Wii Fit (Wii)
Release Date: 5/21/2008
Here’s the thing – everyone else in the industry that has reviewed Wii Fit so far? Well, they’re not what one would call in shape. Most gamers have earned their reputation as being sedentary sacks of flesh that can’t do a single pull-up. That’s what made the Wii Fit so appealing, even with its $90 price tag – exercising and video games combined? Great!
The problem is that for most gamers, merely walking a flight of stairs in a day or doing a jumping jack or three is considered exercise. In fact, that’s not just gamers. This can also be said for a lot of Americans as we’re in the middle of what is being labeled an “Obesity Epidemic.” The sad hard fact of the matter is most Americans are so out of shape it’s sad and pathetic. So of course these scrawny twigs or gigantic corpuscles of extra skin and goo we call gaming journalists are squealing that they are able to put in ten minutes of “exercise” and call it a day compared to their usual routine of sitting on the internets and eating fast food.
Then there’s me. As my staff and friends can tell you, I’m a bit of an exercise-aholic. In fact, I’m considered to be arguably the most in-shape reviewer amongst our little group o’ doom. Nintendo itself specifically talked with me about reviewing Wii Fit because they knew I’d give it more of a thorough workout than reviewers at other sites.
What follows is not meant to be some sort of bragging spiel about my physical condition. I am by no means a weight lifter or body builder. I exercise for endurance and conditioning. Instead, it’s meant to show you my usual exercise routine so you can realize what I normally put my body through instead of writing fan fic or whining on a message board about some nerdy drama like the average gamer is stereotyped as doing.
Five days a week I do:
1000 Sit Ups
100 Ab Crunches
100 push ups
3-5 miles of jogging
50 flights of stairs
1 hour of light stationary biking (I have a mini bike in my office and I use it while writing/typing/doing layouts)
As you can see, I get a LOT of exercise. I like to think I’m in pretty good shape. Obviously, I am NOT the type of gamer that Wii Fit is geared for because I’m already getting a high level of exercise. Wii Fit is supposedly meant for people new to exercising or who want to monkey around with the new level of innovation in gaming the Wii has built its reputation on. Please please PLEASE for the love of God do not try to do something like 100 push ups without stopping your first time trying to do them.
So how does the Wii Fit actually hold up when someone that is used to a rigorous amount of exercise uses it? Is it still a sound or fun investment for the price tag, or is the Wii Fit exposed as modern day snake oil?
Wii Fit offers 5 modes of play. The first mode is your daily weigh-in and balance test that gives you your “Wii Age”. Sadly the Wii Fit uses BMI aka Mass Body Index, which as every doctor, nutritionist, personal trainer, physical therapist and weight loss specialist will tell you is highly erroneous and the absolutely last thing the game should be using. But we’ll get into the MANY issues with the game later on. Right now it’s just options, and oh my, are there a lot of them.
After doing your balance test, the game lets you go through four modes of “exercise.” The first is Yoga, which are a variety of poses designed to increase flexibility and awareness of your body. The second is what the game erroneously calls “Strength Training” but should be called “Light calisthenics.” These are repetitions of introductory exercises ranging from sit ups to stretches. Finally we have the “Balance Games” which actually provide no exercise benefit whatsoever and are here merely for fun. Of course, the fun but non-physically rewarding games are what people will gravitate towards, thus defeating the point of owning aWii Fit in the first place.
Each mode has between ten and fifteen exercises, most of which have to be unlocked through continuous play. As well, repeated successful performance in various exercises or games unlocks harder versions. Whether that harder version means more repetitions, a long holding time, or tougher courses depends on what you are playing.
There are a ton of different activities to perform, each claiming to provide a different benefit. Although the reality is that none of the mini games within Wii Fit are truly exercises, you do have a huge range of options allowing the more dim-witted gamer their illusion that they are truly burning calories and justifying that tub of KFC they had for lunch.
Modes Rating: Unparalleled
Although the Wii gets a lot of flak for its graphical quality, Wii Fit certainly deserves it. This is an ugly game. Only the adorable animated Balance Board character within the game saves it from a total scathing. The background graphics are all pretty ugly, although it can be amusing to see the Mii’s from your collection randomly doing things from jogging to aerobic step.
