VG Review: 'Wii Fit'
Nintendo, for the Wii, rated E for Everyone (comic mischief), $89.99.
Video game companies have made a few attempts at creating games that would encourage cardiovascular exercise, but none have been as successful as Nintendo’s new “Wii Fit” game.
The title has been a surprise hit, selling out almost immediately in its first week. It remains a hard-to-find item online, selling upward of $155.
What’s all the fuss about? I spent a week with the game to see if it was worth the purchase (and would perhaps even help shed some of my unwanted pounds). Here’s a day-by-day account of my travails with the machine.
"Wii Fit” comes with an 8-pound “balance board” — a wireless, pressure-sensitive peripheral you stand on while playing. After installing the (provided) batteries and taking a moment to sync the board up with the Wii console, I’m off and running (well, not quite yet).
As the game starts, a little virtual version of the board waves one of its corners at me, stresses the importance of proper balance and asks if I want to determine my “Wii Fit Age.” Sure, why not?
After choosing a virtual character or “Mii” to represent myself, I add in my height and other data. The game then measures my weight and BMI (Body Mass Index), and asks me to perform a series of tricky balancing exercises.
It turns out that not only am I overweight (though thankfully only borderline), my Wii Fit Age is an embarrassing 50 (I’m actually 37).
Nintendo has clearly taken several pages out of its “Brain Age” series for the portable DS system for “Wii Fit,” as the structure is very similar, right down to putting colorful stamps on your calendar each time you take the body test.
A few yoga and stretching exercises confirm that I am indeed the clumsy oaf I always suspected I was. The “tree” pose in particular seems designed to ensure I look as foolish as possible. Thankfully everyone in my house was asleep at the time.
Much better. My Wii Fit Age is down to a more manageable 40.
The game is divided into four sections: “Yoga,” “Strength Exercises,” “Aerobics” and “Balance Games.” There are only a few selections available as you begin, but the more time you spend, the more games and exercises you unlock.
The yoga and strength exercises are dominated by bland trainers, who, like Thomas the Tank Engine, have the creepy ability to talk without moving their lips.
It’s important to note that the emphasis here is on toning your muscles and improving your overall posture and balance. This isn’t a game that will turn you into Charles Atlas, let alone Jack LaLanne.
I’m surprised to discover that the Hula-Hoop game, wherein I swing my hips vigorously, Elvis-style, gives you quite the workout. I’m actually sweating here.
In general I find I prefer the aerobic and balance games to the trainer-based exercises. The latter do, however, provide a decent warm-up to the former, so I keep at them, though success on some of the trickier exercises remains elusive.
Oh yeah, my Wii Fit Age is now 31. Boo-ya!
An unforeseen consequence of the game is that I’m thinking more often about how I treat my body. I’m more aware of my calorie intake and over all fitness levels than I was before.
Of course, that didn’t stop me from snacking on Pop-Tarts at work today. The result: My weight shot up and my age is now 37. Oh well. Time for some push-ups!
My wife has become intrigued by the game as well. Though, like me, she’s a bit unsteady on her feet in some games, she is impressed with its overall setup and design.
“You’ve brought home other exercise video games,” she says, “but this is the first one that actually makes me want to use it regularly.”
Now my kids have joined the “Wii Fit” craze. My son loves the marble tilt game (move left and right to send the marbles down the hole) while my daughter seems to take a perverse interest in jogging (running in place while holding the Wii controller). Both love the ski jump game (stand up from a crouch at the precise moment to execute a winning jump — no real jumping please).
I, meanwhile, have unlocked a rather addictive boxing game. I’m also intrigued by a balance game where I glide down a treacherous river in a bubble. One false move toward the walls and it’s over.
I still have a number of games and exercises to unlock, but I think it’s safe to call “Wii Fit” a success. Though my weight hasn’t decreased significantly, my posture and sense of balance have noticeably improved.
I doubt I’ll be training every day, but I do plan to keep “Wii Fit” around the house. If I didn’t, my family would never let me hear the end of it.
Easy to set up and use; balance board is well-designed and neat way to train; exercises are fun.
Trainers lack personality; you can’t string together workouts to create a routine; some games get repetitious.
“Wii Fit” won’t turn you into a bodybuilder, but it’s a great, family-friendly way to get off the couch and start working off that flab.
Copyright The Patriot-News, 2008