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How Digital Photography Works (2nd Edition)
How Digital Photography Works (2nd Edition)
Price: $14.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY ON KINDLE, May 20, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book fails miserably on Kindle, as no one made an effort to create HD or at least larger sized images of the graphics. A lot of what is explained in this book is done so through the graphics and it becomes apparent within the first chapter that this is NOT going to work on your tablet. This confuses me as other photography books have great graphics in their kindle editions, but this one is so bad and the text unreadable.

I'll then have to buy this book...again...in its paperback version as I'm seriously interested in the contents.

Hey, Amazon~ when you do fix the graphics problem, let us know please, or maybe consider a refund?


Self-Defense Training Camp - Xbox 360
Self-Defense Training Camp - Xbox 360
Offered by BuddhaFlipsJungle
Price: $14.84
32 used & new from $6.93

74 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 90% Exercise; 10% Self-Defense, December 27, 2011
99% Exercise; 1% Non-Self Defence; 100% Misleading
Before I bought this product, I had read a few reviews on Self-Defense Training Camp. What I appreciate from those reviews was that it clearly stated that this is NOT a self defence title, but could work as an exercise title. This will be where I start off -it's EXACTLY what this game is: an exercise title trying in the guise of a self defense programme. Having gotten this bit of info from the reviews, I went ahead and bought it and have been pleasantly surprised from the word go.

So let's get the most important aspect out of the way: this is not, I repeat NOT a self defense game. Yes, it does have a total section (and large part) devoted to self defense, but it's this part that kind of drags the momentum of the game down and lower its score. So why am I giving it a four? Hope my explanations below can shed some light on it.

Let me break it down like this: this game is divided into 4 sections: 1.) "Self Defense" training 2.) Reflex Training 3.) Balance Training and then 4.) Cardio Workout. In each of these areas there are different classes starting at easy and as you complete each one you will unlock a new level. (This is easily done and for those Xboxers after easy achievements, this game is a breeze on raking them in.)

SELF DEFENSE TRAINING
This is, well, not what anyone would expect. It does do what a self defense class will teach you, but there is absolutely no value in it. You do the moves, copy them, and then go to the next one. You don't learn anything, unless you force yourself to do the same class a million times for memory sake. I would not have minded this part, but what becomes increasingly annoying as you go through the classes is the amount of times you have to select (and this is by punching at the sensor) between moves to continue to the next phase. For example, in one class, they first show you the move - PUNCH TO CONTINUE - now break the moves down - PUNCH TO CONTINUE - now first part of move - PUNCH TO CONTINUE - next part - PUNCH TO CONTINUE - next part - PUNCH TO CONTINUE - now try the whole sequence - PUNCH TO CONTINUE - your score - PUNCH TO CONTINUE...and 6 more punches before the class is over. The entire class itself is a mere 4~6 minutes, so punching to select menus as much as 12 times is really wearisome. Even when you know what to do next and how the training method works, they still insist on this punching/selecting process. Because of this, you do not even build up a sweat, just a residual ache in your right arm from punching.
Having said this, I still do these self defense classes diligently, because I use it as an easy warm up and cool down. The wife loves them purely because they are super easy and not taxing at all. But still, this is the biggest weakness of Self-Defense Training Camp.

...now, the 3 remaining parts in which this game does work:

CARDIO WORKOUT
This is a cardio workout with "boxing" incorporated very well. We love this. Like all programmes in Self-Defense Training Camp it starts at easy and gradually increases in difficulty. This is true in-gym boxing aerobics and a great alternative to what Your Shape Fitness Evolved offers. This part alone is worth the game, and it's a pity they had not spend more time on this section of the game to improve and broaden it.

REFLEX TRAINING
Another form of in-gym boxing, but with a twist. Wait for the cues on-screen and dodge punches or kicks, or perform them. As an old black belt in karate, I love this part, as reflexes are truly the master mind behind a good defence. At my age then it's good to have something to keep me on my toes and test my reflexes a little. The tracking is on course 85%~95% of the time (depending on whether you are doing blocks, punches or kicks), so even with the ones you miss you will still get a good score at the end.

BALANCE TRAINING
a.k.a Tai Chi. Again, a great alternative to Your Shape Fitness Evolved. I'm not saying it's better that Your Shape Fitness Evolved, but when you do suffer the infamous exercise fatigue from one game, then this is a great alternative until you get your breath back to take up the previous game again. The balancing classes work also in steps of progression, and it's truly a very good presentation of Tai Chi.

And that is the game in all its glory. To sum up:

CONS
- game title utterly misleading and may create expectations on which it cannot deliver
- the self defense part of the game is its weakness
- selection process in the self defense classes section is tiresome and repetitive
- menu selection can do with some better grouping and arrangement
- all exercise sections can be extended with some additional classes
- a little bit more guidance to how to perform some activities (like the kicking part in reflex training) would be welcome

NEUTRAL
= need to finish certain levels before you can open other classes; could be irritating when you want to jump into a certain exercise of balancing but you need to finish Class 3 of the self defence class first
= loading times between activities and start up feels a little longer than should be necessary

PROS
+ exercise part of the game is easily on standard with other Kinect exercise titles making this a great addition to an exercise library
+ balancing training (Tai Chi), cardio boxing and reflex training are all welcome additions and well presented
+ tracking mostly on par
+ 0% fit people can enjoy this game as it's not too demanding
+ achievements are granted reasonably and not impossible to achieve

The title may seem a little misleading, but when you interpret it to mean that this is a training camp preparing you for a fitness level to do self-defense, it makes more sense.