The real problem is that for over half the games activities, the screen is practically barren of any visually save for a poorly designed trainer guiding you through activities with their obviously Rob Liefeld inspired anatomy. Let’s leave it at this – The female trainer has a bigger package between her legs then the guy and the male trainer has a butt that could not exist on a real human. Not only are these badly designed character models, but due to the shape and issues with each character, people watching the trainer for proper instruction on how to do certain poses may find themselves doing them incorrectly and thus potentially injuring themselves. Case in point is that several strength training and yoga activities fail to take into account a dangling flesh protrusion that men have. Ouch.
In all, this is a very ugly game, bereft of quality visuals or entertaining design.
Graphics Rating: Bad
There’s not much to speak of here. Most of the noises and score are simply mediocre. There is nothing truly remarkable or anything truly offensive here. Besides, you should be concentrating of exercise, not the noise. When you finally unlock the lotus meditation balance game, you’ll see this used pretty damn well.
Some musical tracks like the Marble Madness inspired ball game are quite nice. Other, like the music for the Step exercises are far too slow to properly fit the speed at which aerobic step should be performed.
As for voice acting, I adore the little Wii Balance Board’s voice. Things like “Step On!” or “Oof!” are very cute, but like the rest of Wii Fit it underlies the problem that the game has with being all style and no true substance. The female trainer has an enjoyable enough voice, but the male trainer has a pederast quality to him.
Completely middle of the road here.
Sound Rating: Mediocre
4. Control and Gameplay
This is the most important part of this review and sadly where the game completely and utterly fails. With prolonged use it’s fairly easy to see the balance board is a flimsy gimmick whose actual contribution to exercise is nonexistent.
Let’s start off with the one big issue. The game’s sole source of judging how you are doing is by where pressure is being placed on it. Your stance, even if it is 100% correct can give you a completely different score and readout even if you are a half inch or so off from where the boards feels you should be.
Because all of the exercises are based on this amount of pressure rather than correctly doing the exercises, it is exceptionally easy to cheat by applying pressure in a way that is not in line with actually doing the exercise. Even worse is that, if you are in fact doing the exercises incorrectly to where you are doing more harm than good, the game can not notice this and may even reward you for poor habits. You’ll find this most apparent in the Boxing game.
Within boxing the numchuk has some severe collision detection issues. The game also rewards you from just flicking your wrist rather than throwing a full punch, which sometimes cannot be detected properly. This encourages a person to play the boxing game like just that – a GAME rather than receive any proper physical benefit. Tie in the fact that 9/10th’s of the people playing the game don’t know how to throw a punch properly and again you have potential for injury.
Yoga’s big issue is the same issue that same balance issue. Just because you are keeping your balance in the yellow “good” area does not mean you are doing the exercise correctly. Even worse Yoga is not something you should do by yourself unless you know the basics and then the people that actually know how to do yoga will tell you that this game not only gets pose names wrong, but incorrectly teaches you Yoga as JUST a stretching exercise rather than being mental as well as physical conditioning. Yoga is really something you need to do with someone watching you so they can say “You’re doing it wrong.”
Strength Training falls into the same trap. Are you stretching properly? Sure you think you’re mimicking the computerized personal trainer, but who is double checking to make sure you’re doing it right? There’s also the issue that doing the exercises incorrectly can lead to a higher score. Taking rowing squats for example. I had my friend (who runs marathons for fun and used to teach aerobics) over to test out the Wii Fit, and this one easy to do exercise was one of the biggest red flags in the game. Doing the exercise correctly rewarded a far lower score then is she just positioned her weight on the back of the balance board and dug in with her heels. Simply awful. Once again the game shows that in no way shape or form does it judge what you are doing properly. All Wii Fit does is gives a sad sack looking for an easy road into exercise an illusion of getting fit, when they’re most likely just cheating themselves and the game, even if it’s not intentional.
Quite possibly the biggest infraction here comes from the would be running exercises. Not only does the game fail to clue in the gamer that running in place uses very different muscles then real running, but the game doesn’t even judge you properly on your pace, stride, or gait. In reality Wii Fit has you use the wiimote as your measuring stick and how you move your arms while running as the judge of your success. This should be an obvious red flag as to “Holy crap this is retarded and stupid and potentially harmful to one’s body” even if you’ve never run before. You could have the worst running in place style possible and the game will still reward you! The way Wii Fit grades you with the jogging games ends up giving you a better score the worse form you have. If any one aspect of Wii Fit is guaranteed to ruin your knees and ankles with prolonged use, it’s the running games. Hell, the running games don’t even allow you to go at a real pace. It punishes you for actually running by making you trip and fall in the game. The preferred pace of the game is so slow my walking speed is literally faster. The only way to make the running games work at all in a way that they are physically rewarding is if you are an experienced runner or sprinter, and if you are…why are you playing this game at all?
