lose weight with wii and nutrisystem

What’s next for Nutwiisystem.com? Watch! 28.11.15

So, if you recall a few months ago when I saw there weren’t a ton more Wii games coming to review, I mentioned I would be considering getting a fitness tracker like a FitBit or an Apple Watch. But for the longest time I just couldn’t justify spending $400 on a watch, and as for the FitBit, my Wii U tracker was giving me all the information I needed, thank you very much (plus, the FitBit doesn’t let you use your accrued miles to climb Mount Fuji).

Well, as often happens, Black Friday changed my mind. Specifically, Apple Watches on Best Buy
icon were going to $50 off, something you never quite hear of happening with Apple products. Target had a nice sale too where they’d give a gift card for buying a watch, but I liked the straightforwardness of the Best Buy discount. By the way, if you’re reading this the weekend of Black Friday you still have time to get one for that price.

I was wondering where to take this blog, now that publishers have all but abandoned the Wii. In a way it’s not a bad thing, because it got to the point where there was just so much garbage being developed by publishers who wanted to cash in on the crazy while it was happening. As you can see from the two “best of” lists, the ones that did work worked great (and I’m still using my Wii U as part of my exercise routine).

In addition, Nintendo announced years ago that they were going to be developing more gadgets, games, and systems focusing on quality of life and fitness. That never came to pass and there’s some speculation that the company has abandoned the idea, another unfortunate bit of news after the very untimely passing of Satoru Iwata,

And so while from time to time I’ll revisit the old games and talk about new ways to use them, and of course I’ll update you as soon as I hear anything about Nintendo’s forays into things like its Quality of Life initiative and the vitality sensor, I’ll also turn my attention to other devices that make “fitness so fun you forget you’re working out”. So that, plus Black Friday 2015, pushed me to getting my own Apple Watch. Yes, I’m months late to the game, but hopefully I’ll make up for it with my detail as I attempt to maximize the use of all its fitness capabilities.

More soon!

Wii Fit U, Fit Meter, Balance Board on Sale on eBay #wiifitu #wii 21.11.15

Don’t look now, but the official Nintendo store on eBay just put up a listing for a Wii Fit U, Fit Meter, and Wii Balance Board for $25 with free shipping.

It sold out of 419 units pretty quickly, but word on the street is that additional units come in and out of stock periodically. If you’ve been in the market for a brand new Balance Board, you won’t get a better deal than this.

If you can’t wait, Groupon has it for a little more, but still a ton less than those of us suckers who paid full retail for it! :)




Review of Just Dance 2016 for Wii U 26.10.15

just danec for wii uWhile I was less than impressed with the Wii version of Just Dance 2016, I have to say I was much more impressed with Just Dance 2016 for Wii U.

Here are some of the highlights.

1) Option to Use a Smartphone as a Controller

As on the Xbox One and PS4, you now have the option of using your smartphone as a controller. If you choose this option a QR code will appear on the screen; scan it and you’ll be sent to the iTunes or Google Play Store to download an app called “Just Dance Controller”. Your phone and console need to be on the same WiFi network.

It might take a little trial and error, but once your phone connects it immediately becomes a “second screen” you can use to navigate the menu you see on your TV screen. You can use either your phone or the Wii remote to navigate the menus. Granted, this is a little less of a benefit for Wii U users, as we already had a second screen in the Gamepad (which is relegated to displaying the logo while the phone takes over), but I have to they did a pretty good job.

During gameplay your phone also becomes a controller that works exactly the same as the Wii remote–you hold it in your right hand, dance, and pray that it doesn’t come flying out of your hand. Again, not as much an advantage for Wii U users as for Xbox One or PS4 users, but one immediate benefit is that you can support up to six players vs. four with just the Wii remote.

As for its accuracy, I’d say its comparable to the Wii remote, if a little more forgiving. I tried dancing to the same song and got 3 stars using the Wii remote and 4 stars using my smartphone. That might affect you when you’re playing the online game against other players around the world, where they might have a bit of an advantage in scoring.

2) Better graphics

In the past it seemed that the Wii U version would just port over identical graphics from the Wii version. But here, you can see that the artwork has been redone to take advantage of the superior graphics capabilities of the Wii U.

