Reviewed: June 5, 2011
Released: April 26, 2011
The first thing to know about ExerBeat, and it is something that can be assumed by looking at the first four letters of the title of the game, is that it is an exercise game. The other assumption that can be made about ExerBeat, this time referencing the last four letters, is that it has something to do with music. This will ultimately lead you to infer something about dance. So, by reading the title ExerBeat, if you are even somewhat aware of what your Achievement or Trophy score is, it is likely that you already know that this game was not made for you, nor is there any real incentive for you to play. The other audience of this game, those looking to exercise, or maybe do a spot of dancing, then this might be something worth taking look at.|
ExerBeat doesnít do anything that hasnít been done before, but it does execute well and offer an exercise program that is not difficult to play, and offers some worthwhile reward aside from your physical progress. Wii Fit started a craze years ago of exercise games, and ExerBeat took notice, even if it was off by a few years. Wii Fit is clearly the greatest influence of ExerBeat offering many similarities in presentation. There is a calendar to stamp when daily goals have been met, as well as a grid based menu system of exercises to sample. The areas where ExerBeat separates itself, is in the actual gameplay (exercise play?) and reward system.
When the Wii was first show off so many years ago, the first trailers showed single players playing games with two Wii remotes. Itís been about five years since the release of the console, and barely any games have taken advantage of this interesting option. ExerBeat thankfully doesnít require the use of two Wii remotes, but the option does exist and is even encouraged.
The way the game works is fairly simple. Mirror the actions of the trainer on screen with your left and right hands, and work up a sweat. Arrows pop on screen offering easy to understand directions, and stars travel through the arrows dictating what speed you should be following the action. As you follow along with the arrows, the controller vibrates to tell you if you have accurately met the action. This means your getting tactile feedback directly to your hand, and not just visually on screen. Itís easy to understand, and most importantly, It actually keeps you in line with the trainer, which is something I would struggle with in Wii Fit. Wii Fit would track your balance with the board, but rarely would it track your arm movement leading you to fall out of line with the virtual trainer.
Of course, it is easy to cheat the game, and stay virtually motionless with the exception of the arms and wrists. Your whole body isnít being tracked after all. If you are playing the game that way though, you are defeating the purpose. When you are following along though, and playing the game correctly, it does feel as though you are getting tracked and getting real feedback. I never felt as though I didnít receive the correct score when I played correctly, which can be a problem with Wii titles.
One of the most encouraging aspects of the game is the option to travel the world. You are rewarded with steps after completing each exercise, and doing better means more steps. The steps are used to literally travel the world. As you walk around and reach checkpoints at recognizable countries, the game tells you interesting little facts about each place. Itís an interesting way to tangibly visualize your progress.
The ĎBeatí portion of the title doesnít play into the game as much as you would expect. Among the different exercises available, there are hip-hop and Latin style dance exercises available, but they just feel like themed aerobics more than anything else. All of the exercises throughout the game are based on a rhythmic beat, but thatís just the way exercising with a trainer virtual or real is. There is a different virtual trainer for each of the exercise types, and while they donít look very good as they exist on the Wii, they are animated well. Some trainers are bland, some are incredibly annoying, and all are way too optimistic about your progress. No one ever says anything negative about your performance.
The front of the box proudly proclaims the ability to use Wii Motion plus and the balance board, and while that is not untrue, it is misleading. Along with the exercises, there are also a series of mini-games, and there just happens to be one based on pirate sword fighting that uses the balance board and Wii MotionPlus. I readily admit to not having unlocked all of the exercises available, because there are many and they require playing the game daily for many weeks, but it seems as though the mini-game was the only mode to take advantage of these accessories. As you make your way a little further into the game, the option to create a regimen for yourself becomes available. You can create your own program, or have the game create one for you.
Itís hard not to compare ExerBeat to Wii Fit, because the games feel similar in a lot of ways. Wii Fit does a better job tracking your progress with daily weigh-ins and balance checks, etc. but ExerBeat seems to do a better job during the actual exercise portion of the game. The game doesnít look all that great, even on the handicapped Wii visual scale, but it does move and animate well. It offers interesting reward for progress, and does have at least some semblance of exer-dancing, even if it is not as much as the title implies. If youíre looking to exercise while gaming, than ExerBeat is a worthwhile investment. You donít need buy the balance board or MotionPlus to play, and itís likely that you already have two Wii remotes lying around.
ExerBeat is not for gamers, and it was never meant to be. If you are looking to work up a sweat and get better feedback than you would just watching an aerobics video, though, ExerBeat works pretty well.