For as long as there have been workout tapes, there have been companies trying to bring physical activity to video game consoles. The original NES had World Class Track Meet and Stadium Events, where players had to run on a mat in order to get their on-screen characters to run. While it was good at the time, physical activity didn't make a comeback until the 32-bit era, when the first of many Dance Dance Revolution games was released. Yourself! Fitness tried to bring serious workouts to the systems of the previous generation, but it ultimately fizzled out. It wasn't until Wii Fit that exercise games were taken seriously and the trend began for non-gamers and gamers alike to get fit. With Wii Fit selling like hotcakes, it wasn't long before other publishers hired development houses to come up with answers to Nintendo's workout plan. THQ, a publisher with a deep history of publishing licensed games, decided to enter the fray with The Biggest Loser, an exercise title with some pretty big name recognition thanks to the hit reality show. Unlike the title, however, the game is anything but a loser, as it is definitely a solid exercise game that just needs a little more polish.
The main portion of the game is The Biggest Loser challenge. You'll enter your vital stats such as age, height and weight as well as choose an avatar from among the available show contestants. You'll also set up your target weight as well as 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, and they are all from The Biggest Loser cookbooks.
Exercising is done by selecting a routine and going through it until it's been 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.
There are a few other modes aside from the main challenge. You can choose to do individual exercises outside of the main challenge routine in case you wanted to spend more time with a particular one or just get better at it. You also have mini-games that stress rapid movements in order to accomplish goals, such as running to get a row of lights lit up. Finally, these mini-games and exercise routines can be played with another person in tow to create a competitive and healthy change from the normal routine of the challenge.
The big difference you'll get from this game is in the exercises themselves. Unlike Wii Fit, which concentrates mostly on yoga while touching on push-ups and sit-ups, the exercises seen on The Biggest Loser are designed to make one sweat things out. Stretching is relegated to cooldown sessions only, while the main routines consist of squats, bends, football runs and other intensive exercises. You won't be asked for any weights to be lifted, but typically any intense exercises you've seen on the show or on exercise videos will be included here. This becomes the main sticking point between this and Nintendo's offering, as it's really up to you whether you want to have a game that inspires you to lose weight and get fit or a game that gets you toned up instead. For the former, the exercises and calorie-counting in the game get the job done.
The controls vary depending on what hardware you have. Unlike other exercise games on the system, the game is dependent on the Wii Remote only. Most of the time, you'll be holding it in your hand or putting it in your pocket, but its main purpose is to sense you moving to what's being given on-screen. It works well enough and saves you from having to have the Nunchuk handy to swap things out between exercises, but it also gives you the tendency to want to cheat when things get too tough. In an effort to prevent cheating and make everything as accurate as possible, Wii Balance Board support is included, and while it's very useful for tracking weight as opposed to using a normal scale in conjunction with the game, it's really good for ensuring that you're doing exercises correctly. The board is unnecessary if you're doing exactly what you're told, but for those who find themselves in a moment of weakness, it helps keep you honest.
The graphics represent the low point of the game. The character models don't look too bad. While there is some clipping to be found between body parts, they all animate well and give a passing resemblance to the trainers from the show. Environments don't vary too much, as you'll be seeing the villa and the gym almost all of the time. Like the character models, the environments are nothing special, but they look good enough. What really hurts is the fact that this isn't widescreen and is presented in 480i, which produces a bad case of jaggies over every character and object. With a good chunk of the competition presenting its games with few jaggies in 480p widescreen, this presentation decision makes the game feel a bit cheap.
The sound does a good job of capturing the spirit of the show. The music for the menus is nothing special, but the harmony used for the workouts is perfect. The intense workouts get the blood-pumping score that becomes inspirational to working out, while the cooldown exercises have an appropriately mellow vibe to the music. The voices are rife with both trainers shouting out motivational phrases to work harder, praise for doing a good job with a routine, and announcements for which exercise is next. They all sound good and not phoned-in, like some celebrities in other games, but there is an odd issue where some of the phrases sound as if they were recorded somewhere else instead of at the studio.
The Biggest Loser isn't the best exercise alternative to Wii Fit. That honor belongs to EA Active, which combines all of the strenuous activities with a better-looking package. It is, however, a very good alternative thanks to the other lifestyle features packed in the title and the different built-in exercise routines. Fans of the show will enjoy this title immensely, while others can still get a lot out of the content offered here, especially if their only exposure to exercise is Wii Fit.
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