When I picked up Konami’s Let’s Pilates for the DS, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. To my surprise, the game is an excellent coach, complete with detailed instructions, good graphics and many other nice touches.
As the title implies, Let’s Pilates is an introduction to the exercise genre. It breaks down in three sections: Challenge, Quick Pilates and My Sets.
Challenge is the game’s main mode. Here you will learn many Pilates moves as a virtual instructor guides you step by step. Most are broken down in three variations, from easier to more demanding variations. These start out with basic forms like Iso Abs, where you learn to tighten your core muscles - something you will do in all Pilates. Read More...
You will practice stretching your spine with Cervical Curl and isolate your hip muscles with Hip Release. Hundreds starts you pumping your arms vigorously lying on your back with your legs out, working your abdomen. You will be taken through other exercices like doing Scissors, Rolling Like a Ball and the Shoulder Bridge, which stretches and gives flexibility to your lower back. All this and more leading up to the Push-up Series which the game touts as "the ultime Pilates routine".
Playing through Challenge mode will make branches grow on a "Pila-tree", a colourful tree that lets you see your progress at a glance. You will also unlock “Pillabockles”, a family of colourful creatures who live in your Pila-tree garden. These characters are a nice addition to the game. You can even view them in their “habitat”, doing their own Pilates moves.
Quick Pilates lets you practice single exercises as well as sets which focus on specific results. For example, you can work towards a perfect posture, tightening your waist, preventing back or shoulder pain, burning fat or improving your overall physique. You can chose short 3-minute sets or full sets, which usually run for 15 minutes or longer. My Sets, on the other hand, lets you create your own work out, by picking among the entire list of moves found in the Challenge mode. You can create multiple sets and their length can go up to about 120 minutes.
The game also has many Extras which are unlocked in Challenge mode, like new clothes for your instructor and different coloured mats. You will also get Trivia about the history and fundamentals of Pilates and Pilates Anytime, which are tips on how to incorporate exercise in your daily routine.
The presentation is very appealing, with bright colours and an inviting art style. The training is also visually complete, with a meter showing when to inhale and exhale as you perform moves. You can also take a closer look at your instructor, by rotating her around and zooming on her body to better understand. Game concept art is even featured in the game's calendar which keeps track of your daily, monthly and total play time. The audio is also well designed with different music accompanying you through the moves. Calming music plays during slower exercises and for exerting moves for a more up-beat tune.
My main criticism is the platform on which the game is set. While the DS is good for portability and could allow you to take the game anywhere, it does have its limits. Specifically, I found myself straining my neck a lot to follow the moves while looking at the DS on the floor. It was easier to use a stand for my DS, which I highly recommend. In my opinion, the game could have been a better fit on one of the home consoles, using a TV. But this is a minor detail and Let’s Pilates remains an exceptionally well designed fitness game.
+ Great tutorial
+ Excellent presentation
+ Creative take on fitness games
- Small display can be uncomfortable to watch
Game Forward score: 5/5
Nathalie Caron > Game Forward
Let’s Pilates (NDS) Quick Facts:
Release Date: April 29, 2008
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)