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.
UFC Trainer was first announced last year, and is finally listed on Amazon, who is giving a release date of June 21. According to the description, the game offers:
- Authentic UFC Fitness Experience – Certified by UFC and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), UFC Personal Trainer is designed by leading MMA training experts
- Intense Mixed Martial Arts Exercises – Learn over 70 MMA-inspired exercises, including moves from disciplines such as wrestling, kickboxing and Muay Thai
There’s a blue Wi-Fi logo on the Wii box, so there must be some online content – maybe even online play, I hope!
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.
A few weeks ago, I tried out PS3 Move, the new Wii-like motion controller system for Playstation 3. I played their Wii Sports knockoff, Sports Champions, and came away thinking “Wii with bigger controllers.” In addition to the controllers, that resemble something you might direct planes on a runway with, there’s a camera that asks you to pose in a frame between games so it can tell where you are, which slows down the action. Maybe Move isn’t really aimed at us casual moms (there’s only one fitness game out so far), which is just as well.
But today I tried Kinect, with its virtual-sports game Kinect Sports, and I came away thinking, Wow. Like, WOW factor in spades. I played soccer, a track-hurdling minigame and a boxing match, and I was panting and sweating at the end.
When I first heard about Kinect last year, I thought it would be just another Eye Toy, the PS2 camera that needed lots of light and nothing moving in the background. But I played Kinect in a store, with fluorescent lighting and people moving around in the background, with no problems. The menus worked fine and it was really cool to see my silhouette on the screen copying every little move I made.
Some are calling Kinect the “Wii killer” but I don’t know if I’d go that far. More like, the Kinect is the shiny new sports car while the Wii is the economy sedan. You do need a good amount of room for Kinect, and it only handles 2 simultaneous players while Wii can handle four. And Kinect is more expensive, both for the console and the games. There’s nothing in the $20 range, yet.
For the first time in four years, though, the Wii is looking long in the tooth. After this holiday, a lot of Wiis may be headed to kids’ bedrooms and basements, while Kinect takes center stage in the family room with the giant flat-screen. The Wii game output of 2011 may end up being more kiddie-oriented, much like what happened with PS2.
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.