Back when the Playstation 3D monitor was released, I was a big fan. I drove to my local Gamestop and picked it up. Even though I paid the full retail price $499 I was pretty happy with it. My thought at the time was that Sony was brilliant for introducing 3D at such a “low” price point to try to get us to adopt it just like they got us to adopt BluRay.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem like the 3D Monitor has quite taken off. I’ll chalk it up to the general state of the economy, not to mention some poor decisions by Sony (not including a TV tuner or a remote control with the unit, for example). Don’t get me wrong–I still love my 3D monitor. It serves as a terrific HDMI monitor for my computer, and I love the option of watching 3D Blu-Rays and 3D cable TV, even if it is on a smaller screen.
If you’ve been on the fence about this one, I very strongly recommend you check out a deal that Best Buy has going on now.
For $249.99, this unit is a steal. Let’s do the math. Here’s everything that’s bundled with the unit.
Motorstorm Apocalypse (decent game with street price of about $35)
3D Glasses ($60 retail value)
HDMI Cable (about $10)
So, factoring all these things in you end up getting the monitor for about $155! Especially if you have a home gym or fitness room. While things are a little slow on the PS3 gaming front, expect that to change in the summer when Adidas MiCoach is finally released!
I’ve been a little slow on posting reviews, but I’ll be posting a review of MLB 12: The Show soon, and of course I’ll cover gameplay on the 3D monitor. Stay tuned!
Happily, it looks like Adidas MiCoach is back on track, set to be launched in summer 2012. Those who have been following this game know that it was originally slated to be released earlier this year but it was unceremoniously pulled by its original publisher, THQ. This resulted in lawsuits between Adidas and THQ which happily have been resolved.
It turns out that 505 Games will now be releasing Adidas MiCoach for the Xbox and the PS3. 505 Games has previously published games such as Michael Phelps: Push the Limit and Grease Dance.
Something I learned that I didn’t realize before was that the developer behind this game is none other than Lightning Fish Games (now known as Chromativity) , who was behind other excellent fitness games such as NewU Fitness First Personal Trainer (a great Wii game whose distribution in the US was royally screwed up by Ubisoft) and Get Fit with Mel B (the first decent exercise title for the PS3). So you can be sure to expect a solid title.
Among other things, MiCoach will make use of existing Adidas MiCoach Fitness Technology, currently used by athletes and fitness buffs around the world to track real-time data such as heartrate and exercise time. Furthermore, the game will make use of the Kinect on the Xbox and the Move on the PS3 to run players through over 400 exercises. Actual athletes such as Kaka, Dwight Howard, Manuel Neuer, Jessica Ennis, Jose Mourinho, Ana Ivanovic, Will Genia and Eric Berry will provide “Master classes” for their sport.
I’ve been bullish on this game ever since it was first announced a year ago. Early indications are that it seems poised to pick up where EA Sports Active 2 left off. Of course, much will depend on how interactive and enjoyable the game ends up being. Stay tuned!
Usually you have to wait for the holidays to see deals like this, but today only Amazon has a new PS3 in its Gold Box for $259.99. In addition, starting at 2:00 PM Eastern Time (11:00 AM Pacific), it appears that they’ll have the Move on sale as well.
Of all the sports that make sense for motion controls, tennis perhaps makes the most sense. After all, the way you grip a Wii remote or a PS3 Move controller is a lot like the way you grip a tennis racquet. And newer motion controls can detect everything from the angle you’re holding the controller to the amount of force you use to the intricate movements your wrists make during play.
I’ve been waiting for a tennis game that has the same “coolness” factor as Sports Champions Ping Pong, where you rotate your wrists and literally see your on-screen racquet rotate as well. Unfortunately, Grand Slam Tennis 2 isn’t quite there. But it’s a wholly enjoyable game that makes pretty good use of the Move controllers. I won’t say you’ll necessarily get a spectacular workout from it, but you’ll certainly burn more calories than you would sitting on the couch munching on potato chips.
The opening menu has quite a number of options. One thing I found right away was that navigating using the Move controller was extremely clunky. And don’t get me started on screens that require keyboard input. I strongly recommend using the Dualshock controller for navigating menus.
