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Ubisoft's latest DS game promises to help you shape up your life in just ten to fifteen minutes a day. Although it misses this promise slightly, if you have the time to invest it will certainly give you a better sense of your state of health. And even point to some ways to improve it.
The game enables you create a daily session where you can set a number of goals. One of these is related to the packed in Pedometer that tracks your steps and plugs into the GBA slot. Other goals include food challenges (where you commit to making a healthy lunch or drinking more water), activity challenges (where you agree to perform certain exercises) and surprise challenges that aren't revealed until they are selected.
Once you have setup your profile you can visit your daily session screen. Here you can plug in your Pedometer to determine how many steps you have taken. You then specify which of your challenges you have completed. You can then select what physical activities you have undertaken that day. Finally you can drag and drop different food types to specify what you have eaten.
This information is all used to determine whether you are in balance.
This information is all used to determine whether you are in balance. The game then depicts how close you are to your goals, depicted by a route along a predetermined path. If you do well you get awarded photographs for particular goals to create a rough record of achievement.
This is supplemented by the back pack activities. Like Wii-Fit you can use this section to calculate your BMI, although here you have to input your weight manually. This section also four different mini-games that each aim to teach you various fitness facts and figures. You can also keep an eye on your general progress here.
Perhaps the biggest success of the game was the fact that my other half was more than happy to grab the DS and give it a go, not something she has done for any other games. She was initially attracted to the pencil draw little people, and the novelty of having her own pedometer that she could carry around all day. She was genuinely impressed by the quality of the whole package.
However, this fun aesthetic ended up making the game feel a bit too much like play and not all that accurate. It also took too long for her to enter all the details each day. As she said 'If you didn't have a life you would have time to do everything it is asking'. The implication being that ultimately the game never managed to establish itself as anything more than a novelty.
Busy Mums and Dads though may find this game a little too demanding.
It feels like this is a game that somewhat falls between two stools. Is it exercise or is it gaming? It would be interesting to see what Game People's personal training would make of it. If the game had more graphs and simplified the inputting of data, enabling you to setup repeating events and the like it would move more towards a serious tool. If on the other hand there was more actual gaming involved it would more back towards the play end of the spectrum.
My Health Coach is an interesting compromise. Provided you like obsessing over every last item you ate or activity you undertook. And if you have the time to enter it all into the game, then you will get a lot out of this. Busy Mums and Dads though may find this game a little too demanding.
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