Fitness games have come a long way since Wii Fit showed there was a market for them. From activity-based minigames to actual exercises with cameras for tracking movement, they’ve become a viable method of exercising, regardless of whether your goal is weight loss or maintenance. Even though there’s no camera this time, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 for the Wii U is still an excellent choice for those looking to exercise at home.
When you set it up, you’ll have to create a profile, filling in all your vitals and taking a photo using the GamePad camera. Notably, you can choose whether you want to use imperial or metric measurements throughout the game. After that short setup, a tutorial walks you through the game modes: Classes, Workouts, Programs and Activities.
Classes will teach you how to perform a large number of techniques in a variety of fitness classes, from yoga and pilates to kickboxing and martial arts. This is a good choice if you’re looking for something interesting or don’t have a specific exercise target you want to work on.
Workouts lets you quickly get active in whatever exercise set you want, from among almost 50 choices. They are all marked with their estimated difficulty and duration along with target area, so even if you don’t know what an exercise is, you’ll know before attempting it what to expect. It also helps you choose appropriate exercises for your goal, whether it is to work your legs hard or do some light back exercises. In a nod to the ubiquitious nature of exercise games, there are even some exercises geared specifically to children and seniors.
The Programs mode is where Your Shape really shines. In it you can give it a fitness goal, time frame, workout type and how many sessions per week you want and it will set up a full exercise program for you to follow. After setting it up, it will remind you when it’s time for a session and allow you to view your progress at any time. Whether your goal is to lose weight, tone your muscles or just improve your stamina, it will set up a convenient plan that makes it easier to stick to a routine.
If you get tired of the actual exercises at any time, but still want to stay active, the Activities mode is where you’ll look. It has a choreography section and a ‘Zen’ section for you. The choreography section has you dance to one of a handful of songs, though the moves are designed for kinetic exercise, not for good dancing, so if you really want to dance, you should look elsewhere. The Zen section focuses on breathing exercises and balance. This is actually a nice mode to use when you need to relax or cooldown after a workout.
The Zen activity is the only section that uses the GamePad, and it only uses it for the improved gyroscope. Everything else uses Wii Remotes to track your movements. This is somewhat less accurate for tracking than cameras, but since the goal is for you to get a workout, not to get great scores, that’s not really a big deal. You can also exercise in a group with others, though only one profile can be active at a time, which means stats are only saved for that one person.
Your Shape 2013 also comes up with random challenges each day that, if you complete them successfully, award you with bonus coins that can be used to unlock more content. Online connectivity is pretty great, allowing you to join community-wide events and challenges, such as burning more calories than anyone else in a set time period. You can even set up your own online challenges and track the progress of anyone taking part in it.
The final aspect of Your Shape 2013 is the so-called Fitness Pal, which is actually a cookbook. It has 150 recipes in it, split by type of food and what fitness goal they are meant for. You can even filter for popular dietary practices, such as vegan or gluten-free. Other fitness games have had this, but it was always rather pointless, since you couldn’t very well carry your TV into the kitchen to follow the steps. With the GamePad, you can, so for once this makes sense and works.
Unfortunately, in order to go online in Your Shape, you have to go through Uplay. This does come with a bonus if you’ve been playing other Ubisoft Wii U games. Any credits earned in other games (like ZombiU) can be used to unlock content, in addition to the exercise coins you get.
The graphics are clean and sharp, with an aesthetic that supports the game, rather than stealing any of the focus. I’ve heard the exercise backgrounds will change to reflect how well you are doing, but sadly, I was so busy trying to keep up with them that I didn’t notice anything myself. The music fits, helping you stay in a rhythm and get lost in the exercises.
The only real downside I experienced was the lack of any menu navigation by anything other than touch screen. When I’m sweating all over, I really don’t want to have to touch a screen to do anything.
Even if a new Wii Fit game had already been released for the Wii U, I’d still suggest people pick this up if they want a fitness game. The massive collection and variety of exercises and activities in this make it a sure purchase for anyone looking for an at-home source of exercise programs.
Pros: Tons of exercises and recipes, ability to automate long-term routines
Cons: movement tracking can be iffy at times, menus are only touchscreen