NewU Fitness First Personal Trainer, as you might have gathered, is yet another fitness game. On the Wii. Suddenly, companies are leaping on the fad, sorry, opportunity to get gamers fit while they play the most popular console on the market. And, surprisingly, some solid and potentially useful products have been made like Wii Fit and EA Sports Active. With popular gym 'Fitness First' backing this title, does it have the right combination of relevant real-world activities and virtual-world fun, or should you consider signing up to one of those real gyms?
New U Fitness First starts you off by setting up your profile, which involves choosing your body type (mesomorph, ectomorph and endomorph - it doesn't specifically say these but we paid attention in biology), getting your height, weight, calculating your BMI and learning about your exercise and eating habits. It also asks you for your goals, or 'focus', allowing you to choose a primary and secondary focus from a pretty comprehensive list. These focuses range from general health-related goals like losing weight, or having a healthy heart, to some which are more occasion-based like slimming down so you can look good in a suit, or training yourself up if you're going to go skiing. This is a great idea, and really enhances the 'personal trainer' feel that the title is going for, although selecting a personal trainer also helps. There's a range of four good-looking people in their mid-twenties ready to help you, and unlike other fitness games, they're not 3D characters, but real people/actors.
Yes, memories of old CD games from the early 90's came flooding back as we played this game, as just about everything you see is a live action actor green-screened onto one of four different locations (including a gym and, strangely, a snowy mountain). That's fair enough. You're watching a real person do the exercises which you're meant to do. The problem is that that's all the help you get. You don't really get a detailed rundown of what you'll be doing, or what muscles you should be using, or anything like that, instead you watch a video of your selected trainer performing the exercise, and then you have to replicate it. To the game's credit you can replay the video as much as you want, it just would have been nice to be able to have more information to make sure you're performing the exercises correctly. The game uses both the Wii Remote and the Wii Balance Board for different exercises.
The on-screen display during your exercises is quite good. There's a timeline, which functions much like a music game, as the action required of you moves from the right of the screen to the left, and you must perform it when it hits the white bar. There are also counters which display how many reps both you and the trainer have performed, an indicator which tells you how well you are doing, and a balance indicator that tells you how well you are balancing. One problem that arises is when you're performing prone exercises on the Balance Board, such as push ups or the 'plane' position, because of the position of your head you're unlikely to be watching the balance indicator on the television to correct your posture, making it a bit redundant. The sensitivity of the Wii Remote and Balance Board is generally adequate, although sometimes it just didn't seem to track our movements at all. This was frustrating when we really were doing push ups on the Board (honest!) but the game was only sensing half of what we had accomplished.
The game organises workouts for you every day, and you can view what exercises you'll be doing both today and tomorrow from the main menu. A small niggle with this is that you can't scroll through these exercises, as the screen only ever shows you four of the exercises at a time, and just cycles through to the next four when it feels like it. Workouts can last up to half an hour, possibly more depending on what kind of intensity you're going for, and are generally pretty well-rounded, although there are no 'games' that can be found in other titles like Wii Fit, just straight up exercises, of which there are eighty-four. We also found there to be little stretching recommended, but its possible we just didn't exert ourselves enough for the game to recommend it. In addition to the workouts, you can participate in quick workouts (which also have quick meal recommendations), and if you're really fit/cocky you can try the 'challenges' which involve situations like undergoing army boot camp training.
A big part of the title is a focus on having healthy nutrition, and in this area the game mostly excels. There are a tonne of healthy recipes, and the game actually maps out an eating plan for you every week - giving you healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. There's some nice stuff in there too, not just your standard chicken salad and eggs on toast. There's a lot of variety, and if you're an aspiring cook or just someone looking to make your eating habits a lot healthier, it's a pretty good feature. The only problem here is in the 'shopping list' which the game generates for you, which lists all the ingredients that you'll need. Ours was huge. It wouldn't be cheap to buy so many specific ingredients just so you can follow the diet plan the game wants you to follow, so there's a monetary commitment there that may be a problem for some people.
The game has a basic, but slick presentation. As we said, there's no real 3D-graphics of any kind, just actors on backgrounds and menus. The video quality is very good, and the menus are all pretty and easy to understand. Yeah, we just made a comment on how good the menus look in our 'graphics' portion of the review. NewU Fitness First isn't exactly giving us much to work with, here. The audio quality of the instructors is very good, and the music and natural sounds which you can select from are pleasant, if not anything memorable.
NewU Fitness First Personal Trainer is another fitness product that has its heart in the right place. The nutritional focus of the title is excellent, if potentially financially demanding, and the exercises you perform are proper exercises that you could perform at the park or the gym. However, a lack of detailed prompting for performing these exercises could leave you doing them incorrectly, as all you have to go on is just watching your trainer go through the motions, but unlike a real personal trainer, they can't come over to help you if you're moving the wrong way. There's a fair amount of content here for exercise-enthusiasts and while the title is perfectly functional, it is inferior to both EA Sports Active and Wii Fit in all areas except the aforementioned nutritional planning.