It's truly a pity this title has gotten off to a bad start, as the tracking is respectable and the concept for the exercise parts really competent, it's just that the title and the "self defence coaching" significantly knocks it down a few notches. Not sure whether we will see future releases of this game, but if you go into this knowing that you are buying a passable exercise title and focus only on those parts mentioned above, you may just be pleasantly pleased.

As I had not expected a fighting game, nor a self defence training game, I did not have those deceptive expectations that other reviews/buyers had from the misleading title. It's in this regard that I give the game a 4-star, mostly because I don't think it's a bad game. It should deserve a 3-star though as the content is still limited and needs more substance, but as a first release for this title I think it's actually a pretty noble effort and want to give it a little support so that we can see some improvements in patches, DLC and future releases...if any. Hopefully for the future--and again...if any--they can drop the whole self defence gimmick and focus more on cardio exercises, and incorporate even yoga and Pilates or other martial arts related exercises.
Recommendation--when you are tired of Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 (as this is the only other exercise title released this season) and need to break out of that procrastinating mood after the festivities, then Self-Defense Training Camp may just be a great alternative title.

In the end, ignore the ratings at the top, as I don't wish to score a game, but purely provide information for people who are interested in buying the game and do not know what to expect. In that regard please leave me a comment if you have any questions and I'll try and answer them.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 29, 2013 12:47 AM PDT


Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012
Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012
Offered by Hubbagames
Price: $17.69
185 used & new from $2.65

51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leader of the Pack, December 27, 2011
Leader of the Pack

When Kinect released the first bunch of exercise titles in 2010, I had raked them all up, tried them, and soon realised that almost none could deliver a substantial exercise programme yet. I would like to say that now with Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 (YS 12) we are getting close a standard people who want to exercise at home will feel satisfied with. Still a few wrinkles to iron out, but at this point your safest bet in a well-rounded Kinect exercise title is YS 12.

Firstly, for those who have never gone to the gym or tried any kind of "real world" exercise program--failure to follow through with an exercise program is guaranteed if exercising is not in your blood. Those lean, athletic shaped bodies you see on the cover of the game are people who live and breathe exercise, almost like a job. The majority of us use the word "health" and "exercise" every year in our new year's resolutions and then quickly forgot we ever said that. My point is that you will--and like I said that is almost guaranteed--suffer exercise fatigue in that you will not feel motivated to get up and put the disc in the Xbox and do you daily routine. That's human nature for the majority of us and it does not mean that Kinect sucks or that the game itself is weak. Therefore, I have found the best way to keep it going is to have more than one Kinect exercise game and alternate between them every few weeks or months.

Secondly, for those who have owned the first Your Shape Fitness Evolved from 2010. Though that game was one of the better titles on Kinect at launch date, it did feature major glitches that were very off putting. The first was the method of navigating around the menus. You had to hold your hand out to a tiny little bubble on the right and wait a few seconds to select. Move a little and it will deselect and restart the thing over. Moreover, just to get to your daily exercise routine took almost 5 different menus of selections; and often you're not even sure if you are on the right menu. This is all gone with the new user interface which is in my opinion, the best yet on Kinect. Not sure if YS 12 took their cue from the new Windows 8 / Xbox Dashboard / Windows Phone Mango approach, but selection is now grouped into colours (representing different styles of exercise) and then divided into nice, big tiles. Hover your hand over these tiles, push forward like you are pressing an elevator button and voila: menu selected.

The other serious issue was that of progress tracking. In the original game if you started work out on your abs in one programme, you could not exit that programme and try the Zen programme for instance. Doing so would result in resetting the initial abs programme, meaning you had to start again from square one. Have you tried completing a full programme without doing anything else on the original game, you would know that 9 continuous days of ab training quickly gets boring, if not counter affective as it's completely against all exercise principles to exercise the same muscle day in and day out. It was on this point purely that I had traded my original Your Shape Fitness Evolved in. Learning from their mistakes, this glitch is now something of the past and you can swipe your hand freely over the menu tiles, select different programmes, stop, pause, continue and the game will remember what you've done and what not. So, I'm back on YS 12 and I'm hooked.

Overall, before venturing into the exercises themselves, I would like to comment that when you analyze how this game has been made you clearly realise that the developers had spent a lot of time in determining what had worked in the previous game and what had not. This YS 12 is a product of research and trying to bring to customers something that works on Kinect and works well. I'm sounding like a sales person now, but as an avid Kinect supporter I find it enthralling that games like these do get Kinect right. I stand by my earlier point that the menu is the best yet out at this moment--logical, easy and fluid.

