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Goji Play: Hate cardio a little less

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Jan. 17, 2014
Goji Play combines two things I love: Exercise and video games. Too bad it feels like it's still in production.

Before your first session with Goji Play, you'll need to download the main Goji Play app and any games you want to play. The main Goji Play app keeps track of your stats; allows you to set goals, complete quests, and add friends via social networks; and serves as a launch pad for Goji Play games. However, all Goji Play games are separate downloads, perhaps to save your poor iPad's memory.

Once you've sorted out all the peripherals and downloaded all the apps, you're ready to go! To the gym, that is, where you'll have to set up the entire thing — this includes attaching the game controllers to the cardio machine, clipping the activity tracker to your waistband, setting up your iPad/iPhone, plugging in your headphones, and making sure everything is synced up via Bluetooth. Oh, you'll also need to find a Wi-Fi connection; though some of the games appear to work without an Internet connection, the main Goji Play app does not.

The second time I tried to use Goji Play, I remembered to bring all the pieces. After a few minutes of setup, I was ready to start playing the first game: Smash the Blocks. Smash the Blocks is a basic racing game — you're a pinball-type character rolling through a maze, and your goal is to free your ball-buddies and smash mean-looking blocks.

To move in the game, you have to physically move, and the more intense your workout, the faster your character rolls. To move left, you press the Y button on the left controller; to move right, you press the B button on the right controller; to jump, you press both buttons together.

This game is awesome, and a great fit for Goji Play. The two-minute levels are just long enough for interval training, and the simple objectives (free buddies, smash blocks, collect diamonds) are easy for an exhausted cardio-hater to complete (but not so easy that you'll lose interest). Plus, the upbeat music is invigorating.

Unfortunately, Smash the Blocks may have set the bar a little too high. Most of the other games available for Goji Play are difficult and/or fail to make sufficient use of the activity tracker. For example, I found the free-runner game Spin or Die basically impossible — I couldn't stay alive for more than 20 seconds before being crushed by a bus or knocked over by a taxi.

Other games, such as the knockout Fisticuffs and the Galaga-inspired Ralaga, use the activity tracker in different, uninspiring ways. In Fisticuffs, your movement determined the power of your punch — not a bad concept, but it totally did not inspire me to move faster. In Ralaga, moving faster supposedly meant higher-powered lasers (I couldn't tell the difference). In my opinion, Goji Play is best used with racing games, where you can actually see the difference your movement is making. But at least there's something for everyone.


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