3) Updated playlist with multiple options for choreography

As with previous versions of Just Dance, songs are choreographed for a single dancer, a duo, a trio, or a quartet; as anyone who’s played a routine involving multiple dancers knows it can be really fun to play as well as to watch. Here are the songs in Just Dance 2016, the artist, and the choreography for each:

  • All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor (1,2)
  • Animals – Martin Garrix (1,2)
  • Balkan Blast Remix – Angry Birds (4)
  • Blame – Calvin Harris Ft. John Newman (1)
  • Born This Way – Lady Gaga (1,3)
  • Boys (Summertime Love) – The Lemon Cubes (3)
  • Chiwawa – Wanko Ni Mero Mero (1)
  • Circus – Britney Spears (1,4)
  • Cool For The Summer – Demi Lovato (1)
  • Copacabana – Frankie Bostello (4)
  • Drop the Mambo – Diva Carmina (1)
  • Fancy – Iggy Azalea Ft. Charli XCX (1,3)
  • Fun – Pitbull Ft. Chris Brown (1)
  • Gibberish – MAX (2)
  • Hangover (BaBaBa) – Buraka Som Sistema (2)
  • Heartbeat Song – Kelly Clarkson (1)
  • Hey Mama – Daid Guetta Ft. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack (3)
  • Hit The Road Jack – Charles Percy (2,3)
  • I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas (1,2)
  • I’m An Albatroz – AronChupa (1)
  • Ievan Polkka – Hatsune Miku (1)
  • Irish Meadow Dance – O’Callaghan’s Orchestra (4)
  • Junto a Ti – Disney’s “Violetta” (3)
  • Kaboom Pow – Nikki Yanofsky (1)
  • Kool Kontact – Glorious Black Belts (2)
  • Let’s Groove – Equinox Stars (3)
  • Lights – Ellie Goulding (1)
  • No Control – One Direction (4)
  • Rabiosa – Shakira Fr. El Cata (1)
  • Same Old Love – Selena Gomez (3)
  • Stadium Flow – Imposs (1)
  • Stuck on a Feeling – Prince Royce (1)
  • Teacher – Nick Jonas (1,2)
  • The Choice is Yours – Darius Dante Van Dijk (1)
  • These Boots Are Made for Walking – The Girly Team (1)
  • This is How We Do – Katy Perry (1,4)
  • Under The Sea – Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” (1)
  • Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson Ft. Bruno Mars (1,3)
  • Want To Want Me – Jason Derulo (1,2)
  • When The Rain Begins To Fall – Sky Trucking (2)
  • William Tell Overture – Rossini (2)
  • You’re the One That I Want – From The Movie Grease (2)
  • You Never Can Tell – A. Caveman & The Backseats (2)

4) Use of the Wii U Gamepad

While it might seem that using your phone as a controller and second screen makes the Wii U Gamepad obsolete, the truth is that the Gamepad still has multiple uses. The main use is as a camera and microphone. Specifically, you place the unit in front of you so it has your full body shot and the system will automatically record you when you’re dancing and/or singing.

Be forewarned that the system will record you without you knowing in what it calls “AutoDance”, basically turning on and recording you at random places within each song. I had an unpleasant situation where I was dancing in the darkness of night in my skivvies, only to find that after my dance my Gamepad (which had been sitting under me) was recording my every move. Needless to say, I erased that video and if I could have burned it and thrown it out the window I would have.

Thankfully the video won’t be shared with anyone nor saved unless you explicitly tell it to, but be very, very careful when selecting to continue vs. saving or sharing it! Once you do allow them to share a video, it can be shared on World Video Challenge, Just Dance TV, Showtime, and your Dancer Card.

“Party Master” mode is still around–this is where one person controls the songs and the moves using the Gamepad and up to four players (six if using phones as controllers) can dance.

5) Sweat and Playlists

Formerly called “Just Sweat”, this is the part of the game where you can turn on a Kcal counter to track your calorie count, as well as configure a playlist for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes, or continuous. I’d take the calorie counter with a grain of salt–it would have been more precise if there was a way for them to measure your weight and the intensity of your real movements during gameplay, but in lieu of that I assume they used an average weight and put you on the honor system as to whether you’re really working out intensively or just moving your hands.

It comes with three pre-set sample playlists of 3 songs, 6 songs, and 10 songs as well, but unlike with previous versions you can name and save multiple playlists, choosing any song and even repeating them if you like.

Here’s a video of me dancing to the “short” three-song playlist (unfortunately the audio was muted by YouTube, but you can get an idea of the intensity and length of the workout.)

6) New Features

There are a few new features in the Wii U version I found to be great enhancements to the game

a) Coop Mode

In addition to the traditional Just Dance where you compete against other dancers, in Coop mode you work together with a team to get high scores which collectively are represented by “jewels”. This is great for families where some dancers are stronger than others.

b) Dance Quest

This seems like a feature designed to help incentivize you to keep playing as often as possible. You start out with “Cake Quest” in which you try to score in the top 3 out of 9 computer players for three songs (I Gotta Feeling, Kaboom Pow, Hey Mama). Once you unlock a quest you get a trophy and and an avatar, and then go on to unlock 16 others, each with its own unique requirements.

