17 May 2009

Tech Luv: EA SPORTS Active for Wii

After weaning our household off video game consoles, we broke down and bought a Nintendo to use the Wii Fit. Once we heard about the Balance Board and the possibilities it provided, we convinced ourselves that we couldn't live without this system. We brought the system home within a couple of weeks of its release, and dutifully used it for months.

Lately, I've fallen off the wagon a bit. While I enjoy the Balance Board and the exercises, there are some shortcomings with the Wii Fit game that comes with it.

The exercises and activities on the disc are very good, and the variety of activities are really nice. The game offers yoga instruction, strength training, cardio and balance exercises. The problem is that you have to pause after each exercise to select another one. This really stops the flow of what you are doing.

The other troubling part of the software we found is that we cannot work out together. This means our workouts take twice as long because we work out one after the other.

Sweetie and I have thought the game would be better with a workout program included with the software and with a workout for two people. I've been watching all the fitness packages that have come out this year, but none of them have quite addressed the problems we saw with Wii Fit.

Well, gaming giant EA has responded to our needs. This Tuesday (19 May 2009), they officially launch EA SPORTS Active for Wii ($59.99, Amazon). I am pre-ordered and can't wait to try it.

This game represents the best workout package I have found so far. The package includes a game CD-ROM, a leg strap and a resistance band. The game is equipped with preset workouts or the ability to create your own custom workouts. With more than 25 exercises and three intensity levels, there is a huge variety of workouts that you can program. The exercises range from inline skating, strength training (with the resistance band), running, basketball and dance workouts. You also get feedback on how your workout is designed so you can vary the length and type of exercises.

The game includes a virtual personal trainer to motivate you. The leg strap is where you hold the Wii Nunchuk while you work out, and this really improves the way that your movements are recorded. The virtual trainer also guides you in performing exercises correctly. One of the challenges with the Wii Fit is that when you run, you're supposed to put the controller in your pocket to measure how fast you run. In workout clothes, it doesn't work that well. Your pocket is either non-existant so that it's tucked in too high or the pocket is too big. Either way, it doesn't measure your run very well. Putting the Nunchuk in the leg strap should measure much more accurately.

The game also includes a multiplayer mode that allows you to play with someone else. By adding the EA SPORTS Active Multiplayer Pack ($18.99, Amazon), you can compete against another player, or work together to win a challenge.

The tracking software also allows you to track your other activities and diet, and lets you set measurable goals to achieve. You can also participate in a 30-day Challenge. This program gives you a different workout of increasing intensity every day. How far can you push yourself?

The following video shows just one of the features of EA SPORTS Active: the 30-day Challenge.

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