Review: Adidas MiCoach (Microsoft Xbox 360)
by Mark B. on August 28, 2012

Adidas MiCoach
Genre: Fitness
Developer: Chromativity
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: 07/24/12

Alex might be the fitness guru around here, but I’ve been spending the past several months working on a fairly extensive workout plan that’s been paying dividends, so when Alex mentioned we’d received Adidas MiCoach for review, I was interested. Motion-based peripherals might be spotty when it comes down to actual gameplay, but they can be useful for exercise activities, as the Wii has shown, though your mileage may vary with their effectiveness. The Kinect, one would assume, would be even better at this sort of thing, with its full-body tracking capabilities being able to track a good bit more motion than motion controllers could manage, and the MiCoach system seems like a great thing to attach to. Indeed, the actual game has a lot of interesting ideas to it as well, allowing you to build workout routines through the game or the MiCoach website, and offering compatibility with the heart rate monitor Adidas offers from this line, so those who are serious about their workout can integrate it into the game. In execution, however, Adidas MiCoach is another example of how, for all of the interesting ideas associated with it, if the actual mechanics don’t work, nothing does, and the whole experience fails as a result.

Adidas MiCoach is essentially a workout game, so it’s all about the options here, and for the most part, they’re not bad. The core of the experience is the Training Plan; from this mode, you can pick a training plan that fits your needs based on what you’re looking to do, follow and review the plan, and change it up as you see fit. Training Games eschews the plan options and simply lets you some basic training mini-games, allowing you to brush up on your soccer, basketball and tennis skills in front of the television. Conditioning consists of multiple workout sets that vary in intensity, allowing for more or less rest periods, allowing you to work out outside of your Training Plan as you wish without interrupting it. You’ve also got extras featuring the various athletes associated with the training, as well as various options to work with, and you can even hook up the game with an account on the MiCoach website to track and customize workouts through the website. The game also generally looks fine, as it’s mostly the athletes (either full motion video or rendered forms) performing the workouts in an acceptable looking 3D environment while you do so along-side them, and everything looks clean enough, if not amazing. The audio consists of some generic electronic music for background noise, as well as voicework for the various athletes, which is fine in the sense that they’re appropriately encouraging and such, but less so considering that none of them are what one would call “stunning orators”. They do the job fine, but no one here is especially motivational or excited to be here, it seems.

Adidas MiCoach, as you’d expect, is meant to be more of an instructional workout trainer than a game, and it’s a fully functional Kinect product, meaning that you use the Kinect for everything. When you start the game up, it calibrates roughly where you are and has you maneuver the menus with your hands; you move your right hand up and down to scroll through your options, sweep your right hand to the left to select an option, and sweep your left hand to the right to go back. You can also say “MiCoach” to bring up voice activation, allowing you to select options hands free, or pause and cancel workouts as needed. Once you jump into a workout, the workout will show you your trainer on the screen, and all you have to do is mimic their motions, and once you’ve done the set amount, you move on to the next exercise. You can skip workouts on your own or take a break until the game offers the option, allowing you to move from one workout to the next if there’s something in the routine you can’t or won’t do, and you can pause and jump out of a workout as needed.

The big draw of the experience, as noted, is the Training Plan option, because there’s a significant amount of options on display. Training Plan allows you to specific type of workout plan geared toward improving set physical attributes, meaning that you have some basic general fitness options, as well as sports-related plans, in case you want to improve your tennis or rugby game a bit. Each workout group has several workout plan options under it, allowing you even more options for what you want to target or how much strain you want the workout to put on you, and each of those breaks down a routine by how many times per week you’re expected to do it, as well as how many weeks you’re expected to work at it. From there, you can simply boot up the routine when needed and work out, then move on, or jump into one of the Conditioning sets or the Training Games mini-games if you don’t feel you’re quite tired out yet. You can also track your performance through the MiCoach website if you tie your account to this, allowing you to review and change plans and track your efforts, so you don’t even need to be in the game if you decide you want to change things up a bit.

Insofar as the actual workout plans go, there’s a lot on offer here, and the workouts are balanced out fairly well based on what difficulty level you’re working on, effort-wise. You can pick simple workout plans that give you plenty of resting or hard workout plans that push you and give you little downtime, depending on your fitness level. The workouts on offer are all fairly professional in design, as well, so you won’t be seeing cheesy workouts here, as much as you’ll be seeing professional grade stretches and exercises. Further, so long as you can work with the game entirely, you’ll certainly get a solid workout out of the game, as most plans run around twenty to thirty minutes or so, if not longer, and you’ll certainly “feel the burn” as they say if you match the exercises appropriately. For those who are heavily fitness conscious, you can even tie it into other MiCoach tools, like the heart rate monitor, Speed_Cell running shoe attachment, smartphone app, and more, so you can work on your fitness through the MiCoach site with or without the game. As a workout tool, in other words, it’s a fantastic idea, and when it works, you can easily see how beneficial such a tool could be to the fitness conscious person. Plus, there’s even DLC available, offering more coaches and workouts to add into the game, so, again, there’s the option here to build a persistent workout tool that’s really useful.

Sadly, the actual product doesn’t quite manage to pay off that potential.

