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Daniel Golding
12 May, 2008

Wii Fit Review

Wii Review | Fit for praise, or just warming up?
    In recent years, health experts have said our postures are deteriorating at an alarming rate. There are two main reasons for this trend. First, the balance between the upper and lower halves of our bodies has eroded due to a lack of exercise and age-weakened muscles. Second, our lifestyles and posture habits have weakened our centre of balance. A particularly unbalanced lifestyle could lead to fat accumulation… and even trigger a condition known as metabolic syndrome. But don’t worry! As long as we meet every day to check your fitness and do some training you’ll be able to maintain a wonderful posture, no matter what your age is!
    - Wii Fit’s introduction.


It’s not often that a videogame makes its rationale so clear. Gamers, Wii Fit argues, are unfit couch potatoes, and the game has come to rescue them from their sedentary lifestyle. Wii Fit potentially marks an interesting shift in the way designers (or at least Nintendo) view, and expect the public to view their games. Wii Fit isn’t just pure, old-fashioned entertainment. Wii Fit wants to change your life. Or, at least your lifestyle. But can a game really trim away your excess flab, tone your abs, and bring all the Wii Fit girls to your Wii Fit yard? And if so, can we really call it a videogame?

Not as easy as it looks.

Not as easy as it looks.
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Let’s begin by looking at what really works in Wii Fit. To begin with, if we agree that most videogames bring about a fairly inactive set of behavior, Wii Fit already scores big points for conning players up off the couch. It’s obvious that the game is all about exercise and doing things that most Wii Fit owners wouldn’t normally contemplate, but it does a great job of disguising, or at least camouflaging these elements for a more ‘fun’ approach. Nobody interested in games will bypass Wii Fit when given the opportunity to ski through a slalom course or head some footballs by using their body movement alone. It’s the kind of interactivity that gamers dream of, and that designers have been harnessing with increasing success, with games like the EyeToy and the Wii in general.

From this viewpoint, Wii Fit has a sort of basic appeal. But when it comes down to it, Wii Fit wants to get you exercising properly, not just shifting your balance to ski down a slope. It wants to get you bending, crunching and push-upping. And it succeeds. Wii Fit begins with a basic fitness sermon, as above, and measures your BMI - Body Mass Index, calculated by dividing your weight by the square of your height - to assess your general health. It asks you to set a goal for what you want to achieve using Wii Fit: shed the pounds and get a healthier BMI, or put on a bit of muscle? It also gives you a Wii Fit age based on how well you perform in a brief balance test. The fact that Wii Fit tracks your progress over time is incentive enough to come back for regular ‘training’ with the device, and it’s a clever tactic that Nintendo have employed. The use of Mii’s here works wonders too - just another one of Nintendo’s methods of getting players to really feel connected with their Mii.

Wii Fit splits its exercises into four categories: Yoga Poses, Muscle Workouts, Aerobic Exercise, and Balance Games. Of the four, the balance routines feel the most like an actual game - it’s here that you’ll ski, head footballs and catch fish as a penguin. The muscle exercises feel the most challenging at times, but also like they’re working your body in ways it wouldn’t normally receive unless a trip to the gym was involved. The yoga can also be challenging and rewarding, though we’re a little skeptical of its health rewards in this incarnation. The aerobic workouts are great to top off a routine with Wii Fit, and the jogging can actually raise your heartbeat - surely a good thing for any exercise.

We woke up very sore the next day after this one.

We woke up very sore the next day after this one.
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The fitness training has quite a difficulty curve, and ranges from the very easy to the quite hard. We wouldn’t expect a personal trainer to be troubled by any of the activities available, but likewise, we wouldn’t expect an unfit, or even average individual to be able to even perform many of the tasks first time around. We aren’t personal trainers, and in fact, we hold no authority at all when it comes to an assessment of the real health benefits of Wii Fit. However, what we can say is that it really feels like Wii Fit does something worthwhile for your body. A half-hour per day Wii Fit session will make the average person feel challenged, and possibly even a little healthier.

