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Consumer Reports compares home fitness games

Consumer Reports has just posted a comparison of console exergames Nike+ Kinect Training, Zumba Fitness Core (on Xbox Kinect), Just Dance 4 (on PS3 Move), Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 for WiiU, and UFC Personal Trainer (on Kinect).

Their impressions: Nike gets high marks for being advanced and offering an extensive library, Zumba is praised for being a cardio challenge as well as fun, Just Dance is mainly fun, Your Shape is good for beginners and UFC is…mainly for UFC fans.

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Just Wow! Microsoft Store went from zero to hero in 24 hours

When ordering something online, no vendor will ever be 100% mistake-free, so I judge them on how well they fix their mistakes when they inevitably happen.  Well, Microsoft Store made a big booboo – and then they did the best thing EVER to make up for it.

MS Store was offering a sweet deal where if you preordered one of several Xbox 360 games, you got 1600 free Xbox points and a $10-off coupon.  I don’t usually preorder games, but since I felt confident about Just Dance 4 and I needed some points, I bit.

As the release date (today) approached, I stalked my emailbox for a shipping notice.  Yesterday an email from MS arrived, but instead of saying the game had shipped, it bore the soul-shattering headline:  “Microsoft Store – Order Cancellation Notice.”  It went on to say that the order had been cancelled, no reason given.  Whaaa??

I checked the order on the site: order cancelled, no game or points for me.  I chatted with one of their online CS people, who was very polite, but couldn’t tell me anything except they would look into it and respond within 48 hours.

At least I wasn’t alone in my confusion and disappointment.  People on sites like Slickdeals and Cheap Ass Gamer were also getting mysterious cancellations, and fuming.  Not much love for MS was being shown.

Then, last night, this email arrived:

Thanks for your recent order from Microsoft online store.

Due to a system error, your order was mistakenly and temporarily cancelled, and you probably got an email from us telling you that. The good news is that we were able to fix it, and your order is now back in our system and on its way to you. The even better news is that, to apologize for the confusion, we’re going to send your order to you for free, at no charge to you.

Not only will you get your order free, you’ll still get $10 off your next order and 1600 free Xbox LIVE points that you already had coming to you.

It’s our way of letting you know how much we appreciate your business.

Thanks for shopping at Microsoft online store.

Holy customer service, Batman!

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and since my order was still showing up as “cancelled”, I called MS and spoke to a rep who could barely speak English and just reiterated what the online chatter said yesterday, that I would get a response within a day.  I hung up, not knowing what to think.  About 15 minutes later, my doorbell rang.

Just Dance 4 was there, shipped Next Day Air!  WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!

This might be the first time I’ve ever had a game in my hands before noon on release day, and FREE.  Thank you, thank you, Microsoft.  I would’ve been happy just to get the original order uncancelled, but they went above and beyond.

Not that I’m the food police, but this is Just Ignorant

An unhealthy relationship: Just Dance and Cheetos

Just Dance 4 comes out on all platforms next week, and usually the big retailers like Target will offer a bonus of some kind for buying it right away, from them.  For instance, the big bullseye packaged a bonus Zumba DVD earlier this year along with Zumba Fitness Rush.  So I looked at next week’s Target ad to see what they were offering for JD4.

And I groaned.

Per the above photo, Target will knock $10 off the $40 list price of JD4 as long as you buy a bag of Cheetos.  Not a little bitty snack bag, but a big daddy-size 9-oz bag.  The bag also features codes to unlock a couple songs in the game.

Okay, I’m no health-food nut.  I like Cheetos, although I can’t recall the last time I’ve had any.  My main objection as a mom is that neon-orange crud that gets all over everything; maybe not such a problem with Kinect, but who wants greasy orange-stained Wii controllers?

But I’m trying to keep junk food as a “sometimes” or “very rarely” food, and promotions like this aren’t part of the solution.  And it doesn’t do any favors for people trying to give exergaming a healthy image.  That includes Just Dance itself, which has featured a “Just Sweat” fitness mode since their 2nd game, and even has a blog featuring people who’ve danced off the pounds.

Why not enclose a free workout DVD like they did with Zumba, or a coupon for fresh apples, or a pair of socks, or anything that isn’t going to just add more empty calories and stain teeth?

Grrr.  I’ll buy the game, just not at Target.

Wii U console, Just Dance 4 for Wii U, and Your Shape 2013 will be released on Nov. 18

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According to My Nintendo News, the Wii U game console will go on sale November 18, as will 22 Wii U games.  Those games include Just Dance 4 for Wii U, and Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 which is only coming on Wii U, it looks like.

Wii U will come in two versions: a “basic” version with 8gb of internal memory for $300, and a “deluxe” version with 32gb of memory for $50 more.  Both versions have HD and a Game Pad controller, and are supposed to play all Wii games as well (except for ones that require plug-in controllers, like DDR, Active Life games and Cyberbike).  You would need to buy a Wiimote and nunchuck separately.

Wii Fit U, the successor to Wii Fit, isn’t included on the Nov. 18 launch list, but Walmart is preselling two Wii U bundles that include the console, a Wiimote and a choice of games (including Wii Fit U) for $100 more than the console by itself.

Just Dance 4 on Wii U opens up possibility of live personal training

Critics are all over the place on Wii U after seeing the new console demonstrated last week at E3.  But like it or not, there’s no denying that just as the original Wii brought motion gaming into Everyfamily’s rec room, Wii U has something that really no other console has: a way for one person to be the emcee, dealer, dungeon master or whatever you want to call it, and direct the actions of the other players in the room via the Game Pad controller.

This could lead to a whole new genre of party video games: game-show-based games like Jeopardy! or Password (no more sending people out of the room or awkwardly point-and-click-typing answers), team games like Pictionary, or card games where your “hand” is on your pad (unfortunately, there’s a limit of 2 Game Pads playing simultaneously).

The Just Dance series also was a breakthrough, getting classrooms and office parties everywhere to just dance.  It was a given that the series would continue this fall with Just Dance 4 on all platforms.  JD4’s game on Wii U has an exclusive new mode, Puppet Master, where one person using the Game Pad selects dance moves on the fly that other players have to obey.  Just imagine a late-night, well-lubricated “Simon Says”!

But I envision more than just YouTube lulz from Puppet Master.  A live personal trainer, or PE teacher, could use the Game Pad to direct one or more people through a workout by selecting exercises on the pad.  They could pre-record a workout, and modify as needed, like if the trainee doesn’t look like they’re going to make it to 25 pushups.

I doubt that Just Dance 4 has pushups, but Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 does, and both games are made by Ubisoft, so…

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