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Get rewarded by Xbox for Kinect-ercising this month

Celery jock from Kinect Sports add-on Calorie Challenge, courtesy Xbox.com

Celery jock from Kinect Sports add-on Calorie Challenge, courtesy Xbox.com

Now that it’s Resolution Month, the people at Xbox Live are offering an incentive to work out in front of Kinect instead of driving to the gym or jogging on icy roads.  According to this page, if you sign up for Xbox Live Rewards, you can get up to 200 points in January for working out for at least 20 hours to certain active games and buying certain fitness game add-ons.

Eligible Game Add-ons:

  • Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012
  • Zumba Fitness
  • Your Shape Fitness Evolved
  • Zumba Fitness: Rush
  • Zumba Fitness: Core
  • Jillian Michaels Fitness Adventure
  • UFC Personal Trainer
  • EA Sports Active 2
  • My Self Defense Coach
  • Harley Pasternak’s Hollywood Workout
  • Nickelodeon Dance
  • Michael Phelps: Push the Limit
  • miCoach
  • Kinect Sports
  • Kinect Sports: Season Two
  • Nike+Kinect Training
  • Rapala for Kinect
  • Dance Central 1
  • Dance Central 2
  • Dance Central 3
  • The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout

If you’re new to Xbox, you have to sign up for both Xbox Live (the basic account is free) and Xbox Live Rewards.  Also, you may want to download the free Kinect PlayFit app which automatically tracks when and how long you played certain Kinect active games, and lets you compare your calorie burn with your online friends and the Xbox world.

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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.

Brand new Xbox with Kinect for only $99!*

Xbox Live Marketplace

Xbox Live Marketplace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*There’s a catch – why wouldn’t there be?  According to Joystiq, some GameStop and Best Buy locations are selling Xbox/Kinect console bundles, normally priced around $250-300, for only $99 provided you also sign up for Xbox Live Gold for 2 years at $15 per month.

If you do the math, which Joystiq did for you, you will actually end up spending about $60 more over the next 2 years under this contract, than if you bought the bundle at retail plus two 12-month XBLG cards for $50 each.  So basically it’s the same marketing trick as rent-to-own or building up debt on your credit card:  pay less now, but more in the long run.

It should be interesting to see how well this cell-phone pricing model works for Xbox.  Just FYI, you can still do a lot on Xbox Live for free, without paying for the extra Gold subscription.  You can still buy downloadable add-ons and songs for games like Just Dance 3 and Dance Central, use Your Shape‘s online workout-tracking features, and download free demos of Kinect games (you may have to wait a week or two for them to become available to non-Gold members).

Be a junk food ninja and rack up “good” calories with Junk Fu exergame for Kinect

Junk Fu, or Nightmare Before Christmas (courtesy Xbox.com)

I love making virtual fruit salad with Fruit Ninja Kinect, a downloadable, active version of the popular app.  It makes a great warmup, finisher or just “something” when I don’t have time to do a “real” workout.

Now there’s another downloadable game coming up where you can punish those bad foods instead of healthy ones.  Junk Fu, coming January 30 on Xbox Live, looks kind of like a full-body Guitar Hero with empty-calorie targets like giant candies that you kick and punch as they approach on a giant conveyor belt.  Instead of points, you score “calories”, which I doubt match your actual calories burned, but it still looks like a fun way to burn them.

The game is reminiscent of an add-on to Kinect Sports, Calorie Challenge, where you compete against anthropomorphic, rather creepy food items like milk cartons, celery and chocolate bars (at least they offer a balanced diet), also for calorie-points.  This raises the question, does playing with your virtual food ultimately raise your hunger hormones, or lower them?

Celery jock from Calorie Challenge, courtesy Xbox.com

For me, it depends.  Strolling past one of the Burger Champ outlets in Walk It Out tends to whet my appetite, but an attack of the giant mutant food makes me feel more like Little Audrey with her tummyache blues.  Perhaps that’s a good thing!

(Via 123Kinect)

I wanna be a Fruit Ninja!

Frooooot salad!! (courtesy Xbox.com)

I just got the Internet back at home after more than a month without, which is why my posts over the last month have been sporadic and short – guess I’m to blame for McDonalds doing well in the stock market lately.  Sorry food police, but I’ve been lovin’ their iced coffee and free wifi.

Now once I get my wifi at home set back up, I’m gonna celebrate by downloading Fruit Ninja Kinect.  This popular smartphone game is now available on Xbox Live for $10, and there’s also a free demo.

Fruit Ninja is exactly what the title says:  you hack up flying fruit.  A lot of reviews are assailing it for being too simple and repetitive for home use, but I think it sounds like a heckuva workout – and I love other slashing and chopping games, such as Exerbeat’s karate and Gold’s Gym Dance Workout’s karate and sword-slashing.  Fruit Ninja Kinect allows 2 players, so my kids can join in the hacking instead of having to wait their turn.

$10 sounds like a great deal for a shoulder/core workout that also raises awareness about good nutrition.  McDonalds out, fresh local peaches in!

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