your knee is bugging you so you uncheck them). That’s a nice option that “My Fitness Coach” doesn’t have (except generally, for example you can choose to do a mainly upper body workout vs a lower body one). However if you do uncheck squats in “EA Sports Active” I noticed it doesn’t replace it with something else and your overall workout results in fewer calories burned.

Both games, “My Fitness Coach” and “EA Sports Active” incorporate a workout journal of sorts, with “EA Sports Active” having the more detailed one as well as a “trophy” section for achieving certain goals.

Buddy or Family Workout
“Wii Fit” as I explained is not set up for simultaneous workouts of different people, though you can have a profile for each member of your family. This applies even if you were have two balance boards, the Wii itself just doesn’t handle two boards at once. “My Fitness Coach” is also set up for one person at a time, though since it is not measuring actual input from you, if you have enough room you and a friend or friends can all follow along with each workout. “EA Sports Active” allows you workout with another person though you will need to buy another set of equipment to do that. I’ve not tried this option so I’m not sure if all of the workouts will work for this or perhaps just some of the sports games.

Conclusion
My opinion of the games is shaped from a background of already being a reasonably active geek girl. I used to regularly go to a gym as well go rockclimbing at least once a week. I’ve since quit the regular gym and have replaced that with my workout games (I still climb and occasionally add more sports/exercise). Because of this I am looking at these games with an eye towards getting stronger and as a means to keep my weight down, but also doing so without potential overuse injury. I also like to fit in a workout when I want. Because this is my goal I find a use for all three of the games – though “Wii Fit” admittedly gets the least amount of use. I mainly use it to weigh myself, take its age test and, very rarely, play the balance games (been doing the ski and snowboard game because of the Winter Olympics lately). I like “My Fitness Coach” and “EA Sports Active” about equally for now, I think I get a better, more rounded workout, with “My Fitness Coach” but sometimes find that “EA Sports Active” has some individually harder exercises. Sometimes I worry that it’s too hard, for example, in some of the games you do a fair amount of high jumping. Also, I haven’t used “My Fitness Coach” with a step platform or balance ball so I’m sure its individual exercises can get harder. I also really enjoy that “My Fitness Coach” seems to pull exercises from a variety of disciplines, like pilates for example. The difficulty of the individual exercises aside, I’ve found that I feel more “worked out” after a “My Fitness Coach” workout of 20 minutes or more than an equivalent length one from “EA Sports Active”.

If you’re coming to these games from a background of not having done exercises since PE class I’d suggest getting “Wii Fit” and just doing that until you get bored. If you’d like to move on from that, or if you feel confident you can do exercises with good form I’d suggest “My Fitness Coach” next. The reason I’d choose that over “EA Sports Active”? I feel that the way that “EA Sports Active” forces you to use the Wiimote and nunchuk can lead to bad form, I think it’s better to do the exercises in good form first before trying to adapt to the game’s limitations.

Finally, if it’s only the games you’re after and not the exercise, I’d go with “Wii Fit” and “EA Sports Active” though for “EA Sports Active” keep in mind that you will need to get through the exercises to unlock more sports. In fact, maybe just skip “EA Sports Active” and go for “Wii Sports Resort” instead. I had a lot of fun with that over Christmas playing my brother’s game.

Whatever you choose, have fun and burn those calories!

Wii Fit Review (Preliminary)

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

My brother got me Wii Fit as my latest combo-Christmas-birthday-anything else I missed present. I’ve had it for a few days now and so far it gets two thumbs up.

My brother found it because I had placed it on my Amazon Wish list account. I originally added it there with the intention of buying it myself for the following reasons: 1. I liked the concept of getting a little bit of exercise through a game interface and 2. I wanted to learn more yoga poses yet I wasn’t keen on my current choices of watching a DVD I’ve had for a long time on it, or
going to classes again. I figured my gaming brain would find an interactive (and “score” keeping) medium much more interesting than a dvd and obviously would be something I could do at my own time, pace and place when compared to going to live classes.

I was right about the above but I underestimated the fun of the Balance Games also included in Wii Fit. Now, before I get ahead of myself, I’ve had Wii Fit for all of 4 days. Which means I’ve done 3 “Wii Fit Tests”, 6 yoga poses, 1 strength training exercise, and 3 of the balance games. I’m still giving Wii Fit two thumbs up. There are obviously a lot more “exercises” and games for me to try but I’d buy a Wii Fit just based on what I’ve done so far (and extrapolating out that I’ll continue to like learning more yoga poses and combos).

