A rhythm-less dance mode and poor soundwork leaves the player wanting
When the producers of Fit Music came together to plan their forthcoming game it seems likely none had anticipated the Zumba craze heading towards the video game industry. Probably, they had their eyes firmly fixed on the market opened up by Wii Fit and the various aerobic/fitness-based titles that sprung up in its wake. It is only now that their game is almost ready to ship that they have realized the gaming world has changed.
Thus, here we have a game called Fit Music that is clearly aimed at getting you fit but involves music in only the most tangential way.
Developed by O2 Games, Fit Music comes with a very Italian flavour, most noticeably in the form of its onscreen trainer Patrizia Salviato, a former European fitness champion. While it seems churlish to criticize Patrizia’s lack of English language skills, the dubbing track is poorly synched so from the start the experience of listening to Patrizia is often a struggle.
Fortunately, this is only really occurs on the intro screens. Thereafter, Patrizia’s onscreen presence never speaks and the dubbed English voice only pops up occasionally to make banal (and sometimes inaccurate) appraisals of your performance.
With the introductions out of the way, the game moves on to the inevitable weights and measures section. Interestingly, it offers both a metric and imperial system but good luck making sense of the UI for feet, inches and pounds because the game insists on operating in decimal, which is simply not intuitive for non-metric input.
Finally, after a few basic (and not especially thrusting) lifestyle questions, the game tells you your Fit Music Index (FMI), which is basically an assessment of whether you are under- or overweight, and then prepares a training card for you – a short program of seven exercises of varying aerobic intensity. At this stage, you can dive straight into the routine, edit it to suit your own purposes or enter a central menu hub and consider some other modes.
The game’s main content is the training mode for which your card has just been prepared. There is also a warm-up mode nestling here (shouldn’t this have come first?) and a dance mode, hinted at in the title.
Once, you have selected your mode, there are a few customizable elements. Pick a fancy background for Patrizia to stand before while training or pick a song for dance. Do whatever you want here because no decision appears to have much bearing on what follows.
Depending on your FMI, the game apparently decides which level you start at. Despite creating numerous profiles (many made up), the game always seemed to start a new one in the Easy mode.The supporting literature says continued successful use will allow a the player to level up and access new and more challenging exercises but, unfortunately, the demo copy provided for review reset my profile after each training session.
Finally, we get into a routine and there is Patrizia’s video-captured form onscreen ready to leap into action. What follows appears to be a legitimate and sensible aerobics routine – at least, it looks like one to this couch potato. High-tempo exercises are interspersed with low-impact moves so a beginner won’t be fainting with exertion after the first 15 minutes.
So, with Wiimote in hand and balance board nearby for the handful of exercises that require it, I readied myself for the routine. I pushed the furniture back, locked the cat outdoors and got ready to get fit.
Initially, I was pretty inept, waving my hands around and stomping across the carpet with the grace of a hobbled hippo but Patrizia (or her English translator) would occasionally chime in to tell me I was perfect, shortly followed by an admonishment for not doing well enough. It all seemed a little uneven but that would also accurately describe my exercising abilities, so I put together a little focus group.
Teenaged siblings were thrown into the crucible and your older and wiser reviewer stepped back for a period of reflection and study. What soon became apparent was the quality of the reps was not always accurately registered by the game.
Another thing was very clear – the rhythm of the music seemed to have no bearing at all on how the exercises were carried out. Of course, this was training mode, I recalled; the dance mode would surely fix that.
Dance mode replaces the eternal Euro drum and bass themes with your choice of song. I say your choice, but there are actually 15 to choose from. The mode also introduces the frisson of multiplayer, allowing up to four players to go head-to-head. Alas, what follows could only be called dance by the most generous of people. Doubtless, these are all excellent fitness movements but surely the gamer’s feet should move if they are dancing.
Planted feet and the occasional flailing arm does sound an awful lot like my juvenile gyrations on the dancefloor but no one of sound mind would seek to make a dance game based on my arrhythmic convulsions.
However, the problems are not limited to the steps because neither does the music appear to match the dance moves, despite Patrizia’s translator urging us to ‘keep up with the rhythm’. Ultimately, the mode seems like an afterthought.
With a little work on the UI and detection, there could be the core of a workable aerobics tutorial here. Certainly, the exercises seemed well thought out and executed. However, by marketing itself as a music-based game with dance features, Fit Music misrepresents itself.
Tested on Wii
Review copy supplied
Follow Richard on Twitter: @HaydenOnP2R