Thanks to the interactive Wii, you can lose weight while boxing, jogging and doing deep-knee lunges in video games. So let's take a look at a new slate of sports games that make you sweat, and some that don't.
EA Sports Active claims it could change your life, meaning it can change your body shape. It's like a workout video for the Wii, but better. You run in place, kick and punch a boxing bag, do curls with a stretch band and complete many other exercises.
Since you're holding the Wii's wireless hand controllers, the game's fitness trainer-character reads your arm and leg motions and tells you if you're doing them right. You can see a cartoon image of yourself on the TV screen, running at the same pace that you are jogging in place.
That's nifty. Sports Active - developed by fitness pros and including how-to videos - is effective, especially if you're not a gym rat and you need to hear someone motivate you every day with visual and audio cues. (It makes me slightly sore in some spots.)
The $60 bundle comes with the stretch band. But to maximize, you need to own the Wii Fit balance board, and that bundle costs $90. Still, it's cheaper than hiring a weekly personal trainer in a recession. The game's sweat factor: potentially a 10 out of 10.
Personal Trainer: Walking merely gauges how much you walk every day. It comes with two pedometers. So you walk with one of the pedometers, then sync it up with Walking every day to keep track of how many steps you've taken. You won't lose weight taking 3,000 steps, but you can with 8,000 steps.
Walking costs $50 and comes with two wireless digital pedometers. I hate to point out that you can buy an over-the-counter pedometer for as little as $6. But Walking is meant as a daily "game" friend, starring a trainer-character, to motivate kids and other flabby DS gamers to get moving. Sweat factor: about a 5 to 7 out of 10.
Punch-Out!! is not a fitness game, but a surprisingly fun and almost addictive cartoon boxing game for Wii. Just like the 1980s arcade game it's based on, you stand in one spot, dodging and weaving rivals' punches, then throwing uppercuts and such back at them.
You beat boxers to be the champ (fairly difficult), then defend your title against them as they improve (quite hard). Like I said, it's not a fitness game. But it does require you to swing your arms constantly, more than most Wii games. Sweat factor: about a 6 out of 10, but only concerning your arms.
Fight Night Round 4 is nearly a boxing simulator, where you can fight as a boxer you build from scratch, or as Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquaio - about 40 boxers in all.
Round 4's mechanics look and feel cool but feel different from previous Fight Nights. It's frustratingly hard to dodge punches, and it makes computer-controlled rivals too nimble at blocking punches. It's more fun in multiplayer mode.
But it's not available for Wii, only for PS 3 and Xbox 360, neither of which make you move anything but your fingers. Sweat factor: zero, despite being the most athletic actual game of the bunch.