Play games and have
fun, but get a decent workout at the same time.
Over recent years, the
news in the world of video games always seems to swing both directions. For
fans, it’s usually really good news about technology and new games, but for
people who really aren’t fans, there are a lot of arguments as to “what’s wrong
in the industry”. One of these arguments is that gaming isn’t the healthiest
activity physically, since you sit or lie down 99% of the time while playing.
Well, Naki is apparently looking to change that perspective with the release of
its UKB Arena, which forces you to get up off of your backside and actually
punch and kick your opponents into submission for games like boxing, fighting,
or wrestling. It’s definitely a decent physical workout, but is it worth the
$39.99 retail tag?
The UKB Arena consists of
a floor mat with four directional arrows and four wireless sensors that strap
onto your arms and legs representing the triangle, X, O, and square buttons.
Stepping on the directional arrows will move your character around, and by
punching or kicking it will activate the button that is represented by whatever
limb you just used to perform the action. Everything is pretty accurate and
responsive when used, so kicking will cause your character to kick at the same
time and even physically jumping off of the mat will make your character jump. I
can’t recall the game missing any of the punching, kicking, or jumping actions
that I tried, and was pleased with the accuracy.
One thing that can
definitely be said about the UKB Arena is that it will definitely provide a good
workout. The morning after I played it the first time, my arms, shoulders, and
legs were sore from all of the punching and kicking that I was doing. You really
also don’t notice it while you’re playing either, since if you like games you’re
going to be having a good time, but you will definitely feel it after playing a
few rounds of Street Fighter or UFC or whatever.
Out of all the games that
I tried, I did find a couple of things that could pose potential issues for some
of you Bruce Lee or Rocky wannabe’s out there. First off, most of the games that
I can think of won’t cause too many problems, especially your basic four button
titles. For games that have the option of using the L and R buttons on the top
though, this option isn’t there. For games like Tekken, you would pretty much
have to punch and kick at the same time to execute throw moves or complete some
of the combos. This definitely isn’t impossible, but can be a little awkward.
Secondly, the sensors that
are attached to each of your four flailing limbs operate off of being shaken and
not off of motion capture or something like that since you can actually just set
them on the chair and tap them when you want to operate one of the button
functions. The problem here is that if you happen to be using an attack that
consists of a lot of movement, like Ryu’s Dragon Uppercut in Capcom vs. SNK on
PS2 (Hold forward, hit down and roll to lower front – down diagonal), stepping a
lot or just a little bit too hard can cause the sensors on your legs to go off
and interrupt a combo. I was able to pull off the moves that I needed to a lot
of the time, which again credits the responsiveness, but I also had a lot of
failed attacks and lost matches due to the sensitivity thing.
Overall, I definitely give
credit to Naki for combining fun with exercise, and it’s a good way to get up
off the couch and get a little workout in while trying to climb to the #1 spot
of your favorite fighting game at the same time. Younger gamers will no doubt
have a ball with it, and I have to say that I was the coolest Dad and uncle on
the planet this weekend with my kids and my nieces and had a line going out my
door for them to play it. Unfortunately, the sensitivity and loss of the use of
four buttons can also cause issues with gamers who are looking to not only
exercise but win their favorite games, so if you’re a serious gamer who just
can’t stand losing you may want to pass this one up.
The sensors and buttons on the floor
pad are very responsive, and punching, jumping, and kicking was accurately
portrayed and executed by my character on screen the majority of the time. This
is also a great way to get a little exercise in while having fun playing video
games, and I was able to pull off most moves like “roll down to forward and
punch” or light combos like “left punch, right punch, left kick, left punch”.
The UKB arena also can be used with a four way multitap if you have more than
one UKB Arena set, and provided each has a different frequency which is printed
on the box.
The sensitivity of the different
sensors caused some problems periodically, and stepping too hard or moving a lot
caused them to go off and interrupt combos or directional openings to moves.
Also each sensor is customizable, but the use of the L and R buttons at the top
of the PS2 controller are gone and can be a hassle for gamers who need the use
of them for a different variety punch or button combining to perform throws,
Verdict : 7.0
Although there are some issues which
can cause problems for some people, there’s no arguing that the UKB Arena isn’t
a blast to play with and get some exercise at the same time. Younger gamers and
fighting game fans will definitely have a ball with it, and it’s pretty funny to
watch them hopping around and making Kung Fu movie noises while playing. For you
gamers who just can’t stand to get beat by the computer, especially when you
know that you can win with a controller, you may want to pass this one up and
stick to what you know best.