The balance games lack any exercise potential, but they are not without their own severe issues. Several of the games, such as the soccer ball blocking suffer from both lag and inertia issues. Other games like the skiing are almost too sensitive to your movements, resulting in gameplay that would get you killed if you were on a real slope. Finally there are games like “tightrope walking” which doesn’t even remotely simulate the activity being performed. I’ll admit I’ve only done the tightrope and the trapeze a few times half a decade ago, but I can assure you, neither are anything like walking in place very slowing and shifting your weight. Holy crap, that’s misleading.
In all Wii Fit does nothing right and practically everything wrong. Anyone with the slightest bit of fitness experience will be aghast at some of the things the game has you do, and with my other exercise oriented friends, the Wii Fit has been an unending source of snarky amusement simply because it is the video game equivalent of “I Accuse My Parents” on the so bad it is funny scale.
If you want a game that teaches you proper exercise habits and forms, I suggest “Yourself Fitness” for the Xbox. It is a far more intelligently made game with physically accurate character models and proper instruction for how to do the exercises contained within. Otherwise, I would just wait for the re-release of the old NES Power Pad games coming to the Wii with an updated mat. These games accurately judge your physical exertion rather than guestimating based on where you are putting pressure on the balance board.
I will say the balance board is GREAT for judging your center of gravity and the minute shifts your body makes when you are trying to hold still or maintain a pose. Other than that, only a gullible idiot will be manipulated into thinking Wii Fit will actually help you to maintain a proper exercise routine or allow you a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps healthier then a life style of sitting on one’s couch masturbating to hentai, but in truth not much more than that.
Both my friend and I never had a heart rate above 100 while doing any of the exercises. An actual light jogging heart rate for either of us? 160.
Bottom line – the Wii Fit is one lie after another built on a foundation of playing off the ignorant looking for a quick fix to their sloth and gluttony.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Bad
There is a lot to do in the game. As well, because so much of the game needs to be unlocked, you’ll have to play each event multiple times to fully unlock all the options. After three to 4 hours of combined play time, the basic level of everything should be unlocked.
Most importantly, if one is serious about exercising, then they need to do it every day. Even if the Wii Fit does teach bad habits (which is ironic consider how much it preaches on posture and center of gravity) and does not judge one’s performance correctly, it does try to enforce consistency, which is a key to proper exercise. You need to work out nearly every day in order to keep your body in prime physical condition and actually have any lasting effects.. Because it’s the cute new in title for casual gamers and the promised quick fix for the weak, lazy, and uninspired, it will hopefully keep them doing at least 30 minutes of not sitting a day. Considering the shape America is in at this point in time, Wii Fit is one of the last bastions of hope against a generation of lard asses, and that’s so very very sad when you realize how truly poorly done Wii Fit is.
Now I’m off topic. Basically, Wii Fit has unlimited replay use. It’s just a matter of making sure you use it for the actual exercises instead of the games and have someone watch you the first few times you do each exercise to make sure you are mimicking properly.
Replayability Rating: Unparalleled
Because Wii Fit is fundamentally broken on every level, there is no way anyone could give the game high marks here. There are detection issues when the Wiimote is called into play and it is exceptionally easy to cheat if you’re playing for a high score instead of actually trying to stay in shape.
The game also loses points due to the inability to properly judge your fitness, the quality and form of your reps, and any way to measure things that truly matter such as caloric burn or heart rate.
Most of all though is the fact the game allows one to cheat so easily. Even if a gamer is not purposely trying to cheat, the ignorant and the unaware alike will end up placing their body weight in such a way that it triggers a higher score, even though said weight placement will lead to poor conditioning and posture in the long run.
I will say that the balance board in and of itself is perfectly made and can notice the most subtle nuances in a player’s movement or balance. The balance board is a nice little piece of technology. It’s just too bad it’s bundled with such a poor excuse for an exercise based title.
When a game rewards you for improperly playing it more than when you do things accurately, it’s a good sign that the title is unbalanced in such a way that little to no merit can be found in the title save for those with their fanboy or desperation goggles on.
Balance Rating: Bad
As mentioned before, Wii Fit is neither the first exercise based video game, nor is it anywhere close to being the best. Everything from the old NES to the countless versions of DDR out there provide one with better and more accurate forms of losing weight or at least getting in better shape than the average American is currently in.
