And here’s where things get clever. For one thing, Wii Fit logs every minute you spend in a game, exercise or workout in a sort of piggy bank. The more minutes you accrue in different activities, the more additional workouts, exercises and games you unlock. On top of that, each activity has its own high score chart. As with Brain Training, Wii Fit works best when you get other members of your family or household involved. Just as competition made maths tests a compelling challenge, so it also makes ski-jumping and hula-hooping addictive pursuits. Can you sit down and take it when your wife rules the roost in the slalom? Then get your sorry behind back off the sofa, and get those feet back on the board.
As time goes by you’ll unlock whole new games – for instance snowboarding, boxercise, tightrope walking, a simple marble rolling game and a particularly cool one where you navigate a bubble along a treacherous canyon river. You’ll also open trickier versions of the old ones. High-score will replace high-score, and new grounds for competition will emerge. Yet Wii Fit doesn’t need to rely on this alone – it can also coast on just sheer charm. Once again, the Mii concept seems like a masterstroke. It’s one thing to see your Mii on the screen playing out a step class on stage to a packed theatre full of Miis. It’s another to find yourself joined on the boards by your mates, relations and gaming rivals (including one guy I swear I’ve only played a couple of times in Mario Kart).
The Miis are simply everywhere; kicking footballs and miscellaneous objects at you in the heading test, throwing hoops at you to hula, or cheering you on as you tread gingerly along the tightrope. Wii Fit even manages to make virtual jogging fun. Hop off the balance board, stick a remote in your pocket and while you run on the spot your Mii takes a tour around a charming little island. The scenery is nice, and you might even spot the odd secret on your way. And didn’t your father-in-law just pass you? Was that your brother falling over? Isn’t it time you upped your pace?
Let’s not get too excited. Sure, the novelty will wear off after a few weeks have gone by, and it isn’t always easy to take the ten minutes or so that Wii Fit requires of you at minimum every day. Without competition from friends or family, it’s easy to slide out of the habit fairly soon. There will also be times – particularly in the Yoga bits – where you realise that, rather than getting better at the posing and the breathing, you’ve actually just got better at the balancing that actually makes up the majority of your score. It’s no replacement for a gym membership or yoga classes, but then did you really expect it to be?
Once again we have an example of Nintendo taking gaming into brave new territories and making it work like you wouldn’t believe. As ever, you could argue that Sony got there first with EyeToy Play and EyeToy Kinetic, but Wii Fit does it in a more effective, accessible and involving way. And just as Wii Sports opened your eyes as to what Nintendo might do with the remote in future, so Wii Fit shows the potential of the balance board. I doubt this will be the last we’ll see of it. In conclusion, Wii Fit is another Wii must-have for those with a house full of family or friends, and if that includes you and you don’t already have a Wii, it’s another sure sign that you really, really ought to get one. That is, if you can.
Another crazy Nintendo idea that works. You’ll need time and dedication if you want to reap any real benefits to your health, but even if you fail you’ll have some fun along the way.