Other reviews here have clearly set out what YS 12 does in terms of exercises. There are three groups. The first--orange group--focus on "light-hearted" exercise, fun and warm ups. Don't make a mistake, warm ups are often more exercise themselves than actually getting you ready for the major exercises. The second--red group--are specific muscle focused, like your bum, legs or abs. Select one of these and it will open the exercises related to this part of your body that will help you with your goal. Exercises here are like the original game, just structured better. Those who have never played Your Shape Fitness Evolved: exercises are executed in a beat like fashion where you follow the beat and on-screen coach by moving from left to right, and then performing routines that will strengthen the muscle group you have selected.

The last group--the purple group--consists mainly of downloadable content from the first Your Shape Fitness Evolved like the Bollywood Dancing, and including some new routines, like African Beats (dancing to African beats). The idea in this section is activity focused, like yoga, dancing, etc, and not necessarily a muscle group. Call this the "aerobics" section of YS 12.

From an exercise point of view you cannot go wrong choosing this title. Yes, if you are 100% unfit, it may be very harsh from the get go, but maybe stick with easy exercises and do them over and over again before you move onwards. Also, choose smartly--newbies shouldn't jump into weights or push ups, I suggest classes like the dancing to kick-start your journey. Intermediates can jump in anywhere and enjoy this game.

Like all Kinect titles, YS 12 does suffer from not recognizing certain moves at times. It especially fails in the yoga programme--which is kind of weird as the movements in yoga are super slow. One would expect YS 12 to pick those up easily and have problems with the quicker movements in faster classes, but it often appears to be the other way around. Missing a movement when you do Latino dancing on high speed is acceptable, but it does bring your mood down when it cannot pick up an entire session in a yoga class and you sit with a 0% score.

I've mentioned beginners before and I think would quickly like to elaborate on that. Many owning Kinect are not athletes per se and actually purchased Kinect because going to the gym is a schlep. Bearing that in mind one could easily deduct that the majority of buyers should be beginners or unfit customers--and naturally games on Kinect should be primarily designed to entice this group to pick up the disc and exercise more. For this, they should include levels for beginners which are more guided, and work at slower progression levels. This is not only a problem with YS 12, but in fact all other titles out there: they go too fast too serious too soon for the average person. I hope someone can notice this and include more basic routines in exercise games in the future. Just like all sports you will find a big base playing it for fun, with a few dedicated ones at the top doing it professionally. Exercise boils down to the same thing, but if your programme becomes too demanding too soon, your bigger base at the bottom soon drops out.

Enough blabber. To summarise:

CONS
- not enough basic routines for beginners
- tracking fails seriously on a few exercises (luckily they are in the minority)
- moves tend to get repetitive once you've master a specific discipline, e.g. African Beats (why don't they have more African Beats with different melodies and a few changes in choreography?)
- warm-up exercises are extremely limited and often not true to form warm ups
- still no co-op play--the wife and I have little time at night to practice at night, so we prefer doing it together, like Dance Central 2 and even The Black Eyed Peas Experience. As I cannot see any big difference in movements between YS 12 and DC 2, it would be nice if she and I could exercise together. Sadly, YS 12 does not offer this option resulting in us having to take turns.

NEUTRAL
= no selection of coaches
= after each exercise you "punch" your calories away with your fist--though this probably has significant symbolic value it becomes unnecessary after 3 weeks

PROS
+ incredible selection and navigation menu system
+ different types of exercising disciplines clearly defined and grouped
+ glitches from the original Your Shape Fitness Evolved ironed out
+ excellent support with downloadable content (DLC)--already 2 new routines you can buy upon posting date of this review
+ the running/jogging programme presented really well and running through the virtual cities keeps your mind active and motivated; especially with the info titbits thrown along the way

I was surprised this Christmas period by the lack of pure exercise titles released for Kinect, the only other one being My Self Defence Coach. It does not appear that other games from the past year are planning to release new versions, which is a pity as they all need serious fine-tuning. YS 12 shows what can be done if you listen to your users and approach the game from a practical side in its presentation. At this moment YS 12 is definitely a step above the rest and definitely the title to start with if you haven't gotten any yet.

If you are looking for an exercise title that will give you a good work out and plenty of exercise options to choose from then Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 is the thing for you. All you need now is commitment, dedication and perseverance...things that unfortunately do not come included in the box.

In the end, ignore the ratings at the top, as I don't wish to score a game, but purely provide information for people who are interested in buying the game and do not know what to expect. In that regard please leave me a comment if you have any questions and I'll try and answer them.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 2, 2012 9:25 PM PDT


The Black Eyed Peas Experience - Xbox 360
The Black Eyed Peas Experience - Xbox 360
Offered by New2You Resale and Consignment
Price: $7.18
124 used & new from $0.01

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shockingly Good, November 15, 2011
This is the one time where I will start a review off by a recommendation: 1.) if you like Dance Central - buy this, 2.) if you are a Black Eyed Peas fan - buy this.

