Until Wii Fit burst onto the scene in 2007, combining the words "fitness" and "game" would have got you laughed at. In this day and age we're considerably more enlightened, but most fitness titles are more like interactive videos than actual games, but not so Jillian Michaels' Fitness Adventure, Kinect's only first-person fitness game.
While other exercise titles put you in a dreary gym or white dream world, Jillian Michaels gets your blood pumping in jungles and temples: this is Indiana Jones: The Workout, Michaels' model kitted out like Lara Croft as she puts you through your paces.
By far the best thing about JMFA is the way it gives your exercise purpose, however tenuous: you must run on the spot to make your way along a set path, grabbing green medals to shave seconds off your time until you reach an obstacle, when the real work starts. Whether lunging to side-step spikes or kicking down a door, it's fun to see exercise basics applied to a gameplay template, with a score and leaderboards available after each circuit to see how you stack up against the world. It's a neat twist, and one that counts for a lot, making it all the more surprising we haven't seen it before.
There's also the option to have Jillian demonstrate the steps before you attempt the course yourself, and you can choose to opt in for warm-up exercises or skip them entirely. Stages last a few minutes and run into each other, but you can select any particular stage — and see what it has in store — from a main menu.
If you don't feel like running the jungle gauntlet, you can choose from a range of ready-made circuits to target a particular area — upper body, fat burning and so on — or create your own from any of the included exercises. You can set individual difficulties for each step too, letting you create a rhythmic set that works for you, and thankfully you can navigate this process (and every menu, in fact) with the Xbox 360 control pad.
You'll need a larger play area than some other Kinect fitness games though, so if you struggle to fit in Kinect Sports then think twice about grabbing this title. There are some issues with motion detection with floor and upright exercises too, and as the stage doesn't continue until you perform the required number of motions you'll often be stuck at an obstacle waiting for the game to detect your lunges.
While this is the most game-like fitness title on Kinect so far, don't expect features such as unlockable stages or character customisation: it's a workout packaged up as an adventure, not an adventure game that's controlled by physical exertion. The distinction is important — you don't need to be able to look or walk around, just as you wouldn't expect to have to run on the spot in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Novel presentation alone isn't enough to make Jillian Michaels' Fitness Adventure worth a purchase: despite an engaging single player mode and ability to create your own circuits, the detection isn't reliable enough to keep you coming back. While the issue isn't as pronounced as in some other Kinect titles, it's still enough to prevent it from being a solid recommendation, despite its qualities.