Wednesday, March 10, 2010

EA Sports Active Sequel Coming This Fall for Wii and PS3!

EA Sports Active and EA Sports Active: More Workouts are, of course, on the top of my list of the best Wii fitness games. But EA Sports isn't resting on its laurels, as prestigious as this honor is. :)

In Fall of 2010, EA Sports will be releasing EA Sports Active 2.0. Details are still sketchy as to what the game will include, but it looks like it'll be a complete "reboot" of the game, including such improvements as:
  • A wireless control system, with arm and leg straps with motion sensors. For those of us who've been tripped up in the wires of the Wii remote and Nunchuk, this will be a welcome improvement)
  • A heart rate monitor which will monitor your heartbeat and adjust your workout accordingly.
  • A Web site to track your fitness information online, communicate with others who working out, and download new exercises.
  •  Compatibility with Playstation 3 and Wii (with other versions coming out for iPhone and iPod Touch)
We've still got quite a few months until launch, so I would still highly recommend getting the original EA Sports Active today. But this is definitely something to look forward to! 

Here's the text of the original press release:

Heart Rate Monitor and New Wireless Control System Highlight Innovation Coming to New Suite of Fitness Products This Fall

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – March 9, 2010 – Millions of people around the world have experienced the revolution in home fitness since last spring with EA SPORTS Active™, the number one rated fitness program for the Wii™**. Today, EA SPORTS™, a label of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), announced that EA SPORTS Active 2.0* (working title) is now in development and will be available this fall on PlayStation®3, Wii™, iPhone® and iPod touch®. The new EA SPORTS Active 2.0* fitness program will deliver true fitness results by featuring an innovative wireless control system, powered by new leg and arm straps with motion sensors, a heart rate monitor to capture intensity, and a new online hub to track and share workout data. EA SPORTS Active 2.0* will make working out simple, effective and will go with you wherever you are.

“The launch of EA SPORTS Active 2.0* will define a new era of interactive fitness with the use of innovative motion sensor peripherals and a heart rate monitor that provide users with a fitness experience delivering real, measurable results,” said Tarrnie Williams, Executive Producer, EA SPORTS Active. “As the number one rated fitness program for the Wii**, EA SPORTS Active proved itself as the industry leader and provided the foundation for our fitness franchise. The success stories we’ve received from our users show that EA SPORTS Active is changing lives and we’re so proud to be part of it.”

The new EA SPORTS Active 2.0* innovative wireless control system will give users complete freedom of motion, making it even easier to get a workout that delivers great results. Using innovative heart rate detection technology, the heart rate monitor will help users monitor intensity, providing constant on-screen monitoring throughout the workout and tracking user data over time to optimize performance.
The EA SPORTS Active 2.0* online hub will allow users to track and share all of their workout data, providing a centralized destination for all fitness, wellness and training needs. It will host a thriving online global community of EA SPORTS Active users who can share their fitness journeys, interact with workout groups and send messages to each other online to stay inspired and engaged. Users will also have the ability to download new workouts and exercises to their online connected PlayStation3 console to keep their workouts fresh and maintain motivation***.

EA SPORTS Active 2.0* provides total body conditioning using progressive exercise in new prescribed programs. A three-phase, nine-week program provides a fitness roadmap to help keep users motivated and on track of their fitness goals. Additional mini-programs will also be available to add on, keeping workouts fresh and inspiring. The EA SPORTS Active personal trainer will walk users through their workout and provide continued encouragement with feedback to ensure an optimal workout experience.

EA SPORTS Active 2.0* is in development at EA Canada in Vancouver. It has not yet been rated by the ESRB or PEGI; visit and for updated rating information. For more information please visit

* Working Title
** According to, March 9th, 2010
*** Internet connection and EA account required

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review of Walk it Out for Wii by Konami

5 out of 5 stars

Konami hits a home run with Walk It Out, a low-impact aerobic game which make walking in place a ton of fun.

Reviewer: Nutwiisystem
February 16, 2010

The first thing to know about Walk It Out is that it’s not a “video game” in the traditional sense of the word. There are no puzzles to solve, no targets to shoot at, no time limits, and no levels to conquer.

What it is is a very rich and in-depth virtual environment where you walk around and explore, unlocking different parts of the world as you go. The virtual world is stunningly beautiful, with parks, beaches, ocean views, buildings, and trees. The time in the virtual world matches the real world time: during the day you can admire the vast blue skies with beautiful cloud formations; at night, you can walk under a starry sky.