Now let's get objective.

I had bought this game purely on one review where the reviewer himself was surprised at just how much he enjoyed the game. As I had bought Michael Jackson the Experience and quickly grew tired of it as it was not very helpful in teaching you anything and that the songs got way too difficult to soon, I was very skeptical...but nonetheless, seems I had money to burn on this title.

Black Eyed Peas The Experience is naturally all about the Black Eyed Peas and there top hits, plus a few misses. There are essentially two modes: the first allowing you to get right into the dance, and the second that's more like a campaign mode. The best is of course to go for the second, as this is where you'll find all the info, venues and tutorials. Jump ahead and start your career and get to choose the first song you want to have a go at. Songs are rated at 4 difficulty levels beginning at casual and ending at skilled. Naturally you'll choose the casual ones first.

Once you've made your choice things start to get different - and intersteting - compared to Dance Central. This game essentially has 9 dance moves for each song. And these 9 moves are group by threes into three sessions. When you begin your first song, there will be 3 Steps. Step 1 starts with teaching you the first 3 moves. If you cannot get the move right, you simply raise your hand and it will go into a tutorial. The turorial I find is so far the best thing on the dance-Kinect market. Not only do they slow it down, but the narrator clearly explains to you which foot goes out first, which hand/arm does what and how you should execute the move. Even moves I got right from the bat I slowed down just to make sure I was following correctly. When you want to go back, you raise your hand again and the tutorial will continue. The 3 moves in Step 1 you have to learn are repeated twice and then it's kind of a mix-up "challenge" at the end. Passing Step 1 means you go on to Step 2 where it's the same thing: 3 moves, twice to practice and then to execute. I like this method of teaching as it really drills it into you and you do not feel overwhelmed by too many new moves. Finally, after completing Step 3 the entire song is available for you to dance.

During the tutorial sessions there are coaches on screen teaching you the move. Your avatar is reflected mirror-like on the TV. When it comes to the entire song, your crew is the Black Eyed Peas. Only point to note is unlike other dancing games at the moment, for some reason if you do the move wrong, you avatar won't show/tell you what/where you did wrong. This could be problematic for some who relies a lot on that corrective feedback, like in Dance Central. There is also no insert showing whether Kinect picks you up or not, something that does not distract me, but again may hinder others.

So, the campaign mode follows that method: choose a song, go through Step 1~3 and then perform it. There are mega things to be awarded like clothes for your avatar and upgrades to the interior design of your virtual venue. You'll also be given challenges every now and again by the crew of the Black Eyed Peas which you can accept to unlock even more stuff.

Co-op in dancing Kinect games seem to be the norm nowadays and the same for this game. A second person can easily jump in and be part. There are some sync bonuses when you and your partner are dancing 100% in sync. Another feature is the ability (like in Just Dance 3) to create your own choreography and share it via Xbox Live with friends for challenges. Nifty.

The presentation of the game on a whole is very energetic and vivid. Colours are very shiny and it's a game that make you feel that there's indeed a party going on.

In short:

CONS
- avatar does not show when you make a mistake or which part is wrong
- no small screen indicating whether Kinect is actually picking you up
- a little too many "awards" and Black Eyed Peas info blips between songs that slows down the tempo a bit
- to change the gamer profile when you switch dancers is really obscurely hidden (but it's there at least)
- for some reason the Kinect microphone does not work with game (or is that just me) - you need to get a wireless microphone

PROS
+ great song list - you know who they are so you know what you are getting, and all the favourites are there
+ very vibrant and energetic presentation
+ great tutorials in slow it down mode
+ co-op play works like a charm
+ opportunity to create your own moves and share with friends
+ tracking seems to be good and most of the moves are easily picked up

I have been wondering if there is an alternative to the Kinect-dancing games than Dance Central 2, and I have to praise the developer for The Black Eyed Peas The Experience in trying something different, and that it actually works. There may be some that still prefer a different approach, but this is by far the first title than can actually compete with Dance Central. This is lightyears better than the previous Michael Jackson effort, and I actually hope that we will see more games like that, probably from others like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and maybe even David Guetta. The benefit of focusing on just one artist it seems to me is that you know the music beforehand and there is very little disappointment with the setlist. On the other hand, by doing it this way, you also limit yourself to no future releases of the same artist, as it will take another 10 years minimum before Black Eyed Peas will have enough hits again to make a second game. This means that upgrades and improvement in technology (like the tracking) cannot benefit this game, unless they keep on releasing patches for the game. The publisher, Ubisoft, will have to consider using this format they've got here for The Black Eyed Peas for a more general game with a mixed tracklist.

The game is not perfect yet. It can still learn from other features like creating your own playlist or a sweat-mode. Sometimes one just wants to pop in a game and dance, and not have to navigate every 2~4 minutes through all the menus to the next song.

