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The Best Exercise Games for the Xbox Kinect

Review of Adidas MiCoach for Kinect

Posted by steve on July - 30 - 2012 with 3 Comments

Adidas MiCoach for Kinect

Excellent Kinect workout game for aspiring athletes

If I had to summarize Adidas miCoach for Kinect in one word, it’d be “ambitious”. While other fitness titles aspire to simulate the gym instructor down the road, MiCoach aspires to simulate a professional-caliber strength and conditioning coach. And it pulls it off.

Rating by steve: 4.5 stars
****1/2

 

micoach for kinect reviewThere are a couple of options in Adidas miCoach for Kinect which I’d categorize into “hardcore”, “casual fitness” and “fun”.

The hardcore part of the game is called “Training Plans”. When you start out, you choose the sport you want to be trained in. You can choose basketball, tennis, soccer, football, running. There’s also a “getting started” option that gets you acclimated to the system, as well as general fitness for men and women.

Once you choose a training program you’ll be paired up with a professional in that sport, each of whom is a superstar in his or her respective sport.

Tennis: Ana Ivanovic, Andrea Petkovic, and Fernando Verdasco
Football: CJ Spiller, Eric Berry, Jozy Altidore, Von Miller
Soccer: Gareth Bale, Jose Mourinho, Kaka
Basketball: Josh Smith, Dwight Howard, Jrue Holiday
Track: Tyson Gay, Jessica Ennis

Computerized versions of the athletes will be your instructors throughout the training program. In some cases they look uncannily realistic, and in other cases they look, well, like computerized version. All of their voices are real.

Each training plan focuses on a different strength or conditioning goal, generally on building strength, increasing speed, or maintaining a level of fitness throughout the season. In turn, each of these goals has options within them. Once you choose a goal and an option under the goal, you’ll get set up with a workout program. A typical program will consists of 4 sessions a week over a period of about 3 weeks. The sessions are not easy–they average about 40 to 90 minutes each.

The sessions themselves are basically the athletes taking you through sets of strength and conditioning exercises such as lunges, squats, push-ups, etc. They’re specially designed to focus in on the sport and goals you chose. What’s very cool is not only will the athlete talk you through the exercises, at certain points he or she will give you some information on why this exercise is important for your sport. After completing a certain number of exercises with each athlete, you can also unlock “master class” videos where they’ll share additional insider tips.

I’d say training plans are for athletes of any level who want to start training the right way, but who may not have the time or the funds to hire a professional strength and conditioning coach.

The “fun” part of the game is called “Training Games”. For me, this was absolutely the best part of the game. They are basically simulations of real sports. In the basketball simulation, you’re shooting baskets. You bend down to pick up a ball, aim, and shoot with the same motion you’d use to shoot a real basketball. The simulation feels uncannily real. As with real basketball, it takes a little trial and error to get your aim and your motion right, but once you do there is not a game that comes closer to virtual reality than this one (your on-screen position on the court will even move as you move your body). Other Kinect developers should take note.

You also have a soccer simulation. This is where the Kinect version has an advantage over the PS3 version. In the PS3 version you’re a goalie blocking shots. With the Kinect version, you’re a scorer kicking a ball into the goal, either by kicking a volley or doing a chest trap and then kicking the ball. Again, while precision took a bit of getting used to, this felt more like real soccer than any other video game before it. Although as you can see in the video I did encounter a bug where the game wouldn’t end no matter how much I flailed my arms.

Finally, there’s a tennis simulation. You get forehands, backhands, and smashes and have to knock down a stack of blocks on the other court a la a weird 3D version of “Pong”. While the Kinect isn’t precise enough to let you finesse shots, it’s close enough an experience to real tennis to be very enjoyable, and of course it has you moving around.

The “casual fitness” portion of the game is called “Conditioning”. This is sort of a combination of “Training Plans” and “Training Games”, where you’ll do a much smaller number of reps, take a rest period, and then end it off with a Training Game. This is the thing to use if you just want to do a quick 20-30 minute workout every night.

The all-important question with games like this is–how precise are the motion controls? I found them to be pretty good, but not perfect.

This is definitely an game the Kinect is perfectly suited for. The motion control was near flawless when I was doing upright exercises (and unlike the PS3, I could hold weights in both hands without having to fiddle with a controller). Motion detection did get spotty when I had to get down on the floor (even when the Kinect had a full view of me on the floor). Happily, if the system realizes it’s not tracking you properly, it’ll give you a “pass” on that particular exercise.

One major annoyance is that a few times my Kinect Sensor would lower itself without warning and force me to re-calibrate it. I’m not sure if this is a problem with the game or just something with my own Kinect, so I won’t dock them any points on this review…yet. But if other Amazon reviewers notice this, definitely mention it so 505 Games will fix it.

There are a couple thing that you should know about this game before considering a purchase:

1) You WILL need to purchase additional equipment. Specifically, you’ll need an exercise stability ball and hand weights to do some of the exercises (the . While you can play the game without these (by skipping the exercises that use them), you won’t get the full benefit of the game without it. The system also supports ANT+ heart rate monitors; if you have one of these your heart rate will displayed on the screen.

2) The game focuses on strength and conditioning, NOT cardio. The reason for this is that the game was built to complement MiCoach.com, which provides both cardio workouts and strength & conditioning workouts. This Kinect game was designed to replace the latter.

3) MiCoach integration is seamless in some areas and terrible in others. On the positive side, once I linked my Xbox to my MiCoach.com account (a simple process), I could see the Training Plan I selected appear on my MiCoach.com profile. On the negative side, the integration is very, very spotty. When I changed my calendar on the Web site, the changes never got reflected on the Xbox. And the descriptions of the workouts on the Web site didn’t match the actual workouts I did on the Xbox. Overall, integration with the Web was a great idea but one very poorly executed by the developers. Hopefully over time they’ll fix this with patches.

4) This is a minor point, but the menu navigation, like in so many other Kinect games, was just horrible. It’s nearly impossible to select a menu item. I’m not sure why this is so hard for so many Kinect developers. The good news is, the game does support voice commands, which I ended up using.

5) You do need a good 7-9 feet of space in front of your Kinect sensor, about 7-10 feet from side to side, and about 1-2 feet above you.

6) Sadly, the game is not supported by Kinect PlayFit.

As for whether you should get this game, I’ll give the same advice I did with the PS3 version. It’s a must-have if a) You are already a member of MiCoach and use that site a lot to track workouts, b) You already own equipment such as a stability ball and hand weights, c) You want to experience the virtual reality sports game (which IMO alone are worth the price of the title), or d) you are a budding athlete at any level who would appreciate the more “professional” caliber advice you get from this game. On the other hand, if you’re looking for casual exercise and want to be selective about which fitness games you buy, I’d hold out and wait to see what Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 or Nike+ Kinect have to offer in a few months.