My Fitness Coach: Cardio Workout

Visually My Fitness Coach: Cardio Workout is quite a departure from the first game in the series. Cartoon-style avatars and customisable outfits take the place of Maya's more serious workout style. This is meant to be played progressively, so you have to work your way up from basic lessons to more advanced ones rather than joining in at a level more appropriate to your current fitness.

Shape Boxing is the main activity, so this is mostly a game about toning the upper body. Before starting each lesson there's a guide to how long it will take, which moves are involved, approximate calories it will burn, and the overall difficulty. It's easy to plan your workouts thanks to this. Gameplay involves the Wii remote and nunchuck attachments, and this is really where it fails. The moves require good timing and combinations can get fairly fast, but when this happens you come up against the main flaw in the Wii-remote-plus-nunchuck design: the connecting lead. It flaps around, and more often than not you'll end up whipping yourself with it as you strive to connect each blow. There's a satisfying noise when you make an "excellent" punch, but players will pay for this success with red-raw arms.

Luckily there are more exercises, some of which focus on the balance board. For these there's a challenge mode which usually takes 3 minutes or less, or you can train for a set time or number of repetitions of your choice.

Push-ups, squats, abdominal exercises and back training are straightforward moves using the balance board. They're well designed and the tracking is quite accurate, although nothing special in terms of their entertainment value.

Log Chopping is marginally less exciting than doing the chore for real, only you have no firewood to show for it. Roadwork (basically running), Sandbag and Mitt Work are again serviceable yet straightforward exercises. Jump Rope demands precise timing, but with no indication of exactly when you're supposed to move the Wii remote in any direction so it's extremely frustrating, and not energetic enough to be worth the hassle.

Punch Dodge uses the balance board, and it's the best designed minigame of the selection on offer. You have to lean and duck to avoid the robot's incoming punches, so it keeps you on your toes.

Finally the boxing exams offer up tougher challenges and yet more sections to unlock. You only get gold to spend after doing these if you achieve a pass, and the more advanced exams are pretty tough. The upshot is that there's lots to unlock in terms of game content, new music tracks and costumes. This would be a game with great longevity if only the basic gameplay were better thought out. But since the boxing which makes up the majority of this game involves getting your forearms relentlessly bashed by the connecting cord, it's not something you would want to play for any length of time.