Here are the options:
Play Now: your options are Singles and Doubles
Game Modes: the options are Career, ESPN Grand Slam Classics, and Tournament
Training: the options are Tennis School and Practice Court
Online: options here are Online Play Now, Grand Slam Corner, Online Tournament, Leaderboards, and My Tennis Online
Creation Zone: options here are Create Player and Share a Pro
My Tennis: options include Settings, Save/Load/Delete, Profile Management, and EA Sports Extras
Play Now / Controller Selection
With Play Now you can just right into a singles or doubles match. If you plan on having two players, be sure at least two controllers (either Move or Dualshock) are turned on.
When you select Singles, you’ll be sent to a scrollable list of current tennis stars, from current players like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Serena Williams to old-time players like John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert.
You assign a controller by dragging it to the player you want. You have a lot of options regarding which controllers to use. If you want to have the system do the running and volleying for you, all you have to do is drag just the Move controller alone to the player you want. I’d definitely recommend this when you’re just beginning.
If you want to control the running via the Dualshock or the Move Navigation controller, just drag the Move controller and one of those controllers to the player. One slightly odd thing is that once you drag a Move controller and a Navigation controller to the same player, the two are linked together from that point on, and the only way to “unlink” them is to shut one of the controllers off.
Gameplay with the Move Controls
I’ve got good things and bad things to say about the gameplay itself on the Move. On the good side, there are a a staggering number of different shots you can make based just on how you swing the controller and press the buttons. Most of them feel pretty close to the real thing. For example, the most basic shot, the flat shot, is done by starting and finishing the swing at the same height, swinging horizontally to the ground. You can theoretically aim your shots the way you time your shots, position your racquet, and twist your wrist as you make shots. You slice by moving the Move controller from high to low) and you do topspin by (which happens when you move the Move controller from low to high
There’s an excellent part of the game called “Tennis School” that has written instructions on how to make each shot, and runs you through drills to test how well you understand them.
The problem is, as you progress through the game the motion controls are way, way too finicky. It took me about two dozen tries to get out of the most basic “flat shot” class in “tennis school” because it kept interpreting my “flat shot” as either a slice or a topspin. This is presumably because I didn’t move my controller in an absolutely perfect 180 degree line. Worse, when I tried to aim shots, it really felt like it was hit or miss. I felt that most of my time during these tutorials was spent trying to learn how to compensate for the idiosyncrasies of the controls, rather than learning intuitive controls.
Ironically, as pickily precise as EA Sports made some of the Move controls, you really don’t feel like you have full control of your player throughout the game. Despite the game’s claims to the contrary, whether I swing with full force or tap the controller, the system seems to arbitrarily decide how strong my shot is. When my opponent approaches the net and I hit a lob, more often than not no matter where I try to aim it, it’ll end up in a place where she can smash it. And when I approach the net myself, if I try to tap the ball in front of the net, invariably the system will decide that I want to stroke the ball–usually ending up right in front of my opponent.
In many ways, Virtua Tennis 4‘s implementation of Move controls felt much, much more natural than Grand Slam Tennis 2′s . But sadly, use of the Move in Virtual Tennis is limited to a “demo” mode.
After changing the genre with Grand Slam Tennis for the Wii, I would have hoped EA Sports would have made Move controls which are truly intuitive, so much so that you don’t really need a “tutorial” (if you say it can’t be done, just look at Sports Champions table tennis again). But they seem to have fallen short.
As for the tennis simulation itself, that’s another story. I was absolutely blown away by the realism of the game. That EA has obtained licensing for all the top stars in tennis, as well as all the top venues, was a coup. This especially goes for Wimbledon, which is notoriously picky about licensing.
EA Sports did a decent job in capturing the individual players’ mannerisms, although one complaint is that no matter who the player is, they seem to like to serve and volley (and again, the fact that lobs don’t work the way they should makes this doubly aggravating). But if you can get past this, the sights and sounds of the venues are outstanding, from the red clay of Roland Garros to the green grass of Wimbledon to the hard courts of Queens and Australia.
