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The Best Exercise Games for the Xbox Kinect

It’s no secret that Microsoft kind of goofed when they told consumers that they had to own a Kinect if they wanted to own an Xbox One. This probably seemed like a logical decision in Redmond at the time–if the Wii sold 100,000,000 units, surely the Xbox One would sell double that with superior motion controls, graphics, and processing power.

Fast forward to a few years later. The Xbox One has sold maybe a tenth of that number, lost a heaping amount of market share to Sony, and abandoned the requirement that Xbox One owners had to have a Kinect.

The miscalculation that Microsoft made, of course, was assuming that superior hardware was all that was needed. But in many ways they were their own worst enemy. They had their chance with the Kinect 1.0 to impress consumers, but far too many Kinect games were too sluggish or difficult to control. By the time Kinect 2.0 came around, most consumers had already given up on it. Game publishers couldn’t afford to invest the time and effort needed to support a technology, cool though it may have been, that few people were interested in.

And yet a few brave game publishers persisted and continue to persist in developing motion control games for the Xbox One and Kinect that can provide a great workout. The leader of the pack is Virtual Air Guitar, who continue to pump out fantastic games that are fun and great exercise. Ubisoft is a perennial player in this space too.

The hype around exergaming and using video games for exercise seems to have died down since it peaked around 2011 with the Wii, but ironically for those of us who hung on, we get to enjoy some of the very best video games you can work out with. Here’s my list in order of two things: how much of a workout do you get, and is the game so fun to play that you practically forget you’re getting a workout?

1. Kung Fu for Kinect

kung-fu-for-kinect-xbox-oneKung Fu for Kinect is far and away the best Kinect fitness game there is, and could very be the best fitness game ever to date.

The game developer Virtual Air Guitar  came up with the brilliant idea of putting your actual video image into a game, where you punch, kick, and jump to destroy hoards of enemies rushing at you from all sides. The simple comic book-inspired graphics are beautiful and the action is quick and instantly responsive.

It is in many ways the perfect exergame–one where you are so immersed in the game and having so much fun playing that you hardly realize that you’re also getting an intense cardio workout. Check out the full review here.

Fun: 5 of 5
Cardio Workout: 5 of 5

2.Shape Up

shape up for xbox one reviewShape Up is Ubisoft’s entry into the fitness game genre, and it’s a good one.  There is a large variety of different games you can play, and in the course of playing these games, you can get a variety of different workouts. The “games” are mostly a bit contrived in that it seems like they started with the exercises (punching, core twists, pushups, squatting) and then came up with a game around it.

But the games