Wii Console for Sale
Grand Theft Auto IV may be hitting all the headlines, but in the UK at least, Wii Fit is putting up a fight with Rockstar's crime sim for chart domination. There has been some discussion over whether it can actually be called a game, especially since Nintendo is marketing it as a tool for fitness, but Wii Fit's designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, maintains that it is also a fun game to play with friends. With that in mind, we got up off our gaming couch to limber up for a few hours of Wii Fit to give you an idea of what it's all about.
The package, which retails for £69.99 in the UK ($138.16), consists of the Wii Fit disc and the new balance board peripheral. The balance board, which is a white wireless pair of electronic scales, measures shifts in weight in order to monitor things such as balance, movement, and pressure. Before it can do that, it needs to be set up to recognise your weight, height, and body mass index, which it can then monitor over time to help you reach your fitness goals.
The setup process is a little bit lengthy, but in traditional Nintendo style there's an element of play involved in finding out just how unhealthy you are. The first step is to choose or create the Mii character who will represent you in the game. This character is then dropped into the Wii Fit menu system and will act as your avatar when you play through the main game. Before that, though, there's some history, mainly about how the world's posture has been deteriorating. Nintendo puts that down to two things: a lack of exercise and age-weakened muscles. As you're warned of fat accumulation and something called metabolic syndrome, the onscreen balance board begins to shake in fear, but there's no need to worry, it assures you--as long as you play Wii Fit every day that is!
After the doom-and-gloom medical warning, it's on to the actual calibration of the machine. Wii Fit uses your height, date of birth, and weight to work out your BMI, against which you're categorised as either underweight, ideal, overweight, or obese. With that taken into account, your Mii character changes to reflect your current BMI, growing a belly for "overweight" or "obese" or shrinking down for "underweight." You can also choose to see your actual weight in stone or kilograms, although only the narcissistic among you may choose to reveal such information. Thankfully, you can password-protect your stats to keep them out of the view of nosy friends.
Wii Fit then issues you your first balance test to work out your athletic ability and Wii Fit age. This involves shifting the emphasis of weight between each leg so that, for example, 60 percent is on your right leg and 40 percent is on your left. The more accurate you are at doing this repeatedly within the 30-second limit, the greater your athletic ability and the lower your Wii Fit age. While playing the game among a number of people, we didn't see anyone attain a Wii Fit age lower than their actual age, and it usually indicated that our physical ability was around 10 years above our actual age.
Thankfully, Wii Fit lets you set a goal for your weight loss or, depending on your condition, weight gain. Wii Fit will advise you of how far you have to go to reach your target BMI, and you can set a weight-change plan to work towards this. The game can recognise if your weight change is unhealthy and will advise you to stick to a plan of changing your weight by only a few pounds every couple of weeks. Nevertheless, you can review your weight-loss plan every fortnight if you want to change your goals, while the game keeps a tally of the amount of time you put into the exercises with the FitPiggy--a piggy bank that collects all the time you've spent working out in the game. New games are unlocked at 10-minute intervals, so you don't have to play for long to open up more challenges.
Guiding you through the game is either a male or a female training instructor, whom you can view from different angles in order to fully grasp the moves they perform during exercises. The instructor will also dish out tips based on the feedback the game gets through the balance board. This includes advice to straighten your spine in the yoga class or to slow down during the repetitive muscle exercises. There are four types of exercises in Wii Fit: yoga, muscle workouts, aerobic exercises, and balance games. Each of these categories has four games opened at the start (with the exception of muscle workouts, which has five), and the more you play, the more you can unlock.
The aerobic exercises and balance games are the most traditional gamelike challenges in Wii Fit, although the game does advise you to push yourself in the yoga and muscle workouts categories for the most efficient fat burning. Aerobic exercises include hula hoop, step basics, jogging, and two-player jogging, the latter of which can be played cooperatively as long as you have two Wii Remotes. By putting the remote in your pocket and jogging on the spot, Wii Fit is able to monitor your burn rate and advises you how fast to run to minimise the strain on your muscles. The step basics mode is great fun, testing your sense of rhythm by having you play a basic version of a dance mat game. Jumping on stage with a bunch of other Miis, you have to move on and off the balance board in time to the music, with an onscreen guide showing you when and where your feet should be.
The balance game section contains nine quite tricky games to test your balance, four of which you can play from the off. Two are skiing based: one a slalom and one a jump. Another is based on football, in which you need to move your body to header oncoming balls and miss the pandas and football boots. Table tilt is a fiendishly difficult take on Mercury Meltdown, where you must use your body weight to tilt a maze to get a ball to fall through a hole. It can be incredibly difficult to do this during the later stages with more than four balls onscreen, but it's strangely addictive and very taxing on the legs.
The muscle workouts are where Wii Fit really gets taxing, and with regular use it should have a noticeable effect on your physique. The standard gym favourites are present from the start, including press-ups, twists, and lunges, and you can choose to do a different number of repetitions each time you play. Again, the balance board measures your shift in balance and can tell when you're doing a proper press-up--half-baked efforts will go unrecorded and will result in a lower overall grade. Likewise, the board is very accurate at measuring your wobbly legs as you struggle to adopt the tree position during yoga, and the clear scoring system can make it quite a competitive game to play against your friends.
The monitoring system keeps track of your daily progress, marking the days you've played as well as any change in your BMI and centre of gravity. The game places an emphasis on good posture, so as well as tracking your overall health, it aims to improve your centre of balance to minimise the stress of everyday life on your body. Graphical representation of the data also makes it easy to see how you're progressing towards your goal, and you can even add exercises done outside of Wii Fit, such as running, swimming, or just plain walking--perfect for those with an active lifestyle...and dirty cheaters.
We really like what we've seen of Wii Fit, and it has enough charm to be both a fun game and a real way of getting more exercise. There's clear scope for the balance board too, as it's another relatively simple peripheral for the Wii with a lot of potential uses. We'd have loved to see some sort of online integration for Wii Fit, with daily tips or the ability to compare progress with friends, but it's still great fun to compete against people locally. Look out for a full review of Wii Fit when it launches worldwide later this month.