NewU Mind Body Yoga & Pilates Workout
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Lightning Fish
Release Date: 12/7/10
In preparation for playing NewU Mind Body Yoga & Pilates Workout, I haven’t bothered to work out regularly for the past seven years. Such is my commitment to you, gentle readers. All things considered, however, I’m in pretty good shape…for a guy who writes on the internet. I only have to buy one seat on an airplane. I’m six feet tall, under 200 lbs, I walk to work, and occasionally dance with my daughter until I am glazed with sweat.
Still, I found myself sore after a particularly cut-throat game of hide-and-seek. Perhaps it was time to start an exercise program of some sort.
(Besides that, I was the only staffer left with the semi-requisite Wii Balance Board.)
So, is NewU Mind Body Yoga & Pilates Workout the workout I need?
In a world of competitive yoga, only the strong will survive and only the most relaxed will make it through to the next round!
There is no story, naturally.
We are afforded a few modes. Basically, it goes like this:
You make a profile. You put in your name, tell the machine your sex, pick a picture that most resembles your body type, give it your age and height, and the balance board. Unlike Wii Fit, the machine doesn’t make fun of your weight, or distort your avatar to some sort of bloated grotesque. The main downside to creating a profile is that there are only three body pictures per gender. It is either skinny guy, muscle guy or chubby guy for the males. No morbidly obese guy, no skinny-ish guy with love handles, no small vampire shaped guy with a lady butt, or so on. For the ladies, I swear I couldn’t tell the first two pictures apart. The pictures looked like thin girl, slightly less thin girl, and girl I find somewhat attractive. I would expect some sort of options for spoon shaped women or apple shaped women or boyish women or what have you.
These are nitpicks though, and wouldn’t seem to have much bearing on the game in and of itself.
After making the profile, you choose a goal. These range from strengthening your lower body to increasing flexibility, from decreasing stress to post-natal body recovery. The after-birth option is only for the ladies, completely ignoring the problems of the male sympathy belly. Picking these goals affects the exercises selected for your personalized yoga-lates class.
You can change your goal at any time, which is a nice option. Plus it will mix up the routine somewhat.
After picking a goal, you pick a teacher. There are three to choose from. All are women, two are 32, two are dancers, and basically it doesn’t have a meaningful effect which one you choose. They have personality profiles, wherein Kiren comes off as more spiritual, Jemma comes off as more bubbly, and Mila comes off as someone who is just teaching yoga until she finally gets the part as the feather duster in the touring company of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast so that she can fall in love with the guy that plays Lumiere and get married and live happily ever after like what happed to that girl from Trading Spaces.
Maybe I’m projecting.
The biggest difference between the trainers is how goofy they look when they congratulate you for doing an exercise well. Kiren looks the least silly, Jemma looks the most silly, and Mila gets a really odd look on her face like she fears that she will never fall in love with a candle.
After picking a trainer, you pick a location. That is to say, the background that is going to be blue-screened in behind your yoga teacher. There are variations on nature with some water thrown in. There isn’t a yoga studio, a run down dojo, or an underground fighting ring or anything like that. It depends on whether you want a beach-like background, a forest-y background or the awesomely named Smuggler’s Cove.
I think you can guess which one I favor.
Now is when the actual “game”Â starts.
You can choose to do your yoga-lates class, to practice a single move from your class, meditate, work on your pilates core skills exercises, do one of the challenges, or view your progress.
From the class menu, you can choose to do your standard class, a quicker version of that class, or a custom class. The customization is a little frustrating, as it basically only lets you pick from moves you do in your normal class and adjust the reps or duration.
Let me tell you how this thing worked for me. When I initially created my profile, I put in that I have done some yoga before. I’ve watched people do it before, and I have done all the Wii Fit yoga stuff. So I started my class. The first exercise was to sit down and breathe. I’m an expert at breathing, having done it since Jimmy Carter was president. I aced it.
Next was a Sun salutation. I had done the Wii Fit version of this, so I didn’t bother to click on the “watch this exercise”Â option.
This was a mistake.
When I started, I was completely overwhelmed. I was told to breath, bend over, step back into lunge, transition to downward dog, move into baby cobra, jump to the left, step to the right, put my hands on my hips and so on in a rapid fire pace filled with Yoga jargon. I had no idea what was going on. I couldn’t change my yoga-experience settings, so I deleted this profile and started anew.
I turned my experience down to none.
Once again, I aced the breathing.
In the next exercise, I was told to breath, bend over, step back into lunge, transition to downward dog, move into baby cobra, step back into lunge, and so on in a rapid fire pace filled with Yoga jargon.
