An exercise in monotony
While games in the time management genre obviously challenge you to manage your time, there are also sub-genres within this space for players that want to focus on either strategy or speed. Strategy games may see you balancing the use of resources and workers, but Fitness Bustle: Energy Boost falls into the other category, as this is one game focused solely on speed.
Fitness Bustle: Energy Boost follows a young personal trainer that decides to open up a new gym in a society where citizens would rather take “magic” energy pills than exercise. The game’s level-based setup sees you completing different tasks in each level as a clock constantly tracks your progress, but all of the tasks are so similar, or so mindless that it’s as if they really don’t exist.
Each stage of Fitness Bustle: Energy Boost sees customers entering your gym automatically, with thought bubbles representing their next desired workout machine (a stair master, treadmill, etc.). Clicking on a customer and then the workout station starts their cycle automatically, but you can click on them again to send your character over for encouragement. This speeds up the workout, freeing up the limited stations that are available much faster than if you left the customer to work out on their own.
Thankfully, the tips you earn from customers can be turned into new personal trainers and staff that can help more customers work out simultaneously, but the rest of the game’s upgrade system is rather odd. Only some upgrades are actually permanent additions to your gym(s), as the rest must be chosen and activated in groups of 1-3 at a time. These may allow you to temporarily speed up the progress of workouts, temporarily increase the walking speed of your workers, and so on, but you’re not allowed to activate more than three of these boosts at the same time. This feels like a rather arbitrary limit that doesn’t really need to be there.
Furthermore, the level designs themselves are rather lackluster. The game seems to focus more on quantity than quality, as levels are made more challenging simply due to the fact that so many guests are thrown in the door at the same time. There’s nothing challenging about clicking on stations to match your customers’ moods, and there’s no variety among the stations to give you something else to do. Your time here is spent simply clicking on a guest, then clicking on a workout station, then clicking again to send them to the showers and out of the door.
Where variety has been implemented, it probably didn’t need to be. Instead of giving players one standard gym that becomes more advanced over time, Fitness Bustle: Energy Boost sees the location of workout items randomized at the beginning of each level. You’re then left with the job of wasting precious seconds becoming re-acclimated to your environment as items aren’t where you left them with no explanation as to why.
Fitness Bustle: Energy Boost is a colorful, simple game with a charming storyline but a real lack of gameplay variety. The game’s different gyms vary mainly only in location and graphical design, as the gameplay remains the same throughout. As a result, we’re left with a fairly tedious game that feels rather old, even though it’s new.