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jOG is a pedometer that clips to your belt that plugs into your Wii controls to make you move to be able to play. Running on the spot while wearing the jOG enables the thumb-stick on the Nun-chuck, allowing you to move your character, and disables it when you stop. It's a simple idea, and I was quite skeptical about it, but it works surprisingly well.
This week Paul Leader of Wii-Fit Forum reviews a new concept in fitness gaming for the Wii.
Most people would agree that exercise is pretty boring. Why else would gyms have TVs in them to watch while you grind out the miles on the static bike or the cross-trainer? And lets also be honest here, few computer games are going to give you a workout (unless you need strong thumbs). Over the last couple of years we have seen several attempts to combine the fun of gaming with the benefits of exercise with "exergames" such as Dance Dance Revolution and Wii-Fit. While these have had some success in the fitness world, and are more fun than half an hour on the treadmill, the games are often quite limited and can get dull very quickly.
There's no configuration, setup, or special software, it just works.
The jOG for Wii from New Concept Gaming (NCG) takes a different approach: rather than try to make all new active games, it adds exercise to any compatible game of your choice. The jOG is a pedometer that clips to your belt and connects between the Wii Remote and Nun-chuck controllers. It's a simple idea, and I was quite skeptical about it, but it works surprisingly well.
To give it a whirl I fired up Super Mario Galaxy, but any game that uses the Nun-chuck joystick to move your character would work. Setup is very simple, you plug the Nun-chuck into the jOG, which in turn connects to the Wii Remote. This had the added benefit of doubling the length of the cord and clipping it out of the way on my belt, making it much less of an annoyance. There's no configuration, setup, or special software, it just works. There is also no reason why you can't use more than one jOG for multiplayer games, something that has been lacking from most of the exergames on the market.
You play the game in exactly the same way as before, but must keep running if you want your character to move. I found the jOG to be quite sensitive, so I didn't need to sprint like a dervish, a nice gentle jog worked just fine. After a few minutes I was working up a sweat, my pulse rate was up, and I felt like I was getting a reasonable cardiovascular workout. Wii-Fit also has a running "game", which uses the Wii Remote as a pedometer, but you only have control over your character's speed. While it is more interesting than just jogging by itself, I have found that it gets boring quite quickly. In comparison, playing an enjoyable game like Mario Galaxy made the time zip by, focusing my mind on the game, and not on the exercise. I found link between my character's movements and my own also increased my focus on the game; all that running on the spot felt like a perfectly natural thing to be doing.
More traditional first person shooters will give you a more sustained cardio workout, which is important if you are trying to lose weight.
The choice of game will affect the exercise you get; puzzle oriented games like Mario Galaxy have frequent interruptions when running isn't necessary. More traditional first person shooters will give you a more sustained cardio workout, which is important if you are trying to lose weight. Roughly speaking you need to keep your heart-rate elevated for about 15 to 30 minutes to get real benefit from cardiovascular exercise. However I found that by breaking up the bouts of running, these interruptions allowed me to keep going for much longer than I expected. I can happily play for 45 minutes, having fun while getting some exercise. The great thing about the jOG is that you can try it out with all your old games until you find something that works well for you. In fact you may find it gives a new dimension to your old gamesy. Not all compatible games will be easy to play, all that bouncing up and down made aiming with the Wii Remote a little more tricky, but I started to get the hang of it after a while.
At GBP25, the jOG is an affordable and simple way to add a little bit of mild exercise to your everyday gaming experience. By using your existing games, NCG have avoided the "mini-game" curse of so many fitness games, which quickly get dull due to the limited game play. In contrast the jOG helps you exercise, while taking your mind off it with a fun game of your choice. It's like riding a static bike while watching the TV, but much cheaper, and it won't take up your entire living room.
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