The Biggest LoserESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Compatible with Wii Balance Board
Choose from 8 show character favourites
Virtual calendar tracks progress
Adjustable program lengths
Fitness and wellness games are becoming more and more the rage these days. From Wii Fit to EA Active and My Fitness Coach, there are many developers and publishers taking part in this developing genre, each with a different take on how to do things. The latest entry is THQ’s The Biggest Loser, based on the TV show of the same name. Is this game just an attempt at cashing in on a hot TV show or does it hold its own against some considerable competition?
The Biggest Loser’s appearance stays true to the TV show and The Biggest Loser brand. Bob and Jillian are lovingly recreated and detailed right down to Bob’s tattoos. A game like this though has as much to do with layout and presentation as it does with graphics. Menus are clear, easy to read, and generally well laid out. The Biggest Loser compound is somewhat reproduced with a bit of artistic license thrown in. While it has no bearing on the gameplay, I have to say the pool water is extremely well done. Player models are somewhat less detailed than the Bob and Jillian’s virtual characters, but I give THQ a bit of slack here as the characters do thin noticeably as the game plays out and players reach their goal weights. Animations are excellent too. This is especially important in a game like this as they help to describe precisely the motions for the player to follow during exercise segments.
The Biggest Loser features a wealth of dialogue from Bob and Jillian. Their voiceovers are used throughout the game to provide verbal prompts as to what to do and during exercises encouraging the player to push and be precise in their motions. The theme music from the TV show finds its way into the game as well and helps to recreate the feel of the show. Other than that there really isn’t a ton to talk about when it comes to sound. Outside of the dialogue, much of it isn’t integral to the gameplay though other than staying true to The Biggest Loser show.
Capturing the momentum of both wellness games and a hit TV show, The Biggest Loser is less of a pure game and more of a training tool. Not surprisingly the game is laid out much like its TV show brother. Players initially do a self test to get their baseline stats and weight and then they set their goals. Unlike some other fitness games, The Biggest Loser thankfully allows the use of the Wii Balance board to measure weight. This sure beats having to do it elsewhere and constantly updating your personal stats every few days or week.
Like the TV show, The Biggest Loser game seems focused more on weight loss than strictly fitness training. While that means that it sacrifices some of the more intense strength building exercises, The Biggest Loser offers a well rounded approach that includes a strong focus on healthy eating and nutrition. It uses only the Wii Remote and Balance Board, the latter is optional. Those looking for a fitness game geared more towards increasing strength may want to look elsewhere.
Players are encouraged to load the game each day and visit their home screen which is presented in the form of a calendar. Each day features different exercise regimens and goals. Players can also track activities away from the game, the calories burnt doing so, as well as the calories consumed each day. The Biggest Loser features a pretty comprehensive, if not generic, food list with nutritional information that players can choose from as they log their calories. Players can also add calorie details manually if they have that information available. While the food list is a good idea, I found it lacks the detail found in the DS version of the game. Its restaurant lists were not included as it excludes those without the DS’ from having a valuable tool. Normally it’s the other way around so I find it odd the Wii version of the game lacks features of the DS version. I did find manually adding foods and calories consumed a bit tedious as well.
Continuing on, players measure their results against a selection of The Biggest Loser cast favourites. As you progress towards your goal weight your character will change their appearance on screen to reflect the improvements. Again, this is a game geared towards weight loss, just like the show. While the game offers a good selection of exercises and difficulty levels, they are structured as part of the overall goal of weight loss.
Exercises are obviously a huge part of the game and can be played both in the “career” portion of the game or individually. Users can also customize and create their own routines for a more personalized workout if they so choose.
Trainers Bob and Jillian are prominently featured in the game. They continually offer motivational tips and encouragement throughout, especially during the exercise segments. Unfortunately, if there’s an area of the game that falls short it is the exercises. I sort of touched on this earlier. It’s not that they’re bad. It’s more that they’re largely dependent on the person doing them. There’s too much room to cheat in my opinion. I tested this by mimicking many of the moves simply just by swinging my arm around while seated on the coach. That said, I believe that those buying this game have specific goals and are highly motivated therefore making this a non-issue. It is worth nothing though because other games offer greater controls over technique and innovative peripherals to enhance your workout.
One might be quick to pass a title like this off as an attempt to cash in on a popular TV show. Heck, we see it all the time. There is real value here though. The Biggest Loser has been successful on TV because it not only entertains but it also does a tremendous thing for people as it is all about enabling people to lose weight through exercise, nutrition and wellness of the mind. The game is an extension of the show in that it provides a new way of enabling people to lose weight and this deserves praise. The Biggest Loser game certainly meets the needs of its target audienc. but it may not provide the intensity or strength training that some looking for a fitness game may be looking for.