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Shape Up Preview

blake_peterson By:
GENRE Sports/Fitness 
RELEASE DATE 12/31/2069
E Contains Alcohol Reference, Mild Cartoon Violence, Mild Language

What do these ratings mean?

Mini-games and muscle building.

Nicola Godin, game designer at Ubisoft had worked on two Your Shape games before the new, heavily gamified Shape Up, recently revealed at the Ubisoft E3 2014 Press Conference. Godin ran me through three of the four playable fitness mini-games in Shape Up, which plays like a cross between a fitness program and a Warioware game collections.

It was a conscious choice on Ubisoft's, as one of their gamified exercise titles. Godi, and the other designers recognize that for most people exercise is boring and un-fun but aren't really into dance, which is how many of the games make them more interesting. Instead, each of the basic exercises were partnered with a classic game mechanic from the classic eight-bit or arcade eras.

The first of the shape-up games was the piano cardio game, which Godin related was inspired by the Tom Hanks movie, Big. This was where I discovered that Shape Up was not without problems, in the Microsoft pavilion at E3. The Kinect had difficulties with latency due to low light. But I was eventually able to adjust my timing to hit most of the targets. As I did, the game began to speed up, and then involved jumping from side to side, before finishing finally in a sprint that felt a lot like NES Track and Field.

Godin and I competed side by side with him handily racking up a higher score. As the winner, he was able to save his performance. Shape Up allows you to save a performance and compete against earlier versions of yourself or send them to your friends over the network so that you can compete directly with these replay performances (which Godin said internally had been called "Time Capsules" before the official language had been settled). Since Shape Up takes video of you as you play, you can directly compete with yourself.

We skipped the pushup game shown in Ubisoft's presser and went on to a game involving squats. I learned that my squat form is terrible since the game only gave me credit for doing them properly. In the game, each squat expanded a platform into the sky. Upon reaching a certain height, Godin and I were given a short rest as we spread our arms out wide and then were able to shoot straight up and move left and right while leaning, destroying enemies that appeared above similar to Space Invaders or Galaga. After successfully destroying the "invaders" we went back to squats.

The final game we played was an abdominal crunch game. In the game, as long as Godin and I held ourselves in the proper crunch position, placing our hands in front of us together to create a targeting reticule on the screen, it showed us attacking falling monsters. After a certain interval, a large gold coin appeared, and having hit it, a stream of coins appeared that could be targeted while resting. As with the squats, once they were all blasted, it was back to the crunch!

These games, just four of ten, were from the game's quick drop-in mode. It's been designed around a campaign of three workouts a week, each fifteen minutes long. As you play you work your way towards competing with bosses, a luchadore and a spunky female J-pop beatmaster, depending on whether you are focused on strength training or cardio. The game also has coaches to teach you the exercises, one of whom Godin described as being a "douchebag" kind of bro and that as you play through the campaign series of workouts the stories of each of these characters will unlock.

In general, latency was only an issue with the piano cardio game, and the rest was simply the challenge of the game itself; which had both Godin and I sweating heavily by the time we were done, and both of us smiling while blasting monsters, extending our platforms, and playing giant pianos keys with our feet. Afterward, even though I hadn't won, Godin asked me to record some poses and movements for a later replay, telling me enthusiastically, "Now you are in the game forever!"

Shape Up doesn't have a specific release date yet, but it is exclusive to Xbox One through its Kinect capability.


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