The Biggest Loser has arrived on the Wii. You should be skeptical. There’s never been a good videogame based on a TV show (the Simpsons arcade game being the grand exception.) And the Wii has a bad habit of attracting overstretched franchises that use Balance Board Compatibility to cover up shoddy animation and repetitive gameplay (Don King Boxing, anybody? Anybody?) Here’s a few things I learned about the game after a week of yoga, core training, and stretching muscles I didn’t know I had:
1: This videogame is specifically designed for people who have never played videogames. When you point the controller at any part of the menu, trainer Bob Harper reads out the menu item and offers some helpful advice (“Hold the Wii controller over the cursor and tap A to scroll to the year of your birth!”) He does this every time, even with menu items you’ve already pointed at. I couldn’t find any way to turn it off. If you’ve been looking for a videogame that’s user-friendly enough for your deaf great-grandma, this is it, assuming that your deaf great-grandma is totally lame.
2: Jillian Michaels is mostly absent. Her psychologically intense training style (last week, she made three people cry!) rips through the show’s gooey sentimentality. Unfortunately, she’s barely in the game. Even if you choose Jillian as your trainer, Bob will narrate your entire workout. Jillian’s vocal performance is limited to non-specific exhortations like “Beautiful!” “Perfect form!” and “Make me proud!” (No bleeped F-bombs = travesty!) Guess she was too busy focusing on her own Wii Franchise, Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum, which looks kind of like a Lara Croft exercise video.
3: The music is all wrong. The elevator-techno that hums along during the workouts will disappoint fans who are used to the television show’s bombastic, Carmina Burana-meets-Sergio-Leone-plus-exploding-Taiko-drums soundtrack.
4: It doesn’t feel very much like The Biggest Loser. If you’ve never seen the show, then you’re missing out on the most thrilling exploration of human nature on broadcast TV. The show’s warm-fuzzy “Let’s lose weight together!” attitude falls away by the middle of each episode, as elimination draws near. Competitors practically have to stab each other in the back to stay, meaning that the thinner they get, the more morally despicable they become. The Wii game, by comparison, is just candy-colored inspiration-delivery software. There’s a great videogame to be made from The Biggest Loser. This isn’t it, but maybe that’s okay, because…
5: …if all you’re looking for is a workout video with a calorie-loss display, then you’ll be totally satisfied. As Wii Fit proved, exercise is just a little bit more fun when you’re waving around a motion-capture controller. I can honestly say that I burned more calories in ten seconds of playing The Biggest Loser than I have in my entire wasted lifetime of playing every Super Mario Bros., Metal Gear Solid, and Legend of Zelda.
So, The Biggest Loser for the Wii is one of the worst videogames ever, but it might just save your life. Put that on a poster! Loser fans, do you want this game? Loser haters, would you ironically buy this game for your skinny friend’s birthday?