Having said this much, I am extremely happy with this buy. It's one of the surprises Kinect had to offer in the last two months, and it's one worth all its weight in gold. To reiterate my recommendation above: if you like Dance Central, you will like this. If you like Black Eyed Peas, you will like this even better.

ps...a review below mentions the usage of strong language in the game. Mmm...this IS the Black Eyed Peas after all. So it's not a toddler game and if you are very sensitive to strong language, then maybe check out Nickelodeon Dance :D
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2012 11:38 PM PDT


Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster - Xbox 360
Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster - Xbox 360
Offered by Outlet Promotions
Price: $12.85
188 used & new from $0.89

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kinect Excels, October 24, 2011
Agree with all the reviews here, so don't have much to add. I can see Kinect's future more and more as an educational tool than one for gaming.


UFC Personal Trainer - Xbox 360
UFC Personal Trainer - Xbox 360
Offered by Hubbagames
Price: $12.17
132 used & new from $1.60

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hit the Workout Section, August 9, 2011
First of all, I would LOVE to give this game a 5-star, but for reasons explained below I will stick with the 3-star now. My primary reason for the demotion is that I think the issues with UFC Personal Trainer could have been avoided, but it seems that they either ran out of time or did not do enough testing on their subjects to iron out the wrinkles.

Okay, first things first. UFC (Personal Trainer) is nothing like any other exercise Kinect title out there. The closest you'll get to it is EA Sports Active 2. While most titles are focusing on the aerobic and circuit part of exercising, UFC truly is a 'WORKOUT' like I used to know, i.e. weights and muscle building. This title has areas that claims to give you cardio workouts, etc, but it's not the Your Shape Fitness crunches-style with a 20 minute aerobic session. No, instead UFC is a very structured workout presentation that brings in the well-known reps and sets. Now for those of you who haven't really done a serious workout at a gym, a repetition is how many you do of a particular exercise, like 10 push-ups, and a set is how many times you do those push-ups, like 3 sets. That means, that you will do 10x push-ups, take a break, and then twice more, in total 30 push-ups. Some may say I'm explaining too much now, but it did confuse some of my friends who have only gone to the gym to do yoga, aerobics, or spinning.

Once you understand that this is the focus of UFC, you'll quickly understand how the programmes are structured. In the end it all comes down to this - strengthening your muscles and doing an endurance workout. If you do not have weights this workout will become useless after a week or two as you've already maxed out your muscle at that point and should scale up, so make sure you've got basic weights or a set of dumbbells at home when you get UFC. Most will say the weights are optional, and I'll agree if this was EA Sports Active 2 or Get Fit with Mel B, but not with UFC Personal Trainer. These exercises have been thrown together by experts and I am pretty sure they have always used weights while exercising. You'll even realise quickly that without adding weights to certain exercises that they are pretty useless.

And then, this is going to be commitment and hard work. You cannot test UFC Personal Trainer for a week and then give up for a month, as this will damage your body more than do any good. You'll have to get down and commit yourself to at least a 30-day programme. What they do not tell you in the programme is that if you feel that the exercises are easy you're probably not pushing yourself. From my days of lifting weights we were taught that you always need to add weight once you get comfortable with a specific weight to work on that muscle memory. If you do not push yourself for harder weights or quicker reps this workout will turn out to be fruitless in the short and long run.

Finally before I break down the cons and pros of the game for me, do not expect to become some martial arts kung fu fighter with this game. The workouts are 95% traditional gym workouts, with a few exercises of fighting thrown in. These are not the centre of the game as they are clearly not the means to the end, but the end itself. UFC Personal Trainer is an exercise title that will help you get strong and work on your endurance, and if done right, help you build up an awesome six pack or nice lean athletic body.

CONS
- Tutorials to each exercise is not intuitive. If you activate this option in the options menu it will make you do the blasted tutorial for each exercise, even if that means 3 times in a workout as the exercise will have 3 sets. This is becomes very annoying after a week because they will still be telling you 3 times in one workout how to do a push-up. Some games actually will show you once or twice how to do an exercise and then automatically skip the tutorial for exercises you've done already, and only show you the new ones. If you do turn off the option in the option menu then you get no tutorials at all, which may prove problematic for those new exercises that may creep in in the future.
- Just like many other games, the "one-liners" the trainers use get oh-so repetitive within two workout sessions. In a cool down session after a workout they may repeat the benefits of stretching out after a workout as much as 20 times. Overkill and there is no way to switch this off. It kind of feels like brainwashing after a while when you realise how often they repeat certain things.
- This part I don't get. If it happens that Kinect for some obscure reason loses me on the floor (or I quickly step out to the bathroom) it wants to confirm I'm the same person when I return. Go through the set up of recognition again. Now common sense dictates that the same person will start and finish a workout, unless you are a serious cheater. I'm pretty sure that if I had decided to quit my workout and someone else wanted to take over we will go to the Main Menu and have that person sign in.
- UFC often and clearly misses some reps. Do a push up and every now and again it doesn't register. Actually, this doesn't bother me personally as I've gotten used to this from other games too, but it does drive you crazy when there is 5 seconds left to do one more push up to qualify and it DOES NOT register at that moment. Then you feel like throwing the box at the TV. I think this kind of aggravation should not be part of a work out and I have for the life of me not figured out when it does register certain moves and when it does not. My hit rate is about 95% accuracy which one could argue is awesome, but like I've mentioned, that 5% miss can come at the most inappropriate times. This is the main reason I am giving this game a 3-star review, as this technical side should have gotten more attention during development. If they cannot make certain exercises work properly they should leave them out. Then again, EA Sports Active 2 picks up my push ups with no problem, so this is not a Kinect problem but a developer one. One I sincerely hope they can fix in a patch and not let us wait for "new improvements" in a subsequent 2012 release.
- During exercises you are given the opportunity to choose your weights. Fine-tuning the exact weight on the menu is an extreme hassle. They should have thought this better through. If I want to adjust my weights from 1kg to 5 kgs, it will start running past the 5...then I have to back down, then it runs past the 5 again to 3, so in the end you stand there adjusting the weight meter one by one. A pure waste of time. My suggestion is that they can give you a table of preset weights in the digits from 1 to 9, plu 0, and then an additional table from 10 to 90, and 100+. So for example if your weights are 23 kgs, you can click on the 20 in the one table and then the 3 in the other. Voila. Two clicks and zero frustration. (Maybe this will not annoy others like me, but during one workout I will adjust my weights and this has turned out to be very cumbersome.)