The routines are cleverly implemented as well. Players will have a trainer of their choice (male or female) talk them through the exercise, and give encouragement and feedback when required. The Balance Board has been really intelligently used here - the game knows when you give up mid-routine and tells you off while gently encouraging you to keep going, while a good routine is met with plenty of praise. It also sometimes encourages you to try a certain routine to work on an aspect of your fitness you obviously aren’t as developed in, and notices improvements. Wii Fit also tricks the player into thinking that the game knows more than it actually does. There are often situations where the player could cheat and fool both the console and the Balance Board into thinking you are doing something correctly when you are not and still succeed, but you don’t want to. The trainer is doing the activity, so why shouldn’t you?

So what doesn’t work so well? Probably the biggest problem with Wii Fit is that it is a one-size-fits-all approach to fitness. The routines aren’t really personalised, and it does seem possible that someone could do a routine in such a way to render it ineffectual, or to even harm themselves. Everyone has a different body, and without the eye of an instructor, surely certain movements or stretches could be detrimental. Nonetheless, we found that if we worked out with a partner in Wii Fit, our partner would correct things that neither we nor the balance board noticed - hopefully an adequate solution. There are also a few methodological issues that could be taken to Wii Fit. For one, we’re unsure as to how the Wii Fit Age is calculated, or how useful or meaningful it actually is. The extensive use of BMI can also be criticised - fitness experts have remained divided over the BMI for some time now, but most agree it is a pretty simplistic way of measuring health. There are already reports of perfectly healthy individuals being told by Wii Fit they are overweight - a side effect of using such a problematic system.

It might only be running on the spot, but it's certain to get your heartbeat going.

It might only be running on the spot, but it's certain to get your heartbeat going.
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There are also a few practical issues with Wii Fit. If there’s limited space in front of your TV, you’ll have problems. Some require the player to lie out on the balance board, and most people will presumably hit their feet on the couch from this position. Of course, you can place the board to the side, but this brings us to the next problem - keeping your eyes on the TV. Some routines track actions via a meter, but these same routines often require the player’s head to be facing downwards. Either the player jeopardises correct positioning by looking up, or simply hopes they are doing well. It’s also often a bit of a conundrum as to what to do with the Wii remote. You’ll need it to select activities and to advance past text instructions, but you definitely won’t need it for the routine itself. Exercise in Wii Fit therefore often devolves into the ‘bend down to pick up the Wii remote’ move as a result. Localisation is also a bit of an issue, and has only been done as far as localisation for the UK is concerned. The trainers all have British voices, although we were pleased to see that the game recognises that Australia uses the metric system and not inches and pounds.

And one other thing. If your living room has a large window looking out onto a busy pathway (as does this reviewer’s) then don’t do the hoola-hoop mini-game. You’ll be shamed for the rest of your life.

How do we really rate Wii Fit? The term ‘videogame’ has been occasionally stretched here and there, but Wii Fit provides an interesting definitional problem. If we call Wii Fit a videogame, it is only because it looks like what we understand a modern videogame to be, and it is played on a games console. Assessing it on its aesthetic qualities (like graphics), for example, is more than irrelevant. We could perhaps more effectively compare it to other home fitness devices like books, DVDs and contraptions advertised on very late night TV. But Wii Fit feels like more than that. It might be a worthwhile way to get into and stay in shape, but it’s also fun. Indeed, perhaps the fundamental game being played here is that of your health, with the ultimate high score being an ideal BMI.

Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that Wii Fit is a lot more than the sum of its parts. Fitness? Check (with a few caveats). Fun? Check. Game? Possibly. Semantics aside, Wii Fit succeeds on its own terms. It’s a great way to do some physical activity - whatever the outcome - for those unwilling or unable to go to the gym. Importantly, Wii Fit feels like it’s actually helping you. Helping you exercise, and helping you have fun. Good game.
The Score
Nintendo has taken ideas of what a videogame can achieve and has thrown them into a completely different universe. While others play with increased physics engines, Wii Fit entices you to play with your own physics and for the most part, succeeds at something we've never really seen before. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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.
15 Comments
5 years ago
Ohh, it's the deep burn. Oh, it's so deep. Oh, I can barely lift my right arm 'cause I did so many. I don't know if you heard me counting. I did over a thousand.
5 years ago
Cool review. Makes me slightly more excited about having it on lay-buy.
5 years ago
The game is excellent and the board is very solid.

