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Outdoor Challenge for Nintendo Wii

Using the specially-designed mat and the Wii Remote?, Outdoor Challenge players compete in over a dozen single and multi-player events like river rafting, mine-cart adventure, log jumping, and more.
Namco Bandai Games
Most people who haven't just recently crawled out from under a rock associate the Nintendo Wii with active gaming (as opposed to simply exercising your fingers). But as the record holder of most of the Wii Fit recreational games in my family, I had often wanted the whole experience to be less restrictive. Don't get me wrong, I can feel my arms bulk up after a 10 minute session with the punching bag or my legs tire after an intense step-aerobic session, but it seems that most of the activities on the Balance Board are restricted to resistance training and, well, balance. Sometimes, you just feel like breaking free and cutting loose --- and that's when game shows a picture of a silhouette in the air with a line through it, indicating "do not jump".

Along comes the first title in Namco Bandai's "Active Life" series, named "Outdoor Challenge", and all restraints are removed. This game not only allows you to jump, it encourages you to run, stomp and use the included mat in all sorts of outdoor activities! Like Wii Fit, it has a running game but, unlike Wii Fit where you simply run with the Wiimote in your pocket acting as a pedometer, "Active Life" makes you step on the pad in alternate footsteps, just like real running.

Almost all the activities are represented as intuitively as possible. In the "Sprint Challenge" game, you can switch to the right and left lanes simply by shifting on the mat as you run. In the "Mountain Board" game, you get to grab the left or right side of the board by simply putting your hand down on the corresponding button on either side (you can even stand "goofy"). There is even a "Pipe Slider" game where you sit down and maneuver you inner tube inside a tunnel using your hands. For the ultimate classic, there is "Mole Stomper" which is a life-size whack-a-mole where your feet are used to stomp away the moles. My kids' favorite is the teamwork "Mine Cart Adventure", where one of them pumps the Wiimote up and down to build up speed and they both have to lean left or right depending on the turn and lifting the other foot off the floor pad. Yes, there are a few activities which are two player teamwork or challenge.

While attempting to unlock all the games for my kids to play in a single sitting, I wound up sweating profusely and unable to complete Level 4 on the Advanced Outdoor Adventure round due to my arms and legs being too tired to continue. This also seems to be the first non-Nintendo title to make use of the Mii characters, so Bandai must have gotten the big N's blessing for this game.

All in all, most of the games are intense and quite rigorous on the harder levels. My least favorites are the side-scroller activities, mostly because they remove the first-person point-of-view which makes the game more immersive. The "Kayak Attack" is also frustrating at times because you have to "paddle" with the Wiimote and, when you lose the rhythm, you are either swinging too slowly for the system to react to or swinging too hard so that the game displays a warning. This particular outdoor activity may benefit from the new Motion Plus precision.

"Active Life: Outdoor Challenge" is indeed an aerobic game, and I look forward to seeing the other titles in the series.
Kent Lee