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Daniel Golding
25 Mar, 2008

Wii Fit Preview

Wii Preview | Feet-on? Hands-on? We go all-on with Nintendo's new fitness device.
Hurtling nine metres per second towards the apex of the Eureka tower for Nintendo’s preview of Wii Fit last Tuesday, a thought struck. Will the gaming public gravitate towards Wii Fit, and its Balance Board peripheral, as quickly as we were speeding towards the top of the highest residential building in the world? The device, when first announced at E3 last year, has been viewed with suspicion in some quarters, who see it as evidence of Nintendo’s abandonment of their hardcore fans. Having now tried the device and caught a glimpse of its potential, we can confirm that to write Wii Fit off is a mistake.

By holding the preview 89 floors above Melbourne, Nintendo seemed keen to make an impression. And the venue alone for the preview was statement enough (check out some photos in the media panel). To add to that, the event was hosted by another Nintendo Australia celebrity ring-in, Mark Beretta of Channel Seven’s Sunrise fame. Though the setting for the preview was awe-inspiring, the breathtaking views never threatened to distract from Wii Fit itself. The idea of Wii Fit is typically simple - to get people tracking (or in many cases, actually doing) their exercise, and to have fun doing it.

Fit, but my gosh, don't you know it?

Fit, but my gosh, don't you know it?
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For many, the standout attraction of Wii Fit is the inclusion of the new balance board. And baby, these ain’t your mother’s bathroom scales. The balance board is a remarkable piece of engineering that is not only capable of measuring important information such as your Body Mass Index (BMI), but also your centre of gravity. The device has been well-implemented by Nintendo, with Wii Fit featuring numerous activities, all utilising the board and designed to get you working up a sweat, and working down the pounds.

These activities were the focus of the evening, with demonstrations by presenters on stage, and all round encouragement for those in attendance to try them out. The activities range from Yoga exercises to more the game-like ski jump, and both have their place in a plausible daily routine. The stereotypical gamer is going to have a tough time holding the positions thrown at them by the Yoga stages, let alone the step-up, step-down aerobic mini-games which they’ll later encounter.

To infinity, and beyond!

To infinity, and beyond!
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Indeed, the more game-like aspects of Wii Fit proved popular with the crowd. First up, we tried both skiing games. The downhill race was fun, but it raises issues as to how the Balance Board will be implemented in other games (as at least ten other titles are claimed to be in development). There was definitely multiple approaches to actually controlling your skier: one could lean, as is intended, or one could simply press down harder on either side of the board to direct your skier. It was difficult to tell which was actually the more effective technique, but we found ourselves naturally pushing on the board, rather than leaning. Nevertheless, the ski jump game was more successful, and more intuitive. More a matter of timing than anything else, the player is required to bend down and hold their balance while descending the ramp, then bolt upright to jump. After several shoddy attempts at making a decent jump, we asked how much you could actually improve with practice - a question that was soon answered as a Nintendo demonstrator capably doubled our score without blinking.

Next up was the rhythm dancing game, which was basic, yet required constant concentration and movement on and off the board. The rope balancing game seemed to be quite popular, and difficult, as most failed to complete the crossing from building to building. The soccer ball heading game was also present, and probably provides the best illustration of the Balance Board’s amazing ability to measure your centre of balance. Every movement is captured, and it becomes unavoidable to subconsciously move in sync with others while watching them play. There’s also the unflattering hula hoop game, where players are forced to gyrate rapidly and lean to catch additional hoops thrown onto their Mii - the type of thing you can easily imagine being a hit alongside SingStar, Wii Sports and Guitar Hero for gatherings.

The one mini-game that remained underwhelming was the only one not involving the Balance Board - jogging. Jogging requires the player to place the Wiimote in their back pocket. The player then ‘jogs’ on the spot while the Mii on-screen responds to the amount of effort put in by the player. In our experience, this resulted in players making odd motions that looked nothing like jogging, but rather more like they had a particularly dangerous bug underfoot that just wouldn’t die. Still, in mini-game compilations, there are always some misses to sit alongside the hits.

The breathtaking view from floor 89 of the Eureka Tower.

