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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.

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Up with doubles, down with diabetes: DDR II for Wii is out today

DanceDanceRevolution (one long word) II, with Stop Diabetes logo at lower left

DanceDanceRevolution II, which is actually the 6th game in the DDR series for Wii, hits the streets today.  Rather than compete with the Just Dance juggernaut, DDR II is turning to their old-school fans in several ways:  two-mat doubles mode is back (YAY!! :)), you can buy the game separately rather than in a mat bundle (another YAY!), and there is a “Stop Diabetes” logo on the box.

DDR and diabetes go back quite a ways.  The American Diabetes Association (who is behind the Stop Diabetes logo) printed an article way back in 2004 that called active video games like DDR “an effective means to reverse obesity and prevent diabetes.”  More recently, a study was announced that will directly compare DDR-playing with treadmill exercise in blood sugar control.

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.

Adding Wii games to your strength program

Three of my favorite metal objects!

Lisa of Wii Fitness and Gaming asked me to write a guest post for her blog, so I wrote a post about how I add Wii games to my strength training routine of kettlebells and heavy weights.  Check out my post here, and see the rest of her blog (and her Wii Fitness Examiner page) for more great Wii workout ideas.

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