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Features: A Guide to Kinect Fitness Games

Posted by James Newton

Let's get sweaty

If you're looking to lose a few pounds as part of your New Year's Resolution, grabbing a fitness game for Kinect is a good way to go, but with so many out there how can you pick the one that's best for you?

Here a brief rundown of all the fitness games currently available for Kinect, all of which we've exhaustively playtested and reviewed. We've included a few key features for you to compare games against each other, but there's no real stand-out leader in the field, so whichever game you go for you'll likely be pleased with your choice (as long as it's not Zumba, that is.)

Please note: the "recommended play space" is based on our own estimates, and is not a recommendation from the publishers or developers of the games list.

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved

Online play: no. Custom workouts: no. DLC: yes. Calendar: no. Online portal: yes.
Recommended play space: 2m+

Arguably the most popular of the fitness titles, Your Shape is Ubisoft's contribution to the genre. It's a mostly one-player affair, with a wide range of preset workouts including post-pregnancy, cardio and body toning, though there's no option to create your own workout pattern. There's also no calendar function, leaving it up to you to plan your exercise schedule, but the core package itself offers a good workout with good motion detection, a range of exercises to keep you motivated and downloadable content available for between 320 and 560 Microsoft Points. For more, read our Your Shape: Fitness Evolved review

EA Sports Active 2

Online play: no. Custom workouts: yes. DLC: no. Calendar: yes. Online portal: yes.
Recommended play space: 2.5m+

Sports behemoth EA made its first entry in the fitness market with the original EA Sports Active, and this follow-up includes a new heart rate monitor to wear on your arm, which aids in plotting your resting heartrate's improvement over time. It's packed with options, so much so you'll probably need to use a controller to navigate its wealth menu screens, and there is the option to create and save your own workouts. Sadly the motion detection isn't as reliable as in other titles, and you're unable to proceed in many exercises until you've completed the set number of reps, making it frustrating when the sensor can't detect your movements. Our EA Sports Active 2 review has all you need to know.

The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout

Online play: yes. Custom workouts: yes. DLC: no. Calendar: yes. Online portal: no.
Recommended play space: 2m+

THQ's sweaty effort has an ace up its sleeve: based on the TV show of the same name, it has the weekly schedule down to a fine art. You start with a video diary to spur you on, and engage in a range of activities and minigames throughout the week before the weekly weigh-in, for which you'll need a set of scales of course. It does a good job with motion detection too, an on-screen representation of yourself changing colour if you're doing well or losing form, and there's support for up to four players online with Kinect acting as a microphone to shout encouragement to your exercise buddies. It's a shame the menu system is so cumbersome - there's such a short delay between highlighting and selecting an option that you'll be whizzing through the menus at an almost uncontrollable pace, making it unnecessarily difficult to select an exercise and get on with it. Our The Biggest Loser: Ultimate Workout review fills in the gaps.

Get Fit with Mel B

Online play: no. Custom workouts: yes. DLC: no. Calendar: no. Online portal: no.
Recommended play space: 2m+

Get Fit with Mel B isn't available in North America yet, but European players can pick up this fitness title easily. Playing more like an interactive fitness video, hostess Mel B exercises on the left-hand side of the screen with a video of your efforts appearing on the right, making it easy to see where you're going wrong. Body detection is generally very good, even when lying on the floor facing the sensor, but the lack of precise feedback compared to Your Shape or The Biggest Loser is a downside. It outstrips the competition with 200 exercises and easy navigation, though you can't save your custom workouts and the nutritional section isn't up to much. You can read our Get Fit with Mel B review to help you make up your own mind.

Zumba Fitness: Join the Party

Online play: yes. Custom workouts: no. DLC: planned. Calendar: no. Online portal: no.
Recommended play space: 2.5m+

With all the fitness and dancing games available on Kinect, a game merging the two genres was inevitable, but sadly it's also a bit of a mess. Body recognition is shoddy, letting you cheat your way through the exercises, and menu navigation is poor. You don't see yourself clearly on screen, with only the instructor's colour and red circles to indicate if and where you're going wrong, and the tutorial stages fail to give you the skills you need to proceed. Online play is a bonus, but it's not as fun as a real Zumba class and overall you'd be advised to give this a miss, as our Zumba Fitness: Join the Party review lays out.

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User Comments (2)

LockStock

#1

LockStock said:

So which is recommended by you? I am a guy in my 30s looking to loose a small amount of pounds and just work on my condition in general.

James

#2

James said:

For overall fitness, I'd probably go for Mel B - it's got scope for you to include your own weights if you have them, and is the easiest to use and get started. However, it's not very varied, so if you think you might get bored easily then EA Sports Active or Your Shape are also good bets :)

Sorry if that sounds like a cop-out, but they're all good games with their own strengths and weaknesses - there's no clear leader sadly.

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