EA Sports Active
Fitness, running, cycling… some people tend to like doing it and a lot, for others it’s a real nightmare. Nintendo, however, has found a way to get the latter buy a Wii. Just like those afternoon TV shows where you’re promised a hot body by crunching five minutes a day on a complex machine, the Big N promises you a healthy and balanced life (cleaned up house, happy friends, white training suits, beautiful people and a flatscreen as main coach) when you buy a Wii with accompanying Balance Board. And that, of course, without any trouble!
Hundreds of thousands of households have that balance board collecting dust by now so EA thought it was time to make people sweat again, and this time a bit more seriously. Here in the West we think you need to feel pain in order to get anything in return and that’s where EA Sports Active handily comes in. No lotus flower yoga like with Wii Fit, but jumping, ducking and stretching, including a rubber with (at least for men) low resistance and some sort of wrap to put your Nunchuck in to afterwards hang it around your leg. Both work pretty well but seem more made for women than large men or muscular twenty-somethings. Also you need to watch out you don’t tear the wire between your Nunchuck and remote when you need to move them away from each other.
The game is best described as one of those DVD’s with a coach and some exercises on it, but then in a more interactive way. A personal trainer in a box so to speak, with a lot of nice exercises and a quite sportive setup, made possible by the two aids in the box. Also the Wii Balance Board can be used for those that want but it’s not necessary and you can do everything without it as well.
Those that don’t have a good condition will certainly be put on trial by this game. To give you an idea: the first session takes around twenty minutes and is best done with sports clothing and a towel nearby! The typical gamer who sees “sports” being equal to eating heavily dressed pizzas or walking around the MediaMarkt will try to catch a breath of air while falling down into his favorite habitat: the sofa. However, don’t expect to grow muscles as the idea is mostly to build up and maintain a basic condition, supported with some light muscular exercises.
There are four categories to work out those lazy bones and weak biceps. These consist of sports, exercises for the lower body and upper body, and a department with aerobics exercises to improve your condition. A couple of examples from the surprisingly large selection (Wii Sports is nothing compared to it): dancing, tennis, throwing hoops, skating, boxing, all kinds of leg exercises and also just plain jogging. That way there’s something for everyone and you can easily choose for the workout that suits you best. It may be clear it’s best to make some space around you as it’s very necessary for all the jumping, kicking and boxing.
You probably gathered it already, this isn’t a real game. You choose a difficulty degree (see it as a “pain degree”) from Easy, Average and Hard and follow the fitness program your coach puts in front of you. Feedback is given and questions are asked, a calendar is filled in and calories burnt and told. Also you can challenge someone in a multiplayer version of the exercises: a welcome addition. That’s all the gameplay there is, though. Of course you can also select exercises separately or put them in a longer program so that you can determine how you build up your condition yourself if you have any knowledge about things like that.
Graphics are of little importance here and are therefore limited to simple visuals that do what they need to do: give you an explanation. The music, however, is a bit disappointing and it will depend on your own taste whether the sentences that need to motivate you will succeed in their objective or will push you into crushing someone’s skull.
EA Sports Active isn’t a game, that’s for sure. It’s a personal training program that succeeds well in improving your basic condition and strengthen your muscels. Don’t expect a miracly solution though – those don’t exist – but it’s a very fun and relaxing way to start sporting again without having to pay more than the price of the game. Too bad the accompanying band and rubber disappoint a bit for those that don’t weigh 55 kilos anymore, but there are tons of third party and better versions already available of those accessories. Also we would have liked to see more detail for the presentation (sound and graphics) but someone looking for such a type of “game” will probably not be bothered by that.