One of the funnest ways to enjoy this game is to play with a friend. Here’s a match that Lisa and I played:
Notice that one rally went on for five minutes. This is because difficulty was set to “Beginner”, which essentially turned the game into a glorified game of Wii Sports Tennis, where all you had to do was hit the ball with the right timing. Switching the difficulty to Pro made the game a little shorter.
Career mode is an interesting simulation over 10 years where you start as the 100th ranked player in the world and work your way to #1 and trying to win a Grand Slam. Each “year” you’ll play two lead up event prior to each of the four Grand Slam Tournaments. During this time you’ll gain points for achieving various career objectives (for example, defeating Nadal at the French Open will get you 500 points, winning 5 Wimbledon titles will get you 500 points, and so on). You’ll also have objectives for each year (such as achieving 25 aces, winning a match at Australia Court 15, etc.)
For each tournament, you can choose short (1 set of 3 games), medium (3 sets of 3 games), or long (5 sets of 6 games). The tournaments start out easy and get progressively harder. Here’s my character competing in one of the easier tournaments in the purple courts of Dubai:
ESPN Grand Slam Classics
My absolute favorite feature in the game is ESPN Grand Slam Classics. This is a series of reenactments of the greatest tennis matches in history, and an intriguing series of scenarios called “fantasy”. In each of the matches, you start play in the pivotal set, and can play as either of the players.
You start with the 2000s, and unlock events as you work towards the all-time great and fantasy matches.
January 2003 Australian Open Final between Serena Williams and Venus Williams.
July 2004 Wimbledon Final between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams
June 2007 French Open Final between Justine Henin and Ana Ivanovic
January 2008 Australian Open Final between Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and Novak Djovokic
September 2008 US Open Semi Final between Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal
July 1990 Wimbledon Final between Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg
September 1990 US Open Semi Final between John McEnroe and Pete Sampras
July 1991 Wimbledon Final between Michael Stich and Boris Becker
September 1992 US Open Final between Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras
July 1995 Wimbledon Final between Pete Sampras and Boris Becker
September 1980 US Open Final between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg
June 1985 French Open Final between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova
January 1987 Australian Open between Pat Cash and Stefan Edberg
July 1989 Wimbledon Semi Final between Stefan Edberg and John McEnroe
July 1989 Wimbledon Final between Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg
July 1980 Wimbledon Final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe
September 1984 US Open Final between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert
July 2001 Wimbledon 4th Round Match between Roger Federer and Pete Sampras
July 2005 Wimbledon Final between Lindsay Davenport and Venus Williams
July 2008 Wimbledon Final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Australian Open match between Chris Evert and Serena Williams
French Open match between Rafael Nadal and Bjorn Borg
Wimbledon match between Andy Roddick and Boris Becker
Wimbledon match between Venus Williams and Martina Navratilova
US Open match between John McEnroe and Roger Federer
Here’s me playing as Andy Murray against Rafael Nadal:
Online Account Setup
One sour part of the game was setting up online play. I had an existing EA Sports online account that I’d set up with the Wii. But when you start out the game, it forces you to sign into your PSN account. And there’s no way to link your PSN account and an old EA Sports account.
Making matters much worse, the language they use throughout the game is aggravatingly confusing. When I go Online > My Tennis Online > Online Settings > EA Account Management, it lists my “EA Account Email Address” as my PSN account address. Worse, when I try changing my email address to my existing EA Sports account, I get the message “Unable to update your account info at this time. Please try again later.” Problem is, I tried again for days but always got the same message. It’s at this point that I realized that this error message was deliberately misleading–they simply don’t allow you to update the address, no matter which one you enter.
Once it’s set up, you can play against other players around the world.
Overall, I’d rate this game 4 out of 5 stars. I was disappointed that after all these months, the Move controls on this game (or in fact, any game) still haven’t come close to the original promise shown with Sports Champions. On the other hand, the simulation and the nods to tennis history make this one of the best tennis games for any system. I’d say it’s worth buying if you’re a tennis fan; if not, it’s yet another one to wait to arrive on the discount rack.