However is really lacks a 'random set' of routines for each day. I'd love to see a selection of acitivies upping the reps everyday. It's a bit annoying to play the game and try to decide what to work on.

WiiFit won't make you fit alone, but it's an excellent supplement to somebody trying to lose weight/training. The Yoga and Muscle exercise are good range.
5 years ago
I bought this for my wife for mother's day . I really had no interest in it myself but I tried it yesterday & really enjoyed it. I found the workout could get challenging especially the yoga poses!
Maybe that says something about my own fitness level . icon_redface.gif
5 years ago
I haven't played it, but all I can say is it's flying off the shelves at work.
5 years ago
Sore now. Think I pulled a muscle in my shoulder ...
5 years ago
Heh, yeah, I know what you mean, Evan.

Actually, something I meant to say but never got a chance to fit it in the review - I have a scoliosis of the spine, and Wii Fit actually seems to be helping my stature despite of it... very interesting, and actually helpful.
5 years ago
Is EB offering board extended/ replacment warranties? I'm a little heavier and concerned about the board breaking/wearing out before I get $150 worth of benefit from it..................
5 years ago
Good review.

The main flaw is the lack of being able to set a routine. I don't see why it's not an option. Maybe Nintendo wanted you to try everything regularly. Who knows. It's not non-game breaking (hahahaha!) but it's an annoyance.

Other than that, it's a quality product. I've had it since Thursday and I'm doing 30-45 minute sessions a day. I wasn't actually expecting it to be such a a work out. My goal in the game is to lose 5kgs in 2 months. Achievable. I also set another goal - to be able to run around that whole island.

I usually finish my session with the run. I've been doing the long one, but today I tried doing the whole thing. Tiring as hell, haha. Especially when you're not fit like me, and after doing the damn push ups and stuff. I got just over half way and then quit. Was sweating and everything.

Other than the game itself, I'm really excited about the possibilities of the Balance Board. I remember at E3 last year Reggie said that someone should make a golf game utilising the board + Remote. Now I've used the board, this would be the greatest thing in the history of everything. Use the remote to swing as the board checks the shift of your weight. It could actually help your real life swing, too.
5 years ago
The jogging is insanely stupid. I would have prefer not to see that in the game as it doesn't work IMO.
5 years ago
I tried to get this game on saturday at myer for $109 with the sports pack, but refused my print out myerone voucher. im going back tomorow and demanding it. they did not send my grandma her vouchers so i see no problem printing it off since she is a valid myerone member. the review makes me want it more lol it just seems so fun and strange at the same time.
5 years ago
LeonJ wrote
The jogging is insanely stupid. I would have prefer not to see that in the game as it doesn't work IMO.
Really? It's dodgy when you're holding the remote, but when you put it in your pocket it works fine. I can get 4 stars on the long distance one.
5 years ago
B3NBO wrote
I tried to get this game on saturday at myer for $109 with the sports pack, but refused my print out myerone voucher. im going back tomorow and demanding it. they did not send my grandma her vouchers so i see no problem printing it off since she is a valid myerone member. the review makes me want it more lol it just seems so fun and strange at the same time.
damn that sucks. I haven't received my voucher either, where did you print it out from?
5 years ago
front
http://img100.imageshack.us/img100/102/myerwiifitfronteh2.jpg
back
http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/2701/myerwiifitbackmw3.jpg

courtesy of bearacedougie.
apparently when printed they're a bit bigger than the originals, so you may want to scale them down a bit.
5 years ago
thanks for that kaerlis
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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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