Honestly, I had to fake my way through the sun salutation every time. I want to watch the monitor as I do it, but that is an impossibility when I am supposed to be in downward dog. Furthermore, the poses and moves are changed somewhat by implementing the balance board. It adds two inches or so.
After half-assing my way through the exercise, the game congratulated me on a job well done. This makes me question the usefulness of using the balance board in this routine. It clearly doesn’t provide useful feedback, and makes the exercises more complicated.
Other than the Sun Salutation, the rest of the routines are easy to follow. Some require the balance board, some just the wii-mote (with support of the Motion Plus but not requiring it). For most of the exercises, the feedback is questionable. This is as much a limitation on the system as it is the game. The only useful feedback I got was from certain yoga poses, wherein the trainer will tell you if you are leaning too far to the left or right. These poses, however, are already in Wii Fit, which you already have if you already have the balance board.
There were a few times, as well, where the game tells me that I stopped exercising and can restart whenever I wanted. This was never the case.
Graphically, the game looks a lot like what TV shows of the mid “Ëœ90s thought future Virtual Reality looks like. It is made up of actual video of the three trainers doing the exercises, superimposed over the selected background. The graphics are mostly functional, but a bit evocative of the Phillip’s CDI, a little Burn Cycleish.
The main problems with the visual presentation of the game is that it affords you no control of the camera angle. The angle switches at will in the middle of exercises, and it would be really nice if you could have simultaneous views of multiple angles for new exercises. It can make it difficult to follow precisely what the trainer is doing, and many of these moves work best when attention is paid to little details like foot placement and angle of the spine.
Also, Mila’s black yoga pants make it hard for me to tell which leg is which from the side view. I could just be a spaz, though.
Aurally, the game has relaxing music and the teachers explain the exercises to you and congratulate you on strong performances. The downside is that the instructions don’t always match the exercises. At times, the timing is a little off. Other times, the descriptions don’t quite match the exercises. I’ve often been told to clasp my hands when the teacher’s hands are a solid foot apart.
The audio has also lost some of its volume for me in the middle of an exercise. It can get quiet and murky.
After a few days of learning the exercises, I just chose to blast Nirvana in the background during my yoga class.
And drink coffee through the whole thing. . .
. . . I think I’m doing it wrong.
The game has a good amount of replayability to it. The exercises get harder after a few days of success, and there are over 100 of them to unlock. You can change your fitness goals to switch up some of the exercises. There are various challenges to complete apart from the regular classes and there are multiple meditations.
I can’t say I understand the meditations. The shortest one is five minutes, but another is twenty minutes. Where I come from, lying on the floor relaxing for 20 minutes is called a nap. I find that a couch is much more comfy than a floor, and you are less likely to have a dog step on you.
Sure, napping doesn’t profess to develop my third eye, but I’m pretty sure it is just as functional as meditation in this regard.
It’s hard to say how this game ranks in terms of balance. Some of the exercises are painfully simple while others I can’t quite follow. In either instance, the game tells me I’ve done a fairly good job. Sometimes, Jemma does the cabbage patch, even.
As such, you can’t really rely on the game’s judgment of how well you are doing.
In terms of originality, well, there are a bunch of other exercise games out there. This one features neither the creepy-sexy robot people of Wii Fit, nor a celebrity, so that distinguishes it from a lot of the competition.
Is the game addictive? It’s hard to say. You are only supposed to play it for about half an hour to an hour per day, not counting the naps of course. The game offers some trophies for jobs well done, and certificates for completing levels of training. The game does provide some decent exercise. My routine didn’t burn off a ton of calories, but did make me feel more energetic throughout the day.
So, there’s that.
All in all, what you are getting here is a slightly more customizable Workout DVD. You can change your goals, your trainer and where you train, but the feedback isn’t much more than what you would get from a DVD. In fact, it seems like the game is less descriptive of the yoga poses than many yoga DVDs out there. The game also seems less concerned about safety than Wii Fit, never mentioning things like clear the space around you for this exercise, use a spotter, don’t be afraid to grab a hold of the wall or so on.
The game is usable as an exercise program, but it’s nothing special.
Control and Gameplay: Mediocre
Appeal Factor: Decent
FINAL SCORE: DECENT GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
NewU Mind Body Yoga & Pilates Workout is basically a just a standard workout DVD. It offers some feedback, but very little of that feedback is useful. What it does offer is customization, wherein you get to chose where you work out, with whom and what your goal is. It also has the advantage of getting progressively harder as your progress progresses. Progressive, no?