Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Review of Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010 for Wii

3 out of 5 stars

A good title for die-hard fans of Jillian Michaels and her intensive, no-holds-barred approach to exercise. For all others, there are much better choices out there.

Reviewer: Nutwiisystem November 10, 2009

There’s an expression that goes “fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you”. According to Majesco’s own press releases, over 600,000 of us were burned by Jillian Michaels' Wii game from 2009, by just about all accounts one of the worst Wii titles ever released, with terrible graphics and unresponsive controls. So the new burning question is: is Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010 any better?

jillian michaels wiiThe answer is yes, but mainly because you couldn’t get any worse than the 2009 version. There are enough improvements to keep it off our ignominious Worst Wii Exercise Games list, but overall, the game is still not up to the quality of the top games on our best Wii exercise games list. If you are a die-hard fan of Jillian Michaels, it might be worth getting this title. Otherwise, you’re better off getting one of those other games.

Overall rating: ***
Exercise value: ***
Fun: **

And now, for a breakdown of the good and the bad.

The Good:
    • The game is fairly well organized.

      • A “Workout Area”, contains the main exercise portion of the game:

        • “Island Overview” allows you to quickly do one of 18 random exercises in one of 9 different environments, ranging from a cascading waterfall to a sunset on a pier. Great for if you want to exercise in a hurry and don’t want to have to go through a lot of menu options.

        • “Single Exercise” allows you to choose the specific exercise, location, music, and number of reps.

        • “Circuit Training” lets you choose from five combinations of exercises that Jillian herself recommends for Total Body workouts, working out Abs, or working out just the upper or lower body. You can also customize five of your own circuits.

        • “Resolutions” allows you to create a customer workout schedule over time for up to six months, or use a schedule that Jillian herself made.

      • “Jillian’s Locker” is very obviously something that the programmers stuffed into the game to make it appear more substantial. It isn’t substantial at all (The Biggest Loser for Wii, on the other hand, did it right).

        •  “Outfits” contains outfits that you can dress your on-screen Jillian in. More of a gimmick than anything else, and the interface is confusing to navigate.

        • “Diet Tips” is pretty useless. It contain tips on setting goals, food, and eating out. There’s an entire menu option dedicated to only 7 tips total.

        • “Exercise Tips” is the same, but with 7 tips on setting Goals, Time management, and Mind.

      • “My Info” is an interesting area where you can set your profile (height, weight, age) and then see your stats (how much you exercised using the game and a chart of your weight loss over time). Overall I actually prefer the more “professional” presentation of Jillian Michaels Wii game over the cartoony approach of Wii Fit, but again, the user interface is atrocious, with non-intuitive buttons and difficult controls.

      "Total Body" circuit training part 1. A pretty neat run through Jillian's island with Jillian.
    • While you’re doing each exercise, the game will show an animated Jillian performing the exercise, showing you exactly how to do the exercise, complete with the Wii-mote or the Balance Board. You can use a 3-D camera to rotate and view exactly how to do it from any angle. This is a neat feature that isn’t available on other games.

    • The exercises on Jillian Michaels Wii game are definitely more intense than the ones you’ll find on games like Wii Fit Plus or EA Sports Active. There’s are nine exercises that use the Wii Remote (water pump, sledge swing, hip twist, oblique, side lunge, back kick, jumping jack, squat jacks, running) and nine that use the balance board (boat pose, crunch, swing kick, lunge kick, bicycle, side plank, pelvic thrust, push-up, closed push-up). Use of the balance board is optional.

        "Total Body" circuit training part 2. Running through various other exercises.
      • For the Wii, the graphics are pretty good. Even though the Wii cannot display high resolution graphics like the PS3 or Xbox, they do a fairly good job of displaying full-motion video. The exercises are all done in environments with rich graphical experiences and great background audio. When you’re running through the jungle behind Jillian, you really feel like you’re there running through a lush jungle. When you’re on a dune overlooking a beach, you can see the wind and hear the surf pounding against the shore.

      • There is something cool about the way that Jillian serves as your “personal trainer”, leading you through intense exercises, shouting out positive reinforcement when you do well, and berating you to push harder when you don’t. The game does capture her intense, all-out style quite well.
      The Bad:
      • The game is still very spotty in its use of Wii-Mote or Balance Board to judge how well you’re doing the exercise. While it’s improved over the 2009 version, it’s still not always very accurate nor useful. For the most part the controller really doesn’t add much. There’s a ton of trial and error to figure out if you’re doing it right, and even if you do figure it out in most cases you’re on the “honor system” to do the exercise right. Sometimes just flicking the remote lightly will trigger compliments from Jillian; other times you’ll swear you’re doing the right thing, but Jillian will berate you for not doing it right. As an extreme example, for the “Swing Kick” exercise, I was graded as having done 20 reps. I earned 161 “power points” (as meaningless to me as the “Wii Fit Credits” from the original Wii Fit), and I was graded with 80% accuracy. That’s great, but here’s the problem. While the exercise was going on, I was nowhere near the balance board—I was sitting 10 feet away writing this paragraph!

      • For any given exercise, once you press the “Start” button, the on-screen Jillian will start doing the reps for the exercise very rapidly, regardless of whether you are doing them properly or even doing them at all. Worse, there’s no ability to “Restart”, you have to either Pause or Quit.

      • The “how to” tutorial for each exercise consists of just a “before” and “after” picture of the exercise, with a long description of the exercise which you read on screen. The copy is generally descriptive enough, but it misses the point. If I wanted to read how to do the exercise, I’d buy one of Jillian’s many books. Why not just use the same animation that’s already being shown with the actual exercise, with narration over it to describe how to do it? It just seems awkward and backward to make someone read long blocks of text on a Wii game.

      • As you’ve probably noticed I said several times, the overall user interface design is horrific. There are a number of awkward or non-standard ways that controls and interface elements are programmed. For example, the programmers of this game didn’t even do something as basic as allowing you to scroll through text descriptions using the arrow buttons on the Wiimote—you have to point to a tiny up and down arrow on the screen to scroll through the text. The programmers didn’t bother to program it so you can use the arrow button on the Wii-mote to navigate menus. So you have to point-and-click at buttons, which for some reason are so tiny it takes several seconds to line up your cursor in the exact right place and click..

      • There are a limited number of exercises (9 balance board, 9 Wii-mote). This pales in comparison to the exercises provided in The Biggest Loser.
      To sum up? I’ll give it 3 stars out of 5. There aren’t any huge innovations here. You’ll find that Wii Fit Plus is funner, EA Sports Active is more precise in its controls, and The Biggest Loser for Wii has a much larger number of intense exercises. The main reason you’d want to get this one is if you are a die-hard fan of Jillian Michaels and enjoy the idea of her acting as your virtual personal trainer.



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