Hands on with My Weight Loss Coach on DS

Slim down to the size of your stylus to get the skinny on Ubisoft's flab-busting effort

Hands on with My Weight Loss Coach on DS

It's become a stereotype: the lazy gamer, sitting on the couch at home, indifferent to health and physical fitness. The lifting of Doritos serving as the only strenuous activity to be had all day, that is if you don't count the rapid tapping of buttons during shooters or action games. My Weight Loss Coach (My Health Coach: Weight Management in the UK) aims to replace the conception of games as sedentary with one of activity and healthful living; in other words, you can have your games and play them too.

A weight loss regime consists of daily sessions comprising four key objectives: walking, dedicated exercise, nutritional balance, and physical activity. To stay on top of your weight loss plan, you need to complete tasks in each of the four areas daily and record the results in the game. Alternatively, results can be input less frequently, although you're more likely to receive greater results both in terms of weight loss and data tracking if you're diligent about reporting your activities in the game.

The first daily objective, walking, provides you with specific goals for distance travelled on foot during your day. A pedometer included with the game allows you to gauge how many steps you've taken throughout the course of you day. For example, the game might ask you to complete 6000 steps. Inserting the pedometer into the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot on your DS enables you to upload the number of steps you walked on that day directly to the game. On those days that you don't carry the pedometer, you can simply enter the number of steps you've taken.

As you spend more time with the game, you'll achieve walking milestones based on how many cumulative steps you've taken such as the length of the Great Wall of China or span of the Sahara. It's part of the game's motivation system to highlight your accomplishment and encourage you into continued success. Between activities you participate in coaching sessions intended to boost morale and quiz you on your own habits. While it's hard to derive motivation from a digital coach, it's impossible not to smile at the adorable line-drawn graphics. Stick figures probably are an extreme role model for those aiming to lose weight, but at least they'll put a smile on your face.

Beyond walking, you also need to engage in a minimum 30 minutes of exercise. What type of activity you perform is up to you, although the game offers nine different categories ranging from swimming to jogging to weight lifting. Just like with walking, you need to input the type of exercise performed and the duration. It's possible to cheat and say you've done more than you actually have, but that defeats the entire purpose of using the software. The expectation is that if you're willing to use the game as a weight loss tool then you're not going to be compelled to cheat since it won't help you in any way.

Nutritional balance requires the most interaction of the four areas, as you're asked to input everything you eat in a given day into the game. Naturally, the game encourages you to balance your diet with healthier foods by analyzing your daily intake and making suggestions for gradual improvement. There are two options for inputting your diet, the first of which enables you to quickly select the type of meal you've eaten from light, heavy, and balanced. The second way allows a more detailed breakdown of specific foods. If you've eaten a piece of fruit as a snack, for instance, you can go to the fruit category, tap it to select a sub-category and then find the specific fruit. It's all very intuitive thanks to wise use of the stylus for control.

The fourth and final component of your daily session has you completing any of over several hundred challenge tasks. These divide up into two categories: minute and 24 hour challenges. A minute challenge may ask you to rush to the refrigerator and chuck out any unhealthy foods, whereas a 24 hour task might demand that you go and clean out your car. Ubisoft promises upwards of 500 different tasks.

Undoubtedly, much care has been taken to craft a comprehensive and rather useful application to help motivate weight loss. My Weight Loss Coach could prove a welcome aide to a smaller population, but it seems to be just that - a rather limited audience. Ultimately, the question of weight loss really comes down to the seriousness of the individual in their effort to become fit. Ubisoft's game definitely looks like it'll support that endeavor, yet it'll take more than a wave of the stylus to slim down.

Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.