In many ways, Konami was brilliant to focus just on walking as exercise. While this may not sound very exciting, keep in mind that studies have shown that sustained walking is one of the very best forms of exercise. 67 million Americans walk regularly for exercise, whether doing step exercises in a gym, walking on a treadmill, or just walking outdoors. With all the Wii fitness games out there, it’s a category of exercise that hasn’t really been done very well. All other games focus on things like boxing and running. Wii Fit Plus’s “Rhythm Parade” is good, but too short. Its “Step Aerobics” is also good, but just much too short.

Starting up the game is very simple. You first create a profile, choosing from a male or female character, and then customizing the color of his or her hair, skin, and clothes. I would have preferred to use my Mii character, but their anime-style character was good enough. Next, you input your birthdate, height, and weight. For the more bashful among us, you can also protect this information with a password. I was disappointed that Konami did not build in balance board support to measure my weight.

You then select the controller you want to use. You can choose one of three options: a Wii Balance Board, a Dance Dance Revolution Dance Pad, or a Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
  • The Wii Balance Board is the most straightforward controller. You stand with one foot on the left, one foot on the right of the board, and you just march in place to the rhythm to make your character walk.

  • For me, the best choice for a controller is the Dance Dance Revolution Dance Pad. Like the Wii Balance board, you march in place on the dance pad to make your character walk. What’s nice about the dance pad is that it provides more flexibility. You can position your feet on any one of the six buttons on the dance pad, and you can even “mix it up” by moving your feet around to one of six positions. Unlike Dance Dance Revolution, you don’t have to stand on specific arrows: you can march on any button on the dance pad.

  • The Wii Remote and Nunchuk can be used if you want to give you arms a workout or if you don’t have a dance pad or balance board. Just wave your right hand and your left hand to the beat to make your character walk.
You start out the game in a stadium on a track, where a tutorial will teach you how to interact with the virtual world. A soundtrack with upbeat music will play throughout your game, and you basically need to step in time with the rhythm (by default, you’re stepping to every beat, but if it becomes too fast for you, you can configure it to step to every other beat). There’s a visual indication in the upper left-hand corner of the screen of each beat, and every time you step exactly to the beat, you’ll see a “great” or “perfect” message, and you’ll collect a “chip”. Like Dance Dance Revolution, you need to be precise in your steps to get credit, but unlike that game you don’t need to place your feet on a specific spot; as long as you step anywhere on the mat you’ll get credit. Every time you miss the beat (or stand still) you start losing chips.

This is where the fun starts. You goal is collect as many chips as possible, and to use those chips to unlock various things in the virtual world, each one costing anywhere from 10 to 400 “chips”. As you walk through the world, you’ll see icons with a point value. If you have enough points, clicking on the icon will replace the icon with the actual item. If you click on an icon before you’ve earned enough points, the icon will be moved to the top of the screen and will be unlocked as soon as you earn enough points.

Among the things you can unlock:
  • 120 songs
  • 69 route branches (arrows that open up new parts of the map for you)
  • 3346 town elements (ranging from trees to fire hydrants to cars)
  • 24 magical clocks (which allow you to change the time in the virtual world, regardless of what the time in the real world is)
  • 12 zodiac signs (constellations which appear in the night sky)
  • 7 rainbow spheres (which will make a rainbow appear in the day sky when all are collected)
As you step, your character will walk through the island. As you come to crossroads, you’ll see arrows that point you in different directions, which you can point and click (or use the Wii Remote arrow button) to take. Certain arrows need to be unlocked before you can take them.

As for the music, throughout the game you need to click on icons that look like CDs to unlock new songs. I find that I wanted to use all my first couple hundred points on unlocking enough music to avoid the music from repeating. There’s a great mix of licensed songs from artists like The Black Eyed Peas, Demi Levato, and Ne-Yo, as well as a number of the kind of generic-yet-peppy stock songs from Japanese composers you might have heard on Dance Dance Revolution. As each song is playing, you’ll see the name of the song and its tempo in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.

After unlocking all the music I could find, I spent the next couple hundred points on unlocking parts of the map. I then became obsessed with unlocking all the scenery. Some of the scenery adds beauty to the scene, while others are actually functional (for example, unlocking street lights will brighten up the scene when you’re walking at night). With thousands of items to unlock, that’s a lot of steps you have to take. But the thrill of “earning” your points and then spending them to create your own little world really does make the time go by quicker and more enjoyable than if you were just walking on a treadmill staring into space.  Konami did a good job of taking elements from video games (collecting points, cashing them in, building your interactive world).

Throughout the experience, your virtual trainer will pop in to give you training tips (for example, if you overdo your exercise, she’ll tell you to slow down), give you instructions, and shout out encouragement.

