Active Life: Explorer With Mat for Wii Review

From the moment I opened the game and started to set it up I knew I was in for something different.  So what is the point of Active Life Explorer? Well it is another game in the Namco Active Life series. There really is no point to the game but good old fashioned exploring that will get you off the couch and on your feet. You’ll explore bridges, diving, escaping fire and so much more. The addition of the mat only makes it more immersive and fun for the whole family.

After inserting the game disc I had to set up the Mat Controller that comes with the game, which meant that the main means of playing the game would be in using the mat to control actions, not the Wii remote.  The remote is used to start the game but once it begins, almost all of the actions are controlled with the mat.  I still thought that would not be any issue for me.  I started the game, using the option that would take me through all the different screens, in order.  By the time I got to the fourth adventure, I was exhausted and had to ask my son to step in and help me!

Here’s how it works:  the game consists of going through various adventures, completion of which gets you treasure, points and the ability to unlock other portions of the game.  Each adventure requires physical exertion to complete, all within a certain timeframe.  If you don’t complete the specific adventure within the time allotted, or without gaining the points needed, you don’t get to move on.  Instead, you have the choice of starting the whole game over or of restarting from the adventure you are on.

There are 24 different adventures in all.  Included are: Falling Bridge – you have to run across a bridge (running in place on the mat) while it is falling down behind you and get to the other side before it collapses around you; Deep Sea Diving – moving your feet on the mat in order to get your Avatar to dive to the bottom where there is a ship and then moving your Wii remote in a circle to have your Avatar unlock the door keeping you form the treasure within; Gem Catcher – standing at the bottom of a cliff and moving your Avatar from side to side (by moving sideways on the mat) to catch the gems in a basket; Door Smashing- running to have your Avatar smash through doors; Stop & Go – moving along a brick walkway and stopping before getting hit with roving stoplights; Dungeon Escape – using hands and feet in various combinations on the mat (as they appear on the screen) to make the dungeon door rise.  It takes several combinations to make the door go up all the way after which you have to have your Avatar run; Fire Frenzy – jumping over blasts of fire as they are aimed at you; Crocodile Stomp – standing in the middle of a swamp and then stomping on the heads of crocodiles as they appear (this involves moving your feet on the mat in various directions to match where the heads of the crocodiles are  – just like Whack-A-Mole but with your feet instead of a mallet; and Shark Attack – you are hanging onto a vine over a river and when a shark jumps up to bite you, you have to jump up to avoid it. The longer you stay on the vine the faster they come.  There are 16 other adventure games.

If you choose the option of Treasure Adventure you get to go through all the adventures, one at a time.  A screen comes up with a large map on it, showing you different paths to take but you can only take the ones that are lighted up.  The Wii remote allows you to choose which way to go, after which the mat is used to beat the adventure (the remote is need to be held in the hands during the game).  Sometimes more than one path gets lit up after beating a screen giving you a choice as to which way you want to go.

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If you decide on Free Play instead, this allows you to choose anyone of the 24 adventures to go to directly.  There you have the option of difficulty level: always with Easy and Normal, sometimes with Hard as well; the option of number of players – this can also vary from 1 – 8 players and there is at least one adventure that requires a minimum of 2 players.  The Party Mode also allows you to go to different adventure screens but this time you choose one adventure and how many times you wish to play it.  You can choose 5 rounds, 10 rounds or the full amount of 20.    You then choose the difficulty level and begin.  Up to eight players can compete.  After each round the winner gets points and the one with the most points at the end of the rounds is the victor.

Treasure Trials is the final game playing option.  This allows you to take a Trial consisting of three adventures.  Each adventure needs to be completed successfully (based on pints or speed).  Once you have completed the Trail new options are unlocked, such as additional Trials or costumes.

One of the options is for Treasure Room.  This is not a play mode but allows you to check out the costumes, treasures, medals and ranking of your character.  You can also change the costume your character is wearing (if you have any options for that).

As far as the graphics are concerned, when the adventures start is usually gives you a view as if you were just behind and slightly above the Avatar.  And in addition to general points for playing, each character earns exercise points as well (although I am not sure what they can be traded in for in the game – perhaps they are just for us to keep track of in real life as to how much we put into the game).

All in all I feel this is a fun game for the whole family – challenging enough and competitive enough to be engaging and yet not so difficult as to make it frustrating to continue playing. Active Life Explorer is on sale for $29.99 on Amazon including the mat.

The Good: Requires strong physical effort to be involved, not just a couch potato game; 24 different adventures with different levels of difficulty offers a lot of variety; it is not an easy game to conquer so there is a definite investment of time; it can be played alone or with others to allow for friendly competition; graphics work well with this game, showing background as well as a clear visual of the playing screen; plenty of exercise.

The Bad: If this is a bad – the game is difficult to play for anyone who is not able to maintain good control of both feet and legs or is not able to maintain a constant level of physical exertion.  (You should check to be sure your medical insurance is up to date before playing  ).