In other words, Wii Fit 2.0
Last year, I was one of the major proponents of Wii Fit. In spite of its shortcomings, I argued that it served as a great launch pad for (or solid accompaniment to) a consistent workout routine—something which many of us tragically lack (spoken as I sit here, typing away on my keyboard about videogames). However, some of its shortcomings begged correction. For instance, there was no way to string together exercises for a regular routine; players were instead to retreat to the menu in between every exercise—a process which, when combined with the need for the Wii remote to confirm messages and make selections, seriously interrupted the flow of the experience.
The ability to string together different activities for a seamless workout is perhaps Wii Fit Plus' most significant improvement
Now Nintendo brings us Wii Fit Plus, a $20 package that includes all of the activities and functionality of the original Wii Fit, along with 21 new exercises and games and some valuable refinements. For sake of enumeration, here’s what all you can expect:
Seamless importing of existing Wii Fit data into Wii Fit Plus; no need for original game disc afterward
15 new “Training Plus” games – most of which are great
Three new yoga (Spine Extension, Gate, and Grounded V) and three new strength training (Balance Bridge, Side Lunge, and Single-Leg Reach) exercises
Grand total of 69 activities now (21 of which are new to Wii Fit Plus), not including five new “mental” tests that take place during the daily Body Test (such as the Dual Balance Test, which is the same as the original except now you must tilt the Wii remote to match an angle indicated for it as well).
My Wii Fit Plus to help you build training routines based on preset templates or your own free will.
Multiplayer support for certain games
The ability to register pets and babies, then measure and keep track of their weight
New tracking of calories burned (using MET calculation, which is explained well by the game)—you can even see a list of possible food equivalents in the My Wii Fit Plus menus if you like.
The list of additions is pretty solid considering the asking price. Apart from the new activities (which we’ll get to in unprecedented detail in a moment), the My Wii Fit Plus functionality is incredibly helpful. From within the menus there, you can either choose a preset training routine or create your own from scratch. There are twelve presets, split up into four categories—Lifestyle, Health, Youth, and Form—and each routine includes three specific activities. The presets are presented in the form of certain benefits you might wish to reap as a result of your workout (such as strengthening your shoulders and back or improving your overall figure). As for custom routines, there are few restrictions, apart from the fact that you’re not given the option to include balance games, aerobic games, or the “training plus” games in your selections.
Speaking of the new so-called Training Plus games, let’s take an in-depth look at each one of them individually to give you a better idea of what Wii Fit Plus can offer you.
1) Perfect 10
Up to four numbers appear surrounding you. The object of the game is to add up to the specified number by shaking your hip in the direction of the number you wish to include in the addition. For instance, to add to 10, you’d have to shift your weight toward the 6 and the 4 (assuming they’re available) while avoiding other numbers. The inclusion of negative numbers and the higher target values of the Advanced difficulty level make this tricky in the later stages—but it’s tons of fun and a fantastic mind/body workout.
2) Island Cycling
This takes place in the same environment on WuHu Island as the running activity in Wii Sports Resort, and while it might sound lame at first, it’s honestly pretty fun. That’s primarily thanks to the fact that rather than simply picking your legs up and down, you’re also made to steer by holding the Wii remote sideways. You have to watch your pace to ensure you don’t step too quickly or the pedaling won’t register. Also, instead of taking a set path around the course, since you’re given full control of the bike, the best performance requires you to weave from checkpoint to checkpoint in whatever order you like (a small map in the lower-right corner of the screen displays where you are in proximity to remaining checkpoints). You’ll even find ramps and other such surprises sprinkled across the landscape. There are multiple difficulties in the form of different courses.
Mii stole my bike
3) Rhythm Kung Fu
An interesting hybrid of Wii Balance Board and Wii-mote with nunchuk, this activity requires you to duplicate motions—punching, lifting your legs, and so on—while looking in a virtual mirror and in time with the rhythm and music. The movements and rhythm you’re meant to follow are seamlessly communicated via two groups of other participants who perform the techniques before you. When it’s your turn in rhythm to do the same, that’s when you execute the moves with the exact same sequence and timing. You’re judged on both your timing and the correctness of your movements, so this one can be tricky at first. But it’s lots of fun, and the later difficulties provide plenty of challenge and a bit of exercise.
4) Driving Range
We once heard the Nintendo dev teams talking about how they’d like to use the Wii Balance Board in conjunction with the Wii remote to produce a golf swing analyzer. Well, here it is! While it isn’t perfectly precise, the Driving Range Training Plus game does a pretty decent job of approximating what’s right and wrong with your swing technique. It does so by analyzing the shift of weight from back to front as you swing (which directly affects swing power, as the game explains) while taking into account the movement of the Wii remote to indicate the club’s position during your movements. It also pays attention to your center of balance and the angle of swing to determine which direction the ball will head. A nifty graph is accompanied by custom advice from the omniscient Balance Board if you press the Swing Analyzer button during your visit to the driving range. You can choose from three different shots: Approach Shot, Iron, Driver.
5) Segway Circuit
It’s a Wii translation of the famous Olympic activity where contestants chase down beach balls held by gophers while riding Segways… you’ve never heard of it? Anyway, you control your speed and direction by steering with the Wii remote and leaning forward or backward. There are also some ramps and other items scattered around. It’s fun, and it’s good for balance, but it’s also weaker than many of the other new activities. This game features three difficulties.
