Product Type: Nintendo Wii games
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Exercising Nintendo's way
Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board (Wii)
Member Name: yackers1
Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board (Wii)
Advantages: Fun and entertaining for the whole family, tracks BMI, will get you active
Disadvantages: Won't get you fit (as such), calorie counter values suspect, no good for lone gamers
After all the hype I vowed I would never subject myself to the phenomenon that is Wii Fit, however after purchasing a board and a copy of the Wii Fit program (the board for myself to use with other games and the Wii Fit for my other half) I have to admit that I have succumbed and joined the masses, and this only occurred after watching (and laughing at) my other half do rhythm kung-fu. It was so comical that I just had to have a go, so I blame this. Damn you kung-fu!
Wii Fit Plus is not a traditional computer game at all. In fact, I would classify it as a program comprising of a compendium of mini games and activities that, when combined, form what is known as Wii Fit Plus.
The first thing you have to do is create a character, i.e. your alter ego that is meant to graphically represent you in all the activities. This character is affectionately known as a "Mii".
Like many traditional games there is the opportunity to customise your Mii and really "pimp" him/her in a bid to make them unique and the spitting image of you, should you wish. The customizable features are endless and include things like face shape, nose style/shape, eye colour, hair style and colour, body shape and much more. In addition there are other accessories to choose from such as glasses and the like.
I have to admit that I am not a great fan of customizing characters and prefer to play the game itself, however, it is different with Wii Fit Plus. It is actually quite good fun to create your Mii and making them look like yourself and it does make swapping between different users much easier, after all it would be pretty difficult to distinguish if all the characters looked the same. What's more, it is even funnier to customise your other half's Mii and replicate the mood they are in, although personal experience of this has taught me that care must be taken especially if your other half does not share the same sense of humor as you as it is easy to get in one's bad books.
Once you are happy with your alter ego it is time to set up the rest of your profile. In order to do this you need to input your age and date of birth, your height and your weight (which is automatically done by stepping on the balance board). You then complete a "body test" that takes no more than a couple of minutes, by standing on the balance board. The body test not only takes your weight but also measures how your body weight is distributed and checks your centre of gravity. From the information given Wii Fit Plus will calculate your BMI and then let you know if you are under weight, ideal, over-weight or obese. This is probably the hardest part, especially if you know you are not in as good a shape as you ought to be, but it does give you a starting point so you can set your own goals and targets.
Wii Fit allows multiple users, all of which have to create their Mii and then input their data, which is good as you can compete or share the experience with others to boost morale and keep motivated to reach your individual targets.
The Wii Fit program stores each user's information and you can choose when to re-do the body test and see the effect all your hard work has done to your BMI.
The Wii balance board controller is an essential tool needed to use Wii Fit. Whilst it is not required for all the activities, like the jogging, it is needed to set up each users profile from the off.
The Wii balance board is an excellent concept and it really does add that something extra to the overall Wii experience but it does have some major flaws with the most noticeable one being it is not always quick to respond to user movements. There are times when it is very sluggish with a large time delay between you moving and the board responding and whilst this can be annoying at times, on the whole I don't find game play too badly affected.
This compendium of games is divided in to five distinct categories including yoga, strength training, aerobics, balance games and training plus. Overall there are over 70 different activities to participate in, a selection of which is as follows;
Yoga - Deep breathing, cobra, palm tree, triangle, warrior and others
Strength training - arm and leg lift, torso twists, rowing squat, tricep extension, and others
Aerobics - Hula hoop, rhythm boxing, free step, free run and others
Balance - ski jump, table tilt, penguin slide, heading and others
Training plus - island cycling, rhythm kung-fu, tilt city, big top juggling and others
Based on the above it is clear that there are many activities available, some of which you will enjoy and others you will probably consider a complete waste of time, I know there are some activities where I thought "what on earth are Nintendo doing including this absolute rubbish". That said, there is something to cater for all tastes, and it is this feature that makes this compendium so good.
Whilst there are loads of activities available many of them don't actually last that long and can be completed in a few short minutes. A prime example of this would be the Ski jump as this takes a matter of seconds to finish. On the other hand, some activities last a long time. A prime example of this would be a single running task of twenty minutes or more.
One thing I must point out is that all activities are available to do from the off. There is no need to complete mundane and boring activities in order to unlock additional activities, which was the case with the original Wii Fit. Personally, I think having everything available at the start is a great feature.
Whilst you're using Wii Fit Plus the amount of time you spend on each activity is stored in your own "piggy bank" so it is easy to see just how many minutes you have spent being 'active' and how many calories you have burned off. I have to admit that I am very sceptical about the accuracy of the calorie counter and think the results should be taken with a 'pinch of salt'.
Wii Fit does give you the option of customising and creating your own individual workouts. Personally, I think this is quite a good feature as it means you don't have to endure completing activities you find boring and useless in a bid to progress through the compendium.
