You start with an embarrassing, creepy, and awkward balance test administered by a rubbery anthropomorphic balance board. Wait a second; let me take a step back.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m overweight. Not a lot, and I exercise regularly, and I’m in good health, so I like to think that I am doing OK. My doctor thinks I’m doing well, and if it’s good enough for her, hey, it’s good enough for me. So I questioned what benefits I could get out of Wii Fit when I’m accustomed to doing 30 minutes on an elliptical or an hour of DDR. I discovered there are some benefits as well as some fun to be had, but Wii Fit is more suited toward introducing someone to daily exercise and core strength training.
Once you’re past the initial balance test and you’ve washed off the heebie-jeebies, Wii Fit measures your weight and center of gravity and tells you about your posture (incidentally, I lean slightly to my left). If you stand perfectly in the center, you win! The game is over!
OK, not really. Based on the information you provide, the game generates your BMI and your Wii Fit age, which become the launching point for self-improvement. The game is then broken down into four areas: Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics, and Balance Games. On the hum drum side is Yoga, where you’ll find a yoga trainer that you can follow along with, but it’s the Balance Games where Wii Fit excels. With minigames like ski jumping and slaloms where you try to navigate a downhill slope, you’ll find more-fun-than exercise.
So how does one hope to stay tuned in to Wii Fit and not let the balance board collect dust like your other exercise junk and gaming peripherals? Two ways. First, all the minigames have ranks. If you want to get the highest rank possible in snowboarding, you’re going to have to practice to get good at it. Second, the more time you spend playing all of the minigames, the more minigames you unlock, either through cumulative time played or number of times you played a particular game.
It’s sort of an up- and down-side to the game. It’s exciting to unlock a new minigame, but the game may be a yoga pose. If you’re not into yoga, then you’re waiting to unlock the next game, which may be equally uninteresting, and you may find yourself discouraged. Accumulating top ranks and unlocking new minigames is a good way to hybridize traditional gaming with an exercise game, even if it is a bit cumbersome to unlock everything, which takes about six hours. Some of the games are truly enjoyable, and since there’s such a wide variety of games, you’re sure to find some that you like. Wii Fit lacks the ability to make your own exercise program by stringing games together, so you’ll have to interrupt each event with a menu and pick each new game ala carte.
The graphics here are pretty standard for a Nintendo Wii-style game. The game makes good use of your Miis, and though the presentation is stylized, it lacks some of the usual charm found in this series. Same goes for the sound design; it’s appropriate and fitting, but nothing revolutionary. The control scheme is outstanding but involves a fairly long learning curve to master. Some games seem broken or impossible, like tightrope walking, but get past the initial frustration and you’ll find it takes a lot of focus and strength. The balance board itself is very sensitive and can detect the smallest shift in weight.
So, did I gain anything from Wii Fit? Well, I haven’t lost any weight, but I have become consciously aware of when I am putting more weight on my left foot when I’m standing. When I notice, I always correct my posture. As a result, if I’m standing at work all day, my left foot doesn’t hurt after a 10-hour day. Is that the sole reason to buy Wii Fit? No, but it is cheaper than physical therapy for a problem I wasn’t aware I had.
Is Wii Fit right for you? Only you can answer that. A poll of 1,000 Japanese IT Media readers says 64% stopped using Wii Fit presumably after the initial novelty wore off. As a lazy American gaijin, you are most likely one of those people, and that number is probably higher in the States. If you’re looking to finally crack down on your New Year’s resolution and start getting in shape, then you might as well clear off some shelf space for later. If nothing else, Wii Fit is cheaper than most gym memberships, and there are more games in production for use with the balance board.
I still crack it out once in a while, but, to be honest, Wii Fit said I was obese, and adjusted my Mii to look like a fucking sausage. I haven’t quite forgiven the anthropomorphic jerk bag balance board for that. It’s not entirely his/her/its fault; BMI is based on lots of factors that Wii Fit does not take into account. Also, I have to get up and change the game disc from whatever I’m currently playing to Wii Fit, and I’m ironically too lazy to do that.
You have probably seen this already. If you haven’t, there you go, and if you have…yeah, like you’re not willing to watch it again.