|By Zach Patterson||Wednesday, 9 Jul 2008|
Due to my girlfriend’s determination and good luck on its first day of release, we have a copy of Wii Fit in the living room right now. As common sense as that sounds for someone to have the game in order to review it, finding this game has been near impossible since it was released. Nintendo certainly has an easy money maker here, as I have even heard old ladies at work talking about this game and how they are going to use it to “shape up”. Combining the Wii, a console that has bridged generations with its casual gaming and ease of use, and preying on people’s insecurity about their weight (large segment of the market) is a dangerous combo. But the question is: does this help you get fit?
Well, that’s really a loaded question. This game won’t help you get fit any better than a gym membership or an exercise video will. It’s really just a tool with some level of interactivity, and how much you use it will dictate its usefulness. The game of course comes with the Wii Fit balance board, which is a nifty little piece of hardware that can detect your shifts in weight on 4 quadrants of the board.
The board is used in pretty much all aspects of the game, and is very accurate for the most part. It knows when I am standing more on my left foot than my right and when I am doing a good pushup or half-assing one. So while the game is a rather expensive $90, you certainly don’t get a crummy peripheral. This is a cool hardware idea that I hope they implement into many other games.
As for the ‘game’ itself, the main guts of the game revolves around testing yourself for you weight/BMI, and the activities you can do. The 4 categories of activities are Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobic, and Minigames. When you first start the game, it will test your balance and weigh you, then make an assessment of your current fit level and fit age. If there is one part of the game I’m not wild about, it’s really this. I mean, I’m not the most fit dude in the world, but I’m relatively healthy for my weight. But according to Wii Fit, I’m overweight, and borderline obese? I hate Body Mass Index, and I don’t think its a good measure of someone’s fitness level, because it simply factors in your weight and height. Not only that, but the game, when first started, told me I was about 8 pounds thinner than I actually was. “Great!” I thought. This turned out to be an annoyance because the next time I booted up Wii Fit, I suddenly was 6 pounds heavier. After that, I was 2 more pounds heavier, back to my normal weight. But Wii Fit thinks I’m gaining weight at an insane pace and then asks me what the cause is. In the options I can choose, none of them are “you fucked up, Wii Fit”.
In general the whole pseudo-scolding the game does of you when you gain weight is annoying and a little embarrassing. If I go out for a few drinks and a nice meal the night before, suddenly I don’t want to hop on Wii Fit and have it judging me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty supportive for the most part, but it will undoubtedly rub you the wrong way if you aren’t losing weight.
The 4 main workout parts of the game vary in their usefulness. The Yoga is certainly nice for those who enjoy yoga, as it has a wide variety of stances and exercises to do. I find them a little slow, personally, but that is personal taste. The Strength Training part is one of my favorites because I find it actually gives me a workout. I’ve found myself sweating a bit from the push up challenge, and the jack knife sit ups definitely work your abs. The aerobic part is decent, but I don’t find myself doing it too often. They have rhythm based stepping games, tai bo inspired boxing game (complete with charismatic black dude directing you), hula hooping (which I don’t think really even works anything out) and “running”, which is running in place as the game shows you running through a park. It’s nice, but running in place is very boring. Finally, the minigames, which I feel are one of the stronger parts of the game. Again, I’m not sure how much of a workout they give you, but they have a Marble Madness type game, a few skiing games, a guide yourself down the river without touching the walls game, a balance on a tight rope game, and a cute penguin game where you shift your weight back and forth in order to catch fish. These all use your Miis like Wii Sports/Play, and add a lot to what could have been a rather straight forward serious workout game.
So the game itself is structurally sound, but the problem I had with it was the inability to make a workout “setlist” so that you could string a workout together back to back with no interruptions. Instead, you have to navigate through the menu on each part. This makes a 30 minute workout take around 45-60 mins, which is unfortunate, because the game does a lot right, and there is a “most played” option, but it still disrupts your flow when go from one activity to another. Sometimes, the game even taunts you after one activity by saying “Pair it with this activity for a great workout!” but won’t let you select it from that pop up screen. Instead you have to go find wherever that activity is. Additionally, while the music isn’t terrible or anything, it’s rather forgettable stuff. How about the ability to make your own music mix here? If Excitetruck lets you do it, Wii Fit should have that option. Finally, while I understand that unlocking stuff gives incentive to play, why do I have to do Yoga to unlock Minigames? Why do I have to do the Strength Training activities that hurt my bad ankle in order to unlock Aerobic activities? The unlocking pattern makes no sense. I’m not going to like all the workouts, I’m just not. Don’t make me do them in order to get the stuff I really want.
Anyway, that’s been my experience with Wii Fit. I still prefer to hit the gym instead of play this, but Wii Fit isn’t bad if you just want to hang out at home and do some workout stuff and have it be a little bit fun. I think with some tweaks and changes here and there, this would have been really great. As it is, it’s simply a good alternative to the numerous fitness options out there.