Category Archives: Gameplay

Just Dance 4 on Wii U opens up possibility of live personal training

Critics are all over the place on Wii U after seeing the new console demonstrated last week at E3.  But like it or not, there’s no denying that just as the original Wii brought motion gaming into Everyfamily’s rec room, Wii U has something that really no other console has: a way for one person to be the emcee, dealer, dungeon master or whatever you want to call it, and direct the actions of the other players in the room via the Game Pad controller.

This could lead to a whole new genre of party video games: game-show-based games like Jeopardy! or Password (no more sending people out of the room or awkwardly point-and-click-typing answers), team games like Pictionary, or card games where your “hand” is on your pad (unfortunately, there’s a limit of 2 Game Pads playing simultaneously).

The Just Dance series also was a breakthrough, getting classrooms and office parties everywhere to just dance.  It was a given that the series would continue this fall with Just Dance 4 on all platforms.  JD4’s game on Wii U has an exclusive new mode, Puppet Master, where one person using the Game Pad selects dance moves on the fly that other players have to obey.  Just imagine a late-night, well-lubricated “Simon Says”!

But I envision more than just YouTube lulz from Puppet Master.  A live personal trainer, or PE teacher, could use the Game Pad to direct one or more people through a workout by selecting exercises on the pad.  They could pre-record a workout, and modify as needed, like if the trainee doesn’t look like they’re going to make it to 25 pushups.

I doubt that Just Dance 4 has pushups, but Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 does, and both games are made by Ubisoft, so…

Turn kettlebells into a Kinect minigame with Your Shape 2012

I haven’t yet seen a console exergame that incorporates one of my fave workout tools, kettlebells, but one of the greatest things about Kinect is that you can hold onto whatever you want.  Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 has several fun warmup minigames, and one of them, “Pump It Up”, has you inflating and exploding giant balls for 2 minutes.

You’re supposed to put your arms out and flap them like a bird during this game, but I discovered that it also works with kettlebell swings!  Check it out:

The kettlebell (I’m using a 12k) doesn’t show up for some reason, and it’s hard to tell, but I am leaning back on my heels.  Swings make a great warmup for my glutes and legs and lungs, and with this minigame, there’s no dread.

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012: Results you can see

Jump rope minigame in Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012

Most of my favorite exergames emphasize the “-game” over the “exer-“, which is why I never really got into Wii Fit or other games that were built around workout programs.  But as luck would have it, I received a free copy of the Xbox Kinect game Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012 through Amazon’s Vine program, so I’m going to make it part of my exercise regimen, for as long as it takes to write a decent review.

YSFE reminds me a lot of Exerbeat for Wii, in that it has a mind-boggling collection of activities, many of which have to be unlocked as you go along.  One group of activities is called “Activities”: these meta-activities are minigames that you can play by yourself or with up to 3 other people.

I tried an activity called Stomp It, which is like a cross between DDR and Simon.  As rhythmic music plays, lights scroll towards you on the floor in one of four directions, and you have to stomp the lights to the beat of the music.  Each time you stomp correctly, a brick is added to a huge circular wall around you, so when time is up, you can see gaps in the wall where you missed a stomp.

I found myself playing this game again and again, just to make a complete wall. Then it occurred to me what a brilliant idea this was. You could SEE the result of your work, and the visual, instant “reward” made me want to keep trying to improve it.

It’s like building a wall in real life, or completing a race, or moving an object from one place to another.  You feel more of a sense of accomplishment than if you just did two sets of jumping jacks.  And the results that most people want, like six-pack abs or bikini-ready buns, are so slow in coming (if they come at all, given the way most of us eat) that people often get discouraged and give up.

People like getting a pat on the back, and it looks like YSFE is full of visual pats. I’m on my second day of playing this game, and I’ll be blogging about it little by little.  Hopefully I’ll get results I can see in the mirror, but that’s a long way off, and I’m having fun building virtual walls in the meantime.

Woohoo II! DanceDanceRevolution II bringing doubles back

Happy dance!

Konami has announced the next DDR, DanceDanceRevolution II, and the biggest news, for me anyway, is that DOUBLES IS BACK! 😀

I love DDR doubles (playing on 2 mats, side by side) and was thrilled to see doubles offered in the workout modes of the last two PS2 DDR games, X and X2.  But when DDR was introduced to Wii with Hottest Party, the lack of doubles cooled my enthusiasm, and as three more Wii games went by and no doubles, I figured it had gone the way of the original Xbox.

But my heart leaped when I saw the above screenshot on Konami’s DDRII page!  I don’t know what songs the game will have, if they will also resurrect Edit mode, or what workout mode will be like (plenty of room for improvement there).  But because of doubles, this is on my wish list.  Domo arigato, Konami!

How to use DDR to work on your balance

Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 for Playstation 2

A while back, I wrote a post about how you can get a fun and unique core workout using DDR.  This  time, we’re going to use the game as a fun little balancing exercise that you can do whenever you have a spare ten minutes, or just need to take an all-important break from sitting.

I got this idea while watching a “knee training” workout by Mark Verstegen, on the sportskool on-demand cable channel.  I’m a big fan of Verstegen’s Core Performance book series, in which the theme is that your body moves as one integrated unit.  Thus, if you’re having knee problems, it could be that your hips or other joints and muscles aren’t doing their jobs, and need to be retrained to take the load off your knees.  The many hours of sitting that people do nowadays is causing not just obesity, but also tight hips and “lazy” glutes.

One exercise in Mark’s workout consisted of hopping back and forth over a line, without letting the other leg touch the ground, and another exercise consisted of hopping from one leg to the other, pausing for a second each time to get one’s balance.  I thought, “that looks like a job for DDR!”  So I tried it out on the Wii game DDR Hottest Party 3, after shutting off the jumps in the options menu.  (This is on the main menu under Options and Individual Options.  You might also want to turn on Cut to get rid of faster steps.)

I played Lessons 1, 2 and 3 – all beginner level songs, but just by making a “rule” that only one foot could touch the floor at any time, they became quite a challenge!  Beginner songs are actually a little harder than “basic” songs when played this way, because they have fewer steps, causing you to have to balance on one leg longer.

This is a fun way to enjoy beginner-level songs (I like those “Lesson” songs) and if you have the PS2 or Xbox DDR games, you can use Edit Mode to craft a balancing workout for other songs as well.

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