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Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2009 Box Art
GENRE
Fitness
DEVELOPER
Interactive Game Group
PUBLISHER
Majesco
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
1-2
WI-FI ENHANCED
No
DS COMPATIBLE
No
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Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2009

People will immediately recognize celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels from the reality/weight loss TV series The Biggest Loser. Fans of the show know that Jillian is a merciless trainer, known for her relentless workouts that she personally refers to as "beatings." The game's main channel screen jokes about this, asking the player if they know whose game it is they're playing; a humorous warning of sorts. Ironically, the warning should be heeded... not because of Jillian, but because of most everything else in the game.

visuals

When players first fire up the game they're met with a video of Jillian explaining controls against a pure white background. Simple, Wii-like and beautiful. Unfortunately it doesn't last. Following this players are greeted by the game's title screen comprised of a flat, still image of Jillian against a hand drawn camp-like setting, altogether evocative of something from the SNES era. It looks like much of the development budget was spent getting Jillian onboard. The game's menus, like its title screen, are comprised of still images with minimal animations, such as a campfire burning, a bird flying and a flag waving. Nothing here warrants the need for load screens, yet they still crop up from time to time.

The in-game, 3D graphics aren't a whole lot better, looking GameCube-era at best. The game gives players a customizable avatar, but only provides two choices for headgear, shirt, pants and shoes. None of these look very athletic. Character avatar animations appear to be motion capture based, and while this boosts realism it fails to reflect the player's actual movements. The camp's outdoor exercise environments are minimally modeled, reminiscent of paintball fields: utilitarian constructions that exist solely to create a setting for the game mechanic. They don't have to be pretty, just functional -- and such is the case here.

Unlockable trainer tips on exercise technique exist in the form of recorded video of Jillian speaking directly to players, bringing a much-needed personal touch to the game. These videos don't extend to all tips however; some are only minimally animated with what looks like clip art.

audio

The aforementioned animated tips are spoken by Jillian herself. Jillian's voice also gives praise, encouragement and advice throughout workouts. Thse sound bytes don't seem very contextually appropriate, though, as the player can be congratulated on a great job and told to keep it up while doing nothing at all.

The game's soundtrack features a nice mix of contemporary Rock, Alternative, Dance and Country genre music. Holding down B while exercising brings up an awkward pop-up menu where it's possible to select which genre or genres to shuffle through. Players can skip from one song to another at any time during the workout by using the D-Pad.

gameplay

A scant choice of eleven activities can be ordered or shuffled over various time intervals and intensities as the player sees fit. The activities range from jogging along a trail and tire hopping drills to monkey bars, sandbag boxing and log balancing. There are also some oddball activities thrown in, including a hand car on railroad tracks, the tossing of paint grenades, and the loading of a cannon with cannonballs. The oddest of these is the jogging activity recycled, but now with a sandbag that occasionally, inexplicably swoops down out of nowhere. It's meant to be dodged by the player but it usually ends up knocking their character flat. True, laughing is good for you, but I don't think it was the intended exercise here. Perhaps it's okay that there aren't more activities to unlock. Instead, the acquisition of trainer tips and progress charts are the incentives that will draw players back.

Controls feel generic at best, ignoring finesse and only responding to forceful, decisive motions. Because of this, players may find themselves making their own motions to the rhythm of the music rather than trying to correctly advance their character through the activities. While certainly not a bad thing (and the object of other games like Samba de Amigo), here such activity doesn't really correlate with the on-screen action and springs more from frustration with unresponsive controls rather than any intended design.

For players who have one, the game's best use of the Balance Board is in charting changes in the player's weight, although it really doesn't add much (if anything) to the workout experience. If the remote's motion controls were generic, the Balance Board's are downright throwaway. Where the remotes at least use some directional measure to tie in with the on screen action, the Balance Board just adds an extra layer of generic measured movement. Nothing here remotely approaches making use of the balance board's unique input in the way that Wii Fit does.

multiplayer

Multiplayer mode is exactly like single player exercise mode but with a second player on a split screen. Jillian chides the loser of each activity and players are scored at the end of the round.

overall

The developers could have used some coaching and beatings by Jillian to get this game into shape. Visually it doesn't look like a Wii game, and it barely makes use of Wii's motion controls. Its only redeeming quality is that it features a real fitness trainer known to many people here and around the world. Jillian's identity gives credibility to the fitness tips she offers. Unfortunately the game just doesn't match her level of star power, or reflect her personal dedication and attention to effort and achievement.



final score 5.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Paul Starke
Staff Profile | Email
"In Japan this was named a 'trouble bug.' (...Is it really a bug?)"


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