Fitness in your pocket, with Nintendo DS

personal trainer walkingLately the Wii has been getting much of the exergaming press, but fitness is a growing genre on the handheld Nintendo DS game console as well.  The DS is about the size of the old-time address book that our moms carried around in their purses.  It opens up like a book, and contains 2 screens (DS=dual screen) one of which you poke or “draw” on with a plastic stylus.  It also has wireless internet capability and a microphone for voice control on some games.

The usual Mario and other action video games are available, but with the runaway worldwide success of Brain Age, the DS has also attracted many non-gaming “games” meant for self-improvement.  You can quit smoking, learn a language, compose music or even practice Japanese brush calligraphy with DS software.  The small size of the DS also makes it a natural as a fitness trainer or nutritional log on-the-go.

Fitness titles on the DS include My Weight Loss Coach, which comes with its own pedometer that, after you’ve gone for a walk, plugs into the DS so the software can automatically record your steps.  The recently released Personal Trainer: Walking takes this concept a step further by including not just one but two pedometers that are small enough to fit in your pocket, and then wirelessly transmit your number of steps to the console.

Also on the DS are a couple of yoga games, Let’s Yoga and Quick Yoga Training, and a Pilates game, Let’s Pilates.  These games sound like little more than handheld workout videos, although Quick Yoga Training has an interesting gimmick in that it can supposedly recognize how well you are breathing through the DS’ microphone.

The Biggest Loser and Jillian Michaels money-machines will be slugging it out with Wii Fit Plus for the Wii fitness fanatics’ dollars next week, but BL and Jillian both have upcoming DS games as well – Biggest Loser for DS is being released the same day as their Wii game, October 6, while Jillian’s Fitness Ultimatum 2010 for DS is waiting until October 20.  Both games contain workout routines, but the BL game also has a calorie database and recipes, while Jillian’s game appears to be exercise-only, although details are still sparse for both games.

Even Pokemon-loving kids will have incentive to get up and burn a few calories with the next series of Pokemon games for DS, HeartGold and SoulSilver.  These games will come with a pedometer-like device that adds power to your virtual pocket monster the more you move around.  Yes, there are ways to cheat, but don’t be surprised if you see kids jogging laps around the waiting area at Outback instead of simply hunched over their handhelds.  Hmmm, maybe NOT such a good idea after all?

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Posted on September 29, 2009, in Exergaming, Game previews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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