Last year, Nintendo convinced millions of people that a full-fledged fitness program was possible from the comfort of their living rooms with the release of Wii Fit and its packaged Wii Balance Board. Since then, the system has been inundated with exercise games simulating everything from dancing to boxing to snowboarding. But pilates — that favorite exercise of on-the-go modern men and women — has been noticeably unrepresented…until now.
Enter Daisy Fuentes Pilates, which promises to “tone, strengthen and transform your body” with its 10 core-strengthening exercises. Is it worth your time and sweat? PopWatch HQ tasked me, its resident fitness guru, with performing a thorough investigation of the game and determining both its playability and exercise value. Though as a 23-year-old male I am well outside Pilates‘ target demographic (I prefer games that let you, well, kill things), I nevertheless gave the title a full workout.
Link has Hyrule. Mario has the Mushroom Kingdom. Daisy Fuentes has a private beach resort (complete with massage cabana!) she has graciously opened up for gamers. It’s around this resort that you’ll perform the ten advertised exercises: “neck pulls” in the Garden, “roll ups” at the Scenic Overlook. Although technically you can access every exercise from the “Workout Center” menu, the game encourages you to spend time at each different locale. Because sometimes you’ll prefer the digitally-rendered Yacht to the digitally rendered Meditation Area? I don’t know.
According to pilates-obsessed coworkers (again, I am a 23-year-old male), the exercises themselves are slightly watered-down versions of what you’d get from a real-life workout. Daisy guides you through moves like the “double leg circle” (legs in the air, circling left then right) and “toe taps” (…toe taps) both of which she claims “work the deep abdominals and the muscle layers of the hips.” I think the game designers could have saved time by calling most of the exercises “just move your legs or something,” but maybe I’m ignorant. Or bitter?
Progress in the game is measured through the Wii Balance Board and Wiimote, both of which track your movements as they correspond to those of Digital Daisy*. Points/words of encouragement are earned by matching the appropriate body part with what you see on screen. If you’re not in the same position as Daisy…you don’t get those points. (The threat of death would have made this an infinitely more exciting game.) Suffice it to say I was not a major point scorer. Every move I made was too fast or too slow, resulting in “0% Accuracy” results screens and a diminished sense of self-worth. Eventually I was successfully completing 45 and 50% of exercises, but this took far too long. The box guaranteed near-instant results!
Another gripe: without the Wii Balance Board, you’re limited to 3-4 exercises that take advantage of the Wii remote’s motion sensor. How are you supposed to win the game like this? Daisy promised an “inclusive” exercise experience in her introductory video, but requiring an external device seems to deflate this promise.
Further testing would obviously need to be undertaken in order to confirm the true fitness value of Daisy Fuentes Pilates, but my brief morning session was still enough to elicit a few impressed nods in the elevator and what sounded like a “you go, girl!” by some admiring co-workers. No gym membership; no expensive nutritional plan. Just some serious one-on-one time with a plastic remote and the digital version of a former MTV VJ. Exercise as it was meant to be?
*I didn’t mention this? Daisy Fuentes is given the complete Lara Croft treatment here, her curves digitized with reckless abandon. You can also change her workout outfit, kind of weird in a game clearly designed for women. A nice surprise for the teenage boys who accidently get this for Christmas?