Active Life: Extreme Challenge
falls short of the high standards established in the first game
of this series. It only offers nine sports as compared to the 16 found in the original. Two of those nine (jump rope and inline skating) are extensions of sports introduced in the first Outdoor Challenge
game. Several of the nine sports are very similar in how they are played. In the multiplayer mode, there is competitive play for two players, but the game is missing the cooperative mode that helped to make Outdoor Challenge
so attractive. Extreme Challenge
doesn't offer the Exercise Training mode found in the original, and you can no longer keep track of your active points or target parts of your body to work out.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad game; it just isn't a great one. Since Outdoor Challenge
pioneered what a good sports compilation should look like for kids, expectations were high for this second game in the Active Life
series. But a lot has happened in the last year, and Namco Bandai didn't innovate enough to make this game rise above other great active games like EA Sports Active
and Wii Sports Resort
How to Play
Here's what you get with Extreme Challenge. Like its predecessor, you play the game by using a special exercise mat. Kids will jump, sit, run and – new this year – kneel in front of the mat controller to hit its markings. Some games use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk as well.
The Sports Included
The sports included are: street luge, jump-roping, rock climbing, BMX racing, kite-surfing, skateboarding, inline skating, base jumping and wakeboarding. The game also offers many variations on how to play the core sports.
With street luge, you sit on the mat and direct your raceboard by tapping on the mat's symbols. In BMX racing, your feet are on the mat, and you direct your bike by tilting the Wii remote. In one version, you will have to run in place to accelerate your speed. In skateboarding, wakeboarding, kite-surfing, and one version of inline skating, the game play is all about jumping at the right times and then tapping symbols with your foot to perform tricks while in the air. The jump-roping activities are about timing jumps to match the ropes being swung on the screen. Rock climbing is done by kneeling in front of the mat and hitting the symbols with your hands.
Lots of Ways to Play
The game can be explored in single and multiplayer modes. In both, you have three options of play: Extreme Tournament where you tackle three to five activities at once for a combined score, Challenge Mode where the objectives are harder and Free Play where you can choose any activity to explore. All of the sports can be played in four levels of difficulty, but those difficulty levels must be unlocked by playing through the easier levels. You can also bring your favorite Miis into the game after completing all of the activities in the Beginners Course of the Extreme Tournament.
Kids will have fun being active with this compilation, but many of the games seem similar. The multiplayer games aren't as innovative as those in its predecessor. And some of the games are just harder to play; so this sequel is best played by kids ages 6 to 10.
The good news for owners of last year's Outdoor Challenge is that if you still have your exercise mat, you can simply buy Extreme Challenge without the mat for $39.99 and save yourself $20. It is a good way to breathe some life into playing with the Active Life Mat Controller, and to get your kids up and moving instead of playing video games by sitting on the couch.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.