Why pair these two drastically different games together in one review? Two reasons. First, to be quite honest, I was sent these two games in the same package by Ubisoft Canada. Secondly, because they oddly complement each other. I understand that might not make any sense, but they do. A party game and an exercise game (are they called “exercise games” still?) nicely work as a complete package that both allows you to stay on track with your health practices and provides a little fun.
Get in shape and have fun with Your Shape and Just Dance from Ubisoft! First, Your Shape is the revolutionary new fitness product that is laser-focused on you, ensuring you get the most personalized, effective and fun workout possible. The game combines camera-tracking technology, fitness assessments and your own goals to create a personalized fitness program to help you meet your goals as efficiently and effectively as possible. Then, dance to the rhythm of your favorite beat with Just Dance, a music & rhythm video game that allows you to dance the night away with your friends and family without ever leaving the house. Invite your friends to join you for a fun late-night dance session, or practice your favorite moves solo on your own. With simple pick-up and play controls, anyone can join the party.
Let’s try to image these two games in the life of a casual gamer because, in all honesty, the hardcore crowd isn’t the target for these titles. They’re aiming for the mostly female-dominated crowd of casual gamers. Those who bought the Wii as a party console to crack open when their friends are open, or when they have 15 – 20 minutes for a quick exercise. Believe it or not, that demographic is massive. And while males may slowly be getting into this type of gaming as well, these two games are directed squarely at the female crowd. Sure, Just Dance can be played by anyone and everyone, regardless of their sex, but something like Your Shape seems geared directly toward the female demographic, especially with exercises for expecting mothers.
Okay, I’m getting off-track here, so let’s try and swing this back over. Let’s take a first look at Your Shape. If you have a good twenty to thirty minutes free in the morning, before work, etc., then Your Shape is a great way to start the day. Sure, it’s essentially a prettier version of My Fitness Coach, but it’s a straightforward workout that doesn’t try to add any fluff to the proceedings. Featuring Jenny McCarthy, who cheers you on as you go through the assorted camera-guided exercise routines, the game offers an assortment of good exercises, admittedly, but the variety is limited.
And then there’s the much publicized camera included with Your Shape Pretty much the center of the exercise games’s marketing, Your Shape uses a tiny webcam to follow and track your movements to make sure you’re doing everything right. Instead of the Wiimote or a Balance Board, this is a great substitute, actually, and serves as a nice alternative. Attached to the top of your TV or Wii sensor bar, it takes just a few minutes to set-up and then, like magic, you’ll appear side-by-side in a box next to CGI Jenny McCarthy as you go through the exercise programs. However, for this camera, you will need a well-sized space to exercise in, and be at least ten feet away from the television. If you have the room, the camera works great. If you don’t? Well, prepared to be criticized for the entire workout, even if you’re doing everything right. If your arm or leg is cut out of the on-screen box, the camera will read that is an error on your part.
And while this is a great idea and gimmick for the game, seeing yourself on screen exercising can be a bit off-putting, especially if you happen to not look as fetching as Ms. McCarthy there. Maybe they’re trying to show you a goal to aim for as you work out, but whatever the reason, it can be a bit distracting and will likely result in many actually turning away from the screen as much as possible. No one wants to watch themselves when they exercise, but this game really pushes it in your face. However, since this aspect of the game is advertised all over its promotional materials and packaging, it shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone.
And since you’re stuck in essentially one place for the whole workout thanks to the camera, you will sacrifice a lot of movement. Comparing Your Shape to Ubisoft’s other title My Fitness Coach, I found I had much more freedom to move and exercise in Coach as compared to Shape. You’ll find yourself doing mostly aerobics and cardio, including stuff like jumping jacks, marching, lunges and the like. Exercise options are limited and the set-up to decide your workout can be a bit daunting. After hearing the same Rihanna song “Umbrella” on repeat for what felt like an eternity as I tried to select my workout didn’t help much, either. Admittedly, it took me more than a few exercises to figure out how to clarify where I want to focus my exercise, etc. There are lots of options, I’ll admit, but there’s little customization for the game.
But still, it does deliver in what it promises – a straightforward workout.
Nothing glamorous or special – just straight exercise with a camera to make sure you’re doing it right. If that’s how you want it, then you get it here. The game does feel kind of stripped and bare, like this is the springboard for a bigger, better Your Shape down the line. Using a camera to track your exercise routine is a great idea, yes, one that will hopefully be expanded upon in the future. If you don’t already own My Fitness Coach and want a very basic workout program, Your Shape is for you. Those expecting more may want to look elsewhere, however.
So, as we continue this review, we’ve got our daily exercise out of the way, so let’s move on to a little fun? Why not invite the friends over to hang out and perhaps play some games. That, my friends, is where Just Dance comes in. Will this game win over your friends, or will they toss it and end up playing cards?
The “casual gamer” market has exploded, particularly for the Nintendo Wii. If you own a Wii, there’s a good chance you own a party game like this. There are dozens of these (or at least that is what it feels like). Now, personally, I have no problem with these games. I‘ll be the first to admit that, yes, when done right, these are fun games. There have been some weak games, don’t get me wrong, but we get some good ones too. Now, don’t go into this game expecting something like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves or Batman: Arkham Asylum. Instead, boot up the Wii and expect a fairly simple, fluffy game that will likely get more than a couple people off the couch and on the floor.
You won’t mistake what Just Dance for anything else than what it is when you pick it up. Just Dance is simply a party game, a game featuring 32 songs cobbled together that players have to dance to. Mimicking what is shown on screen with help from the Wii remote, players dance to assorted songs to earn the highest points and, basically, that’s it. It’s a motion-based rhythm game and nothing else. Admittedly, it is a fun game. I’m sure it’s one that will be seen played at parties from time to time. And that’s the purpose it serves. That’s it and, to be honest, that’s all we can really base this game on.
The graphics for Just Dance serve their purpose and the song selection is good, though could be more expansive. Everything is pretty easy to understand from the beginning. The menus and set-up are incredibly simple, making the game a quick start during a gathering. If you want a new party game to add to your Wii library, you can do than this, though I would wait for the price to drop a bit lower than the current retail price. And hey. If you play it long enough, you’ll even get a bit of a workout. If you can keep up, then you’ll be in for a good time (though one that may end too soon since, again, it features just 32 tracks).
And that is roughly it. Your Shape and Just Dance are two games that work well for their market, but do leave room for improvement. There are better exercise games for the Wii, yes, and there are better rhythm games, yes, but these offer the enjoyable basics. Both games feel like a taste of bigger games on the horizon, that a more expansive Your Shape and Just Dance titles are coming, and likely are for the 2010 holiday seasons. You get a straightforward workout and a straightforward party game, and nothing more. But, if you can get both for the right price, these do actually make fine purchases. If you are looking for a couple good ways to both start and end your day, Ubisoft has you covered with these two serviceable entries into their respective gaming markets.
Your Shape and Just Dance are now available to own.