Here’s me dancing to the Cake Quest (audio muted by YouTube)

They say that you compete against dancers from around the world, but when I played I noticed the avatar names were pretty generic, leading me to believe that if you don’t have an Internet connection or if it can’t find enough players it’ll replace them with computer players.

c) World Video Challenge

This is an interesting new feature where you can have a “video dance off” against someone else in the world. You position your Wii GamePad in front of your TV so it can record you dancing, and then you choose a mode—either going head-to-head against another player or dancing in a group and having the player with the best score in the group

For the head-to-head competition, once the challenge begins you’ll see your live video image on the left, and the video image of the person you’re challenging to the right. The image to the right is a pre-recorded video that someone else did so you’re not actually competing against the person live but against one of their past performances. Specifically you can scroll to choose from “Dance Masters”, random people from around the world, or the best from selected countries (Brazil, US, and France were the choices for me)

What this means, of course, is that all the competition is pretty much going to be someone who practices and practiced until they got as perfect a score as they could. As you can you can see your progress vs your competitor in a color bar so you can see how close (or in my case how far) your score and stars are away from the lead.

It would have been much more interesting to have been able to compete against live dancers, but of course between poor Internet connections around the world and the risk of live videos of people who are rude, intoxicated, and in various stages of being clothed it was probably a wise choice for them to go with the pre-recorded version.

Here’s a video of me dancing to “All About the Bass” against a dancer in Mexico. Yes, I’m dressed in a ninja outfit because as I established previously on my Xbox Fitness blog I’m too bashful to show my face to the world. As you can see, I did “okay” for my second time ever dancing to the song, but my opponent clearly practiced.

After the dance is over a winner is crowned. Something I’m not crazy about is that you’re forced to send a message to your opponent at the end, and it’s not clear if your video goes with it. Ubisoft seems to be pressing the boundaries with privacy which I don’t mind as long as I have a choice, but please don’t force me to do things I don’t want to do.

d) Showtime

Here, you can create music videos starring you. You provide the dancing and the singing, and they’ll put it into a video that looks practically produced. You can also view videos that other users have done.

e) Just Dance Unlimited

This is a subscription-based service where you can buy access to play from a library of 150 other tracks and counting. It’s a departure from their old DLC model where you buy a song at a time. Here, you subscribe to choose from all of them.

It’s a much better model than the old one, but given that the majority of the tracks are from past versions of Just Dance, I really wish they’d give owners of those old versions access, since we paid for them already.

If I had another gripe about the song list it’d probably be about the playlist. While there are many songs from today’s top pop stars like Iggy Azalea, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, and more, I was a little disappointed at the lack of variety–in earlier releases it seemed that there were plenty of songs for anyone, young and old. But now it seems that the vast majority of the songs are pop songs, while there’s a handful of cover versions of oldies, one or two songs for young children, and a handful of really bizarre ones (including in an interesting piece of product placement the Angry Birds, complete with creepy anthropomorphic arms and legs, dancing to a stylized version of their own theme song.

One caveat I might have is for parents of young children, details of which I’ve posted in the Wii version review. While the title is rated “E for Everyone”, many of the songs contain lyrics and dance moves that some parents may still feel aren’t appropriate for their child. You might want to screen the dances and the lyrics before allowing your child to play the game unsupervised.

That said, the improvements made to the Wii U version make this a worthy successor to a great line of successful games in the franchise. I definitely recommend it for anyone with a Wii U who still wants to relive the glory days when motion control games were king.

Review of Just Dance 2016 for Wii #justdance 26.10.15

just dance 2016 wiiSo, as you may have noticed it’s been a while since I’ve posted a game review here, mainly because there just haven’t been any new motion control games out in a very long time. It seems that most publishers have given up on the genre, including such stalwarts as Majesco, EA Sports, and even Nintendo. The one lone holdout is Ubisoft with their annual release of an update to the Just Dance series.

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost six years since the original Just Dance on the Wii. Back in 2010 the “exergaming” craze was just starting to peak and Just Dance was one of the titles that helped revolutionize the genre. Prior to it, motion control games mostly involved simple “pattern matching”. But with Just Dance you danced real dance moves to real hit songs. Suddenly, it was a game not only fun to play, but just as fun to watch other people playing. And you could work up a pretty good sweat doing it.

Ubisoft’s timing was impeccable. They sold over 7 million copies of Just Dance, 9 million copies of Just Dance 2, and 10 million copies of Just Dance 3.

Just Dance 2016 is essentially “Just Dance 7”. Times have changed, of course. You hardly see motion control games anymore, much less exergames. And yet Ubisoft continues to churn out new versions of Just Dance every year. The game no longer sells multiple millions of copies, but apparently it still sells enough to keep the title profitable.

Even though they release versions for every platform now, the version for the good ol’ Wii continues to outsell the next most popular version (the Wii U) by more than a 3:1 margin. Seems that a lot of us are keeping our old Wiis around, if only for the occasional exercise session or party.