If you're expecting state of the art and cutting edge graphics with detailed 3D polygon rendered characters and life like environments you are going to be very disappointed as the graphics are big, bold, simple and fun. It is typical Nintendo style and whilst they don't push the Wii's graphics capabilities to the limits, they do complement the compendium of games.
The simplistic graphics are, I guess, to be expected and it would have been naive to think anything else. Besides, having life like graphics in this compendium of games just wouldn't have worked, in my opinion.
Like the graphics the audio and sound effects are simplistic but they do fit in with the overall feel of the game perfectly. I guess this is to be expected.
There are some slightly unusual and obscure sound effects and I often wonder what the point of them is. A prime example of this is during the body test whereby the user stands on the board and the program yells "Measuring. Measuring." In a really squeaky and high pitched voice. It kind of reminds me of the voice-overs used in Alvin and the Chipmunks.
The whole Wii concept is built around 'fun, entertainment and playing with others' and this game fits in perfectly with the ethos. It is possible to play with groups of friends and family members by taking it in turns to complete activities. This is great but there is a major disadvantage in that there are only nine activities available for group entertainment.
****Price and availability****
As previously mentioned the Wii balance board is essential for the Wii Fit Plus, therefore this program is often bundled with the Wii balance board as a package. I paid £99.99 between Christmas and New Year 2009 for mine and whilst this was quite high at the time the demand was outstripping supply and the prices people were paying for the balance board (the program on its own was readily available) was absolutely ridiculous. I really do hate the panic buying situations retailers put on consumers over the festive period.
Despite the festive period being over the price of the bundles package still seems to be in the region of £90 (from Game Station) up to around £100 (from Comet) as, according to a stock checking website, stock levels still seem to be fairly low with many major retailers having no stock at all.
The Wii Fit Plus program on its own appears to be in plentiful supply and can be bought from many retailers. At the time of writing the range of prices is £14.73 (from Amazon) to £18.00 (from HMV.com) so it does pay to shop around a bit.
The Wii Fit Plus compendium won't turn the UK in to a nation of super fit, lean fighting machines but it is getting many people off their butts and moving, so it is doing something good. That said, you've got to admit that it is a pretty poor show when it takes a computer game to make people active and try and "get fit", but then I guess this is a sign of the times and since many children no longer venture into great outside, instead participating in more confined indoor tasks, such as watching TV and films or playing computer games, I guess it would only be a matter of time before adults (and I do include myself in this) join in.
If you are a serious sports person Wii Fit will do very little, if at all anything, in improving your performance, endurance or any other physical goal you may have. In addition, if you are in training or looking to get super fit then this game will not assist you in your goals. The BMI and weight tracking functions are a good feature and do provide a good way of graphically monitoring these over a period of time, but this is of little use since you don't need Wii Fit to weigh yourself or calculate your BMI. Besides, there are so many other things that need monitoring (such as heart rate, distances, time etc.) and Wii fit does not feature these. I appreciate that Wii Fit attempts to quantify the calories expended during the activities, and saves them in your own bank, but in my experience the amounts detailed are way off the mark and you need more sophisticated equipment to do this accurately.
In my opinion I would say that most of the mini games included in this compendium will not get you fit. Active yes, fit no. Some games will get you more active than others, and some may even make you break out in a sweat, providing you participate long enough and actually do what you are meant to. If done correctly, the jogging will help you get fit although it is far too easy to cheat and rather than making you Mii run by jogging on the spot it is possible to simply shake the Wii remote up and down rhythmically, great for the wrists but not so great for fitness levels.
One thing I find this compendium will do is improve balance, posture and co-ordination. Before I used the Wii Fit I thought I was quite co-ordinated, however after a few attempts at the rhythm boxing and rhythm step I found I was way off the mark and really struggled. It came as a bit of a shock and a definite wake up call, although I am happy to admit I have significantly improved thanks to the Wii Fit.
This compendium is ideal for people of all ages and abilities and it really does seem to bring families together. Talking about what everybody got up to during the weekend at work often involves a family get together and a few hours "playing" balancing games and the like in an attempt to achieve the highest scores in all disciplines. The social side of this compendium is, in my opinion, one of its greatest qualities although it can also be one of its bad points as I find it brings out the competitive edge in many people that can "make or break" families, and there is always one or two family members that have to take it that bit too far.
Overall Wii Fit is a great program and whilst there is something on it that will appeal to almost everyone some people won't get as much out of it as others. If you are the sort of person who prefers gaming on your own, or going head to head with opponents over the internet, then Wii Fit definitely isn't for you. Participating in the mini games by yourself, or not having someone to challenge for those high scores gets very boring very quickly and in these circumstances Wii Fit will soon be put on the shelf to sit there and collect dust.
Summary: No substitute for the gym but it will get all family members moving so it's quite a good tool.