NEUTRAL
> This is a workout like you'll observe (or have experienced) workouts in a gym. You do a set of push ups, then hang around for 10 seconds and drink some water. Get your weights ready and then do your next set of Arnold presses. Then hang around for 10 seconds again, sip some more water and then get yourself ready for the next exercise. If you've done this in a gym you won't be bothered by it, but some of my friends could not get into it after doing Your Shape Fitness Evolved and Get Fit With Mel B. They wanted the exercises to be strung-along, continuous and quickly set. A true "weight" workout does not work like that, though, so kudos to UFC Personal Trainer keeping it true to form. But then, be aware of what you are in for. Like I've mentioned above, to get the best out of this, you will need weights at home.

PROS
+ If you stick with the programmes you'll get value for money. After one month my muscles have greatly toned and I can do 500% more weights than I could at the beginning, granted I started on a feeble 3... Judging I'm now on 15kgs and pushing myself even further I am rather satisfied that the exercises are indeed working. If you start afresh you'll burn the first two weeks, and badly. I couldn't get in my car after the first few workouts and taking off my jersey was a schlep. But now I can look in the mirror and physically see the results.
+ You get the sense of professionalism as the guys training you are masters themselves. (Though I have to add they are all reading the same script. You realise this when you do a second workout with a different trainer and they say exactly the same thing.)
+ The games, just like a real life workout, inspires you to push yourself pass the limit. Maybe they will ask you to do 10 push-ups, but when you are done, they will encourage you to do 3 more. This is not necessary, but they motivate you to go for it - something very important in a workout.
+ I thought the menus are better than most Kinect titles out there and easy to navigate around, except for those pesky ones where you have to navigate up or down to get a number, like aforementioned.
+ This is a great selection of workouts and exercises for anyone interested in building on their strength and endurance. For those who went to the gym for aerobics, pilates or yoga, stay away from this title.

Apart from the technical issues the presentation and contents itself cannot be faulted with. If you are into sports then this is the title you should consider. I'm positive that if you can keep up doing this your sports injuries will go down to a minimum.

UFC Personal Trainer is not just another addition to the exercise titles of Kinect, but it's complimentary in the sense that there isn't anything like it out there at the moment. I am an early adopter and I hope THQ (the publisher) invests more in this title so that the glitches can be ironed out and not repeated in future titles. Once you can get that out of the way this title should become solid gold.

So, if you are ready for a serious workout, want to tone those muscles and get them to look good, then go get your copy of UFC Personal Trainer (but be aware of the technical issues that pop out from time to time.)

If you need any additional information please ask me. I'll keep checking in and if they release a patch that can fix some of the issues mentioned above I'll jot it down here.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 29, 2012 4:18 AM PST


Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do - Xbox 360
Carnival Games: Monkey See Monkey Do - Xbox 360
Offered by Media Zoom
Price: $29.95
92 used & new from $4.99

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun...party over..., May 25, 2011
I have been playing this game now for a month, so my initial response to it has alter somewhat. First things first, I agree with the other reviews commenting on the fun of this game and its party nature. It features mini games similar to that of a carnival and you get to really use your full body to interact with these games. After completion you win tickets (those no-good tokens that could buy you a hair pin at a real carnival) which can be traded in for costumes and the like. The game even boasts with its own fortune teller, which just like its real life counterpart, makes you feel like you've been ripped off afterwards.

In essence, this is a party/group game. Trying it alone I find myself quickly rushing through the games and ejecting the game. With friends it becomes fun and gameplay time is lengthened.