You start by choosing an avatar, basically one of 239 cute little icons, most of which are initially locked. As you play the game you can unlock more to choose from. If you have previous Just Dance save data on your system you’ll get three unlocked right off the bat. You then choose your country from a list of flags and then your age and gender. That’ll create your “dancer card”, and you can go ahead and create others for everyone in the house who’ll be playing.

One topic that seems to come up in reviews for Just Dance in recent versions is whether the songs and dance moves are appropriate for children.  In letting you choose age ranges from 0-9, 10-14, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, and 40+ (making this 40+ reviewer feel very old) and a gender of “girl” or “boy”, you’d think that this game is mainly geared towards children. But as we’ve seen in past versions of Just Dance this may not be the case, depending on your parenting preferences.

I’m no prude, but even I’d think twice about having kids play this unsupervised. While there are certainly one or two kid-friendly songs like The Little Mermaid’s “Under the Sea”, the vast majority of songs are modern pop songs that are more suited for a grown-up audience.

As we’ve seen them do in the past, Ubisoft achieved the “E for Everyone” rating for certain songs basically by bleeping out words. But many parents out there will likely still find some lyrics too suggestive. For example, in Pitbull’s “Fun” when the lyrics go “don’t take it all off, keep your heels and thong”, they decided to bleep out “heels” and “thong”, but that doesn’t really make the song any less suggestive (in fact, it probably makes it worse). Likewise, a number of the songs have what some may find overly suggestive dance moves for children. Again, none of this is really a problem for young adults who wish to play this game alone or in a party setting, but at the very least I’d be sure to screen the songs and the choreography before having children dance to them or playing this in a setting with children, despite the rating.

From there you can just jump into dancing by selecting a song. Unlike past versions of Just Dance, they did away with the “difficulty” and “intensity” ratings for each song. If you have an Internet connection you can see the top scores of the week in your country and around the world, as well as the top scores on your local machine.

As with past versions, in most cases the choreography is for a single dancer’s moves, but in some cases they came up with a dance routing for 2, 3, or 4 dancers where each dancer has his or her own independent moves that work together with the other dancers. It’s those dances that tend to be the most fun to play—and to watch others play.

Here’s a list of the songs, the artists, and the number of dancers the default routine is choreographed for. Certain songs also have alternate choreography that you can unlock.

  • All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor (1)
  • No Control – One Direction (4)
  • I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas (1)
  • Fancy – Iggy Azalea Ft. Charli XCX (3)
  • These Boots Are Made for Walking – The Girly Team (1)
  • Animals – Martin Garrix (2)
  • Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson Ft. Bruno Mars (1)
  • Balkan Blast Remix – Angry Birds (4)
  • Heartbeat Song – Kelly Clarkson (1)
  • Hey Mama – Daid Guetta Ft. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack (3)
  • Ievan Polkka – Hatsune Miku (1)
  • The Choice is Yours – Darius Dante Van Dijk (1)
  • Fun – Pitbull Ft. Chris Brown (1)
  • William Tell Overture – Rossini (2)
  • Lights – Ellie Goulding (1)
  • Chiwawa – Wanko Ni Mero Mero (1)
  • You Never Can Tell – A. Caveman & The Backseats (2)
  • Born This Way – Lady Gaga (3)
  • Kaboom Pow – Nikki Yanofsky (1)
  • When The Rain Begins To Fall – Sky Trucking (2)
  • Same Old Love – Selena Gomez (3)
  • Cool For The Summer – Demi Lovato (1)
  • Want To Want Me – Jason Derulo (1)
  • Under The Sea – Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” (1)
  • This is How We Do – Katy Perry (4)
  • Hit The Road Jack – Charles Percy (2)
  • Junto a Ti – Disney’s “Violetta” (3)
  • Blame – Calvin Harris Ft. John Newman (1)
  • Irish Meadow Dance – O’Callaghan’s Orchestra (4)
  • Rabiosa – Shakira Fr. El Cata (1)
  • Circus – Britney Spears (4)
  • You’re the One That I Want – From The Movie Grease (2)
  • Hangover (BaBaBa) – Buraka Som Sistema (2)
  • I’m An Albatroz – AronChupa (1)
  • Kool Kontact – Glorious Black Belts (2)
  • Teacher – Nick Jonas (1)
  • Stuck on a Feeling – Prince Royce (1)
  • Boys (Summertime Love) – The Lemon Cubes (3)
  • Drop the Mambo – Diva Carmina (1)
  • Gibberish – MAX (2)
  • Copacabana – Frankie Bostello (4)
  • Let’s Groove – Equinox Stars (3)
  • Stadium Flow – Imposs (1)

Gameplay is the same as every other version of Just Dance from the beginning. You hold the Wii remote in your right hand and follow the on-screen dancer’s moves as if you’re looking in a mirror. Visual cues in the form of stick figure icons will scroll across the bottom to let you know what move is coming up, but they’re not of much help until you play long enough to be able to associate the icon with the move (and by that time you’ll probably have memorized the routine anyway).

