Wii Fit

Okay, so I talked about this a lot when I talked about the Wii, but here’s a full blown review of the “game” Wii Fit for the Nintendo Wii game console.  If you’ve read the previous article, a lot of this will sound familiar.

First, it’s not really a game.  It has several “games” in it, but it’s more of a “fitness assistant.”  Wii Fit comes with a special controller called the “Balance Board.”  The Balance Board can measure your weight and determine your center of gravity – basically, it can tell if you’re leaning on one side or the other, forward or backward.

Yo!  Tangent: I would suggest that if you haven’t already done so and you are comfortable with doing so, that you create several “Miis” before you start on Wii Fit … particularly a Mii for yourself.  It will make some of the games a little more entertaining.  See the “Mii Channel”, which should be available in the “Wii Menu” right next to the block where the currently loaded game shows up.

Back on topic: Once you’ve started Wii Fit, it’s suggested that you do a daily “Body Test”.  At a minimum, it wants to take your weight and note any changes in your BMI (if it’s increased significantly, it will likely ask you why you think it has).  Next you’re offered the opportunity to continue or end your Body Test; if you continue, you’re given a couple of balance/control exercises (which will be compared to previous attempts of those same exercises).  Then, you’re given your Wii Fit “age”.  At 38, Wii Fit has put me as “young” as 32, and as “old” as 45.  When you start, you’re given a “Fit Bank”, which keeps track of your exercise time.  It’s suggested that you do at least 30 minutes a day of exercise, at least five days a week.

“Training” involves four categories of exercises: Yoga, Strength, Aerobic, and Balance.  When you first start off, you’ll have a limited number of exercises in each category that you’re allowed to do; as you go on, more exercises are opened up to you.  Within certain exercises, you’re given the ability to do “more”: more time or repetitions, or more complexity.  Not all exercises use the Balance Board (or, for that matter, the Wiimote, either).  Some that do use the Balance Board do it in a rather clever way – the Jack Knife exercise (kind of a half sit-up where you lift your legs) registers that you’re doing the exercise by detecting when your heels are either lifted from or put back onto the board (even though you’re not actually “standing” on the board).

Oh yeah – NO JUMPING ON THE BALANCE BOARD.  Even for the Ski Jump balance game, your feet are to never leave the board.

On the whole, some of the more “game-y” exercises are fun (especially if you take my advice about creating a batch of Miis – it’s fun to be running and pass someone you recognize).  If you approach Wii Fit as an exercise aid rather than a game, you won’t be disappointed.  As a game, it might seem quite boring.

Easter Eggs: Well, not really Easter Eggs perse; the only things I’ve found so far that come close are the “8-bit graffiti items” you’ll spot while Running.  Also when running, if you’re passed by a single dog that runs in front of you for a while, pass your current guide.  This way you’ll get to see more of the Island you run around.

Wii Fit is not without its weaknesses:

  • The controllers don’t always pick up movements they’re supposed to.  This is occasionally a problem in all games, not just Wii Fit.  With the Balance Board, though, it can be quite frustrating when your side step that you did properly results in your foot not being detected properly on the Balance Board, claiming a “miss”.
  • Wii Fit tracks your BMI and weight and lets you set goals, but offers no suggestions as to what exercises will aid you in your quest.  If you do 30 minutes of Balance games and think that your BMI and weight will go down, or that you’ll get strong muscles, you’re going to be sorely mistaken.  You might get better control over your sense of balance and center of gravity, but they’re not going to help you lose weight like Running, Basic/Advance Step, or Boxing (my favorite Aerobic exercise!) would.
  • It’s possible to game the exercises.  You could fake running by sitting on the couch and shaking the Wiimote in a particular way.
  • Somewhat related to previous points: some of the exercises attempt to register movement in ways that’s not always accurate.  When Running, you stick the Wiimote in your pocket so it can attempt to detect how you’re moving.  If your pockets are particularly loose and the Wiimote has a tendency to jiggle a bit, one step during your Running may register as if you took three or four really fast steps.
  • Two Player Running only tracks the score of one player.

So … is it worth it?  $250 for the Wii, $90 for the Wii Fit?

It’s a lot to spend on something that it’s possible you’ll stop using unless you keep at it.  But frankly, I’m finding it a lot easier to keep up with my Wii Fit than I would with attempting to walk every day (especially considering the weather around here).  As far as my girlfriend and I are concerned, it would be nice if we could do it “together” (the “Running” doesn’t quite cut it), but going one after the other isn’t all that bad, and so far has kept us on it, 18 days straight, even when we went to visit relatives (we took our Wii with us).

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