Despite watching the parody trailer and knowing how much it was going to cost, I still went ahead and pre-ordered Wii Fit and managed to slip one in on Amazon before it got pre-sold out. The demand is so high it doesn't look like the price will drop any time soon and it is a first party Nintendo title. Yesterday I received the package which was release day in Europe. I was pretty surprised at how big and heavy the box was which is close to 5kg!
So that's one more rare title that's being released over here first. I think we only get low risk titles here first (i.e. ones that are certain to do well) because Europeans still haven't accepted gaming that well yet but, that's just my thoughts on why we get most titles so late.
Anyway, opening up the briefcase-like box there's a bright yellow sticker showing you the recommended way of taking the board out. It's packed pretty tightly.
Here's the software itself with a pack of four batteries and a separate manual for the board.
And the Balance Board itself. Its build feels very solid and durable so I can kind of see why it knocked up the Wii Fit price to much to double the price of the average Nintendo title, £69.99. Japan and the US are getting it for around the £42 mark though...
The back of it where the familiar sync button is. The manual shows that it's actually those round parts in the corners that track your balance, not the surface of the board. This EU version supports up to maximum of 150kg.
At the side there's a power button to turn on the board. Every time you do this, you have to wait for the board to "boot up" before you can use it but this takes less than a few seconds. And if you're worried about batteries, rechargeables seem to work fine even though few electronics that use more than four don't usually work.
I didn't have to perform an update with Wii Fit. Possibly because I already updated with Mario Kart Wii. What I did have to do was sync the board with my Wii. Afterwards, I'm greeted with an animated Wii Balance Board introducing the software and how important posture is for your health. You then pick a Mii and it will ask for your height, birthday and to check the time. For some reason it uses the old metric system which I'm not too familiar with but fortunately there's a conversion chart in the manual.
Once those details are entered, you're weighed and given your BMI. This is then followed by a "Body Test", a collection of balance exercises to determine your Wii Fitness age. A bit like Brain Age really and you'll even recognise the sound effects if you've trained on that. And last but not least, you can set a goal for yourself which can be to lose weight or even gaining muscle weight within a certain period of time! You can also set a password to protect your details if you're so inclined.
Next, you're finally allowed to select your choice of trainer male or female and you're presented with exercises that are divided into four categories Yoga, Muscle Workout, Aerobics and Balance Games (view clips of them on the official site). There's around forty-eight to unlock from the looks of the menus. You're also given a Fit Piggy Bank so that every minute you spend in Wii Fit earns you some Fit Cash points to unlock new content. It took me just over half an hour to run through the initially few available activities which was roughly about ten yoga and muscle exercises and six the other two categories but already I was unlocking new content.
First up I tried out Yoga which was a collection of breathing, balancing and stretching exercises. Every stance that you perform, you're expected to keep your balance within a certain part of the Balance Board. Most of the stances weren't particularly difficult apart from the "Tree" stance and although the software doesn't track your breathing, it does recommend you to keep the timing of your breathing right so that it matches your movements. I got a good stretch out of the poses.
Next up were the Muscle Workouts which proved to be more difficult, especially the "Parallel Stretch" and "Single Arm Stand-up" activities. Just like yoga, selecting them gives you a demonstration of how it's done and what muscles they aim to strengthen such as the abs, torso and biceps. The software only makes you do around five to ten reps per workout at first but as you use the exercises more often you can increase the reps you need to do the next time.
And if that's not enough, you eventually unlock challenges such as press ups that will keep knocking up the numbers you need to do until one hundred so there should be something for everyone.
However, while you're going through the yoga and muscle exercises, make sure you have somewhere to place the Wiimote because you'll find yourself having to put down and pick it back up a lot so that you can use your hands.
As for Aerobic Exercises, I enjoyed the Hula Hoop and Rhythm Boxing so far. For the latter you'll find yourself boxing in rhythm, stepping on and off the board as the name suggests. Then you finish off by going berserk and throwing as many punches as you want on the punch bag before you.
Those who play DDR shouldn't have any problems doing Step Basics. A game like DDR Hottest Party may have a much better and furious workout with its bigger four step mat and fast complex dance moves but, the step aerobics here can still offer quite a challenge as the difficulty level ramps up even though it's only two stepping motions. You just might not like the music as much.
There's also Jogging (single and two player versions), which expects you to either hold the Wiimote or put it in your pocket and jog on the spot, which wasn't particularly appealing to me because I usually go out for a thirty minute ,two miles or so jog in the morning anyway. As you can guess, you can just stand still and shake the Wiimote and your Mii will still run. On the hand, the outdoor environment is presented fairly nicely with tranquil sound effects of birds twittering away. The longest island lap match around Wiifitty Island takes you around ten minutes but I don't think I'll be using this at all.
The Balance Games are fairly fun to play through although they're more like mini games where you'll just be spending about two minutes on. The ones I enjoyed the most however would be the "Heading" game which isn't easy when you first start out. As the name suggests, you have to alter your balance so that you header all the footballs away but, to make things more difficult there are other objects such as football boots flying at you too. Skiing was also fun as you make your way between flags. There's also one where you have to shift your weight to pretend you're jumping which is also good fun. It really shows off what the balance board can do.
Whether it's the games you're playing or the workout exercises, you'll end up with a score, a rank out of four stars and a title such as "Muscle Legend" or "Yoga Master" depending on what you're doing of course. And as mentioned earlier, you'll also earn Fit Cash points for every minute you spend doing the exercises to unlock more content.
Furthermore, Wii Fit lets you record the time you spend on other activities that you do in an Activity Log such as walking, football or other sports. Even housework or playing an instrument! This however, doesn't count towards your Fit Cash. Also unlike, Brain Age which gives you a stamp for completing a certain number of exercises each day, Wii Fit only gives you one when you take the Body Test for the day.
There isn't a great selection of music during the exercises besides the aerobics and games but, the main theme that plays during menu selection is very soothing. The graphical presentation is very clean resembling Wii Sports, with a fun animated Wii Balance Board greeting you every time you login and giving some health or Wii Fit related tips. The trainers themselves give clear voice instructions and gives some appropriate advice while you perform the exercises but, they aren't quite as animated as the board itself. I think a little more facial expression would have been good to make them more lively.
Wii Fit is definitely no replacement for the gym but it's a good start that adds incentive for basic exercises with scores, Fit Cash points and progress tracking. It's a very well presented package and like Brain Age will most likely keep you working out for some time. You'll have to give the board a wipe afterwards if you want to keep it clean of course. As to whether it works or not I'll have to report back later!
- Wii Balance Board has a sturdy build which kind of explains the £40 for it.
- Progress tracking, scores and ratings act as incentives to return.
- Fairly entertaining balance games such as Heading.
- The Muscle Workouts really do give you a workout.
- Clean simple presentation.
- Can't create own list of favourites or exercise routine.
- Number of reps for each exercise very limiting.
- Not many trainers to choose from, just two.
- Initially not all exercises are available.
- Not a great variation of health tips.