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on October 20, 2010
Back in 2008, Namco Bandai released Active Life Outdoor Challenge. The game was a collection of 15 fun activities, and the game came with its own proprietary mat which had a clever layout of four buttons in blue and four buttons in orange, which could be used by one player or by two players standing next to each other. It was a well-designed and highly successful game.

In 2009, they followed it up with the less successful Active Life Extreme Challenge. This was not a great follow-up to the original. The graphics were subpar to the original, and the activities seemed uninspired.

So the question became: after a sophomore slump, would Namco return the series to its former glory with Active Life Explorer, its third installment?

The answer is a resounding YES.

Active Life Explorer is a game which captures the fun and whimsy of the original, while also introducing enough improvements and innovations to breathe fresh new life into the series.

The game has an "Indiana Jones" theme. All of the activities center around an adventurer as he goes around the world looking for treasure. What I like about this game is that the developers didn't just use this theme as a mere backdrop--they very thoughtfully designed each game so it captured all the drama and excitement of the adventure. Here are just a few examples:

Runaway Train: This is a load of fun. Your mission is to stop a train travelling at breakneck speeds towards a cliff. You start by running as fast as you can on top of the train (running in place on the mat) , ducking (bending down and putting your hands on the mat) as the train goes under obstacles, and jumping to get from car to car. When you get to the front car, you need to move your feet as fast as you can to pull the brake lever and shut the train down. There's real drama as the frantic music plays in the background and you see the speeding train on the tracks heading towards its doom!

Mummy's Tomb: This is one of the more clever games that incorporates both running and video game skill. Your mission is to run away from mummies while lugging all your treasure out of the tomb. After running a while you'll encounter some gates, which you'll need to close (by alternating your feet) and lock (by pressing the correct button sequence shown on the screen). While all this is going on, the mummies encroach. You then come to a locked gate, which you'll need to unlock by pressing the correct buttons in a spinning roulette.

Jungle Vine Ruins: Remember that old arcade game "Jungle Hunt" where your character would have to swing from vine to vine, like Tarzan? This is the same idea, except you're seeing things from the character's point of view! Run as fast as you can by alternating your feet, jump off a cliff to reach a vine, and then time it so that you jump to the next vine. This one is a blast.

I don't have the space here to review the other 21 games, but suffice it to say the vast majority of them provide both great fun and great exercise. You'll experience everything from trying to stay ahead of a collapsing bridge, leading a dog pack in the snow, and avoiding attacks in shark-infested waters.

Here are some of the things I liked most about this game:

1) There are 24 different games on the disc. On the Wii this is ordinarily a warning sign, as many Wii game publishers who do this end up pushing "shovelware" to the public. Not so with Active Life Explorer. What is impressive about this title is that every single one of the games seems well thought-out and well-designed. There is not a dud in the bunch.

2) The controls are all extremely intuitive from game to game. A clear tutorial is provided for you before you start each game, but in most cases you'll pick up on what you need to do quickly. This is critical for a game that kids will be playing.

3) Overall, I found the accuracy of the controls to be improved over Active Life Outdoor and Extreme Challenges. And get this--you can actually jump on the mat! (This is a pet peeve of mine with the Wii Balance Board).

4) This is a fantastic family game where multiple people can play together. Some of the games have "co-op" mode where two players have to work together to accomplish a goal. In other games, anywhere from 2 to 4 players can compete head-to-head (they each take a different side or corner of the mat).

5) It really is great exercise. After I played through all 24 games I was out of breath. I can only imagine when families and friends play together and the competition gets intense, that families will get exercise without even realizing it.

6) The graphics are beautiful. It's still a Wii, so the graphics are still cartoony. But the game developers did a great job of design, from the bright red molten metal in Mine Cart Mayhem to the beautiful colors of the coral reef you scuba dive through in Pirate's Treasure.

7) Most importantly, the activities are FUN. Clearly a lot of thought was put into designing these games. If you enjoyed the "Obstacle Course" in Wii Fit but found it much too short or too easy, you should find many of the activities in this game rival that.

8) There's a "Treasure Adventure" mode which combines all the various activities together in the form of a story. As you play through this you experience increasingly challenging activities and earn different "treasures". Makes for a fun and interesting exercise regimen.

I honestly don't have many negative things to say. The only things I would think to improve are:

1) The game only supports use of one mat. With four players sharing one mat it becomes pretty crowded. It would have been nice for them to support at least two mats.