For one thing, the interface is, frankly, a mess. Moving through the menus with hand navigation and voice activation is fine enough in theory, but when the interface gets touchy (and it will) you’ll be wishing you could just pick up the controller, pick something and be done with it. It doesn’t help that you’ll sometimes have to move through several menus just to get somewhere, which is annoying, and while the website allows you to bypass this, that shouldn’t be necessary. Further, the game has a certain amount of expectation for you as the person working out, as it explains on the box that the Kinect is required… but neglects to mention that you should also have a workout mat, dumbbell, and balance ball on hand to get the best experience. Now, I have a workout mat, as I’d expect most people who want to work out would (rug burn is a terrible thing), and I have a dumbbell because I do strength training, but I don’t know a single person, excepting possibly Alex, who owns a balance ball, and if you don’t, be prepared to skip a fair amount of exercises. You might want to be prepared for that anyway, however, as the game has a certain expectation of space it wants you to have, and if you don’t, you’re bent. MiCoach seems to be looking for something around fifteen feet of space from Kinect to player to be at “ideal” range, and anything inside of that range will see you randomly disappear or not register properly when working out, but even at that range the game still can have tracking issues and award you repetitions you didn’t complete or fail to catch a proper repetition, leaving you doing too many or few reps in a session, which is frustrating.

Beyond that, though, the game can certainly punish you physically and get your heart rate up, but there’s a decent enough amount of loading between exercises that you’ll find yourself completing an exercise and waiting for the next one to load up. Now, in a solid workout, you want to keep your heart rate at a certain level to burn fat and such; the accepted standard (though lord knows there are others) is to take 220, subtract your age, then keep your heart rate somewhere around sixty to eighty percent of that number (so if you’re thirty, your max is 190 and your target is somewhere between 114 and 152, for example). That’s a really basic generalization, you understand, but that’s the very basic gist. The point is that MiCoach will likely keep you in that target range… but not as much as a targeted workout plan or a solid workout DVD set will. Assuming you have all of the equipment needed to perform the workouts in your plan, you’ll find that you can perform all of the workouts, assuming the game catches your motions effectively, with some minor downtime as the game loads the next exercise, which can be good for a breather. However, if you’re missing any equipment, you’ll be skipping, which means more loading and waiting and downtime and so on, which isn’t productive. There are some really great workouts here, mind you, but the interface makes it a bear to get to them, and you’ll spend as much time learning how to do what as you will actually working out, which generally isn’t a good sign.

Adidas MiCoach is a fine idea that doesn’t succeed as an experience; you can see how this would be a useful workout tool and how its integration with the MiCoach system was a good idea, but the core product fails to live up to that idea. There are plenty of workout options, and the game is visually and aurally presented in a way that’s functional, if not specifically impressive. The workouts offered target a wide variety of areas and are sorted in a way that allows you to focus on what’s most important easily, and the integration with other MiCoach tools is fantastic and would have served the game well had it been a solid product. However, the game interface is awkward to work with more often than not, you’ll need a dumbbell and stability ball to get the most out of the experience (which the game doesn’t tell you on the box), and the game expects you to have a large amount of space to work out in, but even if you do it doesn’t always register movements correctly or at all. Further, the breaks in-between workouts while the game loads takes down the intensity of the workout routine a bit, as does skipping workouts that require equipment you don’t have, and you’ll spend as much time learning how to work with the mechanics as you will working out for a while, which is never a good thing. Even under ideal circumstances, Adidas MiCoach is finicky and problematic to navigate, and honestly, you’d be better off buying a workout DVD and following the routines on that than you would with this.

The Scores:
Game Modes: GOOD
Graphics: GOOD
Sound: MEDIOCRE
Control/Gameplay: BAD
Replayability: MEDIOCRE
Balance: GOOD
Originality: BAD
Addictiveness: BAD
Appeal: MEDIOCRE
Miscellaneous: WORTHLESS

FINAL SCORE: BELOW AVERAGE GAME.

Short Attention Span Summary:
Adidas MiCoach is a series of fantastic ideas tied to a shell that doesn’t pay those off, and the end result is a workout game that’s mildly problematic at the best of times and essentially useless at the worst. There are a large variety of workout options built into the game, and the game looks and sounds serviceable enough to work as intended. There are a fairly extensive amount of workout plans available to suit one’s needs, focusing on different core fitness elements and offering different levels to allow as easy or as hard a workout as you like, and with integration into the MiCoach fitness tools Adidas offers, one can see how this would be a fantastic tool if it worked effectively. Sadly, the interface is problematic at the best of times, you’ll need additional tools the box doesn’t warn you of to get the most of the experience as well as a large workout space, and even if you have that the game doesn’t always register you properly. Also, the loading times can lessen the intensity of the workout more than they should, as will skipping workouts you lack the equipment to perform, and you’ll spend longer than you’d like learning how to work with the mechanics of the product before you can use it consistently and effectively. In short, Adidas MiCoach has the makings of a useful workout tool, but fails to be useful in the ways it needs to be, and while it might be effective if you can tolerate its flaws, most folks will be better off with a workout DVD or two instead.



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