UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead:
Nintendo’s latest foray into expanding the gaming audience and enticing the casual crowd comes in the form of Wii Fit, the game that will allow millions of users to stay in shape in a fun, enticing way. Does it accomplish this goal? For the most part.
When you start up Wii Fit for the first time, you are introduced to a talking Wii Fit board, whom is a little annoying, but luckily you do not spend too much time with this fellow. Once you start training, you get to choose a trainer, male or female, who works with you. The first thing you do is choose a Mii to represent you, and then you enter your height and birth date. Then you are given a Body Test, which you can choose to take everyday, which is the thing that calculates your Fit Age, which is similar to your Brain Age in…Brain Age. The Body Test consists of three tests, two of which are randomly generated and change day to day. The other is a balance test which shows where your natural center of balance is. Then you are given your BMI and weight. After this, you are asked if you would like to make your account password protected, so other users won’t see your weight, if you are embarrassed about that sort of thing. I thought this was an interesting option to have, but a useful one. The other interesting feature was the fact that you can set a goal for yourself, for instance, losing a certain amount of weight. The time of these goals is set up in 2-week intervals, so you can set your goal for 2 weeks, or a month, and so forth. You can track your weight and BMI, and how your goal is coming along via charts. These charts track your weight, BMI, Fit Age, and activity log. There is also a calendar where you can stamp the days in which you exercised using Wii Fit, just like Brain Age. The activity log tracks the amount of time you worked out in each section of Wii Fit, plus any time you add yourself for doing activities outside of Wii Fit.
An example of a graph. You can easily select the Mii of your choosing and then head straight into training.
When you are done tracking your stats, you can select to do some Training with Wii Fit. The Training is separated into four sections: Yoga, which has 15 exercises; Strength Training, with 15; Aerobics, with 9; and Balance Games, with 9. The first two sections use your selected trainer to help you, while the latter two are set up like mini-games. Unfortunately, Wii Fit is set up like a game, in that not everything is available to you from the get-go, so half of the exercises and games need to be unlocked, which while gives some people an incentive to keep coming back, can make others who seriously want to lose weight and get in shape upset, as they cannot do everything they might want to from the beginning. Along with half of the exercises being inaccessible, Wii Fit also locks out the ability to do more than the minimal amount of reps. However, once you do an exercise more than once, you unlock the next level of repetitions, and so forth, which is good, but they should have given users the choice from the beginning, as people are at different health and ability levels. This is only a minor gripe though. The way in which you unlock everything in the game, minus the reps like I previously mentioned, is by doing the exercises and games. For every minute of work you do in the game, you get a Fit Credit, which is added to your Fit Bank, which is simply used to show you how long you’ve worked each day. When you receive enough Fit Credits, you unlock a new thing, which you do not choose yourself, which is a bit unfortunate, but fine. I think it is good that you do not get Fit Credits according to how well you perform in the exercises and games, as some people may not be able to perform them well, and Wii Fit should not discourage them due to this. By allotting Fit Credits with the minutes of work you put in, everybody who plays wins, so you keep getting new stuff even if you cannot do the exercises or games very well.
It's scary how accurate the Wii Balance Board is, but it's really cool to see how your center of gravity and balance changes.
The Yoga section is made up of various yoga poses, the first of which is Deep Breathing, and helps to teach you how you should breathe in a deep, soothing manner as you perform each pose. This is facilitated by having a very light blue circle getting smaller and then bigger, accompanied by a soothing ocean breeze-type noise, which you are supposed to follow with as you breathe. These workouts mostly focus on stretching and strengthening various areas of your body. When you are selecting each work out, it will display, as well as describe, which body parts and muscles you are exercising.
She'll help you out as you go, and tell you when to shift and move and everything. She'll even let you know how you are currently doing. Just try to keep that red dot in the yellow. In other exercises, there may be a bar that shows you how long you should be holding a certain position.
The Strength Training section is very similar to the Yoga section, in that it is accompanied by your trainer. Your trainer is a very nice fellow or lady, I chose the lady. She speaks very quietly, and soothingly, in a non-threatening way, which is very nice. The first time you attempt an exercise, your trainer will demo it for you and show you how to do it correctly. When you actually do the exercise yourself, you can choose to view your trainer from the front or back. I chose the behind view so I could more easily mimic the trainer, as I find it confusing to view from the front. The trainer will instruct you on each step, so you do not get lost while doing it, as some of the moves will have you in positions in where you cannot easily see the tv. Also, when a new step comes up, a whistle sound is made to notify you of it. A good thing about the trainer is that he or she will help you with the exercises and push you to do better. He or she will let you know how you are doing and give encouragement and tips on how to do better. The Balance Board is used in these exercises to monitor your balance and how still you are staying. Your center of gravity is shown as a red dot, and you will want to keep it within a larger yellow area, and as your weight shifts, the red dot will move around. At the end of each exercise, you will be awarded points by how still you were and how well you kept your balance. These points are tracked via a high score list for every event in Wii Fit, which is nice because you can see if you are doing better or worse. Also, each point score is accompanied by a star rating and a title for that star rating. This high score list is also kept up with other users so you can see who is the best.
