Get Fit with Mel B.
Developer: Lightning Fish Games
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: 10/26/2010
There are two big problems with most exercise games. The first is that the games are poorly made and actual include exercises that do more harm than good. We saw this with both EA Active and Wii Fit. The games included things like computer generated trainers that demonstrated how to do exercises incorrect, had exercises like running in place or weird jumping things (both of which can cause damage to your knees and ankles and really should be avoided) and were really more snake oil cons sold to naïve dupes that wanted to lose weight or get fit without getting a gym membership (or possibly leave their home).
The second problem is the sad excuse we call gaming journalism these days. Most of these exercise games tend to be reviewed by people that lead a very sedimentary lifestyle and who are also blissfully ignorant of proper techniques for physical fitness. These leads to horribly erroneous reviews written by people than neither know what they are talking about nor are aware of how bad some of these games are for you. But hey, since when have sites like Game Informer, IGN, 1UP and the like ever bothered to do research or quality reviews in the first place? Why make an exception for games that can actually lead to long term physical damage or their readers? It’s all about the hits and getting the review up as fast as they can for them. I still shudder at the recollection of those early reviews praising the Wii balance board for its accuracy when it was apparent to anyone who fooled around with it in the slightest that said balance board’s pressure sensitivity was a joke and it was easy to not only trick the board, but also yourself into thinking you were doing something right where you were in fact doing it horribly wrong. You wouldn’t want someone doing brain surgery on your loved ones after just reading a book on it; why would you want someone that doesn’t know the first thing about exercising to tell you which workout game to buy?
Then there’s myself. I’m a pretty physically active person and have a pretty intense exercise routine that includes several miles of jogging, 600 crunches, 50 flights of stairs and more. I exercise a lot, as should most gamers considering how often we’re sitting our asses down in front of a TV with a controller in our hands for hours at a time. I’m pretty anal retentive about making sure I am not only getting a lot of exercise in each day, but that my reps are done right and I know exactly what part of my body is being focused on. That’s why I take it upon myself to review most of the fitness games (occasionally with the help of marathon runners, yoga instructors and the like to ensure you get a high quality informative review) that come out – so that you, the consumer, are actually knowing what you are in for should you buy one of these games. My concern and goal is to make sure each and every one of you that reads me doesn’t get stuck with a piece of crap like Wii Fit or EA Active.
To date I’ve only given a thumb’s up to two exercise games so far: Your Shape with Jenny McCarthy and Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout. The former was praised because a game finally included a camera so you could watch yourself exercise and make sure you were doing reps correctly and the latter because it used two Wiimotes (one for each hand), which ensured both sides of your body were being tracked instead of one like all other exercise games. Both had their issues, but they are the best the industry has. My Fitness Coach would be #3 but it’s really a port of the awesome Yourself!Fitness for the original Xbox, so I tend not to count it.
Now it’s time for Get Fit with Mel B.. I have to admit I had to go out and purchase the Playstation Move bundle just to review this game – something I had never planned on purchasing because after spending several hours with the setup as a press event Sony had here in Washington D.C., I came to the same conclusion that every major non-gaming centric publication from the Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal had: The Playstation Move is highly underwhelming and the motion detection abilities of the tandem is actually far inferior to a regular Wiimote, much less the Wiimote with Wiimotion Plus. I went out and bought that since Deep Silver sent me a review copy for three reasons: I wanted to make sure people got an actual in-depth (possibly way too long) review of this game, I love Deep Silver because they gave me the Secret Files series and because I truly care about people getting this genre right. Hell, I played this game to a depth that even Aubrey Norris, the PR rep for Deep Silver was shocked by. She’s left comments here and there on my Facebook like, “OMG!” and, “You are a MACHINE!” as I unlocked trophies 99% of people shouldn’t be able to get until they had played the game for a fortnight to a month of hard exercising. For you, the public, I crammed in 36 workouts into roughly a week – something none of you should be insane enough to try at home, ESPECIALLY if you don’t work out regularly now. Yes my body is sore, but at least you’re getting a review from someone who played the game more than 2-3 times (at most) and then wrote a review that was 50% ignorance and 50% “Yay! I did ten push-ups! 9/10!” Ugh.
So is the first exercise game to utilize the Playstation Move worth investing in, or should you just pick up NewU Fitness First Personal Trainer which is the 85% the same game, but missing a Spice Girl and for the Wii?