Today I’ve added a new Wii exercise game to my library courtesy of Goozex.
I wasn’t expecting very much from this game at all. I figured it would be a shoddy mini-game collection trading on the Gold’s Gym name.
The packaging didn’t raise my hopes. The manual features roughly four pages of real content, and four blank pages for notes. These pages are extremely useful for starting a grocery and/or enemies list.
The Book and the Cover
As it turns out, this game is not at all what I expected.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of Gold’s Gym I think of a conventional American iron pumping multiplex. I seldom equate Gold’s Gym with punching cartoon bears in an adorable forest.
You wouldn’t know it from the box art, but Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout actually began life as a Japanese game called Shape Boxing Wii de Enjoy Diet. This becomes obvious as soon as you get into the game and Nina, the anime trainer, tells you that we’ll be working on finding our inner strength.
This approach is much more in keeping with Wii Fit’s laid back style, as opposed to EA Sports Active’s “I’m gonna burst out of this TV and push you to your limits! Challenge yourself to be the best, bro! *Fist bump*!”
I’m a bit puzzled by the Trojan horse marketing at work here.
On the one hand, Gold’s Gym is a very recognized name in the U.S. Some people will buy this game based on the brand alone. But, I’m not sure how these folks will react to the fact that, aside from a few logos, the game has nothing to do with a Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout.
First off, it’s called Cardio Workout. In actuality, this is a boxing/rhythm game. I suppose cardio is inclusive of both boxing and rhythm. But if you were expecting anything other than boxing, you’re sort of out of luck. While the game does include some balance board activities that don’t involve boxing, they don’t comprise the meat of the experience.
Also, if you’re not a fan of things cute, cuddly, fuzzy, or kitteny, you may be dismayed to find that the game oozes with a decidedly cute anime style. Heck, you can even outfit your boxer with a teddy bear.
On the other hand, there are a lot of fans of the Japanese approach to fitness games (see Wii Fit). It’s possible that these guys will avoid Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout, imagining that it’s going to be an testosterone pumping, sweaty towel snapping, X-treme western take on the sports game genre.
These folks would be missing out the teddy bear in the locker room, the robot sparring partner, and the sneaky cardboard bear. And that’s a shame, because I think they’d really enjoy them.
Creating a Mii Character
When you first get into the game, you have to create a Mii-like character. If you were disappointed that EA Sports Active would not allow you to have a kitten face, this game has you covered.
Emo boxers have long been underrepresented in all weight classes. This game remedies that injustice.
You’ll also find a fair amount of latitude in the sizes and shapes available to you.
With all these features, obese emo dwarves with kitten faces will have no longer have to plod along with an avatar that fails to represent their inner strength.
Once you’ve entered all your details, the game generates a profile and let’s you know that you’re fat.
Eye of the Tiger
Once your character has been created, you need to play a short tutorial to familiarize you with the game. This is when you discover one of the coolest parts of the game.
You can play the game with two Wii Remotes instead of the remote and nunchuk!
This may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve nearly garroted myself with the nunchuk cable several times while playing EA Sports Active. The dual remote control option feels great. If you own two remotes, but choose to play with the nunchuk, you are under arrest.
The core of the game is called Shape Boxing. It’s pretty a pretty straight forward rhythm game. You throw a variety of punches; jabs, crosses, uppercuts, etc. and you dodge in various directions. You need to time your movement with onscreen prompts to complete punching and dodging sequences, scoring points and building up combos.
Couldn't find a screenshot of the shape boxing game from the U.S. Version
Getting back to the weird marketing just for a second – Shape Boxing mode is the core of the game. But none of the official screenshots from Ubi Soft feature it. Instead they show a bunch of the ancillary exercises that make the game look like Wii Fit. Check out the screenshots on amazon to see what I mean.
Between punches, you are encouraged to shift your weight from your front foot to your back foot, which keeps you active. The pace is actually quite fast, and I had a hard time keeping up. Fortunately, I don’t think the game tracks this movement at all, so you can just pick up the groove when it’s comfortable for you.
Before you begin a Shape Boxing game, you are given an estimate of how many calories you will burn. As with all of these Wii exer-games, I’m a little dubious of this figure. If you’re playing properly (with the fast weight shift and all) you will be constantly moving. But, it doesn’t feel very intense.
At the end of the shape boxing session you are assigned a Physical Age. I’m not sure what the obsession is with scoring via age in these games. I have no idea what, if anything, it actually corresponds to. Apparently I’m 21 again. Let’s go out drinking!
I didn’t have high hopes for this game.
But after playing through all of the tutorial levels I can say I’m impressed.
Shape Boxing is fast, fun, and forgiving. The motion detection on the two Wii remotes is tight. It’s really satisfying to run up a long combo. It feels like full body DDR, but for me, it’s not so baffling.
The music choices are kind of meh, but it does include a burbly midi of Eye of the Tiger – a song that adds +10 awesome to everything surrounding it.
Though I haven’t explored much yet, it looks like the package includes a healthy amount of unlockable content and ancillary exercises as well. For instance, you earn gold to buy new gear. It also appears that over time you can unlock new trainers.
While I haven’t really dug into the game yet, at first blush this feels like a great value for the content that you get. You can find the game online for $20 or less, so you wouldn’t be taking a huge risk if you were to pick it up.
Have you played Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout? What do you think? Does it have the staying power of Wii Fit or EA Sports Active?