One question that invariably arises is—how accurate are the motion controls? The quick answer to that is, they’re as accurate as they’re going to be. I think it was in Just Dance 3 that Ubisoft “figured it out”, -and since then the controls have been “good enough”. Which means that you’re not going to get the precision of, say, an Xbox Kinect…but it’s accurate enough to make it fun, especially when playing in a group where everyone’s on an even playing field.

What I’ve found in past Just Dance games, and again in this one, is that most people can get 2 stars on a song just by going through the motions (literally), but to get 5 stars you really need to learn the moves and dance them accurately.

I did like the online capabilities, as for once they’re seamlessly weaved into the game as opposed to being overly obtrusive. For example, as I played a song the game asked me if I would like to activate “Dance Challenger Mode” instead of competing against computer dancers. I said yes and ended up dancing with three actual people, one from the US and two from France.

“Sweat Mode” is also back, now called “Sweat & Playlists”. As before, you can turn on a Kcal counter to track your calorie count, and you can configure a playlist for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes, or continuous. You can’t save multiple playlists, but the system will remember the last playlist you configured, so if there’s a particular sequence and length of songs you’d like thankfully there’s no need to re-configure it each time you restart the system as you had to with previous versions.

The Wii version is pretty basic and lacks a lot of features that other consoles have. For example, with other consoles you can use your mobile device as a controller. Most other versions have more advanced graphics and additional choreography, as well as more online features and video capability. All these, of course, are highly dependent on the capabilities of the console, so I don’t blame them for not including these.

But if there is a gripe I have it’s that the $39.99 list price is kind of steep. Ubisoft clearly wants to keep milking the cash cow of Wii users, so their MO has always been to charge Wii users for full releases instead of offering individual songs in the form of DLC. In this particular case, I don’t see many improvements in the 2016 version beyond the 2015 version. I’d say it’s worth buying mainly if A) the actual price drops precipitously, or B) you happen to love more than a few of the featured songs.

Humble Bundle for Nintendo Wii U and 3DS #humblebundle #wiiu #3ds 30.05.15


humble bundle for wii u and 3ds This isn’t a fitness-related post, but every now and again a deal comes along that’s so good I need to share it.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Humble Bundle is a project where independent game manufacturers will agree to sell their products at a ridiculously low price. How low? You literally name your own price. It can be anything from $1 to as much as you want. Traditionally, the Humble Bundle has been limited to PC game producers, but that’s changing.

As most of you know, the vast majority of games for Nintendo products are first-party games from Nintendo itself. As you also probably know, third-party developers have been fleeing the Wii U and the 3DS en masse. In some cases it’s a good thing (I don’t miss the shovelware products that some fly-by-night publishers inflicted on the Wii one bit). On the other hand, it’s a crying shame that a lot of the big publishers like EA and Ubisoft, are abandoning the platform–even after titles like EA Sports Active and My Fitness Coach made them tons of money from us.

The great news is that there are still independent developers making some really great stuff. These developers don’t have the marketing muscle to come up with snazzy packaging, TV commercials, or mass market distribution. But some of their games are really amazing.

Which is why I’m excited to see the Humble Bundle working with Nintendo eShop. Instead of purchasing downloadable software, you purchase game codes that can be redeemed on the eShop.

The games (which you can get for as little as $1 for all of them) include:

Guacamelee for Wii U: An action, side-scrolling platforming game, inspired by Mexican culture and folklore, where you control “Juan” as he rescules El Presidente’s daughter. Think of it as a Mexican, slightly more adult version of Mario. It was rated 9.1 from IGH.

Woah Dave for 3DS: This is a game that’s fashioned like a classic arcade game. The graphics are in old 8-bit style but as most of us fans of ancient arcade games can attest, that only works to help you focus on the gameplay itself, which is a load of fun.

Mighty Switch Force for 3DS: This is a puzzle, side-scrolling platformer in a style slightly reminiscent of Mario where you control “Patricia Wagon” as she jumps and shoots her way to capturing a group of escaped convicts. IGN gave this an 8.0.

If you pay more than $10, you’ll unlock two more games

Stealth Inc 2 for Wii U: Another side-scrolling platformer where you control a goggle-wearing clone and use different types of equipment to solve puzzles and unlock new areas. This was native for the Wii U and uses the GamePad in new and innovative way, something I can’t say for too many other publisher, indie or not.

SteamWorld Dig for BOTH Wii U and 3DS: This is an action-adventure platforming game where you control “Rusty” the miner to investigate mines under an old Western town. It got a 9.5 out of 10 from IGN.

