Nintendo has been putting a big emphasis on games that get couch potatoes to "work out." Wii Fit is possibly their biggest attempt yet, but just how good are its exercise routines? More importantly, can you get "fit" and have fun at the same time?
Along with the Wii’s big entrance and releases of classic games filled with classic characters, Nintendo revealed an exciting new goal: get people to “get active” in their own living rooms. Games for the Wii, and even the DS, have been released for the purpose of getting people who normally hate working out to exercise. Wii Fit was created with the hopes of providing a fun way for gamers to exercise and lose weight.
There is no storyline in Wii Fit.
Wii Fit’s family-friendly gaming encourages families to work out together and participate in two-player activities.
One of the exercise sections in the game is yoga. Some Christians oppose yoga entirely. If that’s the case, you can simply not do the yoga section; it’s totally optional. There are no religious references while yoga is being preformed, however, and your instructor will simply say things like, “Relax” or “Try to balance while breathing out slowly.”
Cutscene Violence. There aren’t any cutscenes in Wii Fit.
Gameplay Violence. Some mini-games put the player in precarious situations, such as walking along a tight-rope or navigating their way through a maze of spikes while in a delicate bubble. Violence is all tame and cartoony. A player may fall from a dizzying height, be struck with a stuffed panda head, or miss their ski jump and tumble downhill while being trapped in a growing ball of snow. If this causes concern, you probably shouldn’t even be playing video games in the first place.
Other Negative Content
While Wii Fit has been proven to help people lose weight, and its scale and measurements are all very accurate, its age prediction is slightly off-balance. Each time a new player enters their data into Wii Fit, they must go through a test to see their “Wii Fit age.” While there are many tests, it appears that the final test–the test of balance–is the deciding factor in whether you are 16 or 66! This seems a bit “unscientific” to me, because even if a player succeeds in all of the other tests, their age increases dramatically if they fail the balance test. All I’m saying is, don’t take everything the Wii Fit tells you too seriously.
The big question is: how does Wii Fit’s new board work with the controls? Surprisingly, it works quite well.
Though the Wiimote and Nunchuck are used for a couple of events scattered around the game (such as boxing and jogging), the majority of activities happen directly on the Wii Fit board–everything from push-ups to mini-games.
Some events make you stand on the board in a certain position, such as the Tree Stance in yoga class. Your virtual instructor will inform you where to stand and how to hold you stance. While your balance is charted on the TV screen through sensors in the board, you will receive tips on how to hold still, straighten up, and breathe easily. At the end of the event, your balance and general stats during the workout will play back so you can see how well you did. Other events, like the push-up, will ask you to get down on your knees and place your hands on either side of the board as you perform push-ups on it. Again, verbal instruction and data charts help your exercise be as efficient as possible.
Okay, okay, so you work out. Isn’t that boring? What makes it so fun? Well, first of all, Wii Fit contains multiple mini-games which will likely be played more than the actual exercise routines. These still give you a good workout, however, and test your balance and sense of timing. Events like hula-hooping may sound fun and easy… until you try them. If you make it to the end of the expert round without panting hard, you’re superhuman! In addition, colorful atmospheres and fun characters make the workouts enjoyable. In the running courses, for example, the player will be encouraged to keep an eye out for hidden Nintendo symbols while running through a virtual course and passing other user-created Miis. Wii Fit counts high-scores in many events and also awards players a multi-star rating, depending on how well their performance was. Trying to beat your own high-score is motivation in itself.
After completing an event, players are awarded a certain number of coins to their Wii Fit bank. By saving up cash, players will eventually unlock new events to try out. It’s very motivating… until you’ve unlocked everything of course.
What makes Wii Fit the most fun, however, is to get others seriously involved with it. Invite people over for hula-hoop contests. See who can get the highest scores in the mini-games. Challenge family members to work out daily on the Wii Fit and reach their pre-set goals of losing a certain amount of weight by a certain time.
It goes without saying that Wii Fit is very family-friendly. Literally anyone could get on this game and be able to play it with ease. The exercise routines give you a workout, but not by working you to death. Each separate event is brief and not overly difficult to perform. For example, you will only be forced to do a few push-ups or a few stances each time you select particular events. Really, the amount you want to work out is in your control.
With all this good stuff, are there any drawbacks? Well, there are a few things that can become bothersome. For example, the push-up workout is very hard on the palms. The Wii Fit board in rough to the touch and irritates the skin after pressing push-ups on it for awhile. The other drawback is the fact that, once the player unlocks everything, that part of the “workout motivation” is gone. However, the determined won’t be daunted by this.
Wii Fit follows the same trend as Wii Sports. It uses a cartoony, but graphically satisfying, style in which the player’s customized Miis are the main focus. Some more realistic, human trainers are selected to guide you through your workouts. Aside from them, everything is very cartoony.
Of course, it must be the cartoony look that makes Wii Fit so enjoyable. I don’t think there would be as much motivation to “work out” if realistic figures were used instead of the Miis. Somehow, it makes the whole thing feel more like a “game” than an exercise program.
Again, following the trend of Wii Sports, Wii Fit’s music is strikingly familiar. It is relaxing and very light-hearted. In all conditions, it is very appropriate. Some of the themes, though playful, are also very beautiful.
Sound effects are mostly made up of “bleep-bloop” noises. They are all appropriate and “feel good” to hear each time you click an option with your Wiimote.
Wii Fit is perhaps Nintendo’s biggest attempt at creating a fun way to exercise. Does it succeed? Yes. At least, in my opinion, yes.
Wii Fit is a gym-full of fun. Though its “age discerner” is a bit rusty, Wii Fit definitely succeeds in creating a family-friendly atmosphere full of motivating workouts and fun mini-games. Personally, I had way more fun on Wii Fit’s little white board than I ever thought I would. Interactive trainers and family members encourage the player to work out often. Wii Fit has been proven to help people lose weight, and I can easily believe it.
If you don’t like exercise, but love video games, and are looking to lose a few pounds, then Wii Fit may be the perfect game for you. You’ll be so involved in your workout that you probably won’t even realize that you’re in the middle of one. Exercise has never been more fun.
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+ Fun way to lose weight
+ Competitive family game
+ Bright, pleasant colors and sound effects
+ Effective incentives to play
+ Precise control scheme
- Age-detector seems inaccurate
- Some exercises not strenuous enough
- Wii Fit board is rough on the hands
- Unlocking everything decreases motivation to play
- Some Christians may dislike the yoga portions