Nintendo Wii Fit Review

The Wii Fit has been very difficult to get hold of since launch, so unless you’re lucky or pay an inflated price online, be prepared to have a battle on your hands. Does it live up to the hype? In her first review for Best4Reviews, Kate Goodman finds out

Having waited for what seemed like an eternity for a Wii Fit to arrive, when it did, I dived straight in.

Visions of canceling the gym membership, being a svelte goddess and hula-hooping my way to gorgeousness were all I could think about as I shoved my furniture to the furthest corners of the living room in anticipation of some energetic moves (ensuring the blinds were closed first of course).

Handily, like the Nintendo Wii, it was incredibly easy to set up. Even the four AA batteries for the wireless Wii Fit balance board were supplied and once put in, synchronizing the board to the console (using the sync buttons inside the remote and in the SD Cover on the console) was very easy indeed. Be warned though as this may mean you need to resynchronize any secondary Wiimotes for other Wii games. Although easy, if you like to chop and change between games quite frequently, this could get annoying. And if you find that nothing’s happening once you’ve done all this, simply make sure you’ve switched the balance board itself on, using the grey button at the back.

When connected, the balance board takes on its own personality and guides you through quite a few screens on correct posture, where you learn how to stand up straight. Sounds easy? Well, perhaps it would be, but according to Wii Fit, I’ve a posture like Quasimodo. Anyway, once I was standing correctly and had done a few practice exercises on my centre of gravity (chin up, boobs out and very glad the blinds were closed) I was taken through the body assessment. This could get tedious, but it’s worth remembering that the Wii Fit is an exercise tool, not a game as such, and so, in my quest for the body beautiful I persevered and entered my birthday and height, before stepping on the board to be weighed and have my BMI and Wii Age calculated.

And then my Mii was made shorter. And fatter. And older.

Oh dear.

Cleverly, the game suggests an ideal BMI and a sensible goal weight to achieve over up to six months. This is great and an easy way for the gym-shy to monitor fitness in their quest for a healthy lifestyle. For those who are also weight-shy and would rather chew their right arm off than tell their partner their true poundage, you can even set a password so no one else can see your guilty secret. Thank goodness.

Still, now onto the fun part! You’re offered a choice of a female or a male personal trainer (I chose the chap, obviously) to help guide you on your fitness journey. There’s also a handy little tool called a ‘Wii Piggy’ that comes along for the ride – essentially a virtual piggy bank in which to bank your activity minutes and make sure you’re doing your full quota each day. Fully equipped and raring to go, I decided to have a go at skiing. (Would never do it in real life you understand, this is skiing for the couch potato.)

The activities are divided into four types – Aerobic, Balance, Muscle and Yoga. Apart from skiing, you can also try your luck at heading footballs (taking care to avoid a virtual boot in the face), hula hooping (much fun and highly recommended if you want to make your partner hysterical) and jogging (ladies beware: a sports bra is recommended!). It’s surprisingly easy to do a full half hour of varied exercise and there’s no way to cheat as if you’re at the gym either (no virtual sauna or Jacuzzi here…) In fact, there are forty fun games to choose from and you can unlock more or advance on your difficulty level the more you progress.

Of course, not everyone can get on the Wii Fit every day and Nintendo recognizes that people will have other sources of exercise. So, to keep an accurate overview of changing fitness levels the special Wii Fit channel that is included with the game allows up to eight people to save and compare their profiles and input any external activities. Thankfully, progress is not only measured with a graph, but also by the (hopefully decreasing) waistline of your Mii character.

And now for the science bit. In the UK, the Wii Fit operates on the PAL broadcasting standard. This means that although you couldn’t import it from America (which uses NTSC) and expect it to work over here, it is quite feasible to get one in on EURO PAL from Germany or France and beat the queues. Really, if you want one and don’t want to wait forever, you should check it out. The games are exactly the same and you don’t need to worry about fiddling around with language settings (no worries about doing a step class to a German instructor for instance). Although the CD case and manual may be in French or German, everything on screen is in English language and English manuals (if you need one) can easily be downloaded from the Nintendo website. One caveat is that by buying outside of the UK, you’re unlikely to be covered if anything goes wrong with your purchase – in short, no UK purchase, no UK warranty.

The Wii Fit package comes in a slimline box with handle making it easy to carry. It’s lightweight, the packaging is attractive and it has a clean eye-catching design – all the sorts of stuff we’ve come to expect from Nintendo. Users will need their Wiimote (supplied with the Wii console) for some of the games (like jogging) as well as a nunchuk (for boxing, although this isn’t essential) and just to add to the fun, there are a couple of activities that can be enjoyed à deux.

The balance board is an attractive and sensitive bit of peripheral kit, with sleek curved lines and sturdy enough to withstand up to 23 stone, so even my husband can have a go. It is still a unique proposition within the gaming market and bodes well for the future of the genre, taking the level of interaction for video games from fairly passive to completely and utterly active. The only criticism is that it could be a tad bigger, for those with large feet might find they haven’t much room to manoevure. Measuring 14 by 60 by 4.5cm, it comes white with grey trim, but if you’re the sort of person that likes to accessorize then fear not. A range of silicone anti-slide ‘skins’ in colours from pink to green are available to protect the board and keep it clean. In addition, Wii fans can also pick up special coloured yoga mats to match – although it must be stressed that they aren’t a necessary expense and a normal mat or towel would do just as well.

Of course, the Wii Fit balance board is quite large and short of storing it back in the box after using it, it can pose a painful problem of where to put it where one can avoid stubbing one’s toes.

Nintendo recommends using the Wii Fit for around half an hour a day to see the benefits, which is in accordance with all those healthy guidelines that we see everywhere. In fact, you can apparently lose up to two stone a year by playing it for twelve hours a week. However, such regular sessions aren’t always practical (after all, EastEnders is on three times a week) and I would suggest using Wii Fit as a complementary tool to an exercise programme, rather than the only source.

Marketed as suitable from the age of three up, it’s perfect for some genuine and engaging family fun and fitness time, although I would recommend adult supervision for children of ten or younger (just in case some over exuberance sends pets and ornaments flying.)
 
It’s also worth remembering that it’s not a game and that only one person can use it at a time, so if you’re expecting hours of group fun like bowling on Wii Sports, then you will be disappointed (unless your idea of entertainment is watching your other half puff and pant their way through a virtual step class or frantically gyrate in a hula-hooping session).

That said, it is easy to work up a sweat and is definitely far more exciting than the gym. Right, now where did I put that sports bra…?

Verdict: 
Great solo fun if you can get hold of it and may even go someway to making the chubbier among us to put down the pork pie and do some exercise instead. Look out for future Nintendo Wii games in the pipeline that will also use the balance board.