CONS
- not one player; must be played in groups/parties
- too few games
- replay value of games quickly diminishes the more you play, quicker than similar games
- the "harder" levels are pretty hard to reach

PROS
- menus are easy to navigate
- setup is clear and easy to follow and one can jump into the action quickly
- 2-player is really easy and fun: opt in or out any time during play and the Kinect senses the second person easily
- space requirements are decent and you don't have to stand all the way back for the Kinect to pick you up

My real gripe with this is after more than a month of playing it is that it has kinda reached its purpose now. We hardly remember having this game, unless friends come over. Friends from previous times are not too eager playing it again, so that indicated to me it's fun first time around and then it loses its appeal. At this point I'll argue for it to be discounted before it really reaches its value. Don't trade this game in though, as you never know when along the road you might have some family/friends over interested in a little carnie fun.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2012 10:27 AM PST


EA Sports Active 2 - Xbox 360
EA Sports Active 2 - Xbox 360
Offered by Delaware
Price: $48.03
23 used & new from $10.73

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The bugs and how to cope with them, December 1, 2010
As many have pointed out the pros and cons of this game, I would like to just give some feedback on what I've discovered with the Kinect version in the last 3 weeks of using it. To know what kind of exercises you can expect and the programs connected with it, read the other reviews as they are fairly adequate in their explanations. On some of the game's current shortcomings I just want to add a few pointers below:

SPACE
EA Sports Active needs more backwards space. This is probably the biggest shortcoming of most Kinect games at the moment, and that is that the space to the sides (as you face the sensor) is usually enough, but you need more space at the back. For EA Sports Active to start working 'properly', make sure you have sufficient back space.

RECOGNITION
The game will by times 'forget' who you are. This is rather silly, as you sign in with an idea and therefore should be the still the same person throughout the game. However, whenever the sensor loses you the game goes into re-identifying you. This is a hassle, and you will need patience to accept it as one of its shortcomings at the moment.
Again, stand back. I found that when I'm too close to the sensor it'll lose me -- so stand back.
Also, between workouts, be ready to face the camera again at the beginning of each session. If you turn at those points to drink water or shuffle the cat away, it will go into the re-identifying mode again.
When this happens, stand back again in your space and wait. It may say for a few seconds that it cannot find you and that you are now a VISITOR, but just stand patiently and hopefully it'll find you. So far, it has always found me within a few seconds.

CONTROLLER
As mentioned, this game has been clearly designed for the Wii, and then when they found out that PS3 and Xbox will release the Move and Kinect respectively, they quickly transformed it for these consoles. For PS3 Move it'll work, but the problem is that the menus and not entirely Kinect-friendly. Make sure your Xbox controller is nearby at all times, as you will need to hit that green A button frequently to progress through tutorials and other menus. Don't fret over it, that's just the way it is for now. I am positive that EA sports Active will make adjustments for Kinect in the future, but that will only be expected by the 3rd release.

LYING-DOWN EXERCISES
When an exercise comes up that needs you to lie down, DON'T just lie down. Wait until it prompts you to do so, and only then lie down. For some reason Kinect searches for your face first, and when you go lie down it loses you and then goes into re-identifying mode again. You'll have to stand up again and do the whole thing again.
So keep standing, wait, and let the game tell you to go down and then do it. It should save you some time on the identifying hassle.
Then, while lying down...(see below)

LIGHTNING vs FLOOR EXERCISES
Before Kinect was released, I had read that some developers had problems with Kinect in that it couldn't recognize people when sitting or lying down. It was mentioned that some of these developers found other unique ways of overcoming this problem by analyzing the shadows of your body. Knowing this, I can safely assume that EA had this problem when they designed the Kinect version of Sports Active 2. So what I did was to ensure that I had some kind of "shadow" while doing lying-down exercises by having my nearby lamp shine on me from the side. Sounds weird, eh? But so far no problems with lying-down exercises.

Once you accept these shortcomings for this product, things tend to go smoother. From the reviews I had read beforehand I had expected something horrendous, but turns out my workouts had been going pretty smoothly for the last few weeks. As I am not much of a fitness geek (and that's exactly why I got this) I cannot give feedback on the contents and structure of the training, thus restricting my review to the technical issues clouding this game at the moment.
On the positive side: other games have proven that Kinect CAN track well and that menus CAN be designed intelligently to accommodate Kinect. It's now up to EA to ensure that future releases are designed around Kinect, and not Kinect adapted around their Wii/PS3 Move interfaces. Given then that this is their first try with Kinect I'll give them a 4-star rating, but if they cannot improve these shortcomings by the 3rd release of Sports Active, I'll definitely only rate it a 3-star show.

Finally. This game is doing more for me that Your Shape Fitness Evolved. There is more variety here than in Your Shape. The menus run quicker too. Though Your Shape is still a good beginner's experience for now (as we hope future releases will be broader), I'd say if you were to chose between the two then go for EA Sports Active 2...even with the higher price tag.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2010 12:16 AM PST


Your Shape Fitness Evolved - Xbox 360
Your Shape Fitness Evolved - Xbox 360
Offered by FRONTIER HOBBY SHOP
Price: $22.99
204 used & new from $0.16

125 of 132 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Start, November 18, 2010
It's important to note that I have reviewed this product previously, and gave it five (5) stars. Unfortunately, after some more time with the title, I have to come back here and change my rating to three (3) stars. The reason being similar stated as other reviewers.

