EA Sports Active just tested in Australia!

Exergaming and the Wii begin another beautiful relationship. Two days before the ‘official’ release in Australia, I got my mitts on the game and have just now finished two 25 min workouts. One a preselected workout and the other customised. So I’ll give a very brief overview of my findings:

In short, it does so many things right, that you can excuse most of what it doesn’t do, or what it does poorly. Comparison with Wii Fit is inevitable, and you can well understand the logic behind the comparison, but they are apples and oranges. Wii Fit is light-hearted, with its BMI heart in the right place and a fantastic, simplistic and joyous sense of humour. It’s a fitness game, but certainly more of a game than a fitness solution. EA Active is its polar opposite. For the very hard too please or those people needing exceptional motivation and incentive to train, a morphing of EA Active and Wii Fit would be near perfect, as both have ingredients which would work very well together.

However , there is no doubt about it, what ‘Active’ does well it does very well. It is instructional perhaps overly so, but it must err on the side of caution for a multitude of ‘safety and litigacious’ reasons.  The graphics suffice, they don’t offend but aren’t terribly inspiring either; best described as ‘functional’.
One thing Active does well, is with exercise choice. It has dozens of variations and months worths of combinations before boredom would settle in. It has four main areas from which you can choose your activities, one of which is a ‘sports’ catagory which I played volleyball and tennis. Both games were fast paced to keep the heart rate elevated, and for me, fun, but I’m easy pleased with sports sims and very forgiving. By blending combinations from all 4 zones you have a great selection of aerobic and anaerobic exercises.

This is definitely not a ‘game’. It is an instructional, interactive fitness program. That isn’t a complaint merely a fact. If you were expecting gameplay then look elsewhere.

Oh, you’ll need more room than you think as well, so give yourself a larger area to move round to avoid jumping on all the ‘bits n pieces’ you use during the program.

Standard comments over with, now let’s talk about re-engineering, adaption and a tad of innovation. In other words, let’s critique this baby from the Hardcore Exergaming perspective 🙂 Quite simply, EA Sports Active has MASSIVE ‘Exergaming’ potential. How so? Well first of all, throw out the ‘elastic band’ that comes packaged with the game (it would suffice for few weeks for the very beginner, at best). Go out and buy more effective bands. Sure, that’s more money but it’s worth it. Exercise bands can be found at any Sports shop, just ask the staff as they often vary in resistance. My band of choice is the outstanding Finnish designed GymStick. This ups the intensity of all upper and lower body exercises dramatically, get one now!!
For the ‘track exercises’ (running, kick backs, knee raises etc), use a minitrampoline and your own treadmill for running if you have one. I have an adaptor which allows use of any Crosstrainer for running simulations, it works incredibly well. For Active, I’ll be making adaptors to fit standard dumbells, to which I can attach the Wii mote and nunchuck. This will allow a much superior workout and infinitely adjustable resistance and intensity as a result.  Put all these adaptions together and you will have a superb workout that would make the most hardened cynic weak at the knees, literally.

If you haven’t already, buy a wirelessly connected nunchuck and wiimote. That cable dangling between the two is just too short, especially when doing jump squats and full extension movements.

With some adaption and lateral thinking, Active has the potential to be a VERY serious fitness alternative even for the ‘serious’ trainer! As it is, it’s an excellent intervention, and will certainly get people off the couch and on a very well laid out fitness course (the 30 day challenge).

As I said at the outset, what it does well, it does very well. The worst I can say about Active is it’s ‘functional’. In the next few weeks I’ll be giving it a serious ‘Exergaming overhaul’. It will then rise from functional to fantastic…Let the  Games / Exergames begin!

Leave a Comment