And if you pay more than the average price people are paying (currently $9.20), you’ll unlock:

The Fall for Wii U: Another side scrolling game which got its start on Kickstarter. It contains both puzzle and action elements.

OlliOlli for BOTH Wii U and 3DS: A 2-D side-scrolling skateboarding game that mimics real physics as you attempt to perform and land tricks.

Moon Chronicles for 3DS: A first-person shooter game for the 3DS spread out over four episodes. You get episode 1 here.

More “mystery” games to be announced this coming week.

While most of these games are also able to be purchase on other platforms and mobile devices, I prefer to play games like these on my Wii U and 3DS consoles,  where you enjoy bigger screen action and more familar control with the Wii U than you get on a PC and 3D action and better controls with the 3DS than you get on a telephone screen.

Bought individually, these games would go for over $80. But with this deal, you can get most of the game for under $10 and ALL of the games at $10.

And the best thing about it? Your purchase not only helps bring awareness to these great indie games, you can also choose whether your money goes to the developers or Code.org, a non-profit that helps expand the knowledge of computer science and coding to schools and especially to underrepresented populations.

Convinced or want to learn more? Check out the Nintendo Humble Bundle here.


What Watch? 10 Watch! Such Much? 13.03.15

Well, sadly the world of Wii exercise games has all but dried up. The good news is that there’s a very healthy aftermarket, and a lot of the games on our list of best Wii games and best Wii U games are available from Amazon or eBay resellers at very affordable prices.

In looking around for the “next big thing” in fitness gaming, naturally the Apple Watch caught my attention. Now granted there are going to be a huge number of annoying elitist-types who buy the watch just to be seen with it. And Apple is getting just a little annoying with its pretentiousness (really, a 5-minute speech on its space-age “alu-min-ium”?) But looking beyond all that, the one thing I can’t dispute is that Apple’s always helped make my life better, from my first Apple //e in the 1980s to my first Mac SE/30 and Powerbook in the 1990s, to my first iPod in the 2000s to the iPhone I have today. And if spending a ridiculous amount of money on a watch is going to help me track my fitness better and turn my everyday activities into a “video game”, maybe I’ll give it a shot.

apple watch heart rate sensorOne of the more impressive features of the new watch is going to be its heart rate sensor. There’s a reason the doctor uses your wrist to check your pulse. This watch uses different diodes to detect your heart rate and let you view it at a glance on your watch. One of the things I’ve mentioned a lot on this blog is the importance of getting into the “aerobic zone” when working out, and this will help. I’ve held off on Jawbones and Fitbits and Nike+ sensors in the past, but this is one I might finally bite on.

Something else I like about this watch is that it has a built-in GPS. Right now when I’m biking with my phone in my pocket, my favorite apps like Runtastic Road Bike PRO frequently lose their signal, so what should be a nice 3-mile plot of my bike trail ends up being about 20 feet. Hopefully with the open-air watch it should improve the tracking.

The one thing I’m a little skeptical of is the accelerometer. I can see how the Wii Fit U Meter tracks my steps by being on my hip, but will something on my wrist do it as accurately? If and when I get a hold of a watch, I’ll be sure to do a comparison.

apple watch fitnessBut perhaps the most exciting this about this watch how it can “gamify” your life. You can see some examples of this on Apple’s site. Specifically, one of the apps is going to be a bullseye chart with rings called “Move”, “Exercise” and “Stand” that will let you see at glance exactly how sedentary your life is. Simple things like standing up can give you “credits’ that’ll change your profile. Each week, the Watch can suggest a “Move goal” for how much you’ll want to be moving during the week. And if you’re exercising at any pace of a brisk walk or more, that activity will be tracked as “Exercise”, and with 30 minutes of exercise a day you’ll close that ring. Your little watch screen will show things like your goals, updates, and at the end a summary of how much you’ve “worked out” in a day, whether as literal exercise or as part of your daily routine. In other words, your life becomes a video game, with goals, rewards, and statuses right on your wrist.

As much hype as the watch is getting, I also foresee some problems with it. It’s going to be so bulky that you wonder if there’ll be the same backlash against users of the watch that befell Google Glass early adopters. The battery life is going to be woefully short. And of course, a lot of people will find it annoying that you need to have an iPhone 6 to use it. We’ll see if any of that affects its sales.

The Apple Watch goes on sale on April 24, and reportedly goes on pre-sale on April 10. Hopefully by taking orders earlier Apple will be able to avoid the inventory issues it’s had in the past. If I manage to get a hold of one, I’ll of course post the grisly details here about how you can incorporate it into fitness and exercise.

And don’t worry, I still have my Wii and my Wii U, am continuing to play those fitness games, and will continue to do so for the long haul :)

The End of Club Nintendo – How to Top Off Points 20.02.15

Sadly, after many years Nintendo has decided to shutter Club Nintendo, at least in North America. This was the club that let you enter those numbers you find on the red inserts inside Nintendo games and trade them in for prizes and downloadable games.

