It's no secret that since the Kinect first launched, the back and forth over the implications it would have on in-home fitness training have been heavily debated. We gamers face a lot of flack for our perceived inactive lifestyles, and in response, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft each have begun to introduce a variety of games meant to address that assumption. But how do these games actually measure up where cardiovascular health is concerned? Is it possible for a video game to actually offer a real workout? Upon visiting the 505 Games booth at this year's E3 and demoing Adidas miCoach for Move and Kinect, my question may have been answered.
The Adidas miCoach system for Move and Kinect is an athletic training program that uses full-body tracking and input from top athletes to create physical routines that are tailored to your needs and truly challenge the human body. It doesn't just ask the player to put in the work and have faith that they'll meet their goals. Basketball drills were created with input from NBA stars like Dwight Howard; the soccer skill was sculpted with the expertise of Kaká. 18 trainers are available both on-disc and in future DLC. You can indulge in routines that are tailored to the game's six available sports (including basketball, tennis and soccer) or do non-sports-specific conditioning exercises, of which the game has over 400.
The most impressive and reassuring feature of Adidas miCoach is the amount of structure it offers the athletic gamer. Proper attention is paid to form, and the full-body tracking is combined with verbal cues to make sure you're executing each exercise properly. If so much as a knee or elbow is out of place, miCoach will tell you -- and tell you how to correct it.
In terms of pacing the game really shines: each exercise will begin or stop once you do, but won't be interrupted by interference (e.g., a family member crossing in front of the console's camera). Audio cues act as a guide for your timing, ensuring that every swing and kick lands exactly when it's supposed to. A large green loading bar in the background helps to provide a visual on your progress, often key in maintaining your motivation through more difficult moments. The workouts are also gender-specific to accommodate the different muscle structures and fitness needs of men and women.
The game is also fully integrated with the Adidas miCoach system, with site tracking of your calorie burn and goal achievements. Users can detail their short- or long-term fitness goals and, in turn, form a calendar scheduling the daily activity needed to reach them. Goals and progress can be broadcast socially across the site to engage competitively with other users. The heart-rate monitor included in the pre-existing miCoach system will not only work with the videogame, but also display your heart rate on the screen as you play. It will also track your heart rate and total activity and calorie burn on the site, whether you're jogging on the street or doing push-ups with your Kinect. Tools like dumbbells, soccer balls, and free weights are also supported and easily integrated into the routine.
Achievements will not be easily earned, adding a sense of real accomplishment to each. Personally I find that achievements in fitness games can often get me past the hump of impending boredom that perpetually sabotages my efforts in athleticism, so I was pleased to hear that they won't be racked up within a few hours of play.
I genuinely feel this will be a valid tool in athletic training that will surpass so many other forms. When you read fitness tips in a magazine or see them on TV, you don't get the benefit of visualizing the exercises in a 3D space; it becomes hard to correct form. Adidas miCoach teaches you how to do the exercises properly and safely, with the benefit of heart-rate and calorie-burn tracking, professional input from actual athletes, and a supportive structure that encourages personal goal keeping and community accountability. And it's not just me who thinks it -- the rail-thin personal trainer who performed the demo was telling me how tired she was from a mere few hours of showing off the game. I only put in five rounds of tennis, and 24 hours later my butt is still sore. I'm pumped about making this title another installment in my personal path to improved physical health.