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Online support for EA Sports Active 2 and NFL Training Camp will end next month

EA Sports Active 2 for Wii

EA has announced that they will shut down the online servers for a group of games, including EA Sports Active 2 (on all consoles) and NFL Training Camp (for Wii).  That means your online workout stats and workout groups for those games will go to cyber-heaven on April 15.

While EA should get some props for having the first console fitness games to have crucial online support – something I decried the lack of – it’s still dismaying that they’re pulling the plug after only about a year and a half after those games were released.  It’s also a consumer issue, since EASA2 and NFL are still on many retail store shelves and still selling for as much as $50.  Someone might pick up one of those games on a whim, or as a gift for a football fan who’s wearing a hole in the couch, only to find that the online support promised on the box no longer exists.

On the silver lining side, NFL has been drastically cut to under $15 at Amazon and I expect EASA2 to soon follow suit. I picked up NFL a couple months ago and tried it a couple times, and while it does have some connectivity issues (Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 for Kinect has really spoiled me) it’s still a good workout with plenty of NFL fan flavor.  The heart rate monitor and leg controllers are identical for both games, so if you get one of each, you can enjoy multiplayer on both games.

And since it’s the age of social networks, there will still be forums and groups devoted to EASA and NFL even after the built-in support is gone. The EA Sports Active forum is very active, and by all indications, will keep on movin’ after April.

(Via Ars Technica)


Zumba, DDR, Just Dance Kids, EAS Active 2 and Jillian get game this week

This week may be your best chance to actually run into other exergamers and dancers among the Call of Duty fans in the video game section, as no fewer than five fitness/dancing franchises have new games competing for your console budget.

First, of course, DDR!  The latest Wii DDR game, DanceDanceRevolution (one word), is out, along with the first-ever DDR game for the PS3.  The PS3 game has a cool-looking mat and a new 8-button mode that uses the corners.  It also makes use of the new Wii-like Move controllers and the Eye camera.  No word on any new DDR for Xbox360 or (sniff) PS2.

Also heating up the dance floor are the new Zumba game for Wii, and Just Dance Kids.  Zumba Wii, which comes out a couple weeks ahead of the Zumba games for PS3 Move and Xbox360 Kinect, includes a waist or hip belt in which you store your Wiimote so it can properly gauge your booty-shaking.  Just Dance Kids is another entry in the sleeper-hit Wii series, for parents who’d rather have their six-year-olds dance to Wheels On The Bus than Rump Shaker or Baby Got Back.

Meanwhile in the virtual gym, EA Sports Active 2, EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp and Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2011 are elbowing for room.  EASA2 is available on Wii, PS3 and Xbox360 Kinect and looks a lot like its predecessor, with the addition of a forearm heart rate monitor and online support.  On Wii only, there’s also a more testosterone version of the game, NFL Training Camp, which features the same HRM and training drills like the pros.  (No indication of whether the Wii football can be incorporated.)  Finally, Jillian Michaels is back with her third Wii game, Fitness Ultimatum 2011, which includes a new “mission mode” in which you save the world from high fructose corn syrup.  Okay, let’s put some sweat on those controllers!

Your Shape demo video of its online support community

Ubisoft has posted a video demonstrating the online support component of the upcoming Your Shape: Fitness Evolved for Xbox360.  It will let you access your stats from a computer (a guy is shown using an Ipad), post them on Twitter or Facebook, and view real-time stats for other players while you’re working out.

This looks like exactly what fitness video games have been missing all along.  Yes, you can burn calories and feel good working out in your basement, but it’s difficult to meet your fitness goals in a vacuum, without support and a little friendly butt-kicking from others.

Your Shape is on Xbox360 only, but EA Sports Active 2 (on all platforms) and EA’s NFL Training Camp (Wii) will also offer online support.

PS3 Move controller arrives this week

A lot of the “what’s new in home gaming” buzz is about Kinect, the Xbox 360 camera that is supposed to challenge Wii for the casual, active-gaming market that I’m a part of.  But there’s also a motion controller in the offing for Playstation 3, called simply Move, and it’s due to be released this Friday, while Kinect isn’t coming till November.

Move is like a hybrid of Kinect’s camera and Wii’s remote-nunchuck combo.  You need (in addition to the PS3 console) a camera called Playstation Eye, a $50 wand controller with a lighted ball on one end, and a $30 second controller that has a joystick and buttons, like a wireless Wii nunchuck.  There’s also a $100 starter bundle that contains the light-up controller, the camera and a game called Sports Champions (but not the joystick controller or the console).

Got that?  I think this is going to suffer from the same one-from-column-A-one-from-column-B confusion that Xbox360 is afflicted with.  When the Wii came out, there was just one flavor of Wii in one box.  It came with a remote, a nunchuck, and Wii Sports – everything you needed to plug into your TV and play.  None of this “how many gigabytes do I need?” or deciding which bundle to buy depending on whether you wanted to play kid-friendly games or violent games.

Other than the Wii-Sports-like Sports Champions, it doesn’t look like any fitness-oriented Move games will be available at launch, unless you count Brunswick Bowling.  But Move-compatible versions of Dance Dance Revolution, Zumba and Get Fit with Mel B. are supposed to be coming this fall; the question is whether enough moms will be willing and able to buy about $100 worth of additional hardware just to play these $50 games on their kids’ consoles, since I don’t see Move moving too many additional consoles.

NFL-themed EA Sports Active game has been announced

A rumor from last December has come to fruition:  EA Sports has announced an addition to its Active exergaming series, EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp.  According to the announcement on EA’s site:

EA SPORTS Active NFL Training Camp includes over 70 drills and challenges designed to improve strength, power and conditioning, as well as reaction skills, agility and first step quickness, which are key areas NFL players focus on. Users can choose their favorite team, step into a stadium and train alongside their favorite players.

The EA SPORTS Active NFL Training Camp virtual coach will encourage users through the drills and challenges for additional motivation, and to take it to the next level, users can participate in the NFL Combine 60 Day Challenge.  To enhance the competitive experience, users can get their game on in multi-player mode where they can go head-to-head in NFL training camp drills, including the QB Window Challenge and Field Goal Challenge, or with an online connected console, users can compare personal stats with friends and challenge them to beat their best results. In addition, as part of the NFL’s commitment to youth health and fitness, kids and families can choose special NFL Play 60 drills and exercises specially designed for them.

The announcement said that the Wii game, which will use the heart rate monitor included with EAS Active 2,  is coming November 16.  No word on whether you can also use that nifty Wii football to practice your passing, or whether there will be versions for PS3 or Kinect.  (If there’s a Kinect game, you’ll be able to use a real football – just make sure it never leaves your hand!)

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