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Active Life Outdoor Challenge

Outdoor Challenges for the agorophobic child
Get off your couch and get active is what the back of the box claims, but rather than stepping out into the fresh air, why not pop a game into your Wii!? Namco follows up the movement that the Wii and Wii Fit has created in getting people interested in getting active while still in the comfort of their own living rooms with Active Life Outdoor Challenge, the first of what looks to be many Active Life games coming down the pipeline.

Rather than limit the audience for this particular game to those who already spent the cash on the Wii Fit game and balance board, Outdoor Challenge comes equipped with a specialized mat, not unlike the Power Pad of yesteryear. The pad contains the mapping for one or two players simultaneously, however it’s designed with the youth of today in mind, so two adults will find it slightly cramped and challenging. But as a single playing adult, the mat was just right and seems like it is quite durable and should last a long time.

Outdoor Challenge features seventeen different mini-games for your entertainment, I mean, to promote activity. Some games make use of both the pad and the Wii-mote for control, while other simply need you to sit on the mat and tap away at the buttons beside you. The mini-games range from the Whac-a-Mole stomp-fest to the very difficult to control Kayaking down a river. Other games included span from mine cart racing over broken tracks to log jumping and outright tiring sprints through a wooded path, complete with logs that you need to leap over. However, as your progress through the game and enter tougher and tougher challenges, new twists can be thrown into the games, so rather than just a straightforward physical activity, you must also learn to multitask to complete the event within a time goal.

The basic mode of play is the Outdoor Challenge, which based on whatever difficulty you set selects a group of games for you to compete in. Complete the games in this mode and you unlock them in free play so you can select your favorite game and try to beat your score at any time. Not to surprise anyone out there, but a fitness mode is also included where you select what type of exercise you want to do and away you go. Your progress is tracked on a chart as well as physically on the avatar you choose to represent yourself. Choose from one of the pre-made characters, or import one of your Miis into the game and watch how their body shape changes as you either do well or poorly in the game.

The audio and visual aspect of the title are pretty much what we’ve come to expect for Wii games, but I actually thought the blocky graphics and bright colors really worked well in Active Life. The Miis took on a little more personality having more than just a rotund body and spherical arms as in Wii Sports, and the backgrounds were all bright and lively. But really, whoever is playing is going to be too busy trying to get the correct movement for each game to notice the graphics or to notice the generally bland and unmemorable sound effects.

As the second true title to promote healthy activity and get people off the couch and moving, Outdoor Challenge does have a good array of games to get people up and moving. Sadly, the motivation may dwindle after a period of play. Perhaps though, some of these activities will get people interested in the real world version of some sports (mine cart jumping and mole whacking not inclusive) and then as a developer even though you’re preventing more sales you are passing on good habits to the younger generation. The lower price tag when compared to Wii Fit is a huge plus, especially if the included mat can be used in subsequent Active Life titles, but coming in at $70 does put it up into the price range that may be just out of acceptable range for a lot of parents who’ve already dropped nearly $350 on a Wii and Wii Fit. All that being said, I do recommend this title as the events do really get the blood flowing, and can be sweat inducing if you don’t simply cheat the system during the more kinetic events.