When I first got the game I went through it following all directions (yes, even wearing the strap for the Wiimote). I took the first Wii Fit test and got a Wii Fit Age of 6 years over my actual age. I had a huge laugh about that because I’m an unusually active geek. I rockclimb regularly, backpack, go to a gym and do other physical activities. But even so, I did not do well at the Wii Fit test where you had to shift your weight between your two feet (both feet still kept on the board) and hit a certain target for at least 3 seconds (you have a visual guide which shows that you need to keep the pressure on the board so your indicators are between an ever narrowing blue rectangular area).

The next day I tried Wii Fit I tried to retake the test but it gave me a different set of tests to do (I hadn’t realized that’s the usual MO — you do a test each day which they pick for you). On that test I scored 5 years YOUNGER than my age. This soothed my bruised ego. It involved balance again but this time you had to move your center of balance to “hit” blue targets which increased in number and you had less time to hit them all. The secondary test involved just trying to stay as still as possible (not giving detail on this one or it’d be a spoiler).

Yoga. The first thing I tried out after the test was the yoga program. You pick a trainer, she or he shows you how to do a pose and then you do it. The nice part is that you have a visual indicator showing your center of balance so you get feedback on how you are doing. You also have a visual cue for your breathing and of course it tells you how long to hold each pose after which you get a star rating and points. The trainer talks you through it and gives you tips, not unlike how I’d expect a DVD to do it.

Strength training. I’ve only done one of these so far. I noticed lunges were included and of course push ups. The one I actually did (due to space limitations and out of consideration for my downstairs neighbor) was one where I just did some arm/body twisting. I don’t expect to gain much “strength” out of this particular exercise but I suppose it’s good in a “calisthenics” kind of way. As I mentioned before, I’m an active girl so I’ve already got a certain amount of strength going for me that twisting probably won’t improve. I’m sure the push ups and harder exercises will benefit me though.

Aerobics. The 3rd major set of exercises on Wii Fit are aerobic. I haven’t tried any of these yet, I still tend to get my aerobic exercise outside of the house. However I love Wii boxing in Wii Sports so I’m looking forward to trying out the Wii Fit boxing training exercise since it will also involve the lower half of your body.

Balance Games. I’ve tried three of these so far. I’ve tried the tight rope game (it’s a game you unlock once you get enough Wii Fit time accumulated). It’s OK. I suspect if you had people watching you do it, it would be more fun in a “party game” sort of way. I also tried the ski jump game. I like this one. With your knees bent, you lean forward at a certain angle to get your speed up but still stay centered. To jump you straighten your knees, but, even when airborne you need to keep your center of balance stable.

My favorite Balance Game (and my favorite thing on Wii Fit so far) is the slalom ski game. You use the board to control moving left and right and also to control your speed. My boyfriend and I have been battling it out for the number one spot, we seesawed back and forth but I’m currently in the top 3 positions with my best score at about 52 seconds (with a Professional rating). I announced, “I r the winnar!” in true geek fashion at the end of that run.

For the record, I’ve only been on two ski trips before in my life (got up to the intermediate slopes but that’s it) and I’ve been snowboarding a total of two days so I’m not the best judge of how good the game translates slalom skiing. But heck, it’s fun! I noticed that there’s a snowboard game to unlock so I’m looking forward to that too.

Preliminary Conclusion
. I’ve already said it. Two thumbs up from a reasonably physically active geek girl. Wii Fit doesn’t replace a hard core fitness routine but it can be a fun way for a usually inactive gamer to get more physical. Or for the usually physical person to have fun indoors with games. Hardcore folks of either type can look down their noses at Wii Fit but they’re just missing out on the fun.
Wii Fit. Picture of one of the Test Miis

Rock Band for Wii Coming in June But No Online Option

Monday, March 24th, 2008


Harmonix says the release is: June 22 in North America

A Special Edition bundle–containing a wireless guitar, drum kit, and microphone–will sell for $169.99.

Song total: 63 songs, five of which are bonus songs. A full list of the 63 tracks was not provided, though the initial 58 are expected to mirror the 45 main songs and 13 bonus tracks of the previously-released PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 editions.

And to my great disappointment…

The Wii edition of Rock Band will not include online multiplayer or support for downloadable content

More details from the Shacknews article.

Wii Wait – Wii Poetry

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Here’s some Wii “Poetry” for you, my apologies to my English teachers and Professors ;)

Without a Wii
I was ninth in line
But there were only seven
Wiimote with no Wii

Wii Wait
I was 9th in line but there were 7
I left with three parcels, thinking they would help
fill the void within.
When I presented my spoils,
My boyfriend said he would have camped out with me.
I chose the road of surprise and and came home Wii-less.
I should have known
Wii would have conquered together.

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