When Nintendo first announced Wii Fit, many people scoffed at the concept (particularly the "hardcore" crowd), but several years on, millions of copies sold and umpteen imitations later, the fitness genre is still going strong. In fact, Ubisoft's Your Shape game began life on the Wii, coming with it's own little camera, before heading over to the Xbox 360 and Kinect where it stayed for a few yearly iterations. But with Nintendo's new console on the block, no Wii Fit U for a while and EA Sports Active noticeable by it's absence, things have come full circle, and it's up to Your Shape to fill the exercise-shaped hole in the console's line up.
When you first launch Your Shape, you're taken through setting up your profile, inputting your weight (manually, seeing as the game doesn't use the Wii Balance Board), height and "level of activity" (couch potato for us), as well as taking a mug shot with the GamePad's built in camera. Once you're all set up, you'll be presented with the game's menu on the GamePad, letting you choose between the Your Shape's four main modes – Workouts, Classes, Program and Activities. For everything you do fitness-wise on Your Shape, you get rewarded with coins, which can be exchanged for different trainers, additional exercises and more at the in-game Store.
The bulk of your time will most likely be spent between the Workouts and Classes sections, where you'll find over a hundred different routines to work your way through. In Workouts, you'll find the more traditional exercises we've come to associate with keeping fit – crunches, squats and the like – all mixed up into short 5 to 15 minute workouts designed to target a different problem area. You can tone your abs, sculpt your thighs or strengthen your back, as well as warm up and cool down with a selection of specific routines. The Classes meanwhile, have more of a theme, be it dancing, kickboxing or power training, as well as a number of 'zen' sessions, which seem to be a mix of yoga and pilates with some tai chi-esque martial arts moves thrown in for good measure – given that we devoted most of our time on Wii Fit to the yoga routines, it's these zen routines we seem to spend the most time on.
Perhaps one of the most useful tools in the whole game is the Program section, where you can choose a fitness goal - such as tone your lower body, improve your stamina or reduce stress - select how many weeks you want it to carry on for and how often, along with a preference for fighting, zen or dancing exercises and create your very own workout program from there. It'll then remind you when it's time for a workout session, and you can check on your progress in the Program menu whenever you feel like it. Being able to generate a routine is by and large far more convenient than ummming and ahhing over the huge list of activities in Your Shape; a convenience that will most likely make it easier to keep up with your exercise plans.
As a bit of a break from the more traditional workouts, the activities section has a few more fun things to try. Considering Your Shape hails from the company that brought us the uber popular Just Dance series, it comes as no surprise that dancing is included, although a bit more variety would have been appreciated, with a scant selection of four songs to play, one from each of the likes of Rhianna, LMFAO, NERD and Chic, each with an easy and hard variant. A more relaxing alternative to all that jigging about comes in the form of the Zen Flow exercises, perhaps the most game-y portion of the whole package, designed to help you focus on your balance and deep breathing. Using the GamePad's built in gyroscope, you need to follow a little ball of light around a series of shapes whilst adopting different Yoga-like poses – the longer you can track the ball, the more points you score.
If you're stuck with what to do, or just want to mix things up a bit, the To Do list randomly chooses three activities from the game on a daily basis for you to complete, earning bonus coins for each one you manage to fit in. It's a good idea, and is only really let down by it's execution – you can't actually tap each of the To Dos and be taken straight to the relevant exercise, instead having to search through the reams and reams of exercises to find the correct one, often praying you've remembered which activity it suggested correctly.
When you've worked up an appetite, the cryptically named Fitness Pal features a pretty packed recipe compendium. With 150 recipes ranging from smoothies and salads to pizzas and cakes, split into sections themed around your goals, such as build muscle, reduce stress or lose weight, as well as a bonus child-friendly cooking section with three pages of healthy options for the youngsters, each recipe comes with an approximate difficulty and cooking time, as well as a break down of it's nutritional value – and to save you time wading through recipes you're not interested in, you can also filter the results to include just vegan, vegetarian, gluten free or cheap too.
One of Your Shape's much-lauded features was it's online integration – a rather confusing to set up mish-mash of your Nintendo Network ID, Ubisoft Uplay account and the Your Shape website all work together to turn your lone calorie burning into a more connected experience, although most of it, annoyingly, is handled through the Your Shape website. You can join in global events from the website, where everyone in the world who owns the game can compete in various challenges, such as burning the most calories in the shortest amount of time on various activities, or, if you have friends who also own the game, you can compare your in-game achievements with theirs and try to beat there scores, or even create challenges between you where you can compete with friends to race towards a calorie target. While it is a bit of a faff having to set all these things up on the website rather than through the game, the fact the Wii U comes with a built-in web browser does make it a little bit easier – but even so, having support for it through the game would have been so much easier.
One of the things we actually like about this version of Your Shape is that, because it doesn't use a camera, it feels a lot more forgiving, and almost more accurate then its Xbox 360 Kinect counterparts. While the Xbox version would tell you you're doing something wrong when you know you're doing it right, the Wii U version leans on the other side of the spectrum, and mostly tells you you're doing great - which is a handy encouragement. As an added bonus, thanks to its lack of Kinect, you don't need such a large area of unobstructed space between you and the TV.
If you're looking for a workout game for your new Wii U, you can't go wrong with Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 – and not just because it's about the only fitness game out for the console so far. There's a huge amount of variety in the exercises on offer to ensure you don't get bored, as well as the option to create your own personalised workouts if you want something more specific. It is however much more of a serious workout game than Wii Fit, so those who particularly liked the daft mini-games with flying chickens, juggling balls and segway racing may want to hold off for the upcoming Wii Fit U instead.