The balance board is also a great idea and I’m sure we’ll see it being put to use in better ways then Wii Fit.
There is a lot of untapped potential is having a proper exercise based game for the Wii. What they should have done was used a mat similar to the DDR pad in terms of pressure detection so that the game could deduce if you are aligning your legs properly and putting pressure where it SHOULD be rather then a general pressure check, The Power Pad is coming back, so let’s hope it’s a quality game in every way Wii Fit is not.
High scores for the balance board with a few points taken off by the fact the game doesn’t do anything it’s advertised to do coupled with this being simply the latest in exercise fad games.
Originality Rating: Good
8. Appeal Factor
Wii Fit is selling exceptionally well. The problem is that the vast majority of the copies will sit unused after the early novelty of the title wears off. Most gamers lack the mental and physical fortitude to exercise at all, so Wii Fit will be a temporary respite for them. For the few that create a personal goal and stick to it by using the Wii Fit as their baby steps into exercise, kudos to you.
The real problem is that the people who would use Wii Fit properly and ensure they are doing the exercises for health reasons and not for high scores are the people that will instantly see all that is wrong with Wii Fit and choose to exercise on their own or in a gym. Those that lack the rudimentary knowledge of proper exercise may embrace Wii Fit but only until such a time where either boredom or strain from incorrectly exercising sets in.
I also have a problem that you can sync up only a single balance board for the purposes of Wii Fit, yet for some reason, you can use ten different Wiimotes. There’s also an entire manual of instruction on what happens if god forbid, you need to ever get a new balance board or different Wii.
Although the game is going to be a huge financial success for Nintendo, when the dust clears it is obvious that Wii Fit will be remembered as this generation’s Snipe Hunt. Which of course won’t stop people from routinely using it. It’ll just simply make them all the more foolish looking/embarrassed for having done so.
Appeal Factor: Above Average
What I hope people will learn from Wii Fit is that exercise is neither boring nor wasted time. Wii Fit is proof that one can combine bad exercise with fun, and will hopefully be a gateway for good exercise combined with fun for a smattering of gamers. Ipod + jogging. Stationary Bike + book. Treadmill + portable DVD player. Competitive sports. So on and so forth. I won’t deny that Wii Fit is fun, and I played the game for three hours straight when I first got it. It’s just the game is simply an illusion of fitness training rather than the real thing.
A lot of gamers will play to unlock everything, but many will stick to the balance games which provide no actual health benefits whatsoever. For the fitness conscious, I’m sure they’ll try to do 30-60 minutes a day with the Wii Fit. But then, how many people that are that concerned about their health will actually play the Wii Fit once they realize it doesn’t work any more than those “improve your gas mileage” pills.
I personally will keep playing for the push up challenges and the meditation unlockable game, but other than that, after four days of playing I all but ignored the balance and aerobic exercise due to their being flimflam and focused solely on 30 minutes with Yoga (because I know how to do it properly) and 30 minutes of Strength Training (because I had unlocked enough reps to where I was actually exercising).
Due to the nature of most gamers and the laziness of modern day society, addictiveness will be high at first, but then rapidly decrease once the game loses its luster.
Addictiveness Rating: Above Average
Since my first impression piece in my blog has been picked up and praised by actual fitness websites I figured I should repost it here along with other issues about the game that I have found which in effect, makes owning Wii Fit utterly worthless.
1. I played for three hours yesterday. Of that time “playing”Â only one hour and 32 minutes was actually playing. The other half of the time was watching demos and loading. When half of your exercise session is cool down, that pretty much ruins the entire point of the exercise.
2. Severe detection issues. Some games have hair trigger balance detection, which is great for the Yoga and strength training. Some games have VERY noticeable lag, like hula hooping and Soccer ball deflection. So again, not good.
3. The game preaches the importance of posture, center of gravity and balance, but then many of the balance games encourage you to hunch over which is the exact opposite of the aforementioned message.
4. The jogging exercises would be great if not for the fact the “nice pace”Â it wants you to go at is slower than my FREAKING WALKING SPEED and god forbid you run faster than your guide, because of no, it will scold you, give you a lower score and make you trip and fall. So no actual exertion here. I would love to get Anarcha to come over Sunday and give the two player jog a workout with me so I can have another long distance runner’s take on how AWFUL this game is in regards to proper running techniques. You up for it?