So bottom line, is this a good title for exercise? My answer is an emphatic yes. It won’t give you the kind of high-impact, heart-pounding aerobics that a title like EA Sports Active or My Fitness Coach will give you, but it is a nice way to mix things up and add a pleasant, enjoyable component to your Wii fitness regimen. It’s the perfect way to work out for rainy days or days when there’s 20 inches of snow on the ground outside!

By the way, thanks to Karen and "L" for posting comments on the Best Wii Fitness Games page to tip me off to review this great game! :)


Friday, January 22, 2010

Today's Amazon Deal of the Day is Active Life Extreme Challenge

As I wrote in my review of Active Life Extreme Challenge, it's not the best game, certainly not better than its predecessor, Active Life Outdoor Challenge. 

On the other hand, if you are looking to expand your collection of exercise games, and especially if you need a second mat, you won't find a better deal than this.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review of Just Dance for Wii

5 out of 5 stars

Ubisoft hits a home run with a game that's fun and gets you fit.

Reviewer: Nutwiisystem
January 13, 2010
Ubisoft’s My Fitness Coach was one of the first fitness games released for the Wii. While it was not much more than a glorified exercise video, at the time it was revolutionary. You could choose from a huge variety of exercises, and had nice options for choosing things like your workout environment, music. Ubisoft followed up with the very good Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout.

The exercise game from Ubisoft I had most been anticipating this year was Your Shape. As you can see from the review of Your Shape on the blog, I was less than impressed. Apparently, Ubisoft felt that in order to compete with EA and its Resistance Bands and Nunchuk Leg Strap and Nintendo with its Balance Board and MotionPlus, it had to introduce its own peripheral. So, it valiantly tried to introduce a Webcam which did a horrible job of tracking movement.

Ironically, the best exercise game of the year so far is by Ubisoft, but the only controller it uses is one, count 'em, one Wii remote. And it’s not an exercise game at all. It’s called Just Dance, and it’s a winner. I placed an order for the game after Dianska mentioned it in the comments section of the best Wii Fitness Games page, and I’ve been particularly looking forward to it after reading positive comments from Partingsorrow and Mindy.

I admit, I wasn't expecting much when I first heard about Just Dance a few months ago. I figured it'd be just like another one of those games like Dancing with the Stars and High School Musical where you see characters on screen dancing, but all you're doing is waving your remote to match the visual cues on the screen. Ho Hum.

The first thing that struck me when I popped the game into the Wii was that these were fun songs from every era. They're all family-friendly, and there's something in the track list for everyone, from baby boomers to Gen X'ers to Gen Y'ers. Here's the entire track list. Most of the songs are not covers, but original tracks from the original singers.

  • Girl Just Want to Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
  • Ring My Bell - Anita Ward
  • A Little Less Conversation (JXL Radio Edit Remix) - Elvis vs. JXL
  • Cotton Eye Joe - Rednex
  • Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen
  • Heart of Glass - Blondie
  • Womanizer - The Gym All-Stars
  • Groove Is in the Heart - Deee-Lite
  • Jerk It Out - Caesars
  • I Live to Move It (Radio Mix) - Reel 2 Real feat. The Mad Stuntman
  • Not N Cold (Chick Version) - Katy Perry
  • Mashed Potato Time - Dee Dee Sharp
  • Girls and Boys - Blur
  • Fame - In the style of Irene Cara
  • Lump - The Presidents of the United States of America
  • Kids in America - Kim Wilde
  • Pump Up the Jam - Technotronic
  • I Get Around - The Beach Boys
  • Le Freak - Chic
  • That's the Way (I Like It) - KC and the Sunshine Band
  • Louie Louie - Iggy Pop
  • Funplex (CSS Remix) - The B-52s
  • Jin Go Lo Ba - Fatboy Slim
  • DARE - Gorillaz
  • Bebe - Divine Brown
  • Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
  • Can't Get You Out of My Head - Kylie Minogue
  • Acceptable in the 80s - Calvin Harris
  • Who Let the Dogs Out - Baha Men
  • Wanna Be - Spice Girls
  • Step By Step - New Kids on the Block
  • U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
The second thing that impressed me was that this game features actual dance moves to the songs. In other words, not only are you playing the game, you're learning actual dance steps. 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 bestd 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). You can't do Dance Dance Revolution steps at a wedding (ahem, not that I've tried), but you can bust these moves.

