When people think of gamers, they don't usually think “fitness.” Yet once motion gaming was introduced, a surge of exercise games began entering the market. Some, like Wii Fit, have been a huge success, causing companies like EA and Ubisoft to follow suit. Many of these titles are paired with a celebrity name to help set them apart, while others add peripherals like cameras and controller-holding leg straps to make them unique. Get Fit With Mel B does both, teaming up with the former Spice Girl in an effort to push Move into the workout realm.
If the idea of going to the gym sounds Scary to you, and the notion of running on a treadmill for an hour makes you cry like a Baby, don't worry, there is still a lot of incentive to get into this title. The game, if you can call it that, personalises the workout experience based on things like your height and weight, diet, body type and personal goals, which range from losing your belly to de-stressing to “keeping up with the kids", helping the game cater to the Sporty and lethargic types alike. Even if you belong to a Posh gym complete with a personal trainer, there are still things like dance exercises, personalised diet plans and even yoga to keep you entertained. Some of the recipes offered are pretty darn good too, forgoing fat and sugar to use healthier flavouring alternatives like curry, citrus and Ginger to spice up the meals.
Upon starting the game up, Mel B first has you enter your weight, height and body type (skinny, muscular or hefty) before scanning your image. This helps the game figure out your pace and amount of calories burnt, and paired with the camera scan really helps the game get an in-depth profile of you. After picking your goal, the game then asks you if there are any foods you don't eat, like pork, gluten or shellfish, and creates a daily meal plan for you. The idea is that you are to come to the game every day for its personalised 30-minute workout, and then take its meal suggestions to continue with your health-conscious day.
The thing is that the meals don't always seem to match up very well with the goals you chose. For instance, choosing losing your belly as a goal still earns you three full meals a day with dessert, and recommends additional egg and cheese sandwiches or popcorn for snacks. If you have the metabolism of a horse, this would be fine, but successfully losing a belly may require a diet that shows a bit more restraint. It isn't a huge issue, as many will likely form their own daily meals anyway, but it would have been nice to see your goals impact the diet as well as it does the daily routine. In the least, it serves as a healthy cookbook tacked-on to an already impressive workout game.
The main exercise routines can best be described as kickboxing aerobics routines much like Tae Bo. Instead of looking at Billy Blanks though, you get to hang with Mel B. During the routines, you appear on screen next to her, and will likely have to adjust your camera a bit to get yourself into the body outline on the screen. Once calibrated, you're asked if you have any weight equipment you'd like to incorporate, like ankle weights or an exercise ball. Thankfully these are optional, and frugal-minded purchasers will also be happy to know that only one Move controller is required. After that, Mel B walks you through a practice rep of the upcoming exercise, setting the amount of reps you are to do and counting them down as you go. These sessions last half an hour and you'll be doing lots of different moves, some requiring only 8 reps and others going over 40. To keep from getting worn out, you'll definitely want to pace yourself and have some water ready (Mel gives you a short water break at about the twenty minute mark.) The variety of aerobic techniques is impressive, and the game boasts over 200 available exercises, which really helps to keep daily routines from getting too repetitive.
At the end of the workout you're given a performance graph that maps how well you did over the course of the workout, giving you a good idea of where you slowed down and where you did well. Aside from being awarded a total calorie count and a percentage of successful reps, you are also given a “fitness star rating.” To improve this score, you not only have to keep up with all of Mel B's moves, but also continually do fully-fledged, dedicated moves – a few half-assed jumping jacks or wimpy side kicks can quickly drop your score. If the 30 minute routines still don't satisfy your lust for self-sculpture, there are a bevy of additional exercises you can jump into right away, sort of like an exhibition mode. These range for relaxing yoga to dancing and an all-out assault on your abs.
You may have to act a bit more exaggerated than Mel B though to get a good score, as swinging, squatting and lunging exactly like her can hurt it. Yet if you over-exaggerate your moves the game sometimes loses sight of the Move controller. After twenty sweat-soaked minutes, you may lose the mental fortitude to keep track of all this stuff amidst back kicks and side punches, focusing instead on merely keeping pace. This is probably the biggest disappointment of the title, and it gets worse when you lie down to do sit-ups. Nothing is worse than giving it your all only to have the game score you at 50 percent, especially when you thought you were seriously getting your pump on, just because the Move controller slipped out of view.
One thing is undeniable though: this game delivers a workout. While it won't replace the weight room at the gym or the pool at the leisure centre, it definitely doles out an in-home exercise solution more intense than any Jane Fonda tapes or similar fitness software on the market. Also, it has Mel B in it. For some, this will be a huge plus, for others, not so much. For the most part, she is a nice addition to the game, counting along with the reps and giving you motivational quips depending on your performance.
The daily workouts the game creates impress not only due to their intensity and variety, but also because they are tailored to your body type and preferences. They are definitely going to make you sweat too, and you can expect to be sore. But that's a good thing – the game would be garbage if it didn't do that. Just don't trust its meal plans too much, as they are better used as an awesome recipe book. What keeps the title from being great is its failure to keep up with the user, and if you fire up to double-time it is not going to pick it up. What's worse is that it sometimes gets confused and misinterprets your zealous movements as a poor performance, earning you a bad score for giving it your all. Still, this only happens sometimes, and doesn't deter from the fact that you are getting a great workout.