Nintendo’s Personal Trainer series is always looking out for you. It began by helping people with cooking and math and now its newest effort is assisting people in putting one foot in front of the other. Personal Trainer: Walking is the company’s newest twist on the exergaming genre, and when put to good use, serves as an excellent tool to supplement one’s activity.
Out of the gate, I’ll want to stress Personal Trainer: Walking isn’t a game, per say, but rather an application that assists users in making the most out of their daily walking activity and offering other small sage bits of advice to advocate health and wellness. As such, if you’re looking for an interactive game, you’ll want to pass on the title and readers should please bear in mind the contents and scoring of this review measures the software’s peripherals, ease of use and ability to accomplish its intended purpose.
The most obvious innovation the software brings to the Nintendo DS is its inclusion of two pedometers, which are kept on person in order to measure daily walking activities. While two pedometers are included in the initial package, the title allows for up to four people to store and share data on the same cartridge (of course, extra pedometers are sold separately). With the ability to recognize up to four different pedometers, this openly encourages families to walk together and compare their daily activities and the software also has a “dog” toggle so even Fido can get in on the action to quench your curiosity of how many steps your pooch takes in a day.
The pedometers are quite compact and with a clip attachment, easily attaches to one’s belt loop, but they can also be carried around in one’s front pocket. A flashing light on the pedometer registers each vibration – if the light is red, the owner has not yet reached their daily step goal, but a green light indicates a job well done. Also on each device is an infrared sensor, which is used to wirelessly communicate with the game cart when an owner wants to upload their step activities for the day. While, on occasion, it will take a few tries to get the pedometer and cart to sync up, for the most part, anyone can easily connect to the software with a push of the pedometer’s button.
Overall, the pedometer peripheral is a sound device that more than does its job. It is small enough to where it isn’t an annoyance on one’s person and it gives simple indications to notify one of their daily progress. While the pedometer is easy to use, how does the software measure up to compliment the device?
The software borrows heavily from the Nintendo Wii’s Wii Fit theme, launching a “living” pedometer device into the game to be your companion. All of the navigation is handled through text buttons, once again, very similar to the Wii Fit format, making things very simple and easy to understand. With Personal Trainer: Walking, users are prompted to create avatars and game saves, very similar to what one would do when creating a Mii account on a Wii system. In fact, with the Wii to DS wireless connectivity, users who have an existing Mii can transfer the character into the Personal Trainer: Walking software.
Once a user has an account up and running, they have the option to view their daily activity data, mini-goals given by the pedometer guide and view records stored on the cart. There is a further option to “play” with a user’s records in two applications – one gathers all of the users’ stored on the cart and uses their daily activity to run a treadmill that powers a city and the other takes a user’s steps and uses them to map out drawings that adds art to a gallery. Again, nothing is wholly interactive, but the play options are simple and entertaining ways to conclude your daily activity nonetheless. One final option given to users is the ability to connect to Wi-Fi to view how many recorded steps every user in the world has submitted (which is measured by distance traveled from planet-to-planet in space) and compare their data to others on Wi-Fi via rankings.
Everything works the way it is supposed to and much like Nintendo’s other brain and fitness training concepts, and once users get into the groove of using the software, it becomes a daily routine. As opposed to Wii Fit, Personal Trainer: Walking has a much more casual ease of use as one does not have to dedicate living room space to the cause and users (hopefully) walk daily anyway. With the dedicated software, the stat tracking and methods of viewing a user’s records are simple and easily do its intended job.
With the focus on getting users active, there isn’t a whole lot to say about the game’s presentation, other than if you’ve used Wii Fit before, you know what to expect. The Miis still look great on the DS even with the graphical drop and the menus are clean. The title sports the typical lounge style music that accompanies titles of similar nature and while most of the sound effects are your general menu navigation effects, there are a few tunes and effects, such as during the Illuminate feature, that does stick out.
The bottom line for Personal Trainer: Walking is it serves well for DS owners looking to get a little more out of their daily walking routine or are looking into getting into one. For gamers, there’s no interactive substance here, but it has to be taken into account that the software was developed to be a tool. As such, it more than does its job and users that are dedicated to their walking cause will no qualms with firing up the application on a daily basis.
Personal Trainer: Walking is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.