One of the game I was most looking forward to was Adidas MiCoach for the PS3. The release date was supposed to have been March 12, 2012. Then it was pushed back to March 31, 2012 on some site. And now, we get official word that the title has been cancelled.
The announcement came during THQ’s quarterly analyst call today. THQ announced it would focus once again on “hardcore gamers” versus casual gamers, likely a reaction to their disastrous marketing of their uDraw tablets, resulting in $33 million in losses. In only a few weeks, their stock price plummeted from around $1.75 to around $0.50 today.
It’s definitely a shame. The title was announced with a lot of fanfare, including celebrity endorsements from folks like Dwight Howard. It was exciting to hear that the Adidas MiCoach system would be integrated.
Hopefully another developer will pick up the slack (we’re talking to you, EA–are you working on EA Sports 3??) I think the market is still ripe for people who want to get a *real* exercise game that is both fun and provides great fitness.
Strangely, though, the US version still is “TBA” according to Sony’s official sources, and isn’t even showing up for pre-order on Amazon. One wonders whether the marketing folks at Sony are holding off until THQ does what will sure to be a massive PR campaign for MiCoach in the Spring which should increase awareness for PS3 Fitness in general.
Surfing around UK message boards, I’m finding that the UK version received tepid responses from critics. The consensus seems to be that while motion controls are excellent (not surprisingly), the routines themselves are repetitive and uninspired. Worst of all, they’re reporting that the game is simply not entertaining, a surprising assertion given that it’s developed by the same folks who developed The Fight: Lights Out.
However, in what I see as a trend for fitness games, user reviews seem to be giving it much higher reviews. This is where the perspective of a magazine reviewer playing the game for five minutes will differ from someone who’s committed to doing an exercise regimen and is looking for any tool available to spice up her or his routine.
Hopefully the delay in getting it to the US will be used to fine-tune it based on reviews in the UK. In the meantime, if you’re really looking forward to this game and can’t wait, you can buy the UK version of Move Fitness on eBay. As with all PS3 games, the UK version will play on US Playstations, but of course things like narration, spelling, and units of measurement will be British. Not a bad thing if you’re looking for a sophisticated workout
The success of Just Dance franchise have spawned a dizzying number of “copycat” games that use motion controls to let you do “real dance moves”. This holiday season alone there have been more than 20 different games across the three major platforms. It’s enough to give anyone dance game fatigue.
The latest entrant into the morass is Get Up and Dance by O-Games. That’s right, the same company that brought you that fun game Jewel Time Deluxe and John Daly’s ProStroke Golf. Not to be confused with Bejeweled or Tiger Woods PGA Golf. No really, they’re completely different.
All sarcasm aside, throughout Get Up and Dance you can see the resemblance to Just Dance. You select songs to dance to from a “cover flow” interface and see icons which represent the number of dancers, complexity of the song, and “cardio points” representing the intensity of the song.
Hollywood – Marina and the Diamonds (2 stars, 2065 cardio points)
One Week – Barenaked Ladies (3 stars, 1242 cardio points)
Boom Shack-a-Lak – Apache Indian (1 star, 818 cardio points)
Push It – Salt-N-Pepa (1 star, 675 cardio points)
Me, Myself, and I – De La Soul (1 star, 950 cardio points)
Where’s Your Head At? – Basement Jaxx (2 stars, 2416 cardio points)
If We Ever Meet Again – Timbaland Feat Katy Perry (2-3 stars, 2031 cardio points, lead & backing)
What You Waiting For – Gwen Stefani (3 stars, 1512 cardio points, lead & backing)
At first I thought there were a lot more songs, but that’s because in the cover flow interface they repeat several titles in a fairly confusing way. Each song lets you choose a short version (about 1-3 minutes long) or a long version (about 3-5 minutes long).
Up to four players can dance at a time. All will dance to the same choreography unless there are lead & backing tracks, in which case all players will dance to one of two routines. Each dancer can also select or create a profile to keep track of their scores (there are four default profile names called “Boogie”, “Bouncy”, “Jitterbug”, and “Vogue”–the user interface is so confusing that it took me a while to figure out what these were…at first I thought they were difficulty levels or dance styles. Instead of being cute I wish they could have stuck with the more intuitive “Player 1″, “Player 2″).
