Category Archives: Just sayin'

Not that I’m the food police, but this is Just Ignorant

An unhealthy relationship: Just Dance and Cheetos

Just Dance 4 comes out on all platforms next week, and usually the big retailers like Target will offer a bonus of some kind for buying it right away, from them.  For instance, the big bullseye packaged a bonus Zumba DVD earlier this year along with Zumba Fitness Rush.  So I looked at next week’s Target ad to see what they were offering for JD4.

And I groaned.

Per the above photo, Target will knock $10 off the $40 list price of JD4 as long as you buy a bag of Cheetos.  Not a little bitty snack bag, but a big daddy-size 9-oz bag.  The bag also features codes to unlock a couple songs in the game.

Okay, I’m no health-food nut.  I like Cheetos, although I can’t recall the last time I’ve had any.  My main objection as a mom is that neon-orange crud that gets all over everything; maybe not such a problem with Kinect, but who wants greasy orange-stained Wii controllers?

But I’m trying to keep junk food as a “sometimes” or “very rarely” food, and promotions like this aren’t part of the solution.  And it doesn’t do any favors for people trying to give exergaming a healthy image.  That includes Just Dance itself, which has featured a “Just Sweat” fitness mode since their 2nd game, and even has a blog featuring people who’ve danced off the pounds.

Why not enclose a free workout DVD like they did with Zumba, or a coupon for fresh apples, or a pair of socks, or anything that isn’t going to just add more empty calories and stain teeth?

Grrr.  I’ll buy the game, just not at Target.

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Why aren’t more men walking?

Even a boxing champ had trouble selling walking to guys

Now that I have a Fitbit, I’ve been going for frequent evening walks.  Something occurred to me a few days ago:  I hardly ever see men, alone, going for walks.

In my suburban neighborhood, I often see women walking, just like me, briskly swinging their arms, wires dangling from their ears.  I also see couples (usually elderly) walking; men walking their dogs; and sometimes pushing a stroller or carefully following a youngster on skates or a scooter.

But whenever I see men out on the streets unaccompanied by a woman, kids or dog, they are almost always jogging, running or cycling, and they look as if they’ve been jogging/running/cycling for ages, or training for some event.  Walkers, meanwhile, come in all shapes and ages, from teenage girls in high-school athletic uniforms to older ladies in sweats.

A Google image search for fitness walkers seems to (unscientifically) confirm the gender imbalance in walking.  Take this photo, from the website of Leslie Sansone, queen of “at-home walking” exercise DVDs.  Where’s Waldo?  I’ve seen better male-female ratios at PTA meetings.

Even boxing legend George Foreman tried marketing a set of walking DVDs, which stayed in print for less time than it takes to Foreman-grill a steak.  Apparently the masses of guys who bought George’s grills preferred to crash in front of the TV apres-bacon cheeseburger rather than “Walk It Off With George“.

Do men really view walking as “women’s exercise”?  Something they’ll only do on a treadmill in the gym, or if their wives lock the door and drag them down the street?  Doctors really need to take this into consideration before telling their out-of-shape male patients to “just go for a walk”.  They may have better luck telling them to go Zumba.

Buyer beware! New Wii won’t play DDR, Active Life or other mat games

This new Wii - note the horizontal Wii logo - has no ports for plugging in your mat

The Wii is still a hot item for the sixth holiday season running, and in the past, your biggest problem in selecting a Wii console was fighting off the pepper-spray-wielding Ebay resellers.  Unlike Xbox 360 or PS3, you didn’t have to worry about different models with different features; you just snatched that white box with “Wii” in big letters and you were good to play any Wii game, or any Gamecube game for that matter.

Well, Nintendo thought you buyers just had it too easy, and set out to change that.  Now there is a new Wii appearing on store shelves and at Amazon, and at first glance, it looks like the only difference is a lowered MSRP and a horizontal rather than vertical stance.  And you may have read on game sites that it no longer plays Gamecube games, which is no biggie for most people.

But what many upset buyers are finding out after the fact, is that they got rid of the four Gamecube ports, which means that if you want to play DDR, Active Life Explorer (or other Active Life game) or Walk It Out using a foot mat, you’re screwed.