6) Bird’s-Eye Bull’s-Eye
Flap your arms and lean forward to fly toward target platforms scattered throughout the ocean in front of you. Of course, you have to control your direction by shifting your weight, and you’re timed, so you can’t dawdle around trying to hit a specific target for too long. There’s a goal at the end, but each successful target you reach will earn you additional time on the clock. An interesting note is that the Wii remote is not needed to play this game; the balance board can detect minute shifts in weight due to the flapping of your arms (it can even determine how quick and how large your flaps are). It’s challenging and a little bit frustrating at the later difficulties, but it’s a cool game nonetheless. You’ll find two difficulties.
7) Snowball Fight
Point the Wii remote at the screen and press A to throw snowballs. You spend the round hiding behind a wall of cover, so you’ll first have to lean left or right to expose yourself and throw. If you’re hit three times in quick succession, you’re out—but your health regenerates slowly over time, so getting hit once every now and then isn’t a problem (though your visibility is temporarily affected). This is good fun, and quite difficult in terms of coordination once things heat up. Three difficulties apply here as well.
8) Obstacle Course
One of my personal favorites of the bunch, obstacle course is a platforming game featuring… you! And the Wii Balance Board, of course, which is used to measure the speed of your walking/running and your jumps. As you progress, you’ll encounter swinging iron balls, rolling logs, and plenty of bottomless pits and moving lifts. Timing is key, and patience, as usual, is a virtue. About the only complaint I have with this game is the fact that your jumps don’t seem as consistently accurate as they need to be for it to function ideally. That’s mostly because you are relying on the balance board to immediately pick up on the fact that you’ve bent your knees—and thus changed your weight momentarily—to register a jump. In some ways, the game might have been just as effective cardiovascularly if you were assigned the A button to jump and simply worked your movement speed via the balance board. It’s usually accurate, though, and it’s lots of fun, so I digress. Even seasoned platforming fans will find a challenge in the advanced difficulty level. Disappointingly, there’s actually nothing beyond Advanced, however.
Wii Fit Plus prides itself on its striking realism
9) Tilt City
A really cool idea that quickly becomes a serious mental exercise and test of coordination. Picture this: a Wii remote hangs in the sky below a platform, and below that, there are two Wii Balance Boards, also suspended in mid-air. Your job is to control the tilt of both the Wii remote and the Balance Boards to drop the balls into the correctly-colored pipes. Consecutive scoring leads to a greater number of points. The beginner difficulty is pretty simple, but as you move up to advanced and expert, the pipes increase in number and things quickly grow hairy. Having to quickly discern which balls are supposed to go where (and how to configure the sequence if platforms to facilitate such) is nothing easy.
10) Rhythm Parade
March in time with the whistle while you pay attention to icons dropping on the left and right side of the screen. When the icons pass through the circles, move the Wii-mote or nunchuk in response (also in rhythm). You’re judged based on your timing. It’s tricky at first, but quickly becomes intuitive. It’s also quite a bit of fun.
11) Big Top Juggling
First off, you’re rolling around on top of a big ball on a platform in front of a crowd of probably thousands. If you can get past that and manage to control your balance so that you remain near the center, you’ll have a ball tossed to you by one of the nearby assistants. Depending on which hand the ball approaches, you must then flick the Wii remote or nunchuk at the right time to initiate a juggle throw. Each successful consecutive catch and throw increases your points earning rate up to 10 at once—so ensuring you don’t drop balls is key. You can juggle up to three balls at once, making matters quite tricky indeed when you factor in the whole balance component. This is fun, but extremely tricky at first.
12) Skateboard Arena
Here, you’re piloting a skateboard through an obstacle course in pursuit of a target score. To get going, you step your right foot off to push off the ground and then lean to control the direction of your skateboard. You can jump by performing the usual knee bending maneuver and perform tricks coming off ramps and half-pipes by shifting to the balls of your feet. It’s amusing, though I found it surprisingly tricky to control at times.
13) Table Tilt Plus
If you thought the original was hard, wait until you try this one. Now, there are special colored areas which produce “special effects”—such as, for instance, launching your balls in a certain direction—and you’ve got to use them to win. There are moving traps, destructible walls, and all sorts of new challenges which make this anything but a walk in the park. Honestly, even the Beginner difficult is tough, but Advanced is simply evil. There is no expert level.
14) Balance Bubble Plus
Speaking of evil, this is, once again, an updated—and significantly more challenging—version of the original Wii Fit Balance Bubble game. This time, you’ll find tougher stages with more moving obstacles and even dark areas where you can only see a very small radius around your bubble. Sounds like fun, right? Wait until your Balance Board goes through your living room window. …Okay, so it is fun, but beware if you’re a perfectionist (like me)—you’re in for it.
15) Basic Run Plus
Basic Run pretty much sums it up; if you recall anything about the first version of the game, that’s pretty much all there is to this one as well. The only major difference is a change in paths and a short quiz at the end of the run that tests your observational skills. It’s definitely among the weakest of the new set of games, but if you liked the original as a motivational exercise tool, you’ll appreciate this one as well.
Initially, the biggest draw of Wii Fit Plus is the new Training Plus exercises, many of which are great fun and a good workout. However, once you complete them a couple of times on each difficulty (of which there are honestly too few—only a handful of games feature more than two settings), they begin to lose appeal and you’ll find yourself reverting back to traditional targeted exercises, of which there are only six new true additions. However, the My Wii Fit Plus training routines provide a great deal of benefit for anyone who wants to focus on specific benefits in their regimen—and the removal of Wii remote-juggling hiccups (selecting a new workout each time the last one finishes) provides more incentive to stick to your goals. Taking that into account along with the new training games and the extremely reasonable price point, Wii Fit Plus is worth your attention.