With the Strength Training section, there are a few events that are titled Challenges. These allow you to do more than simply a few reps, but to go on for as long as you can and really push yourself. One of these challenges is a push up challenge, where you try to do as many as you can. These challenges will really give you a workout and allow you to show others what you can do, and are a good way to wrap up a workout.
The Aerobics section has a few neat exercises, including Jogging and the step games. After jogging a couple times, you get the option to extend the jogging time and change the route, which allows for a bit of variety. Jogging does not use the balance board, but instead uses the Wii remote, which you put in your pocket or hold in your hand and then jog in place. If you are standing still, then you won’t move anywhere in the game, and the faster you jog in place, the faster your Mii goes. I think it is cool how your Mii is running and other Mii’s run on by, waving at you and other things. The environment is pleasant, but more noticeably on the longer runs, there is no music. I took a 10 minute jog today, and it was kind of boring. While there are environmental noises, there are not that many and it was just a bit silent. I would have thought Nintendo would have at least added in some serene music or melody that you could jog to.
Another cool game is the step game, which is semi-similar to DDR. In this game, you simply step on and off the board when directed to do so, and you are graded on your timing. It is very rhythmic, and you can unlock faster and more difficult step routines as you progress.
Jogging. This is where I like to start for a good warm-up. It's cool how your Mii's are walking by and there are even some dogs...some crazy dogs that made a 50-foot drop...it was odd. Unfortunately, the same events happen, so the scenery gets a bit repetitive, but it's fine.
The last section is the Balance Games section. Here you have all the fun, and challenging, games, such as the tight-rope cross, the marble game, the skiing game, and many more. These are all pretty cool and come with multiple difficulties. These are however, merely a distraction from the true purpose of Wii Fit, and if you are only getting Wii Fit for these games, then you will be disappointed, as each are fairly short and most lose their novelty after a few times. That is not to say though that they are not fun and creative, because they are, but they are not worth $89.99. Also, do not be discouraged if you do poorly the first time, because the first time I did the marble game, I was like, zomga, I suck. I was more than disappointed in myself, but then I tried again the next day and did much, much better, so it just takes getting used to.
One of the balance games. Again, there is a balance meter on the right and if you are in the blue, then you will go significantly faster, which can be dangerous, as it may cause you to miss a gate. Fun stuff.
Overall, Wii Fit has been made very well. It’s very crisp and clean looking and very simple to use and navigate. There are a few problems I see with it though. For one, while it does have a dynamic system for telling you how you are doing, you could easily be doing a Yoga routine incorrectly, and the game would not know, so you are limited in that respect. Also, Wii Fit merely presents you with a bunch of “random” exercises to do, and does not really give you a complete workout routine to do. It does give you a Yoga and Strength Training exercise to do together, but this is hardly a full workout. It would have been nice if they could give you tips on 5-10 exercises to do one after the other to complete a workout. Also, if you happen to be an athlete or in decent shape, then Wii Fit might not be that much of a workout for you. You might be able to benefit from Yoga though, as it can help with your balance and stretching, however, the strength training might not help that much. However, I believe Wii Fit would make a very good compliment to a healthy lifestyle and can be used very well to record your progress. However, if you are merely relying on Wii Fit to get you in shape, then you are most likely mistaken, but it will make people a little less sedentary and help guide them to a healthier lifestyle.
After saying these things though, some of the exercises do indeed get your heart racing and make you sweat and get you sore. These routines will most definitely help to tone your body, but they simply won’t do everything. I hope Nintendo will release a Wii Fit 2 or allow for downloadable exercises to extend their regime, which could add in the missing pieces that can make for a complete workout. The current setup is perfect, as it mixes work and play with good stat tracking and a safe and unintimidating environment.
For those curious, the Wii Balance Board is very sturdy and can support up to 330 pounds. It has little bumps so your feet can "grip" the board and you won’t go slipping off. It also offers a large power button that you can easily press with your foot as opposed to bending down. A problem I found is that it is too white, and you are not supposed to wear any socks while using it. Apparently though, my feet are dirty and after a few minutes, I could see a black outline of where a part of my foot was, which is not good, so I decided to wear socks. I think the reason they do not want you to wear socks is that you will probably have a better chance of slipping and hurting yourself, which Nintendo of course does not want.
You can also install the Wii Fit Channel, which features everything Wii Fit has to offer, except for the Training, so you can view charts and do the Body Test.