i’ve been playing nintendo’s obscenely successful wii fit more or less weekly for a while and recently 4-star ranked all the aerobics and balance games, so now seemed like a good time to post some thoughts about it (even though everyone is probably already familiar with it since it was released four years ago). when the game was released the articles about it soon fell into predictable categories, including articles by initially skeptical gamer reporters who tried it out and were gradually won over (such as this one by chris kohler at wired and this one at kotaku), comments from people on the street, and comments from actual personal trainers (that article is particularly worthwhile since it compares wii fit to three other fitness games), as well as reports by people testing the game’s claims that you’ll actually burn calories (that particular article isn’t very useful, though, since its conclusion is about people not being motivated to play the game as opposed to measuring the amount of effort in actually playing the game).
it seems like some people have had success in losing weight by playing the game, and the game certainly lets you choose the extent of the physical effort you want to put into it. the game is divided into four sections: yoga, strength, aerobics, and “balance” mini-games. the latter is by far the most entertaining and fun and follows the familiar pattern of being easy to beat on lower difficulty levels but being much harder to beat at the highest levels, esp. when trying to achieve the highest rank. unlike a game like wii play, though, the quest for the highest rank feels far less meaningless since you’re supposedly actually burning calories at the same time. the mini-game activities feel much less physically strenuous than the strength and aerobics ones (which include more familiar exercises such as push-ups and jogging), but the strength and aerobics activities are surprisingly enjoyable as well since the quest for the highest rank provides that extra bit of external motivation. (although the game does feel a bit awkward at times for the activities that don’t use the balance board at all and assume that you’re doing it correctly, which makes the game lose some of the advantages it has over an ordinary exercise video.) perhaps the biggest surprise is the yoga activities. like many gamers i’d had only minimal exposure to yoga, but i found it to be entertaining. the game has increased my interest in yoga in general (although not one i’m likely to pursue outside of playing the game), although i’m not sure how the differences in building muscle versus “toning” muscle plays out in terms of burning calories. but executing poses is somewhat relaxing and a nice contrast to the other more-active parts of the game.
as with the brain age games, whether or not the activities are actually worthwhile as exercise, the game does succeed in being fun as a game, as well as in easing sedentary gamers into the strange new world of physical activity, not to mention easing even more non-gamers into video games. like many of nintendo’s other wii series games the presentation is simple but clean and the innovative balance board controller works well, and overall the experience ended up being so surprisingly enjoyable that it has earned an unlikely spot on my list of greatest games of all time. the game’s expansion pack-like successor, wii fit plus, was released a mere one and a half years after the initial game. it looks like its main addition is a slew of more mini-games, so i’m looking forward to migrating my save data over and continuing to build up my collection of 4-star ranks. 😉
weighing in on some wii fit links:
– list of unlockables at gamefaqs
– iwata asks interview
– coffeewithgames.com takes a look at the number of hours people have logged with the game
– entry at wikipedia
– official website