The North America club was always a bit of a disappointment compared to its siblings in Europe and Asia. For example, you often heard of those clubs giving prizes like gold controllers and trophies which quite commonly resell on eBay for hundreds of dollars. In the US, I’ve been qualifying for Platinum status every year given all the Wii fitness games I’ve bought over the years, and yet the best we ever did was a Super Mario statue–the rest of the “prizes” were mostly forgettable calendars and nicknacks.

Perhaps because they realize that their North America fans haven’t gotten the best of treatment, they went all out and have a ton of physical goods and downloadable games to choose from to use up whatever points you have. Of particular interest to this blog is Wii Fit U, which is available for 600 points.

If find yourself short on points, the good folks at Reddit have identified a few demos on the 3DS and Wii U that are free but will still net you points. They are:

  • Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball (3DS) – 5 points for registration, 10 points for post-play survey
  • Pokemon Bank (3DS) – 5 points for registration, 10 points for post-play survey
  • Steel Diver: Sub Wars (3DS) – 5 points for registration, 10 points for post-play survey
  • Lucadian Chronicles (Wii U) – 10 points for post-play survey
  • Zen Pinball 2 (Wii U) – 10 points for post-play survey

Since points earning ends on 3/31 and it takes about a week for the post-play survey to appear after downloading, you need to get in by around 3/20 to get these points locked in before it all ends. If you’re in a 3DS make sure it’s linked to your Club Nintendo account.

Unlike in the past, the physical goods aren’t disappearing right away–they did a smart thing and instead of producing a limited inventory that gets wiped out right away, they let people pre-order the goods so they can manufacture them to demand. What a concept, eh? The good news is that if you’re a fan you’ll definitely get a physical good (I ordered a Mario T-Shirt); the bad news is that if you want to resell it on eBay there’ll probably be a glut of these so the resell value will be lower than the exorbitant resale values of other physical goods.

Sorry to see it go, it was a nice program. But hopefully they’ll replace it with something better.

Punch-Out on sale for $9.99 on Nintendo eStore this week! #wii 23.01.15

Back in 2009 (which, can you believe it, was SIX years ago), I wrote my review for Punch-Out on the Wii. It’s funny, I almost forgot I’d ever played the game, but the video shows that sure enough, I played through every fighter before writing my review.

The game is one of those that’s become a classic–and a collector’s item if you have an original copy. The original version is selling on Amazon for almost $60 and even the cheaper Nintendo Selects version is going for over $70 new, over $40 used.

These few weeks have been full of news from Nintendo. They announced that Club Nintendo was ending, that the new 3DS XL was being launched, and that a bunch of classic titles were going on sale in the Nintendo eShop these next few weeks as they convert classic games to run natively in the Wii U.

This week, one of the titles for sale is Punch Out, for $9.99. Great deal on a classic game that can give you a bit of a workout, and because it is native to Wii U there’s no need to go into Wii mode to play. But hurry–it’ll be back to $19.99 at 11:59 eastern time on January 29!

If you’re feeling nostalgic, here’s my victorious moment from six years ago.

Wii Fit Meter only $10 at Amazon 13.01.15

The Wii U Fit Meter is priced to go at Amazon at $10. Word is that at some Best Buy locations, it’s on clearance for $7.99.

If you’re a user of Wii Fit U, this might be a good opportunity to stock up on Fit Meters. Get one for the husband, the wife, the kids, and even the dog! While most people have focused on this as an accessory for individuals, there’s actually a ton of utility when you use it as a family. Everyone can “compete” against each other to see how far they’ve walked. It’s a shame that Nintendo didn’t build games into Wii Fit U that allowed families to compete against each other in this way, as it could have been something that really would have helped the same sell more than it did. But even so, you can be creative and make your own games. See who can make it to the top of Mount Fuji first, for example, under their own individual profiles.

Grab it while you can–the price is almost certainly going to go back to its full retail price as soon as they’ve cleared out their Christmas inventory.

Confirmed: The Wii U GameCube Controller Adapter will not work on DDR, Active Life, or Cyberbike 13.12.14

Over the past few months, Nintendo has been a little cagey about whether their GameCube Controller Adapter for Super Smash Bros. would work with other games. For purposes of those of us who use the Wii for exercise, that would open up a whole lot of Wii games for our use–the Dance Dance Revolution series, Active Life series, and Cyberbike games.

For a brief period of time they were hinting that it’d work on everything, but in recent months they’ve been very, very careful to say that it would only work with Super Smash Bros. Still a lot of us had been holding out hope that this was just an exercise in “CYA”–that the adapter would still work on other games but they gave us these disclaimers so they didn’t have to support them if they didn’t.