2) Some of the activities are quite short. I would have liked to see some "extended" versions of the activities for those who want to have longer exercise time.

3) After each event you earn "Exercise Points". It's unclear to me what this means. I think a simple calorie count would have been best.

Overall, I am very impressed with Active Life Explorer. It is currently the king of the hill as far as fun and effective titles where the whole family can play together and maybe get a little exercise in the process.
1111 comments|195 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 12, 2010
I got this game for my 5 year old daughter for her birthday, and it's been a big hit. She and her 8 year old cousin--and the parents!--had a blast playing it, very intuitive controls and you should see their little legs moving! She does get frustrated with not being the best at every game, but a lot of the games are cooperative in play (3 legged race, everyone pedal a car, both move feet at the right time to steer one cart, etc.), and if anyone clears a level both avatars celebrate. Each segment is very short, but it keeps it fast paced and fun, and you run a bit then rest, then run some more. I love the amount of exercise she is getting off it. A couple of the different things have been too hard for her (timing your jumps to avoid fire breathing statues, press buttons on the mat in order or three at a time), but I figure she will grow into that & it will be challenging for older kids and adults. Plus the avatars on the three legged race literally had me rolling on the floor laughing as they stumbled and tried to run and fell. The chasing mummies etc. are very cartoonish, and when they catch you there is just a big cloud of dust till you get free ... a little scary, but not overly so.

The other fun thing is the Miis. This time around you get to use your mii, and you earn costumes for it. Yay, fun for a five year old for sure! Very nice. Overall I highly recommend for 5 years and up, this is a visually appealing and very fun game, alone and especially with a friend or two. Lots of great upgrades from the earlier versions, lots of very nicely thought out and fun challenges, and easy to play the quest (unlock different challenges at increasinly difficult levels) or free mode, where you can play or practice any of the different games with 1 to 4 people (we just chose 2 player and switched off, but it worked out very nicely). Lots of fun!
22 comments|39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 9, 2012
There seem to be mixed messages here: some people claim that the game won't work on their new Wii, while other people claim that the game will work, if only people would open the little door and hook the mat up to the right port!

I have official news from both the Active Life Explorer company and Nintendo: This game will NOT work on the new Wii.

Any Wii that is NOT Gamecube compatible will not work with this game. You need to plug it into the Gamecube port. Here is the LiveText I exchanged with an Active Life Explorer company representative, Brian:

Brian: What color is your Nintendo Wii system and what game came included in the box?
Patricia: The Wii is black and it came with "New Super Mario Brothers"
Brian: Unfortunately, this means that you would have one of the newer Nintendo Wii models. Unfortunately, Active Life is not compatible with the newer Nintendo Wii models as they do not have the Gamecube ports required in order to connect the mat to the system. The Active Life Floor Mat requires the Gamecube inputs in order to be able to connect the floor mat to the system. The newer Wii models do not have these inputs available. If you have an older Wii model with the Gamecube ports included, you'll be able to connect the floor mat to your Nintendo Wii system. You can check for these ports by going to your Nintendo Wii (in the upright vertical position) and opening the plastic flaps on the top of the system to reveal these additional ports.

I then phoned Nintendo to find out if they had a converter I could use. The answer is no. When Nintendo reconfigured the Wii, they removed not only the Gamecube port but also Gamecube functionality. This means that the newer Wii is cheaper--and that it won't play what seems like a very cool game.
33 comments|42 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 26, 2010
My kids play this game everyday! I have a 3.5, 7 & 9. They can all play it together (with us the parents at the same time as well) or by themselves. It is a fabulous work out! I've done it and I feel like I just went to the gym! It has over 25 games in one mode and I believe there are three modes. My girlie girl loves all the costumes she wins! My youngest loves the train game. It's the most played Wii game we have ever purchased. A MUST PURCHASE!!!
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on December 3, 2011
Sorry about the harsh 1 star review but....

This game is incompatible with the new Wii!

I just tried to pick up the old Wii at target to play with this game and they said they've discontinued it!

So before you buy this game make sure it will work with your Wii.

Namco needs to come out with a wireless adapter or a lot of "Active Life" owners will be left "out in the cold" when they have to replace their Wii.
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on December 30, 2012
Please note the following information from the Nintendo web-site if purchasing. This does not work with a new Wii.

Difference Between the Models of Wii Consoles

Two models of the Wii console have been released:
Model Number RVL-001 Released in November 2006.
Model Number RVL-101 Released in October 2011. Has the same look, feel and
function as model RVL-001, with the following exceptions:

Designed to sit horizontally rather than vertically.

