Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gold's Gym Cardio Workout for Wii Review

In case you're wondering, I haven't started the Nutrisystem diet yet. The food is still sitting in the freezer and in the box. What I've been doing all week is clearing out the fridge of all the food that was in there, and once the fridge is clear I'll start the diet. Ironically, this means I've been eating a bit more than usual these days. But happily, my weight seems to have stayed somewhat stable.

I did get in the mail the other day a copy of Gold's Gym Cardio Workout for the Wii. I'll post a short review in the Best Exercise Games for the Wii section of this site, but I figured I'd post a full review here.

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: one where you do boxing with your Wii-mote, and the other where you do traditional cardio workouts using the Wii Balance Board.

The boxing part is pretty comprehensive. The on-screen instructor teaches you all about how to properly throw different kinds of punches: jabs, hooks, upper cuts, cross, 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) in order to buy new on-screen clothes and accessories for your character (which is not your Mii, unfortunately). While you can use a Wii and a Nunchuck, two Wii-motes are highly recommended to get the precise movement down.

The cardio part is good. It doesn't introduce any exercises you can't already do on your own without the game, but having the game with its music and its graphical on-screen tracking of your progress is good motivation. It 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. You can choose an environment (forest, seaside, gym), and work out amid the scenery and the appropriate sound effects. They also introduced a music selection, but the only really recognizable song is Survivor's Eye of the Tiger, which they must have paid a lot of licensing costs to use, because they use it over and over. Still, if it worked for Rocky, why not you?

Here are some other observations:
  1. Sometimes the movements are not picked up easily. Your best bet is to use highly exagerrated moves when this happens. For example, when throwing a left hook, position your hand all the way to the right and the quickly sweep it as far and as fast as you can to the left. Sometimes it helps to point the tip of the Wiimote toward the sensor bar, even if it makes you slightly lose form.
  2. The opposite is true too. Punches may not be detected precisely, so when you're asked to do a right upper cut and you do a right cross, it'll accept it. In these cases you're on the "honor system" for throwing the right kind of punch.
  3. The sound is a little unsynchronized at times. Sometimes it's spot-on, while other times you'll throw a punch and you'll hear it register a half second later, which takes getting used to.
  4. In order to get the "cardio" part in, they tell you to weave back and forth all the time you're boxing. Again, you're on the "honor system" to do that.
Whatever the flaws of the game, it's the right price and it's probably the best upper body workout I've found so far. DDR and Outdoor Challenge tend to be good for the lower body, Wii Fit is good for overall wellness, but this game really gets your arms and torso in shape. It's a good choice when you've mastered Wii Sports Boxing enough to the point where you can beat all opponents without a sweat, and want to try something on the Wii that simulates real boxing a little better.

Like Wii Fit and Outdoor Challenge and DDR, you get to "stamp" a calendar every time you do a workout. I wish Nintendo would come up with a way to consolidate all these different calendars into one view,but I guess that would mean working with all different vendors who are producing competing products.

My rating is a 4 out of 5. Workout intensity is a 4 out of 5, while Fun is a 4 out of 5 too.



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