Nutrition Matters

Nutrition Matters is a game in the Body. Mind. Soul. series by 505 Games and was created for both the Wii and the Nintendo DS (I’m reviewing the DS version, though I don’t think there’s much of a difference). The basic concept is pretty good; the game aims to create a comprehensive food diary and provide you with advice on how to lose/gain weight. But the game completely fails at it; in the world of games, it is probably the rough equivalent of the movie Troll 2 (this scene in particular).

Before getting the game, I tried finding reviews, or at the very least a video, of it, but couldn’t find anything. After having tried it, I can understand why; the game is so bad no one would bother wasting their time reviewing it. So that’s why I’ll do it and hopefully save some people a fistful of dollars by having them NOT buy the game.

Anywho, like I said, the game concept is pretty good, so I went in with an open mind and wanted to earnestly try it out. When starting a new game, it asks you for your personal info relative to the aim of the game, i.e. your gender, age (which can’t be below 18, so that’s idiotic development step one), weight, height, waist measurement, the duration period of your diet (can be up to six months), and finally what your target weight is. You then enter the menu, which looked pretty nice actually, so at this point, I had a good impression of the game.

However, after having had my meals, when I had to input the food into my food diary in the daily basic data, I realised how extremely limited the game is. It comes with a pre-made list of about 500-600 dishes that you can choose from, however, you can’t add anything yourself if what you ate isn’t on the list. So say you are like my buddy Aucry, who likes to experiment a bit with dishes, and might make fried noodles with a veggie mix (carrots, corn, eggplant, etc.) and tamagoyaki, with a side of lightly fried leek simmered in rice wine, you’d be screwed six ways from Sunday. Hell, even if you go to McDonald’s you’re screwed six ways from Sunday.

So because it’s so messed up, and that it hasn’t got that many basic ingredients so you could just add the ingredients used in the dishes you made, you have to take the closest thing in a similar food-group which is usually still pretty far off. In the case of the above dish, you’d have to pick stuff like “vegetable pasta”, “scrambled eggs”, and then some random fruit and sauce. All of these will of course have completely different amounts of protein, carbs, fats, etc. than the stuff you ate, even IF you get the calories to match up, which defeats the entire point in keeping a food diary.

Another problem is, I have no idea of what the game bases its data on. For instance, take the data it has on “banana”. It says that “banana” has 75 kcal, but not how much “banana” has 75 kcal. I.e. is it one banana? If yes, what type of banana is it (extra small, small, medium, large, extra large)? Is it 100 grams of banana? Is it one ounce of banana? Ten ounces of banana? A cup of mashed banana? What? When I compared it to a database, I only got more confused, because it doesn’t seem to be any of them. The closest thing was the extra small banana (less than 100 grams), but that then raises questions about the small fruits like grapes since the data there equals to an amount of more than 100 grams.

So being able to change the portion size is completely pointless since you don’t know what one portion is. It might be explained somewhere in the manual, but I never got that :/ But it would seem pointless to have a variable sized portion instead of one based on a constant weight like 100 grams or 10 ounces or something. So the entire food diary aspect of the game is shot to Hell and can’t really be used unless you don’t actually care about the data in which case, why the Hell would you buy the game?

The game flaunts that it gives professional advice, but to access this advice you have to fill out a “basic data” section each day to get advice on that day. This basic data includes stuff like your weight, waist measurement, the number of steps you’ve walked, and your body fat percentage. So in order to fully use the game, you have to spend money on extra crap like a pedometer and a bath scale that measures your body fat percentage. Lulz, WTF?! And what kind of professional advice did it give me? “You are underweight. Keep an eye on your BMI.” Noooooooooooooo, you doooon’t say? Fuck, I totally did not see that coming. What tipped you off? That I my BMI was low and that I wanted to gain 10 kg? A true pro you are… regular Hercules Poirot of the food industry.

So as a food diary, it phails ever so miserably. Its only slightly redeeming feature are the progress graphs, but that doesn’t really help since it isn’t a graph making game. Long story short, save your money. The game doesn’t do anything that you can’t do far more accurately by using nutritiondata.com as a reference for data and then a spreadsheet, and this includes the graphs. So I suggest you do that instead. And use the money you save on not buying the game and get a one-hour consultation with a ACTUAL dietitian (it’s actually cheaper than buying the game!).

Final score: I give it one heart because I liked the graphs, but as for the rest, it phailed miserably, especially since you had to purchase additional stuff to be able to use it properly.

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