Each player presses the Move button and the glowing orb will glow in a different color.
When you get to the dance screen the interface again is eerily reminiscent of Just Dance. You have to mirror the dance moves of a dancer on the page, which happens to be a glowing white silhouetted figure dressed in bright colorful clothes. There were only things I noticed that prevented this from looking like a complete ripoff of Just Dance.
First, the icons representing your moves are displayed scrolling down vertically on the left of the screen for lead tracks (on the right of the screen for backing tracks). I found this a lot less easy to follow than the cues on Just Dance, but after a while I got used to it.
Secondly, the actual full-screen music video of the song by the original artist is playing in the background of the screen. This I found terribly distracting. While you’re trying to focus on your own dancer’s movements, the video in the back is constantly in motion. As a result, you don’t really enjoy the video, and it becomes a chore to try to focus on your dancer’s moves. I much prefer the approach taken by the PS3 Everybody Dance, where the video is playing in a self-contained box on the page which you can turn on and off.
Finally, the choreography. To be honest, I found it a bit lackluster. It didn’t have the technical complexity of a Dance Central 2 nor even the fun and quirky personality of Just Dance 3. In both those games, it was clear that a professional choreographer had designed the dance moves in the spirit and style of the original artist. In this case, you go through to motions of jumping and moving your hands up and down and in circles, but in many cases the moves seems generic and uninspired.
As derivative and lackluster as the gameplay is, there are a handful of improvements over Just Dance. I do like that they show the “time elapsed and time remaining” on the top of the screen, something useful for workouts that I wish Just Dance would have as an option you could turn on and off. I also like that they give you the option of using two controllers–one in each hand–which can help get your scoring and get you more immersed in the dancing, although it’s certainly not mandatory. I also like how you can break down your accuracy in different parts of the song and go to “Rehearse” mode to practice any given section.
The game does have a lot of interesting options for multi-player play under the “Get Up and Party” mode. There’s “Team Classic”, where two teams of up to four can compete head-to-head to see who can get the best score. “Last Man Standing” is an interesting game where two teams of up to two players each can do a “dance off” to see who dances the best. “Tug of War” is a fun variation of this, where the stronger team will win a virtual tug-of-rope game the more accurately they dance.
There’s also a “Shape Up” mode. After you set your profile, you can select one of five levels ranging from Beginner to Intense, which basically dictate how many songs you’ll dance to each workout session. There are some specially choreographed songs that play more like aerobic routines than dance routines, which can help maximize your workout. When you play the songs, you’re not graded based on how accurately you move; instead, you’ll see a counter of “cardio points” which just go up every time you move your controller. Of course, you’re on the “honor system” to do it right–you can rack up thousands of cardio points by just sitting on the couch and spinning your hands, of course there’s no point in doing that. A graph will show you your progress from week to week.
There’s also a mode called “Get Up and Dance Group” which is basically like a “career mode” where you and some friends can go through a series of “talent competitions”. It may be fun for kids to play this mode so they can pretend they’re competing on reality shows, but other than that it’s nothing special.
At the end of the day, I’m guessing the primary purchasers of this game will be people who want to save a little money (the retail price of the game is $10 less than Just Dance, although street prices make them about equal right now), and grandmas who see the title “Get Up and Dance” on the shelf and assume it’s Just Dance. Having said that, I would put the production quality of the game a hair above shovelware. I would say it’s a worthwhile purchase if you happen to like any of the songs in the playlist, or if you play in groups and have played Just Dance so much you need a little change of pace. But other than that, in a world with fifty gazillion and one dance titles out there, there’s really nothing too special about this one. 3.5 of 5 stars.
Ubisoft released Just Dance 3 for the Wii and the Xbox back in October 2011, but noticeably absent was a version for the Playstation 3, which didn’t get released until two months later. Those of you who’ve read my rather detailed reviews for the Wii and Xbox versions know that I’m a big fan of this series and have been since the first version came out for the Wii two years ago. The pop music soundtrack has a little of something for everyone, the motion detection is decent, and the choreography is easy-to-follow and a lot of fun. It’s one of the best party games out there.
