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Joystiq toes-on: Wii Fit

Ross Miller

You're going to find Wii Fit vaguely familiar. The menu, the fonts, the colorful characters are all reminiscent of Wii Sports, the Wii menu, and Brain Age. The font, of course, possess magical properties that grants people the power to play video games, no matter what demographic. If only Sony and Microsoft knew, they could have copyrighted it and ruled the (video game) world.

Wii Fit is, much like its Wii Sports cousin, a collection of games to get your body moving. Only this time, you can't necessarily cheat the system so easily. We tried out three of the eleven available demos on the E3 show floor, which are selected with the Wii remote. Before each one began, we were required to step off the pad and subsequently step on so that the machine would be calibrated for the pressure and foot position. Complications in the calibration process would be interjected with subtle jabs lobbed at the player by the system, such "Hey! Are You Fidgeting?"

Gallery: Wii Fit | 3 Photos

We first tried out a demo where you moved a block-busting cursor around a small grid by accordingly shifting your balance. We found this to be rather easy, although this wasn't exactly a ninja-grade challenge.

The second demo taught us the yoga tree pose. An on-screen shell of a woman slowly guides you into position and, once locked, we were required to hold that position for many moments. A dot on the screen showed our success via a circular region showing the optimal balance. With our left foot on the ground, we had no problems. Balancing with our right foot was another story, and we lasted only a few seconds before coming to terms with our lopsided skills.

Finally, we hopped on some skis and took a downhill ramp. Instead of steering back and forth, however, all we were to do was squat as low as possible while maintaining our balance in the middle, and then quickly stand up ("not jump," said the onlooking Nintendo rep) at the bottom to achieve a good jump. Our first try ended in disaster, but on the second go we were reportedly 119 meters in the air. Exciting for our Mii avatar, but only mildly amusing for the recently-squatting player surrounded by a crowd of gawkers.
Other demos we saw but did not play first-hand:

  • Balancing on one foot
  • Shifting your weight so as to put two bar graphs in the desired region.
  • Step aerobics
  • Playing with an invisible hula-hope
  • The soccer headbutt game that Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime used to beat Shigeru Miyamato at the Nintendo press conference
  • A Monkey Ball-esque demo we had to tilt (based on our shifted wight) a playing board to drop all of the marbles into a hole.
The Wii Fit peripheral itself is a lot lighter and sturdier than we had anticipated; it feels like it could hold up a lot of force. As a game that will grab people's attention, Wii Fit will assuredly fall flat -- maybe competing for a lower Body Mass Index will prove compelling, but we didn't get to see that on the show floor. And really, that's not Nintendo's goal with the software. It's a title we'd buy for our parents who don't visit the gym as much as they should. And maybe we'd get it ourselves, too, but not for the gaming aspect. Like Brain Age, it's likely a title we'll never really love but still play it over a year after its release.

One thing is for certain: expect Wii Fit to spur a couple thousand more articles lauding Nintendo as the savior of gaming and childhood obesity.

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