Yesterday, my some miracle I got my hands on one at the Nintendo Store in New York.

gamecube controller adapter box

Sadly, but not surprisingly, I confirmed that it’s true–for the time being at least, it will NOT work on games other than Wii U games that have a GameCube icon, and right now that just applies to one game: Super Smash Bros for Wii U. Officially, here’s what their manual says:

gamecube adapter manual

This accessory is only for use on the Wii U console with Nintendo GameCube or Nintendo GameCube WaveBird wireless controllers. It cannot be used with any other controllers, accessories, or devices such as computers.

You must use Wii U software that supports Nintendo GameCube controllers or the WaveBird wireless controller. Look for this icon on game packaging for games that are designed to be used with this accessory. This accessory is not compatible with Wii software.

So unlike other “adapters” like the one you use to convert, say, HDMI to DVI or USB to Ethernet, it looks like the GameCube adapter isn’t capable of having a simple adapter that just plugs and plays. Support for it needs to be written into the software.

Here’s specifically how I went about testing:

First, the adapter itself looks like it’s really well made. It feels solid and is black with an embossed Wii U logo. On one side are four GameCube controller ports, while the other side consists of two USB plugs, one grey and one black. The additional plug is needed the enable things that need extra power like rumble and WaveBird wireless ability.

wii u gamecube controller adapter

You start by plugging the USB plugs into the Wii U.

gamecube adapter USB plugs

One thing I found interesting was that if you have two GameCube adapters, you can actually plug one of them into the two USB ports in back and the other into the two USB ports in front, and you’ll support up to 8 players for games that support that (which, again, is only Super Smash Bros. for Wii U right now). Of course, that’ll use up all your USB ports, but there is a line in the manual saying that “A standard powered USB hub may be used if there are not enough open USB ports on the Wii U console.” It also points you to their site for more information.

Then, you plug your GameCube controllers into the other end.

gamecube adapter with plugs

I put the Wii U into Wii mode and tested it with Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 2. As expected, there was no response at all when I tried to use the DDR dance pad.

I then tested it with Active Life: Outdoor Challenge. Again, no response at all, just this message:

gamecube controller does not work with active life

And again with Cyberbike. Again, just a greyed out controller.

gamecube adapter doesn't work with cyberbike

Now, it’s obvious by now that they simply didn’t touch the Wii emulation portion of the Wii U system to support this device. It’s a shame, because from a technical point of view it really wouldn’t be that difficult (heck, just a few days after the product was released, some enterprising hackers figured out how to get it to work on PCs). But I’m guessing that the executives at Nintendo didn’t want their customer service department fielding support calls for 20 year-old games and decided to keep support disabled.

What’s ironic is that, judging by the masses of people clamoring to get their hands on one of these (heck, they’re being resold on eBay and Amazon for over $100), Nintendo would have a money-printing machine if they managed to produce enough of them AND build reasons for users to keep using them. As much as building Wii emulation helped Wii users adopt the Wii U, I have to think building support for the GameCube controller into Wii Mode and Virtual Console games would also help win over a good chunk of the 21 million GameCube owners out there.

For my final test, I attempted to use my Cyberbike with Mario Kart 8, a Wii U game. But because Mario Kart didn’t build support for the GameCube controller, this didn’t work either (if you look at the back of the Mario Kart 8 box, you’ll see it supports every other controller out there–the GamePad, the Wii Remote, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the Wii Classic Controller, and the Wii U Pro Controller. One can only hope that some day, they’ll release a patch that enables it to support the GameCube Controller.

For a lark, I started up Super Smash Bros and plugged in my DDR dance pad. And there the pad “worked” perfectly–I could use my feet to select menu options by using the directional buttons, and selecting things using the “A” button with my feet–with no lag and amazingly quick and precise responsiveness. Now before you get too excited, remember that the players in the game are controlled by the joystick, so even though Smash Bros allows you to customize your controllers to a certain extent, you can’t map the directional buttons to control your character. Still, it was a small victory seeing that the controllers at least “worked”.

We can only hope Nintendo will get the hint from the huge demand for the GameCube controller and release a patch that’ll allow us to use any GameCube controllers in Wii Mode, and that they’ll release or retrofit new and existing Wii U games like Mario Kart 8 to support the controller.

In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking of buying this adapter in hopes that it’d work with some games other than Super Smash Bros for Wii U, I can tell you unequivocally that it’s not worth it. As for those who do want to use it with Super Smash Bros, I know there have been a lot of rumors lately out of the UK that Nintendo will not be making more of them. This is absolutely untrue–Nintendo is definitely making more of them and everyone who wants one will eventually be able to get one at $19.99…some say by Christmas, others day definitely by February. So unless you absolutely, positively need one before Christmas, I’d resist the urge to go to Amazon or eBay where they’re currently selling for over $100.