Yesterday, I decided to try something different - as suggested by vocal prompt. I left my current routine, tried a new one; then decided to continue my old one. Low and behold: all my progress was gone! I had already completed 8 sessions in that routine and had only 4 to go, but now they've been erased to the outskirts of a blackhole and I'm left with 12 new sessions to start afresh. I felt like crying and my motivation dropped significantly. It is this small thing that is costing Your Shape its 5 star rating and going down to 3.

After this, I went and checked the very scarce manual in the cover and found nothing to guide me. This IS frustrating.

So, bottom line. After you choose a program like Cardio, Toning, Nice and Easy, etc...stick with it. Even if the routines get boring after a while, you change it once, all progress is lost and you'll have to start all over again. I hope Ubisoft can clear this up and give better instructions, but my fear is that from experience when game developers stay quiet or neglect to mention these kinds of things, it's because they know that there is a glitch. Most reviews on this page are from people just beginning or having the program just for one or two days, but I'm sure that given a few weeks of working with the title all will come back and change their point of view. Yet, my previous review still stands, so I leave it below for you to read.

Nonetheless, I'm tackling it again tomorrow and will bite through to see what happens when I finish my first 12 sessions. Hopefully after that I get some clarity on what exactly is going on within Your Shape.

====PREVIOUS REVIEW FOLLOWS====

As a gamer and 9-5 office goer, I have decided at my age I do need some serious exercise. Gyms just don't work as it takes more time than it seems. That was one of the reasons I got excited when they announced Kinect.
The game - as a debut title - is great. Nothing more should be expected for now. It gives you great workouts and feedback.
Though I give it a 5, I still need to point out a few "concerns":
1 - Your avatar on screen DOES lag. But it shouldn't matter, as you should not really be looking at yourself, bur rather your trainer's avatar. When you do exercises, focus on the trainer and keep in step with him/her. This will ensure you stay in rhythm and get good feedback.
2 - The workout programs at points are a bit unclear. They are broken into type, levels and then sessions. Then there is a "Start My Training" which seems to do all the sessions at once. This part is a little confusing and the manual onscreen and in the booklet does little to give more clarity. Hopefully for future releases they will make this set up easier.
3 - Too many submenus. To get to your activity, you may need to go through as many as 6 menus from inserting the disc in your Xbox to actually starting the exercise. The idea of immediate exercise should be incorporated somehow and should be accessible from the start up menu.
4 - The so-called Zen part is still in its baby shoes. There is much room for improvement in this area, and hopefully they can even consider a future game just based on yoga/tai-chi/pilates. For now, what they give is sufficient, but I hope to see more focused choices in the future.
5 - If you have a small screen TV, you're going to have a hard time reading the menus. My big screen TV is in our "game room" which does not have enough clear space, so I had to set the Kinect up in our living room area with more space, but super small TV. I end up walking to the TV every menu to go and read what the hey is written there. Characters are a little too small and crammed. I'm sure on big screen TVs it should suffice.

Final remarks.
If you want to get fit, this title will surely help you get there. From what I've seen, it can easily last you for a year or two, before you need to get something else. I've had it now for 2 weeks, and I've been stiff and sore since then, but feeling satisfied and energetic too. It gives you freedom in your own house, as you can start the cooking, go for a 15 minute routine and even step away from the game while quickly doing something else. The game will automatically pause and when you return it'll pick up from where you left. Those are conveniences that no aerobic class can offer. I'm sure hardliners can even plug in their bluetooth headsets and chat with friends while exercising.

Definitely to be recommended, even with its short-comings.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 24, 2012 3:42 PM PDT


Heroes - Season One
Heroes - Season One
DVD ~ Hayden Panettiere
Offered by SAMIPLACE
Price: $12.51
133 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One nail biting episode after another., October 17, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Heroes - Season One (DVD)
It was by pure luck I found out about Heroes, being stranded in Taiwan where we did not have this on cable. Long story short, I ended up buying the DVDs on friends' advice, and have not been disappointed ever since.

It's an in-depth approach to "X-Men" - the struggles with how they discover their new powers, the frustration and confusion. Each episode includes some suspence, some action, some drama...in a nutshell: a little bit of everything. Underscoring this is great cinematography, graphics, storyline, acting and music.

The most important thing about serial TV shows is the approach: take it one episode at a time. Let the "how-can-I-wait-until-the-next-episode" sink in for a while before you just plunge into the next episode. Take your time watching the show.

From wikipedia I've gathered that the show is planned for a 5-year run, covering specific events. So don't worry, this is not an Alias that will keep on going until the ratings drop and then they cancel it, this show has a plan. And I bet, after 5 years we'll probably be begging for more.

Recommended for: X-men lovers, Superheroes, X-Files fans - and anyone up for something new and exciting.

p.s. If you are going to catch Season 2 on TV, make sure you've seen Season 1 first.


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