Good Advice: Don't Work Out Like A ProgrammerS

Wise choices may make EA's Wii fitness sequel improve upon its predecessor. But the decision not to support MotionPlus makes the game prone to cheating — as, it seems programmers, like many who try to exercise, are wont to do.

I recently, briefly, tried the revised boxing game programmed into November's Wii sequel EA Sports Active More Workouts. And I was chided, kindly, by the EA trainer showing me the game.

He said I was throwing my punches like a programmer.

I wasn't jabbing and hooking, Wii Remote and Nunchuk in hands, with gusto. I was, I didn't realize, just making short moves.

Just this past spring, different EA representatives had trained me out of the bad habits of shortening my Wii-playing gestures. They did this while demoing the extra-sensitive modes of EA's latest tennis and Tiger Woods games. These modes proved how a Wii Remote enhanced with the Motion-Plus add-on, could detect the difference between a player who swung their arm fully and those who just flicked their wrist. The Wii Remote's acceleration sensors could be fooled by those two types of motion. But the position-detection in the MotionPlus could not. It could not be tricked. It would recognize a wrist-flick into a chip shot in Tiger and reserve big drives for full-arm swings.

What I learned in the spring I must have un-learned for the fall.

With no MotionPlus engaged for EA Sports Active More Workouts, I was back to my cheating ways. My punches were short. Can we say I was just trying not to hurt anyone at a public event? Apparently my EA-public-demo punching style is also the fighting style of EA programmers. Presumably this is not because they are lazy but because it is easier to test and replay a fitness game by taking a motion shortcut than by knocking oneself out throughout the day.

The new EA fitness game doesn't support the Wii add-on, but it does have a host of other features to distinguish it from its recent predecessor, June's EA Sports Active.

It includes a six-week workout program and a more interactive fitness calendar. It includes core/ab workouts, something the first game omitted. It has an overall count of 35 new exercises. Yoga-stretching has been added as well, by popular demand, EA claims — though it does cost them the talking point from the first game that EA Sports Active is the sweat-inducing Western complement to the gentler strain of Wii Fit's Eastern balance-based routine.

The new game has plenty to exercise the player who wants it. As proof, a public relations specialist working on the game answered Kotaku's challenge and demonstrated the game's new obstacle course mode. She ran (in place) until her avatar reached a lunge station. She lunged until she was prompted to run more. Then she hit another upper-body exercise. She finished, mildly winded.

There may well have been ways to cheat all the exercises I saw. But that's how it goes with games and fitness — users are pulled by the gravity to find shortcuts, be they cheat codes or less-than-complete sit-ups.

The lack of MotionPlus support may make it harder for users of the new game to resist temptations to cut their moves short and cheat, but as with the use of all fitness products, the user would just be cheating themselves. Oh, this is how it is for all kinds of fitness training, right? You need to want it.