Mii Fit?

My copy of Wii Fit and the Nintendo Balance Board arrived on Friday. It is something that both my wife and I have been looking forward to ever since the product was announced last year.

The first thing I noticed, when I opened the box, was the great hardware build quality. To me, the balance board has always looked very fragile in promotional pictures. I’ve seen people waving it around willy nilly so I thought it would just be lightweight plastic tat. It’s actually a really sturdy, well made piece of equipment. You connect it to the Wii like a wiimote and the software also installs a special Wii Fit channel on the main menu.

So, onto the Wii Fit software. As with Nintendo’s other games, your profile is saved under your Mii. It’s just like Brain Training with a daily test, complete with a slightly abstract body age which seems completely based on your ability to shift your weight around. During the test your Mii’s physique is adjusted to match your BMI. This was hilarious as my little guy was inflated to become a fat tub of lard, waddling around the screen, rubbing his large belly. It’s not too far from reality, then.

The main part of the software (I’m trying to resist calling it a game) is the activities which come in four flavours yoga, muscle exercises, aerobic activities and balance games. Just like Brain Training, as you play you unlock different games. I’ve just run a couple of sessions so I can only comment on the activities that I’ve opened up so far.

The yoga and muscle exercises aren’t really my cup of tea but they work well, with an on-screen instructor demonstrating how to carry out the tasks. You do really feel like you are stretching and exercising your muscles during these.

The aerobic activities are actually quite interesting and do seem to provide a decent workout. In the basic step aerobics section you step on and off the balance board in different directions just like at a step class. The jogging section doesn’t even use the board. You put the wiimote in your pocket and you jog up and down on the spot. The Wii senses how fast you are “running” and moves you through the onscreen course accordingly. If you have a second wiimote you can even race another person.

Balance Games are a lot of fun. Hula hoops sees you rotating your hips like some insane seventies dancer. The slalom has you leaning right and left to navigate through the downhill gates. The ski jump has you descending the slope, leaning crouched forward, straightening your legs to jump and balancing yourself to land. Table tilt is like one of those annoying puzzles where you have to tip the balls through the holes. The tight rope challenge sees you trying to balance and walk between two buildings. None of these are complete, fully realised games but they do show the potential ways that the balance board could work with the regular controller if developers really wanted to use it.

You are scored and rated in each activity and your performance is shown on family leaderboards which certainly add a bit of competition. Time spent on activities is stored in a virtual piggy bank and, as it accumulates, this automatically unlocks new tasks. The software also graphically records your BMI, progress towards your weight target and time spent on each category of activities.

Overall I’m liking Wii Fit so far. Things like this won’t make people lose weight on their own. But with some additional, away from computer, exercise and a change in diet I can’t see how this wouldn’t be useful. At the very least it’s a good way of tracking your overall weight loss and you can even add activities you’ve done away from the Wii to the exercise graph. As a game, it’s quite fun. As a motivation tool, it’s really useful. As a set if scales, it’s brilliant.

We’ll see how I get on with it and how long the Wii Fit regime lasts. It’s good to finally have a daily use for my Wii.

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