Before I bought this product, I had read the two reviews here on Amazon. What I appreciate from one review 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 to sell itself in the guise of a self defence programme. Having gotten this bit of info from the reviewer, 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 defence game. Yes, it does have a total section (and large part) devoted to self defence, but it's this part that drags the game down to lower scores. 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 Defence" 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 DEFENCE TRAINING
This is, well, baloney. It does do what a self defence 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 defence 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 My Self Defence Coach.
...now, the 3 remaining parts in which this game does work:
This is a cardio workout with "boxing" incorporated very well. We love this. Like all programmes in My Self Defence Coach 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.
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.
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:
- game title utterly misleading and may create expectations on which it cannot deliver
- the self defence part of the game is its weakness
- selection process in the self defence 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
= 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
+ 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 fact is, this game's biggest problem is its title. Why on earth did they call it "My Self Defence Coach"?! It's an exercise title in its very nature and they should have rather focused on selling that aspect. It's because of this misleading title that the game is getting horrific scores because people are disappointed in what they had bought. I would have thought it would have been wise to advertise this as a "martial arts" exercise title, but alas.
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 coaching 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 My Self Defence Coach 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.