5. Several of the games encourage actions and movements that prolonged practice with will lead to ankle, heel, and knee issues.
6. The game uses BMI to determine how fit you are. Yes. Body Mass Index. The thing every nutritionist, doctor, and fitness guru will tell you is shit that will only end up hurting you in the long run.
For example, the game gave me a BMI of 24.15, which means it says I am nearly overweight. Yes me. With the body fat percentage of 7%. This is because BMI doesn’t take into account that muscle weighs more than fat. The game says to reach my perfect BMI of 22.00 I need to lose nearly 14 lbs. Okay. Not only is that INSANE, but taking into account my body fat %, I only have 12.4 lbs of body fat on me, meaning WII FIT IS ENCOURAGING ME TO LOSE MUSCLE MASS. Nice.
Considering how BMI is considered one of the leading factors of eating disorders because of erroneous it is and how idiots with no knowledge of the human body use it, I can see a lot of girls (and guys to a lesser extent) picking this up and gaining a few issues from it.
7. It is exceptionally easy to cheat if you want to. Which totally defeats the point of exercising. This means a lot of fat loser gamers will cheat in order to have high scores on the game to impress their friends. You think I’m exaggerating? You obviously don’t work in the industry.
8. The game tells me a loss of five lbs in two weeks in a horrible goal that will lead to it just coming back. By the end of my workout (both normal and Wii), I dropped from 155.6 lbs to 152.2. 3.4 lbs in a day. AND THE GAME GAVE ME A BIG THUMBS UP! Mixed messages anyone?
9. The game measures only how still you are for a lot of exercises, meaning if you are doing them incorrectly, or worse, in a way that can lead to injury, there’s no way of you knowing.
10. None of the balance games will actually lead you to losing weight or getting in shape. They’re just fun silly extras thrown in to show how the balance board works. So of course, most gamers will go to these instead of the Aerobics, Strength Training, or Yoga activities because they are “fun.”Â This means most of the people using Wii Fit, thinking they are being healthy and getting exercise AREN’T.
As a game, Wii Fit is cute and fun even though the controls are pretty broken since it doesn’t actually measure how you are exercising. As exercise equipment, the game is a piece of crap and if you buy it for that reason first and foremost, you’re an idiot and about to partake in several activities that will actual hurt you rather than help you later on in life.
As Wii Fit has balance issues, control issues, cool down periods as long if not longer than the actual exercises themselves, an inability to string a series of exercises together into an actual program, an inability to properly judge how you are doing the exercises or even IF you are doing them, the aggravating use of BMI as a weight judge, and its complete and utter lack of being able to get your heart rate and circulation up to a proper level for exercising, Wii Fit is a little more than a $90 rip off or one of the best cons yet perpetrated on the sheepish and gullible masses that make up the general gamer population.
Look, I realize that few people out there are able to squeeze into their schedule the two to three hours of exercise I do in a day. I’m pretty intense (utterly insane) with my workout and it would be equally insane to ask those of you reading to keep up with it if you are brand new to exercising. Wii Fit however is an amazing scam that will ultimately fail to properly teach its users the correct way to do the exercises contained within the game. For that reason alone, the game is fundamentally worthless. For $90 you can make a good investment into REAL exercise equipment or put it towards a training session or two with a personal trainer that can give you actual quality beginner simple exercises that will allow you to start getting in shape.
I don’t think I’ve ever been this disappointed in a game before. Bad Nintendo. BAD BAD Nintendo.
Miscellaneous Rating: Worthless
Control and Gameplay: Bad
Appeal Factor: Above Average
Addictiveness: Above Average
FINAL SCORE: DECENT GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
If you take Wii Fit just as a new way to play video games, it’s an okay collection of mini games that allows your average gamer to lie to themselves and maintain the illusion that they’re actually doing exercise. Anyone who actively takes care of their body and exercises on a daily basis will see Wii Fit for what it is – a shameful sham that doesn’t even deserve a place as a supplement to a proper routine of exercise and nutrition. I’ve ranted for nine pages about everything that is wrong with this game and I could have easily kept going. Sure I’m coming from the exact opposite side of the spectrum as the case of Krispy Kreme’s a day reviewers that have applauded the Wii Fit but there’s a reason why this game is only being praised by people that exercise less than an hour a week and denigrated by those that take physical fitness seriously. Wii Fit is only for the deluded and desperate. My sympathies if you’re one of them.