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Jillian zaps the evil food/drug overlords in her latest Wii game

The third installment of the Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum franchise has been announced (hm, isn’t there supposed to be only one ultimatum?).  In JMFU 2011, there’s the usual boot-camp mode where digital Jillian gently guides you through a few hundred pushups, but now there is something new: a story mode.

Which side is she on, anyway?

According to the press release:

For the first time, Fitness Ultimatum 2011 features a story-based Adventure mode where Jillian and the player use their fitness skills and nutrition expertise in a series of missions to shut down Cureall, an evil food and drug corporation set upon world domination.

A while back, I opined that a story mode was one thing that fitness games did not need, and Kotaku seems to agree.  Well, since the release of Walk It Out, I’ll amend it to say that a story and characters CAN help keep an exergame interesting, as long as it is kept simple enough to be able to follow while your heart is racing and you have sweat in your eyes.  Simply pointing and shooting at trees, ok; piloting an F-15, no.  The fitness part should still be the “meat” of the game, although an exception can be made for something like Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver where the Pokewalker is an optional, supplementary thing.  (A lot of moms, like me, are collecting watts for their kids.)

But the Jillian storyline seems a little backward; with her fat burners and promotion of processed food on Biggest Loser, sounds like she’s already been assimilated by the Cureall.  If you can’t beat ’em…why not just have a storyline where you help Jillian dominate the world by selling all the DVDs, supplements and fake kettlebells you can?  Like an exergaming version of Monopoly.

Pro athletes and trainers put five Wii workout games to the test

In an article in today’s Boston Globe, five Wii games – Your Shape, Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010, Wii Fit Plus, The Biggest Loser and EA Sports Active – were tested by three trainers, a pro soccer player and a pro hockey player.

Your Shape, which has recently been discounted to $20 at Amazon (at that price, even I’m tempted) and Biggest Loser got fairly high marks for being effective and entertaining.  The ex-Army trainer who took Jillian for a spin thought she made his drill sergeant seem nice, and EAS Active kind of brought up the rear, due to – perhaps a little unfairly – being thought of as too easy.

This would be good reading for someone looking for a comparison of Wii workouts.  Plus, there’s a fun, ESPN-ish video accompanying the article:

List of active games has been added

Since Walk It Out appears to be the last exergame to be released for a little while, and lots of folks who got Wiis for holiday gifts are asking around for games that help burn off the holiday feasts, I added a page (look up over the header) that lists all the active and fitness-related home console games I know of.

I haven’t tried all the games (I wish!) but I’ve written about many of them on this blog, and if I hear of any new ones, I’ll add them to the list.  (Right after I posted, I realized I’d completely left out the Eye Toy series.  Shows how good my Eye Toy experience was…)

Exergames have certainly exploded in the ten years since DDR arrived on the scene and gamers started wondering why their extra flab was disappearing.  It’s now in a genre of its own, and there should be something on that list to get practically anyone moving and grinning.

Zumba for Wii?

As I was idly paging through a Reader’s Digest in a doctor’s office yesterday (there needs to be a provision in the health care bill to keep Reader’s Digest in business – what will doctors do without them?) the words Nintendo Wii jumped out at me, from an article about the creator of Zumba, the Latin-flavored dance workout craze.  How did I miss this?  I got home, hit the Google, and sure enough, there was a press release last August about a Zumba Wii game planned for next year:

Revolutionary Dance Fitness-PartyTM Lets Players Party Off the Pounds

EDISON, N.J., August 11, 2009 – Get ready to ditch the workout and join the Zumba® movement! Majesco Entertainment Company (NASDAQ: COOL), an innovative provider of video games for the mass market, and Zumba® Fitness LLC, today announced a partnership to bring the Zumba® fitness experience to video games. This one-of-a-kind exercise program pairs Latin rhythms with red-hot international dance steps so you can have a blast as you party your way into shape. The first Zumba® game will release holiday 2010.

Yes, that’s the same company that brought you the Jillian Michaels Wii games, making me less thrilled than if Namco or Konami or EA got on the Zumba wagon.  But Jillian 2010 is getting better reviews than the first game, and if Majesco is taking a whole year and a half to put Zumba together, hopefully the result will be worth it.  Something like a Latin-spiced We Cheer, with an actual calorie counter and customizable workouts, would really rock.

(But did they really trademark the phrase “fitness-party”?  I can’t have a fitness party without permission from Zumba’s legal department?  Did Zumba get permission from a certain fitness-party guru to party off the pounds?)

The Biggest Loser is looking like a winner

biggest loser wiiLast week was a big week for home exergames, as 3 Wii and one Nintendo DS games were released.  The heavyweight, so to speak, was Wii Fit Plus, the successor to one of the biggest-selling games (in any category) of the century.  But The Biggest Loser games for Wii and DS, plus Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum 2010 for Wii (the DS version is coming next week) were also looking for a piece of the fitness gamer’s budget.

I usually look first to the reviews at Amazon for fitness video games since they’re written by “average people” who might speak out a little more candidly since they had to pay for the games rather than get freebie review copies.  JMFU2010 has several glowing reviews, but they’re mostly short on details and sound almost like blurbs on the box, and a lot of them are written by first-time reviewers, so – maybe it’s improved over 2009, but I’d rather see a more detailed review by one of the site’s exergaming enthusiasts.

Biggest Loser for Wii, however, may be the sleeper hit of this year’s fitness gaming crop.  (It’s kind of funny to see Jillian competing with herself, but she says she had nothing to do with the BL game.)  The game based on the TV reality hit has gotten accolades at Amazon, with reviewers saying it works well, looks good and has even helped trim some pounds.

Here’s a good video walkthrough of the game:

It does look like pretty much everything a fitness game should be, and it’s refreshing to see people on the screen who look like, well, many of its end users, instead of Gumbylike avatars.

Which reminds me, Daisy Fuentes Pilates for Wii is one exergame that bombed among the Amazon consumers, but just as some bad movies generate hilarious reviews, this review of Daisy’s game at AV Club is good for a chuckle.

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