This Wii exclusive game (available with Active Life Mat Controller or without) continues the Active Life series after the first game installment titled Outdoor Challenge. Extreme Challenge makes you forget you’re exercising through the short activity bursts. Experienced players and fitness fanatics might crave more variety in the snapshot sport offerings as well as longer sessions.
Activities include kite surfing, skateboarding, double dutch jump roping, wakeboarding, inline skating, street luge and BMX racing/stunts where players build speed by running on the mat. Players can even get off their feet and sit in the street luge while leaning and moving with their hands on the mat symbols. The rock climbing activity even tests levels of sportsmanship by allowing players to throw rocks down at their competition. This activity cache also includes the often illegal base jumping where players careen down a canyon. No “worst case scenario” animations or penalties here though. Players live on and move, run, jump and manipulate their sports equipment.
The common sense movements match each activity well plus developers mix up the controlling schemes among the remote, Nunchuk and mat. The jump rope game involves timing while players kneel and use their hands for the rock climbing motions. The mat orientation offers enough room, even for two, but more natural, hands free motion controls (i.e. controller gloves and shoe covers) in the nearby future would be perfect here.
Each activity features a video tutorial, though a few activities still require some trial and error testing to even out all the rough patches. The helpful player ghost option prompts improved performance while the characters themselves, though colorful, could use some customization options.
The tournament, challenge and free play/exercise training modes offer flexible options. The largely competitive multiplayer mode (co-operative options still available) and unlockables expand gameplay a bit. The total package always gets a boost with strong visuals, which lack smoothness here. The comic style color palettes don’t compensate this weakness as the sound effects and short voice excerpts definitely miss their opportunity as well.
The game reinforces the “extreme” theme with all age abilities plus tricks and jumps where timing and coordination require some quick thinking strategy. It won’t take experienced players long to master each activity, so developers add unlockables and four difficulty levels ranging from beginner to expert.
The performance grades (usually from a high A to low E) feel random at times and rewards unexpectedly high marks in below average performances. The individual action accuracy could be the main variable here, though highly active movement frequency could have an equal stake. Players can incorporate their Miis into game, but, without stronger graphics, this feature losses its luster. The appealing settings and large scope surrounding the player action needed stronger visual support. The missing balance board option is yet another missed opportunity in this entertaining, yet unpolished experience.
Active Life Extreme Challenge is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for comic mischief.