Admittedly, the one thing I was skeptical about when I first saw the game was that it only used one Wii remote. That’s it. No nunchuk, no double Wii remotes, no MotionPlus, no balance board, no camera. They went for a decidedly simpler approach. For using one Wii remote, the controls are pretty 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. There'll be plenty of times you'll be doing the moves precisely, but the Wii will tell you you're not. 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". This is a refreshing change from other games like Your Shape or Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatim, where I swear I want to put my fist through the TV each time Jenny McCarthy or Jillian Michaels yells at me when they should be yelling at the people who programmed them.

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. Here are some hints to improve your changes:
  1. It helped me to remove the Wii MotionPlus from the Wii remote so it fit in my hand.
  2. The best position for the sensor bar was at waist level so it could detect a full range of movement up and down.
  3. It helped me to try to make sure the front of the Wii remote was facing me (i.e., the back was to the sensor bar) through the whole game. 
  4. Before you start playing the game, move your Wii remote around to see where the boundaries of the cursor go. Try to keep your movement within these boundaries.  
  5. Timing is everything. Practice until you learn the moves, and then be very precise when making them. Your right hand should be exactly where the character's left hand is; if its hand is high above its head, make sure yours is too; if it's at its hip, make sure yours is too, and so on. And it's just as important to keep still in the parts you're supposed to keep still as it is to move in the parts where you're supposed to be moving. If you've gotten to the point where you've memorized the dance and are just doing the moves to the music, your score will be great.
The game is simple. You choose a song, and then after a countdown from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, you'll see a silhouetted character on your screen doing the dance moves. The character is generally dressed appropriately for the song: a disco dude will lead you through "That's the Way I Like It", a cowgirl will do a two-step to "Cotton Eye Joe", and a dog (yes, a dog) will dance to "Who Let the Dogs Out". You basically just have to do the mirror image of the character's moves.

They also have multiplayer games. In the first game (Challenge), you can basically have a dance-off between you and up to three other friends to see who'll get the high score. Again, you don't mind in this case if the controls are not completely precise because you're all on the same playing field. In the second game (Strike a Pose), it's like a game of Red Light / Green Light where you have to freeze in your tracks when the music stops. The third game (Last one standing) is an elimination game where the person who makes the least mistakes wins the game.

Oh yes, the exercise value. With virtually every song, I ended it panting because I was out of breath. Now granted, because it only uses the Wii remote, you could probably "cheat" by flicking your wrists at the right points. But why would you want to? It's a blast to learn the real dance moves, it's hugely entertaining when moving your whole body the way it's supposed to be done.

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.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

EA Sports Active is today's Amazon Video Game Deal of the Day

Every day, Amazon features what it calls its "Video Game Deal of the Day". Today (January 7, 2010), the deal of the day is the original EA Sports Active for only $39.77 (a discount of $20.22), a pretty good price for this one.

EA Sports Active on Amazon

While not as good as its successor, EA Sports Active: More Workouts, this one does include the accessories (the resistance band and the leg strap) which are needed for both the EA Sports Active Titles.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Top 10 List is Updated

In case you haven't seen it, at long last the list of Top 10 Wii Fitness games is updated. Hop on over and see who the new king of the hill is :)

In the coming few weeks, keep an eye out for reviews on Ubisoft's Just Dance and Konami's Walk It Out!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nutrisystem Update and New Year's Resolution

I realize I've been spending a lot of time talking about Wii games, and haven't talked very much about Nutrisystem. I suppose I should admit I've fallen off the wagon--I started a new job in New York City lately, and let's just say it would be a crime against nature if I were to eat a harvest nut bar for lunch when I was surrounded by some of the best culinary delights in the world.

But as you can guess, the combination of my eating and my extended hours at work have not been great to my figure. In the last few months, I've gained some weight back. The good news is, I've kept up my exercise (both from walking as part of my commute and from continued use of the Wii for exercise), so I'm only about 5-7 pounds up. But still, that's going the wrong way. It hasn't helped that I'm down to the least tasty Nutrisystem dinners and snacks (I need to avoid these when I place my next order).

So, for the new year I've decided to make a resolution. I'll still treat myself to nice restaurants for half the time, but the other half I'll eat Nutrisystem Select (that's the plan that comes with two weeks of the yummy frozen food and two weeks of the ranging-from-yummy-to-blech shelf-stable food, I'll be sure to eat a good balance of veggies and fruit, and will counter any over-indulgence with exercise. I'll post again when I order my new food. Wish me luck!

By the way, you may have noticed that Nutrisystem's stock price almost doubled in the last month. Wish I could take credit with this blog :) But it's because of two things: one, people are starting to buy diet programs again in this economy (it's counterintuitive, but when you do the math, it can be cheaper than eating out or even cooking yourself) and second, they're going to roll out nationally to Wal-Mart and Walgreen's stores around the country. It's definitely catching on.