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E3 2014: Will ‘Shape Up’ get gamers in shape?

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“Shape Up” is a new type of training game on the Xbox One. The game was presented at Ubisoft’s press conference during E3 2014 on June 9. With “Shape Up” they took the key fitness moves and turned each one into an exciting challenge. The developers believe that you will do more crunches, more push-ups and more squats if your workout becomes a game rather than a grueling day at the gym.

Ubisoft acknowledges that gamers might be skeptical, but if a gamer feels like they are going to win at something or beat their high score, then they’re going to try a bit harder than they would just being on the stair stepper at the gym.

This is the same concept used in a variety of other exercise games available for a variety of systems and is even the same concept used for some sports oriented games for the Kinect and Wii, without calling them exercise games.

So what does “Shape Up” offer that’s unique?

New types of mini-games that you’ve probably never seen in a game before. While the moves you do to complete the game will be the same as previous sports and fitness games, you’ve never jumped from the rooftops of trains or danced on piano keys before.

Ubisoft offered two demos to show what the games looked like and how competing against your own high score, or competing against a friend in person, would work.

The first mini-game displayed was the user competing against his past high score in a dancing game that takes place on a piano’s keys. The game created two likenesses of him, placed them both on separate keyboards and started the competition. This piano game appeared to be a re-work of the old school DDR games. There are four piano keys you must step on that are all side by side and you must step on them in the order that is shown to you. This gets you doing side to side sprints in rhythm with the chosen song. Overall, this exercise mini-game seemed like something that would be effective at making exercise fun.

They also showed a demo of competitive play with two Ubisoft employees. They competed doing push-ups. The game itself showed them progressively holding heavier things on their backs, making it entertaining to watch on the screen, but in reality they were just doing push-ups and not really accomplishing anything in the game or working toward a goal other than holding heavy virtual objects. Overall, this mini-game seemed like it would not make exercising anymore fun than it would have been doing push-ups without the game.

So the two demos they showed made it seem like a toss-up. “Shape Up” could end up being motivating for a majority of games, as in the piano game, or it could be a flop that just uses cartoony graphics to make exercising look more interesting if you were only watching it, but doesn’t actually make the exercising part any fun.

From what we’ve been shown, it doesn’t look like the game is going to offer anything other games haven’t offered before. Sales will likely be solely from people hoping this game will be the one to help them lose weight when other similar games have already failed.

If you missed Ubisoft’s press conference you can find it in Gamespot’s archive.

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