The Nintendo DS has not only proven itself to be a great portable gaming machine, but it has also been charged with being a machine capable of performing non-gaming activities. The included Pictochat program makes it a local chat room and drawing party program. The Korg DS-10 Synthesizer and Jam Sessions make it a portable musical device. The Opera browser gives it Web surfing capabilities, and there are even a few language teaching programs for the system. The one reason that these programs all do so well is because they are tailor-made for the system and don't feel so out of place. Exercise programs, however, haven't exactly been something that people have clamored for on the DS, and while The Biggest Loser aims to change that perception, its core design simply reinforces the notion that a portable exercise program was just not meant to be.
The first thing you'll do is enter immediately into The Biggest Loser challenge. You'll enter your vital stats such as age, height and weight. You'll also set up your target weight and your goal time period. This time period could last between one to three months, with an evaluation of your success or failure given at the end of that time period.
Your challenge will consist of two different tenets of weight loss: diet and exercise. The game will have you input your daily caloric intake based on the meals you've had. Depending on what your age and current weight are, you'll be told what your target caloric intake should be and what your current status is for that day. The game also provides several different recipes for the different meals and foods you'll eat, all coming from The Biggest Loser cookbooks.
Exercising is done by selecting a routine and going through it all until the routine is completed. Routines vary from those focusing on upper body, lower body, core muscles, cardio or three different variations of all encompassing exercises. Each routine can last anywhere from 15-35 minutes, with each exercise lasting a minute apiece. At the end of the routine, you'll be given an assessment of how you did, including how many calories were burned for the session. You'll also be able to check your total calories earned and burned in your challenge progress meter.
One of the game's flaws isn't a problem with the game itself but with the system on which it's running. The system is small, which makes it perfect for lugging around wherever you feel the need to go and exercise. However, the screen isn't exactly the largest thing out there. As such, most of your time spent working out with the game will be spent finding the right position for the system so that you can see exactly what you should do for that minute of exercise before doing it again for the next exercise. It's not exactly an enjoyable experience if you're struggling to position the handheld console the entire time.
Possibly the game's biggest fault is that it depends entirely on an honor system. Unlike the home console version, the DS game has no way to determine whether or not you're really performing any of the given exercises or if you're performing them correctly. Based on the results, it assumes that you're always doing the exercises properly and with all of your given effort. The game can base how well you're doing on the calories you've entered per day, but that's also dependent on your honesty in inputting that information. Like the exercise tapes or DVDs of the past, you'll have to be completely honest with everything you're doing, or none of it will ever work.
There's barely anything to the graphics in the game. Both of the trainers look like painted version of themselves but are instantly recognizable by anyone who's seen the shows. The same goes for the contestants in their bios. Your own contestant is the only one who's drawn in a vivid animated style similar to that of a Mii, and it becomes an interesting choice since it clashes with the rest of the character art in the game. Once it comes time to exercise, you'll find that all of them are done by the trainers and consist of different images being swapped out over and over again instead of a polygonal version of a trainer doing those movements. It feels kind of cheap since it doesn't present full movement as you'd expect from other games, but you do get the gist of what the exercise is all about. Owners of the Nintendo DSi will get the added bonus of taking pictures of themselves for some before and after shots, but it isn't necessarily a dealbreaker or major advantage for the system.
The sound in the game isn't anything spectacular, but it gets the job done. The music is comprised of motivation instrumental pieces that loop throughout the menus and workout routines. They all sound like they came straight out of the hosts' exercise DVDs, which is perfectly fine. Both of the hosts have sound clips that play during the routines, telling you just how well you're doing and how you need to keep pushing to get through the routine. All of the comments are positive, since there's no way to tell if you are doing well or badly, and while there are plenty of comments to go around, they do have a tendency of repeating themselves every once in a while.
The DS version of The Biggest Loser has its heart in the right place. The show is extremely popular, the system has achieved a similar level of popularity (if not more than the show itself), and an exercise program is something that could stand to be a little more interactive. While the included activities are excellent, this just isn't the right system to handle the job. If you're looking for a good exercise game, go with the Wii console version of The Biggest Loser instead, as this iteration will be more cumbersome to use once you start getting active.
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