The breathtaking view from floor 89 of the Eureka Tower.
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Presentation wise, the game can only be described as trademark Nintendo. The graphics are clean and uncomplicated, and are similar to Wii Sports. The only exceptions are the Yoga poses and Muscle Conditioning sections, which have more realistic visuals to accurately convey the action required. It’s also worth noting that the Balance Board seemingly possesses a slightly disturbing personality. For instance, the game refers to the Board in first person. At one point, the game politely asked “not to step on me at this stage.” Indeed. Wii Fit also has some of the creepiest voices you’ve heard in a game. To our ears, the high-pitched, warped voices that emerged to congratulate or encourage the player sound more like a tiny monster waiting in the balance board to gnaw away all your fat while you slumber. Still, the build previewed appeared to be a half-converted Japanese copy, so maybe this will be changed by the final release.

It’d be very interesting to get a professional assessment of the actual impact Wii Fit has on a player’s BMI, or general fitness levels. Ultimately, however, the actual impact that Wii Fit has on your health is almost irrelevant. All that matters for the game to be popular and enjoyable is if it feels good for you. And it sure does. Nintendo might have baffled fans with Wii Fit’s original unveiling, but there is nothing like actually experiencing the game to persuade critics that the boffins in Kyoto are on to something. The game sold a million copies in one month in Japan, and there seems no reason for its success to be tempered here. Wii Fit, including the Balance Board, is released in Australia on May 8 and retails for $149.95.
Overall:
Wii Fit is certain to cause quite a stir when released in a few weeks time. Getting one might mean balancing your bank account, but we'd do it just to get another shot on the balance board.

Related Wii Fit Content

E3 2009: Wii Fit Plus Trailer
03 Jun, 2009 Weigh your dog.
Pre-E3 2009: New Mario and Wii Fit titles on the way?
01 Jun, 2009 And this year, as well.
POTW Results: Do you still Wii Fit?
13 Jul, 2008 Adding weight to the issue.
7 Comments
6 years ago
Quote
Wii Fit also has some of the creepiest voices you’ve heard in a game. To our ears, the high-pitched, warped voices that emerged to congratulate or encourage the player sound more like a tiny monster waiting in the balance board to gnaw away all your fat while you slumber.
They always said WiiFit was gonna be a monster.

I'm actually looking foward to this. The balance board is hot stuff. Not that I need it, being a slender 75kg lanky freak from the depths of the 'Gong.

We Ski also supports the board. We'll see how it shapes up.
6 years ago
As much as I think this will appeal to the casual market who don't care about your typical Killzone/Gears Of War/Zelda, I still am worried about the fact that Nintendo chose to announce it at E3. I mean, announcing a casual-focused product at a gamers event, I can't help but wonder if they dont really have anything else to announce for the gamers.

Either way, I see myself playing a demo of the skiing game for Wii Fit down at the local shopping centre for about 5 minutes, and getting bored of it. Definetely not getting $150 from me.
6 years ago
E3 isn't really a gamers event. It's the only industry event that actually gets mainstream news coverage.

Anyways, full fledged skiing game for the balance board please. Also, the golf game Reggie talked about.

Using the Wii Remote plus the shifts in weight to determing your golf swing would be awesome.
6 years ago
Is Wii Pit for two players at the same time (especially the skiing game). I know that means buying another board - but Id be interested if it was.

I do think $150 is a little pricey. If it is two players it seems very pricey, I bought two guitars and a copy of guitar hero and that set me back $200.

It should be $100 at the most... hopefully Big W or someone else will bring it down $20 or $30 and make it a bit more manageable.
6 years ago
arbok wrote
Is Wii Pit for two players at the same time (especially the skiing game). I know that means buying another board - but Id be interested if it was.
As far as I know, no. However, it seems that two players can compete one after the other, Wii Play style.
6 years ago
This article made me laugh many many times, great writing, Daniel!

I am seriously considering getting Wii Fit, I've got Kinetic for the Eye Toy and just love that, but that was a heck of a lot cheaper. Would be cool if you could try before you buy, but I can't imagine stores would have it out for testing somehow.
6 years ago
messicat wrote
Would be cool if you could try before you buy, but I can't imagine stores would have it out for testing somehow.
It seems like the kind of thing that Nintendo would love to tour round to shopping centres, like their previous connection tours that they've done. However, even at the event we attended they had disposable paper slips to put on the boards before each player tried it, so obviously hygiene is an issue apart from anything else.

And thanks.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  8/05/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $149.95 AU
Publisher:
  Nintendo
Genre:
  Sports
Year Made:
  2007

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