Wii Fit cometh

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After much anticipation and waiting, Wii Fit has finally arrived! I pre-ordered my copy from EBGames, which was good since it’s apparently sold out in many places. Wii Fit has been hyped up ever since the release day for North America was pushed back in order to increase the strength of the balance board to support more than the 300 lbs of the Japanese version. (The NA version supports 330 lbs) I picked it up on the release day, May 21st and have been using it on-and-off for the past few days.
Here are my initial impressions.

330 lbs!

It’s easy to get started

A trademark of Nintendo’s games, being marketed towards a wide audience it’s very easy to get started with Wii Fit. You just have to sync the balance board with your Wii and then you’re ready to go through the first series of “tests” in order to get started with your own personal fitness profile.


Right away, you’re thrust into a series of simple balance tests that, along with your weight/BMI, are used to determine your “Wii Fit age”. This is basically a measure of how “fit” the game thinks you are; when taken into account along with your actual age, it serves as a guide of whether you are as physically fit as you should be for your age. If your “Wii Fit age” is greater than your actual age, this means you should be training/exercising more according to Wii Fit.


A physical version of Brain Age

All of this makes it seem very similar to Brain Age, the puzzle/mental/thinking game series made for Nintendo’s DS hand-held system. If you’ve played Brain Age before, you’ll be very familiar with the routine and format that Wii Fit presents. Instead of Dr. Kawashima’s avatar guiding you, there is an anthropomorphic Wii Fit balance board present to offer you tips and guide you through the game. Other similarities besides the “Wii Fit age” rating include a calendar that you “stamp” every day you’ve trained with Wii Fit to keep track of your progress and a graph to track your history/BMI. (As a side note, Nintendo has branded Brain Age and Wii Fit under the “Touch! Generations” name to indicate their appeal to more general audiences rather than just gamers)

Brain-age like calendar

Is it worth it?

With the considerable hype of Wii Fit it’s worthwhile to step back and take a hard look at it. It’s hard to recommend this title to hardcore gamers because the game is clearly not marketed towards them. It’s marketed towards casual gamers who are perhaps the polar opposite of hardcore. Wii Fit is meant to be used during breaks, several minutes at a time and not played for hours on end. This is reflected in the style of mini-games that are included with Wii Fit.

As an exercise device the Wii Fit is great for getting people off the couch and doing at least some sort of physical activity, but I have a hard time believing that it would offer the same benefits as the actual activities that the games are modeled on. This is especially noticeable for “Aerobic” mini-games; they won’t come close to the effectiveness of an actual aerobic workout.

Furthermore, the game only measures progress by calculating your BMI or Body Mass Index. Since BMI only takes into account your height and weight, it’s a vast oversimplification and generalization of “fitness” as this ignores measurements like waist size, body type and blood pressure. (All of which would be complicated to integrate into Wii Fit measurements)

However these criticisms may be unwarranted, as Wii Fit is designed to appeal to as large an audience as possible by getting them interested and started on an exercise routine, something that many people find boring, or worse, intimidating. Wii Fit manages to overcome these problems by offering fun workout routines in the undemanding privacy of your own home. (There’s even an option to password-protect your weight/BMI records on Wii Fit)

Other things to consider

From a pure-gaming standpoint, most of the games tend to be repetitive and lose their appeal quickly. (This is the nature of anything routine-based) However, the “Balance Games” stand out here. In particular, the Ski Jumping, Slalom, Table Tilt and Tightrope walking games are fun, especially in group settings. For families with children it’s an especially nice way to have some fun on a rainy day.

Slalom is fun

Technically, the Wii Fit’s balance board is quite accurate and straightforward to use. It basically serves as a precise measurement of your center of gravity; that is, how much to the left/right and front/back you are leaning. These measurements are used as the inputs to all of the mini games in a very seamless and intuitive fashion. The balance board has clearly been designed very well, which was expected since it’s apparently been worked on for close to two years. (And been through a slight redesign to support the extra weight of the North American Market) The balance board is wireless and uses four AA batteries (incl.) but this also means you’ll be buying even more batteries to satiate its energy appetite.

Wii Fit also allows you to install a slimmed-down version as the Wii Fit Channel. This allows you to do basic Wii Fitness tests without having the main game disc inserted so that you can quickly test your weight/BMI and balance skills every day. This is a nice feature which really allows the Wii to function as more than just a simple gaming system.


So, is it worth it? Well, I’m a hardcore Nintendo fan, so the answer from me is a resounding “Yes!” The games may be simple and repetitive, but the innovative style of play that is inline with the overall Wii-philosophy has me hooked and I can only hope that developers make more games based the balance board’s input.

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