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How to conquer motion-gaming clutter with fear and giggles

Trimount via Wired, who aren't very flattering

At first it seems like a very practical solution to a multiconsole motion-gamer’s (or his/her mother’s) problem: how to organize that Wii sensor bar, Kinect sensor-bot and Playstation Eye camera that are awkwardly hanging around on top, below and in front of the TV.  A company called Dreamgear, which makes aftermarket video game accessories, has proudly introduced the Trimount, a bracket that neatly clamps all three sensors together for easy mounting above or below a TV, or on the wall.

Peter Walsh, Oprah’s organization guru, would love it – but from the tech geeks themselves, here come the jokes!  Wired is comparing it to 2001’s evil HAL 9000 computer.  Kotaku calls it “terrifying” and likens it to “an angry Wall-E.”  Engadget calls it “Eye of Sauron“, implying that knowing your Tolkien is a prerequisite for visiting their site.  Jokes about Big Brother and snickers about the name “TriMount” are also flying.

On the other hand, Technabob dispenses with the geeky in-joking and lays it out straight:  “Dreamgear Trimount Holds All the Console Crap That Sits on Top of Your TV.”  There you have it!

As a motion-gaming, clutter-conscious mom, I think the Trimount is a great idea.  And it looks like some modern sculpture, even if it is a little scary (a white Your Shape/Fit in Six camera in its belly, in lieu of the Playstation Eye, would help break up all that Darth Vader black).  But the press reaction shows that blending the cultures of gaming with Bed, Bath & Beyond can be risky.

Cyberbike, a “Bike It Out” for Wii, is coming this month

The Wii seems like a natural for an exercise bike, and now there is one on its way to these shores.  Cyberbike Magnetic Edition, which has been for sale in Europe since last year, is due to go on sale on June 28.  So far the only place to preorder is Toys R Us, where it lists for $200, free shipping (plus tax if applicable).

That’s comparable to many exercise bikes, and the fact that you can play Mario Kart and other games (the bike comes with a game) makes it less likely to become a clothes hanger.  Since the Cyberbike plugs into the Wii’s Gamecube ports, similar to a DDR pad, I’m curious if it can be made to work like a dance pad for Walk It Out.  If so, being able to bike all over Rhythm Island is worth a couple C-notes to me.

Meet the Zumba booty belt!

I was rather skeptical about Zumba Fitness for Wii at first, since its maker, Majesco, didn’t do so well with Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2009.  But after some positive reviews from Amazon and from commenters on this blog (Thank You!!  I love getting feedback!), I went for it.  I’ve only done a couple of songs so far, but I am liking it!  I’ll do a longer review later on, but for now, I’m just going to talk about the game’s included “booty belt”.

(I know, I’m already behind on reviewing Gold’s Gym Dance Workout, which I also enjoy, and Dance On Broadway is also waiting in the wings, and Just Dance 2 is looking good, and…maybe I’ll just put up a multi-game review comparing them all, how’s that sound?)

But back to Booty Belt, a unique new Wii accessory for a console that may be the most accessorized of all time.  It measures 50″ long and about 3″ wide.  Since it fastens with overlapping velcro, I would presume the maximum waist or hip size would be about 48-49″, but it shouldn’t be too hard to add some sort of extender if necessary.

However, it is very adjustable for smaller hips, down to about 31″.  If you have a child who wants to Zumba, a binder clip or safety pin on the belt should do the trick.

The belt is made of a black microfiber material that’s very lightweight and slightly stretchy.  According to the instructions, you’re supposed to wear it over your hipbone.  I was afraid it would slip or ride up during all the Zumba gyrating, but it stays in place very well.  To make it even more secure, you could fold the “loop” end of the belt under, so that part of the “hook” end adheres to your pants.

To make the remote interact with the Zumba game, just slip it into the mesh pocket on the belt (you have to remove the rubbery remote jacket first, but you can leave the strap attached, and just fold it under the remote).  Like the belt, the remote stays secure, and I like how you can control the game with just the d-pad and A and B buttons, so you don’t have to keep taking the remote from the pocket to point.  And no nunchuck or tangly cords!

Any other uses for the belt?  Well, if you Walk It Out (and if you don’t, you should) then the Zumba belt makes a nice nunchuck holder.  And the belt even has reflective piping around the pocket, so I suppose you could go for an evening walk in it, with your keys or cell phone in the pocket.  Now that’s an exergaming fashion statement.

You can even use the belt to measure your results.  Throw away your scale, and just put a mark on your belt each time you work out with it!

Your Shape exergame gives it another go on Kinect

When Your Shape came out for the Wii, it looked very promising, or at least different from other Wii fitness games:  it came with its own camera, allowing for controller-free play nearly a year before Kinect was announced.  But the game bundle’s price soon fell from $70 to around $20 on Amazon.  Some possible reasons for the flop:  the high price during lean times, the game not working very well, hostess Jenny McCarthy’s questionable medical advice, or (probably the biggest one IMO) the fact that most at-home exercisers just don’t want to see themselves on TV.

So the game is evolving as Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, this time for the Xbox360 Kinect accessory, although the $60 price for the game alone is nearly as much as the Wii bundle’s original price.  I’m not that interested in workout-centered games, preferring to play fun games that just happen to make me sweat, but I think this new Your Shape looks really good, and seems to address the stumbling blocks of its predecessor.

First off, no Jenny or any other celeb host who could bring unwanted baggage.  Instead, there’s an actual trainer, Michael George, best known to some workout DVD fans for his Beachbody Fast 10 series.  And instead of working out to yourself, which is kind of creepy, you’re represented on the TV by a faceless silhouette.  There looks to be a lot more variety and fun activities than the Wii game, and online support, something Wii fitness games were sorely lacking.

Here’s a preview and video walkthrough of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved.  Since it’s supposed to be one of Kinect’s 15 launch games, expect it in November.

Row, row, row your Wii

More Wii fitness gadgets are on the way.  Amazon is now listing a rowing machine in which you insert a Wiimote.  Looks like a good workout, but I don’t know what games you would use it with.  There are rowing games in Wii Sports Resort, Active Life Outdoor Challenge and Mario & Sonic at the Olympics, but all of them use a paddling motion from side to side rather than back and forth.  Attaching your remote to an actual paddle might be a better way to add resistance if you really have to.

Another add-on, this one for the balance board, is a wobble board attachment.  So when you play We Ski or Shaun White, you can wipe out for real, or you can practice your balance while just watching TV.

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