Support Libby, click to buy via us...
To say that I approached The Biggest Loseer with a helathy dose of skepticism would be an understatement. How can this be an Odyssey of any description?
What kind of a story can you tell about a game that apparently only offers you a chance to lose masses of weight and get fit in the process? Let alone one that is branded to the hilt by a parent TV series that reeks of LA 'Reality TV' Self-Improvement? I've never watched a full episode. Don't plan on watching one any time soon.
@libby_ol: I'm eating my words right now. With lo-fat salad dressing. Pixellated @bobharper is driving the Odyssey. #BiggestLoser #Kinect
Yes, I'm eating my words, because behind its scary branding The Biggest Loseer is a surprisingly complex and well-thought-out system of fitness, allowing tailored programs for any palette. Of course it's all part of the sell, but you get the feeling your trainers believe in the product, and the product is The New You.
Is that a bad thing? I set out on the Biggest Loser Odyssey to find out.
You, the 'player', are the front-and-centre Hero, as you target your fitness requirements to your own particular set of goals, needs, desires. The Odyssey is driven by your trainer of choice -- enter Bob Harper, my randomly-selected trainer, on whom I'd never clapped eyes before Day One of my fitness regime. Turns out he's a Fitness Man with an empire of his own, and no wonder. The guy can Do Many Things of Heraclean Magnitude.
In choosing a Yoga session first up, I was worried there would be nobody to really check that I wasn't doing myself an injury by doing a pose incorrectly. Any hard-core Yoga initiate would think it was madness. Bob -- for all his encouraging comments -- is a bunch of pixels, and he can't really say stuff like, 'Get your foot out of your mouth.'
In fact, the Kinect tracks you, and lets you know when your pose is off, by switching your silhoutte colour, which is a good start. Only problem being that at times you need to crane your neck sideways to see yourself on the screen, which I suspect isn't a superb way to be a 'centred' Yoga Master, no matter what Bob tells me.
But I don't think the Yoga poses are designed to be of Olympic Level, and neither are any of the other routines. Which isn't to say they are easy, especially if you choose Difficult Level. But Box-Fit, Circuit-Training, Freeplay: all of them are designed to get people moving, and I'd say this is No Bad Thing.
You can choose your exercise equipment to match whatever you happen to have at home. You can add or subtract as it suits you. You can focus on different muscles. You can even choose your environment, just as you can your trainer.
In a world where technology is getting more and more bespoke for users, and where more value is now placed on DIY, building an online story around yourself is becoming more accepted and, perhaps, expected. Herein lies the Biggest Loser Odyssey, as you work to create a story around your own body. Your Prize is, of course, that you take on the challenge of building fitness into your life. The Price may be that you are doing it alone. Well... alone with Pixellated Bob and your online workout friends.
In the Land of Fiction, we talk about movie adaptations of books being a different beast than a novel, because film is a different medium with a different visual language and different mechanics at play. And so it must be with a gaming adaptation of a TV series. Keeping the thread of the TV show is good for anchoring the TV brand, but I suspect calling a game The Biggest Loser might be underselling its offerings. It is a very different beast.
Besides which, it's one thing to sit in the privacy of your own home and watch a TV show about getting thin and fit, but it's another to go into a shop and face the cashier with 'The Biggest Loser' in your hand. Thank the Deities for the relative anonymity of online shopping.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: