Yesterday I wrote about Wii Fit U, the new edition of Wii Fit for the upcoming Wii U console. Its chief competitor will be Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013, which brings the Your Shape exergame series full circle, sort of: from Wii to Kinect to Wii U. (No word yet at this time whether there will be another Your Shape for Kinect or Wii, or anything for PS3.)
I have Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 for Kinect; I received a free copy through Amazon Vine, and I have yet to write a review. It’s a standard workout-video-style game, which usually bores me, but what keeps me doing this particular game is the technology which is nothing short of amazing. The Kinect can really see me no matter what I’m doing, even floor exercises which were problematic for some other games like EA Sports Active and Biggest Loser. The other amazing thing is the depth and assortment of workouts: over 100, ranging from fun warmup minigames to separate body-part workouts to dances and bootcamps and yoga. There’s downloadable content, bonus workouts that can be earned with Uplay Points, badges and trophies galore if you’re into that sort of thing, even a bonus workout for buying an energy drink and toasting Kinect with it (so it can see the label).
Two things keep YSFE2012 from being one of the best games ever: online support/community and instruction/documentation. There’s a website, Your Shape Center, but it doesn’t keep track of which workouts you did, just calories you burned divided into workouts, classes and activities. Their Facebook app makes no sense – it’s just a bunch of cubes with people’s stats on them (?). And instruction consists of the avatar showing you a couple of reps before the counter starts counting – no form pointers, no telling you what equipment is needed, no modifications offered. You can’t even see a list of what exercises are going to be in a workout before you do it.
The Wii U Game Pad tablet could solve both these problems, but judging from the trailer, it looks like it’s focusing mostly on the online support. A social network built around Your Shape would be fantastic, but even better yet would be using the pad to supply the missing documentation. For instance, when you select a workout, you can scroll through the exercises in each workout, the number of sets and reps, and what equipment you’re going to need. It would also be great if touching an exercise gives you detailed instructions as well as a demo video and suggestions for modifications up or down. The pad could also be used to supply info like what muscles are being worked, or allow you to enter notes like how much weight you lifted. It could be like your electronic workout journal.
There’s so much that could be done with an exergame integrated with a tablet, and I hope YSFE2013 takes full advantage of them.
Add Stacy Keibler to the list of sculpted celebs (Helen Mirren, Michelle Obama, Tracy Anderson…) who endorse exergaming. I admit I hadn’t heard of this actress-wrestler-cheerleader until she was George Clooney’s arm candy at the Oscars, nor did I know she was a celebrity spokesperson for Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012, which I’ve been enjoying since I got a free review copy last year.
Here’s Stacy having fun playing the blockbuster minigame, which I also like warming up my whole body with.
I haven’t yet seen a console exergame that incorporates one of my fave workout tools, kettlebells, but one of the greatest things about Kinect is that you can hold onto whatever you want. Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 has several fun warmup minigames, and one of them, “Pump It Up”, has you inflating and exploding giant balls for 2 minutes.
You’re supposed to put your arms out and flap them like a bird during this game, but I discovered that it also works with kettlebell swings! Check it out:
The kettlebell (I’m using a 12k) doesn’t show up for some reason, and it’s hard to tell, but I am leaning back on my heels. Swings make a great warmup for my glutes and legs and lungs, and with this minigame, there’s no dread.
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.