Every exercise game has its target audience, most don’t exclude half of the population like Ubisoft’s Your Shape Featuring Jenny McCarthy does by featuring nothing but aerobics exercise programs for women. It’s going to be hard to get too many guys into firming themselves up for bikini season, and gals will have some issues staying interested as well. The bland workout routines here offer nothing but straight-up aerobics with none of the frills common to other personal-trainer-in-a-box games, and it’s awfully hard to feel the burn when you’re yawning.
The tiny webcam included with all copies of Your Shape is actually what most stands out about the game. Instead of swinging around the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and dealing with those cumbersome resistance bands and leg straps as in rivals like the Wii Fit and the EA Sports Active franchises, you do your thing solo in the middle of your living room floor and let the USB camera track your movements. It’s easy to set up. The camera comes with a base that allows it to easily be attached to the top of a TV, or even to your Wii sensor bar, so you can get set to sweat in a few minutes. You do need a fair bit of room to use it, however, because the camera needs to be able to see your entire body to properly track if you’re lifting your legs and reaching for the sky correctly. If you don’t have a good 10 feet or more to work with in front of your TV, you’re going to have to consider relocating your Wii to more spacious quarters or switching to another workout game. Still, if you’ve got the room, the camera works great. It does an excellent job of tracking your movements when it can see your entire body. And there is really something to be said for being able to ditch the controllers and the beyond-annoying leg strap. The only problem with the camera is that it shows you on the screen as you’re working out, which can be off-putting.
Additionally, you have to sacrifice a lot for the freedom of movement that the camera provides. Not being tied down to a remote, resistance bands, and the like restricts your options and essentially prevents the game from simulating weight lifting, boxing, and many other entertaining activities in the rival Wii fitness games. So the exercises here are almost entirely aerobics-based. You’re stuck with standard aerobics moves involving high steps, jumping jacks, lunges, and so forth, along with walking, running, and swimming motions. It gets old fast. If you love aerobics, you’ve done this stuff a million times before in classes and with various DVDs and videos going back to the days when Jane Fonda donned her leg warmers. The only way to rev the game up is by including exercise equipment of your own, since the game supports free weights, balance balls, and steps. Throw some of that gear into the mix, and you are rewarded with a more wide-ranging and fulfilling workout, although doing so kind of puts paid to the notion that you’re getting a full exercise program in a box here.
Without these added instruments of self-punishment, Your Shape workouts are deadly dull. Exercise options themselves are limited. To do a one-off workout, you go to the body representation of yourself as scanned by the camera during the initial setup. You then select the body part that you want to focus on, such as shoulders, legs, and glutes, or hit the base of the graphic to go for that holy grail of fitness games: weight loss. This alone is a little daunting, because the image capture displayed is about as flattering as pics taken by those nude airport scanners. Going through this process doesn’t lead to anything fulfilling, either, since you go straight into a set regimen led by the abominably perky McCarthy immediately after picking your poison. There is no way to alter this routine, or even to tell in advance what the aerobicized former Playboy centerfold has in store for you. You just have to go through with the exercises and hope that the result is a tighter behind, less World of Warcrafty abs, or whatever your goal may be. Lengthier workout programs don’t offer anything spicy, either. The measly four special challenges are geared pretty much entirely for women, with offerings such as Get Bikini Ready, Active Mom Routine, and New Year’s Resolution. You can also access a calendar of workouts that puts you through almost-daily routines that focus on different parts of your body and then tracks the overall results. Again, though, there are no real options. Nothing can be customized, so it’s Jenny’s way or the highway.
Most of the game lacks the frills found in both EA Sports Active and Wii Fit. The screen is taken up entirely with a digitized McCarthy on the left and the image of you as related by the webcam on the right. There are no interesting themes, no colorful backdrops, no beach games on tropical islands, or anything else to keep your interest. Just you and Jenny and fuchsia backgrounds. Oh, and a very small selection of repetitive, generic disco tunes that serve as the soundtrack for your sweating. At least in a real aerobics class you can look around at the other participants, or maybe out a window, and you get to listen to a more varied music playlist from recognizable artists.
Although you’ve got to appreciate McCarthy’s peppy attitude, there isn’t much in Your Shape that will get you off the couch. The game feels really stripped in comparison to its competition. You can probably firm some things up here, but the exercises are too female-focused for guys and so bland that they give aerobicizing wannabes an excuse to drift back to their couches. That camera idea, however, is a keeper that needs to be fine-tuned for use in future exercise games.