The best way I can describe Just Dance 3 for the Playstation is that it’s a direct port of the Wii version, nothing more, nothing less. As a result it’s not a bad game, but you can’t help but feel that it could have and should have been so much more.
As with the Wii version, when you start the game you get a pleasantly simple home screen which consists of three menu options: Just Dance, Just Sweat, and Options. Menu navigation is seamless using the Playstation Move controller.
Choosing “Just Dance” lets you select individual songs to dance to or lets you select different playlists that group songs together by style or genre. As with the other versions, as you play you can collect “Mojo Points” to unlock new playing modes, new songs, etc.
Turning on “Just Sweat” mode lets you choose a free session where you can start working out to any song or playlist, or a 7-Day Challenge section with three options of increasing intensity which are roughly the equivalent of walking, running, or swimming 30 minutes a day. As with the other versions, you collect “sweat points” as you dance to different songs. Like the Wii version, you’re basically on the “honor system”. If you just move your hands, you can get a high score. But to get real exercise (and have real fun) you should be putting your whole body into the dancing.
The choreography, graphics, and animations are literally identical to what you’ll see on the Wii and the Xbox. The only noticeable difference I saw was that some details are a little sharper in the PS3 version.
As with the Wii version, you hold a single Move controller in your right hand and mirror the on-screen character’s moves. The motion detection is decent, although not quite to the precision and detail of a game like Dance Central 2 on the Xbox or even Everybody Dance on the PS3. This is by design; while those games stress more complex dance instruction and technical accuracy, Just Dance was clearly designed to be a fun party game first and foremost.
As on the other platforms, all songs are marked with icons that designate their technical complexity and their workout intensity. All the songs can be played by 1 to 4 people, each with their own Move controller. In most of the songs all players dance the same steps, but there are a handful of songs that are cleverly choreographed for two players and four players to dance a full routine with each dancer having his or her own independent steps; these are a ton of fun to play in groups where up to four players can dance and the rest of the group can enjoy an entertaining performance. On the Xbox version multiplayer mode can get awkward, as all four players have to squeeze within the Kinect’s camera view. The PS3 developers wisely designed the game so that if the Move controllers happen to go outside the range of the Playstation Eye camera, the internal accelerometers of the Move controllers will still detect motion (much like a Wii Remote). While this may detract slightly from scoring accuracy, ultimately it makes multiplayer play a lot more fun as players don’t necessarily need to worry about squeezing into a tiny space.
While the port of the Wii functionality was near flawless, I have to admit I was disappointed that they decided to leave it at that. Given the capabilities of the PS3, it could have been so much more. For example, the choreography mode that was developed for the Xbox version is noticeably missing from the PS3 version (a shame given that Sony already demonstrated with Everybody Dance that it could be done and done extremely well on the PS3). Something else in the Xbox version that’s missing from the PS3 version is the ability to see your own video image and compare it to the on-screen character’s movements. Surprisingly, there isn’t even an option for downloadable content, something even the Wii version has.
In addition to the aforementioned omissions, I would have loved to see them push the envelope forward with a “record your performance” feature and the ability to share on social networks, both things which the PS3 is fully capable of. But there’s nothing like that here.
I’d say that Just Dance 3 is ideal for PS3 owners who happen to have friends or relatives who already have Just Dance 3 on the Xbox or Wii. You’ll be able to practice on your PS3 and not miss a beat (literally) when you play the same songs on their systems. Furthermore, if you have a child whose school uses Just Dance 3 in gym classes, this would be a great way for him or her to get a little practice at home. And of course, the fact that it’s casual makes it a lot of fun for families and friends to play together at parties.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for the best dance game on the PS3 and don’t have any ties to Just Dance on other platforms, I’d have to give the edge to Everybody Dance, which does a much better job of maximizing the use of the PS3 Move and the Playstation Eye camera, as well as overall better graphics.
With the introduction of 3D gaming and the Sony Move Wii-like motion controllers, 2010 looks to be the year that the Sony Playstation 3 takes video games to the next level. Stay tuned to this blog for the latest news and game reviews of the Sony Move and new games as they come out!