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jOG (Wii)

jOG box

Cost: The RRP is £20 but it seems to be selling for £25 most places.

  • A pedometer with an attached wire to plug into a wii remote and a socket in which to insert a wire from a wii nunchuk.
How it works: The pedometer clips to your belt while playing normal Wii games and counts the number of steps you take. Stop jogging and the Wii no longer receives signals from the thumbstick on the nunchuk. In many games this means your character stops moving and suffers a horrible death. You have to jog or die...

Or you can just tap the button on top and play in peace as the pedometer ceases doing anything at all.

jOG attached to a remote.

Object: To get some light exercise without leaving the house or becoming bored.

Game length: Until you decide you could really do with a sit down.

Comments: Put simply, jOG is a device that forces you to jog on the spot while playing Wii games and, to be honest, that sounds a little daft. After all, if you really wanted to run on the spot in front of the telly, you could just do it while watching CSI and save yourself twenty quid.

Except, of course, there's little chance of you doing that in reality. You're going to lie down on the sofa after five minutes with a beer and a packet of crisps. By affecting the game, jOG forces you to keep going. Yeah, you could switch it off but that feels more like cheating than sitting down for 'a little rest' and, besides, building up a step count high score is quite compulsive.

That said, there are certain games where jOG is rather pointless. Quiz games, racing games, Guitar Hero and anything else which doesn't use the thumbstick aren't going to bring much exercise. Also, it's pretty tricky aiming accurately with the wiimote while jogging. The manual suggests playing as if jogging while holding a tea tray in an effort to keep your hands steady. Personally, I like to think of it more as the world's first Riverdance simulator.

I've mainly tried jOG with Disaster: Day of Crisis which works very well. The sections involving running about are regularly interspersed with cutscenes and lightgun style sections. This means regular breaks from jogging. More than that, having to actually run while pegging it from a virtual volcano does add to the feeling of immersion. The only problem occurs with one minigame which involves aiming the wiimote at a particular point on screen for several seconds while twirling the thumbstick. Achieving this while jogging is beyond me. Perhaps Michael Flatley could manage it but I keep having to flick jOG off for a few moments.

LEGO Batman, where use of the thumbstick is almost constant, is much more of an effort. Two levels of that and I totally need to lie down on the sofa with a beer and a packet of crisps in front of CSI...

Oddly, jOG probably works best with games which are the complete opposite of the short challenges of Wii Fit. A half hour burst of a long adventure where you get to run around exploring is likely to provide a decent workout. Games such as Okami, Bully, Zelda and Resident Evil 4 are the way to go. Unlike the Wii Fit balance board, jOG gives you the chance to exercise while playing proper games and so will potentially keep you interested for longer.

The pedometer itself is reasonable quality and has a battery to retain your 'score' while not in use. It doesn't count or show a display without an operational wiimote attached, though, so it's no use while not playing a game. (There's a PS2 version with what appears to be a wireless pedometer which is much more self-contained.)

jOG almost certainly isn't the answer to childhood obesity. I suggested my boys try it out and they started taking a sudden interest in quiz games, racing games and Guitar Hero. Likewise, it clearly isn't going to get you fit without a healthy dose of will power and a stack of great games. Nonetheless, it could help. I keep finding myself looking forward to using it. Suddenly games are fun and virtuous.

The only real issue with jOG is the price. Not so very long ago, Kellogg were giving away pedometers with the purchase of a couple of boxes of Bran Flakes. This being the case, £25 for a pedometer with an extra bit of wire and an electronic cut-off switch seems a bit steep. Still, it's a lot cheaper than a gym subscription and you can use it without leaving the house.

jOG close up.

Conclusion: Jogging on the spot has never been so enjoyable.

  • Makes exercise fun.
  • Can make games more fun too.
  • Works with plenty of titles.
  • Clips easily, has a good length of wire and the off button is in an accessible location.
  • Expensive.
  • If you have downstairs neighbours they may not be thrilled.
Rating: 4/5.

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