Last year it was announced that Billy Blanks, who molded kickboxing, fitness and counting to 8 into a goldmine known as Tae Bo, would be starring in a Wii game – but only in Japan. (He moved across the pond to start a new family with a Japanese woman.) The game, Billy’s Bootcamp Wii de Enjoy Diet, was released in mid-April, and Amazon’s Japanese site has screenshots and a video that includes both gameplay and a badly-dubbed Billy.
The same company that made Billy’s Bootcamp also made Shape Boxing which was rebranded for the US as Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout. Billy’s also has boxing, of course, but instead of punching at a DDR-like vertical scroll, you aim punches and kicks at colorful balls that are thrown your way. The game also has balance board support.
Billy still has name recognition in his homeland (although his namesake son could be eating away at some of that fame) and Tae Bo DVDs are still on shelves, so I don’t see why they couldn’t bring this over here eventually.
While searching for any updates on the Billy Blanks Wii game slated for Japanese release this year, I came across the website of the company making it, Rocket Company. This is the same company that made Shape Boxing, which was translated on this side of the ocean as Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout, and well received. I saw that just last month, they released Shape Boxing 2 in Japan. You can view a trailer on the Japanese Amazon page for the game.
The gameplay looks very similar to the original Shape/Gold’s Gym CW, but with more J-pop-ish music and a “world tour” mode. It’s getting good reviews from Japanese buyers, and while I’m just not that into boxing in general, I bet American fans of GGCW will welcome a sequel. I have no idea if or when Shape Boxing 2 will be released here, but I’ll keep an eye out for it.
No news about Billy, however.
Joystiq announced that Billy Blanks, the creator of the Tae-Bo workout videos, is coming out with a Wii game, but so far it is due for a Japanese release only, next March. Blanks was the last big household-name instructor in the US before Jillian Michaels came along, and within the last few years, he made another big marketing and personal splash in Japan, where he now lives.
While Japanese Wii games can be imported, you need a Japanese Wii console (or a specially modified console) to play them. But there is hope for gaming Blanks fans in the states; Joystiq notes that this new Blanks game is a sequel to Shape Boxing, which was brought to our shores by Ubisoft as the excellent Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout. So Billy’s game has a good chance of being a knockout, too.