The Nintendo GameCube controller sockets and memory card slots have been

The system is not compatible with Nintendo GameCube game discs or accessories.

The system does not support Wii titles or accessories that require the use of
the Nintendo GameCube controller ports. Because they require Nintendo GameCube
controller ports to work, the following Wii titles are not compatible with model

Active Life: Explorer
Active Life: Extreme Challenge
Active Life: Magical Carnival
Active Life: Outdoor Challenge
Ultimate Party Challenge

The following titles will have limited functionality when used with model
Dance Dance Revolution
DanceDanceRevolution II
Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Grooves
DanceDanceRevolution Hottest Party
DanceDanceRevolution Hottest Party 2
DanceDanceRevolution Hottest Party 3
Walk It Out
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on December 24, 2010
I own both of the other two games in the series and I feel that this is the best one yet. It really improves from the first one with the flow of game play. The other games felt like a lot of individual activities but, this one feels more like a longer "adventure game" I'm sure this one will take much longer to complete. I've also noticed that the games in general are more challenging than the first one, but that's a good thing. I think every one agrees that the second of this series "extreme challenge" really wasn't good at all, but they've more than made up for it with this addition to the series.
I've haven't fully explored this but I'm also excited about the party mode (up to 8 players) and the options to play up to 4 players in the adventure mode.
0Comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Active Life Explorer is like no other game I played before because it comes with a mat. In the game you travel to different missions and have to do things like cross a falling bridge, dive down into the ocean and unlock a porthole, duck under bridges while jumping over holes - there really is a lot to do in this game! There are 24 themed activities (jungle, western, underwater, snowy, and more) to complete and explore.

First you choose your journey and amount of players you want. My favorite is the Treasure Adventure, which stars you as a treasure hunter who has to accomplish tasks to open up new lands to find treasure on. You also talk to villagers and learn tips and secrets! Next there is Free Play, which is where you pick from the 24 games, set the difficulty, number of players and then try to get the highest record in the game! Free Play is great if you just have a few moments to play and want to release some energy, or want to compete against a friend in a quick match! Party Mode is the next journey and you can play with up to 8 players in 20 rounds. You can choose a Quick Game or a longer game - you do obviously have to take turns with 8 players! The Treasure Room is where you can try on new outfits, check your medals and times, and more. Finally there is Treasure Trials, which you select your skill on and choose which Trial to conquer. This journey has different games that you have to complete in a certain order to become a master hunter and unlock new content.

The first time I played this game I was so out of breathe and couldn't believe how much of a workout I was getting from a game! Most of the movements are walking in place, running in place, jumping, and tapping certain arrows with you hit or hands. Yes you do use your hands! For example, one of the activities has you running through a island and you have to run, jump, and use your hands to touch the top arrows on the mat to simulate ducking! Now what is really nice is each activity has a quick description on what buttons you use, how to play, and the difficulty rating.

Overall I really like this game and can't wait to play it with more players! It is also as easy or hard as you want it to be. For example, I set up the game where you have to run in place and cross the falling bridge and my son and the 4-year-old neighbor had a blast running on the mat. It really gets you and your family up and moving, and all in some healthy competition! I also read that you can use the mat with a few other games right now including XX. If you already have the mat, you can also buy this game separate. Active Life Explorer is such a fun and different game that is definitely different than just using the Wii Balance Board since you have more movements you can do and that you can have two players on the mat at once!
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on December 2, 2010
I love this game because it really engages my 12 & 14 year old. I was looking for fun, yet active indoor activities as cold weather draws near. They are huge readers and while that's usually a good thing, they somtimes need a little enticement to shut their books and get up and get moving. A half hour of play time and they are both sweaty and panting, they get into it that much. We bought the matless version because we had the mat already from Outdoor Challenge. The kids liked that one as well, but seem to be intrigued by this game more.
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VINE VOICEon March 3, 2011
I admit that I am not in the best of shape, so I am not the best player of this game, but it is still a lot of fun. It is rare to find a game that give you a workout without that being the obvious goal. My lazy teenage daughter and her friends immediately fell in love with the game too. We had to put them out to get them to stop playing! They were all treatening to buy it too! The only problem that I have with it is that the mat is a bit small. Even when children play, there is little room for two of them to play side by side. I hope they release more games like this in the future. It really encourages the lazy to get up and move!
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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