The gaming world has been shocked this year by the number of nongamers (like me) who have jumped on the Wii Fit bangwagon. EA Sports is coming after us, and they have Oprah's trainer!
While the hugely popular Wii Fit game has a nice collection of stretching and balance exercises, it doesn't have too much to get your heart pumping except for a few mini games. I also don't like having to "unlock" workouts by playing for a loooooong time instead of just setting up a specific home workout routine. Despite those criticisms, the game has tapped into the ocean of nongamers who have snapped up more than 2.3 million copies of the game and balance board.
The new EA Sports Active game for the Wii is coming after that market. Unlike the stretching and yoga of Wii Fit, this is more like those old Jane Fonda workout tapes. Pop it in and start moving. There's even a 30-day challenge set up by Oprah's own fitness guru Bob Greene which is like putting a sniper scope on 30-something mothers who buy the bulk of the in-home fitness materials.
The EA Sports game doesn't require the balance board so you can use this without buying one. If you do have a balance board, the games can be more interesting. What it does add is a cheap rubber resistance band for strength training and a neoprene harness you put around your thigh and tuck the Wii Nunchuk into.
Instead of the much-hated BMI as an indicator on Wii Fit, this one uses a calorie counter, virtual personal trainer, 30-day weight-loss program, and customizable workouts.
It was definitely a stronger workout, though I found that Nunchuk on my thigh incredibly annoying. It takes some practice to get it tight enough to stay in place and with the Nunchuk facing the right way to record your movements on the game.
The other assault on the Wii Fit is the price. EA Sports Active is $60, which gets you more sweat equity than the $90 Wii Fit game.
But neither of these games comes close to the real thing. Both of these games leave me feeling eager to get to a real boxing class or a real ski slope where, you know, there are actual people and the fun isn't virtual.