GC 2008: Family Trainer Updated Impressions

The video game fitness craze continues with this exercise game for the whole family.


It wasn't that long ago that the words "fitness" and "video games," when spoken in the same sentence together, would engender a hearty guffaw and an appreciative handshake from the person whose day you just made with your funny, funny joke. These days, thanks to games such as Wii Fit, it's not unusual to hear people talking about breaking a sweat each time they fire up their game console. Looking to ride the coattails of the virtual fitness-regimen craze, Namco Bandai and publisher Atari are getting ready to release Family Trainer on the Wii, which we got to check out today during a brief demo.

Despite the name, Family Trainer doesn't actually teach you and your kin how to be a family; instead, it's a game packed full of quick minigames designed to get you and your family and friends working out together. Instead of the Wii Fit Balance Board, Family Trainer will ship with its own pad that looks similar to something that you'd find with a DDR console game. The game will make use of your created Miis and draws its inspiration from the sillier side of Wii Fit, rather than from that game's more austere yoga regime. Here, you'll take part in log jumps, or sprint races, or mine-cart adventures; things that parents can break a sweat to while the kids are laughing their fool heads off.

We got the briefest of chances to try the log jump. Here, two people stand side by side on the dance pad that serves as the game's main input device. The goal is to avoid the logs that plummet toward your character, who is standing on a platform. To do so, you simply leap up. Of course, as the game progresses, the logs come more quickly. The first person to be knocked off of the platform is the loser.

Other games that we checked out (but didn't play for ourselves) included a whack-a-mole game that required you to bash moles onscreen by stomping on the dance pad's various zones, a mine-cart adventure that had two people steering a cart through a tricky maze while avoiding obstacles, and a kayaking exercise that used the Wii Remote as a makeshift oar.

The game will organize all of these minigames along several different exercise plans: everything from full-body workout, to upper- or lower-body sessions, and timed workout sessions with various degrees of difficulty. All of the exercise minigames will be available to you from the outset, but you'll unlock additional difficulty levels as you go. You'll no doubt be able to get your heart rate going in Family Trainer; however, it remains to be seen whether it will be a worthy replacement for those who already own Wii Fit.

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