Original Wii console: note the vertical Wii logo (this console can be either vertical or horizontal) and the Gamecube ports on the left

These mat games may be last century tech, but they’re still around – a new Active Life game, Magical Carnival, was just released.  And the newest Wii DDR game, DanceDanceRevolution II, is being hailed as a return to classic DDR with no hands, gimmicks or balance board, and doubles play for the first time on Wii.  Yet the new console won’t let you plug in even one mat, let alone two!

There are wireless third-party DDR mats, but they’re pricy and haven’t gotten good reviews.  My beef is that a “Wii game” should play on a Wii, not only certain models of Wii.  Nintendo really dropped the ball with this decontented box, and does a disservice to consumers by not making it clear that you can’t use the controllers that came with the DDR or Active Life bundle.

Pass up this no-bargain console, and look for the older Wii models (which are getting harder to find, and more expensive) or buy one used.  Otherwise you’ll have to miss out on some great active games.

Exerbeat: the best new Wii exergame you can’t buy in a store?

Exerbeat (courtesy Nintendo)

Exerbeat for Wii was released a week ago, and it looked very promising: a game resembling the magnificent We Cheer series (by the same publisher, Namco) but with expanded fitness-fun activities such as karate and yoga, and a workout calendar.  Early Amazon reviews indicate Exerbeat is living up to its promise, with one reviewer proclaiming it the best yoga game on Wii.  And it’s only $20, so why not pick up your very own copy today at Target, Walmart, Best Buy or even Gamestop (where you can trade in that dud Jillian game while you’re at it)?

Because those stores don’t sell Exerbeat, that’s why!  And neither does any other retail store, it looks like.

We had this problem before with Walk It Out, perhaps the first Wii exergame that could be called a word-of-mouth, “cult” hit.  The only brick-and-mortar stores I ever saw it in were Gamestop and BJ’s, a warehouse chain.  But Exerbeat isn’t even found in a search of Gamestop.com.  Same story with BestBuy.com.  Target, Walmart and Sears do have it online, but not in stores.

Why, I can only speculate.  Perhaps stores believe exergames only sell during January resolution season.  Or maybe they got burned with too many Jillian or Your Shape games left on the shelves.  Or maybe game marketers aren’t doing a good enough job of pushing these games to the moms and grandparents pushing their carts by.  Walk It Out’s packaging, with a happy family on the cover, makes it look more like a kid’s game than a serious exercise game.

Anyway, don’t burn precious gas (like I did) trying to find Exerbeat in a store.  Go get it at Amazon.  Maybe if we vote with our feet (or fingertips) stores will get the message.

Amazon reviewer falls out of love with NFL Training Camp for Wii

NFL Training Camp, courtesy Gameinformer.com

The reviews at Amazon are a great resource for seeing what regular consumers think of a game, and since they can be edited and updated, they can be even more useful for seeing how well games work over the long term.  Take this review of NFL Training Camp for Wii, which turned into a sort of mini-blog that chronicles one user’s journey from rave to rant.

The writer, who like many of us just wanted to lose a few pounds, first “recommended” and then “highly recommended” the game after finding he could stick to the program after a few initial glitches.  But a month later, the honeymoon turned sour as online problems occurred (server went down, data was lost) and it got worse as the reviewer had customer service and support problems with EA.  Then came the final insult:

UPDATE 03/03/2011

Now it’s $40?!? I feel robbed EA. I pay $100 end of November, and 3 months later it’s at bargain basement prices? Not cool at all, and it’s made me incredibly unmotivated to use this, as I feel I have been scammed.

Indeed, EA has drastically cut the prices of NFL on Wii, and Active 2 on all platforms, from $100 to under $40.  (At this writing NFL is $32.60.)  That’s not-too-bad news for tightwads like me, but at the same time, I feel for the early adopters, and honestly I’d rather see better service and support than a bottom-feeder price.  Especially with a health and fitness product, where support and motivation are key.  EA needs to recover this fumble and step up their game before I’ll consider buying.

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