Nintendo’s remit is to produce new and innovative games that whet our appetites and show us what untapped potential there is in the video gaming of today and tomorrow. Unfortunately they tend to produce these big ideas in small measures. Welcome to Trinket Town. Population, Wii Sports and it’s much anticipated follow on, Wii Fit. Gone are the days when the Wii tells you to put down the Wii mote and take a break from a gaming marathon. Enter the in-home personal trainer that is Wii Fit.
Wii Fit purports to do exactly what it says on the tin: Put your motion-sensitive Wii to work as a personal home trainer, replacing the expensive treadmill for the attic with a balance board and over 40 different activities. These are divided into five different categories; aerobic exercise (lasting ten minutes each time you hit go), muscle conditioning, yoga poses, balance games and body tests. The game is played using a nifty new peripheral called a balance board.
Basically it resembles a NASA brand weighing scales. It calculates your BMI (Body Mass Index, calcalating whether you’re fit by comparing height and weight) and then tells you long you’ll have to spend chained to your Wii to rectify any problems you have. To sweeten the deal there’s a few Wii Sportsish games. Even if Wii Fit calls you fat it won’t begrudge you a bit of fun. The soccer heading and hoolahooping will definitely soften the blow of being told your BMI is above the norm.
Wii Fit is set, we’re told by starry eyed Nintendo evangelicals, to crack obesity problems in the U.S. and U.K. alike, but will Wii Fit work as Nintendo intend? Or will people treat the new fangled balance board that comes with the game just like their gym membership, fully paid up, but fully neglected?
Wii Fit is, when you get to the bottom of the matter, a glorified Wii Sports with a more fully defined focus on fitness (as opposed to just active gaming) and as I recall, the average copy of Wii Sports only makes it out of the cupboard when guests arrive and some quick entertainment is required. Will Wii Fit meet the same dark and dusty demise? A gimmick to be flaunted at guests, to name and shame their BMIs while we watch their once-idealised Mii transform to suit reality. We’ll giggle while we watch the shoulders stoop, the spine bend out of whack and the abs turn to flabs, and then return the game to the cupboard as we set aside thoughts of our own bodies languishing under the same fate.
That being said, Nintendo has thought this through – and they are the undisputed masters of turning the unlikely and out-there gaming concepts into living room reality - and decided that even this video game alternative is better in many peoples minds than the daily commute to the gym or 6am run around the park. So many people let their gym memberships lapse because quite frankly, those places can be terrifying, if not just inconvenient. Nobody likes a chubby, even a chubby who’s trying to get fit [Gee, thanks –Oreo Addicted Ed].
There’s also a lot of effort to dragging yourself out of bed, or away from an evening in front of the box, to go for a run in the teemings of rain. Nintendo has honed in on a way for people to tone up and exercise in the comfort of their own homes, without the prying eyes or athletes foot infested pools indigenous to the local gym. An appealing concept, on paper.