Before Ubisoft’s Your Shape series debuted on the Kinect, it kicked off for the Wii with a very active program and a nifty camera. I suppose that its primary competition was the Balance Board-powered Wii Fit. Now, Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 marks the return of the franchise to Nintendo – without the camera or Balance Board. With touch-screen capability using the GamePad and some interesting value-added features, Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 is a good choice to help you get into -and stay in- healthy shape; but there are some conditions attached to this claim – such as being honest with yourself.
My introduction to Ubisoft’s latest fitness game for the latest Nintendo console was in the form of a brief questionnaire, after starting up the disc. Information (like age, height and weight) was asked for (and given) and after a prompt to take a photo of my face using the GamePad camera, my profile was created, allowing me access to the main menu. The game consists of four main modes: Activities, Workouts, Classes, and Program.
Activities mode is a great way to introduce yourself to the game. If you haven’t played dancing games for the Wii before, you’ll quickly learn how to shake your booty by following the on-screen instructor and cue cards. Routines are simple, focusing more on fitness than style, and there are only a few songs to choose from (including work by Lady Gaga and Rhianna). This mode is definitely a great way to get off the couch and warm up without feeling intimidated by a crazy exercise regime. On the flip side of the less-intense part of the game, the Zen Flow mode focuses on balance. It reminds me a little bit of the candle exercise in Wii Fit, where you sat on the balance board and tried to find inner peace by focusing on the image of a candle and working on your breathing. The catch is that this time you are interacting with the game with the GamePad. It’s not bad – but it doesn’t allow for a true Zen experience, as your body is engaged in an activity that requires direct physical exertion.
I am secretly hoping that Ubisoft creates Ninja DLC.
The Workouts and Classes modes are (in my opinion) the real meat of the game, providing a bevy of exercises to get you -and keep you- in shape. In Workouts mode, there are almost fifty different sets of exercises of varying intensity, catering to all ages and moods. The duration of each exercise can vary: from as little as five minutes to as long as fifteen – but each workout has a specific target. Classes mode, on the other hand, focuses on groupings of techniques into overall styles (like kickboxing, yoga, and pilates, to name a few). There are 53 different “programs” that, like the Workouts, vary in intensity and duration (some of the programs can last almost a half hour). Unlike the Workouts, Classes mode offers a more broad spectrum approach to fitness, rather than a specific target.
Finally, Program mode offers the ability to create a personalized exercise plan for yourself. By indicating what your goals are, your timeline, and your desired frequency, Your Shape will tailor a program for you that will hopefully pay off with the results that you desire – without you having to sift through the impressive number of workouts and exercises manually.
I’m not going to lie to you, I do have some issues with the game. Let’s consider the overall goal of the game, which is to help you with your fitness. As impressive as this goal is, there are some significant shortcomings that offset some of the positive features. On one hand you have the workouts and exercise programs, “to do” challenges (3 minor challenges to complete each day involving parts of the game), and a robust recipe book (to help you supplement your physical fitness program) – all great features. On the other hand, your primary interface is the Wii-Mote.
Why are we training in the Animus?
At the beginning of the motion-controlled console race, the Wii-Mote used to be king (primarily because there was no real equivalent – other than Sony’s SixAxis). However, one of the most significant shortcomings of the Wii-Mote is the simple fact that it’s only really an extension of one part of your body. I understand that calculations can be made to create algorithms to track general movement of the body – but these can only be so accurate without some form of reference that is absolute. What does this mean in English? It means that you can sit on your couch and wave your arm, and get perfect scores in some of the exercises. More importantly, it also means that you may not be pursuing your fitness goals as efficiently as you could, due to the fact that you may not even be performing the exercises correctly.
This touches on my line from the opening paragraph about being honest with yourself. Without constructive feedback on form, there is no real way to improve; there is no incentive to get better because as long as you are simply holding a Wii-Mote, you may be operating under the false assumption that you are doing things correctly, which isn’t going to help you at all.
Reviewing something like Your Shape 2013 is a tough prospect, especially when the same company has made (in my opinion) a better product for a different platform already (the Kinect). If you own both platforms, and you had to choose between the two Your Shape products – I would pick the Kinect version hands down. However, if you only have a Wii U, and you’re looking to improve your fitness, then Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 for the Wii U is a good choice. Just remember that results are driven not only by the exercise programs within the game, but they are also fueled by your dedication and honesty.