When the Nintendo Wii was released eight years ago, everything about it seemed new. It was something you’d look at with awe. But when the Wii U hit stores, it seemed both too familiar and too complex.
|WII FIT U
(Nintendo for Wii U)
Replay Value: 9.0
Overall Score: 7.7
Pros: Nice for casual fitness fans; orienteering is fun; meter lets you go mobile.
Cons: Not for hardcore fitness fans; can be confusing; needs audible training.
The bad news is that Wii Fit U can also seem too familiar. The good news is that, at times, the updated exercise game brings back the Wii’s original feeling of wonder.
Right away, Wii Fit U wants to give you choices. You can choose to use your old controllers and accessories, which work with Wii Fit U. You can also choose to update it by putting your old Wii Fit data into it. But since my old Wii is now unplugged and sitting on a shelf, I chose to start anew.
One of the things I liked about the original Wii Fit was running. I enjoyed finding Mario in secret locations on the tracks, like on the bridge. But the graphics weren’t great, and that sense of wonder went away.
This time, the graphics are much better, and the running app changes with the seasons. So I ran through beautiful snow-covered trails and gazed at snow-covered trees, too. That made everything feel a bit more life-like. (My Mii was still running in short sleeves, though, and so were those around me. Put some winter clothes on those Miis, please!)
In addition to returning apps, there’s a lot that’s new here. There’s a speedy luge that makes you feel like you’re part of the Olympics — without the danger of crashing. There’s a scuba diving course that gives you an otherworldly underwater sensation, complete with exotic fish and ancient idols. There’s rowing that gives you the feeling of being an important member of a college team.
I like orienteering because the app makes me think while I exercise. The goal is to run through an open course, searching for Miis that match photos you’ve been given.
I’m a nerd, so the dancing apps — and even some exercise apps — make me a little nervous. That’s because I have to move in rhythm with my Wii trainer. Somehow, this is easier to do in real life than it is with an avatar that doesn’t speak. Even in real life, I’m still a nerd at dancing, though.
I think more audible words should have been added to Wii Fit U to make it seem like a real workout. And the tone of the voice should change. That way you could choose a peaceful voice during yoga workouts or more powerful voice in grueling, boot camp-style workouts.
WHAT ABOUT THE FIT METER?
A big difference with Nintendo’s latest fitness game is the Fit Meter. Walk around the real world all day wearing the meter, and it calculates how many steps you’ve taken and how many calories you’ve burned.
You can wirelessly transfer this info to your Wii U, too. The meter even has a version of your Mii on it. It would be great if you could use the meter while using the in-game exercise apps, like running. (But you still have to hold a Wiimote to do this.)
The feature also monitors weight loss by gauging body mass and how many calories you’ve burned. If you’re underweight, they actually do tell you that you need to gain some pounds. But here’s the odd thing: Wii Fit U then tells you to burn more calories. I’ve never heard of any exercise that helps you gain weight by burning calories. That’s kind of a big problem, don’t you think?
The idea of playing a videogame to get in shape still is a great one. But in trying to be all things to all people, the overweight, the underweight, adults, kids, yoga lovers, runners and more, Wii Fit U becomes a kind of mish-mosh. Still, Wii Fit U works decently for those who don’t move around enough each day. If you’re on a school team or already playing a sport, you may be set. You might want to try the yoga app, though. It’s very relaxing and hits muscles you might not normally use.
The treasure is definitely there. But you sometimes have to dig too hard to find it.