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Wii Fit U will come with a pedometer and make use of Game Pad tablet

Nintendo just announced details of their new Wii U console and Wii Fit U game, both supposed to hit the market this year.  Wii U (which will also work with all previous Wii games and controllers, except DDR and mat games) has a new Game Pad tablet controller, and Wii Fit U will make use of both the pad and the Wii balance board.  In the video they streamed today, they demonstrated a luge game where you sit on the balance board and steer with your hands (similar to the pipe slider game in Active Life Outdoor Challenge), a trampoline game, and a cute “dessert” game where you walk on the balance board and balance the Game Pad like you’re delivering a tray full of desserts.

Then they showed off a pedometer, which looks like the old Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver Pokewalker in new shades of white and green.  As with the Fitbit, the Wii Fit U game will record your steps and activity throughout the day, including calorie burn and altitude.  Neat!  I was hoping to see some sort of integration with 3DS which contains its own pedometer sensor, but this is a lot handier than carrying a 3DS in your pocket all the time.

Harley Pasternak workout is coming to Wii and Xbox 360 Kinect

Harley’s getting game

According to this press release, Majesco (makers of the very successful Zumba video games) is coming out with Harley Pasternak’s Hollywood Workout for Kinect and Wii this fall.  Pasternak is a trainer that has shown up on various chat shows and written some books.

From the description, the game sounds a lot like the Biggest Loser game series:  your average everyday workout led by a personality.  It’s nice that they say “Wii” and not “Wii U”, the Wii upgrade that will probably be announced next month at E3 and go on sale in time for the holidays, putting the classic Wii out to pasture.

Zumba Fitness Rush for Kinect: behind-the-scenes video

The game I may be looking forward to the most in 2012 is Zumba Fitness Rush, the second in the Zumba series for Xbox 360 Kinect.  Zumba Fitness 2 for Wii is getting raves for having improved graphics and gameplay, and Rush looks like it’s bringing the same improvements to Kinect – or at least will be better than its predecessor.

The above video, starring a Zumba instructor who won a contest to be in the game, is whipping up my excitement!  It doesn’t show much of the game itself, but the mo-cap process that is shown, is neat to watch.

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.

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012: Results you can see

Jump rope minigame in Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012

Most of my favorite exergames emphasize the “-game” over the “exer-“, which is why I never really got into Wii Fit or other games that were built around workout programs.  But as luck would have it, I received a free copy of the Xbox Kinect game Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012 through Amazon’s Vine program, so I’m going to make it part of my exercise regimen, for as long as it takes to write a decent review.

YSFE reminds me a lot of Exerbeat for Wii, in that it has a mind-boggling collection of activities, many of which have to be unlocked as you go along.  One group of activities is called “Activities”: these meta-activities are minigames that you can play by yourself or with up to 3 other people.

I tried an activity called Stomp It, which is like a cross between DDR and Simon.  As rhythmic music plays, lights scroll towards you on the floor in one of four directions, and you have to stomp the lights to the beat of the music.  Each time you stomp correctly, a brick is added to a huge circular wall around you, so when time is up, you can see gaps in the wall where you missed a stomp.

I found myself playing this game again and again, just to make a complete wall. Then it occurred to me what a brilliant idea this was. You could SEE the result of your work, and the visual, instant “reward” made me want to keep trying to improve it.

It’s like building a wall in real life, or completing a race, or moving an object from one place to another.  You feel more of a sense of accomplishment than if you just did two sets of jumping jacks.  And the results that most people want, like six-pack abs or bikini-ready buns, are so slow in coming (if they come at all, given the way most of us eat) that people often get discouraged and give up.

People like getting a pat on the back, and it looks like YSFE is full of visual pats. I’m on my second day of playing this game, and I’ll be blogging about it little by little.  Hopefully I’ll get results I can see in the mirror, but that’s a long way off, and I’m having fun building virtual walls in the meantime.

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