Published on February 23rd, 2014 | by David Dakota
Review: WiiFit U
Summary: Peerless but could be improved
There’s no denying the original Wii Fit polarised opinion. Some gamers loved it, others hated it but it’s undeniable that the original WiiFit helped define a generation and opened gaming up to a whole new type of player. It launched a whole new genre of gaming across multiple devices and its influence is still being felt today as smartphones develop health applications.
The subsequent ‘Plus’ update for Wii fine-tuned the experience, adding a handful of activities whilst improving the motivation factor. WiiFit U follows that trend, there’s little that’s as revolutionary as the initial release but what it does offer is a polished experience which will push you – if not itself – a little further.
Wii Fit U includes all the established routines from the past, along with a bunch of new activities all presented, this time, in HD. Once again, you’ll use your old Wii Balance Board and Wii Remotes to play – all your old controllers will work. The biggest addition to the lineup is range of new dance routines including Hip Hop and Flamenco and although not as comprehensive as dedicated dance titles they’re a great workout which is what counts in this package. The other additions come in the form of some new balance games, including scuba diving, hose down (water cannon target game) and climbing. Some of the new balance games do seem to have a greater emphasis on working muscles (for example trampoline and core luge are two great workouts for your thighs and abs, respectively).
Simple but effective visuals
Wii Fit U is in HD and looks great; the Wii Fit Plaza and gym workouts are still presented in an undaunting and minimalist fashion. Its clearly a design choice and not a reflection of Wii U’s processing power, we can’t really grumble. There’s more variety across the other areas like Dance and Balance Games but nothing here is going to be a showcase for Wii U.
Stepping out with the Fit Meter
WiiFit U is compatible with a new peripheral called the Fit Meter. Essentially a pedometer and altimeter its designed to keep track of your activity throughout the day by clipping waist height to your belt or trousers. The Fit Meter monitors steps, whether you’re ascending or descending and calculates calories burnt, the information is then transfered to the game by an infrared connection when launched. The information is stored for better interrogation on WiiFit U and helps build a better picture of your activity throughout the day.
Its great to be able to monitor your activity over the day and adds to the effectiveness of the software but we can’t help but feel Nintendo’s choice of peripheral is incredibly dated; smartphones already track motion incredibly well and additional smart peripherals are available that offer more functions and sync wirelessly – of course they do come at a signifanct cost though and usually need a daily battery charge. The Fit Meter is around £20 and you can expected it to last one year before needing a replacement battery. We’re not convinced that the Fit Meter is 100% accurate either, we’ve found some inconsistencies during our day – apparently burning more calories strolling around our local supermarket than walking up a pretty steep hill, but we’re sure this isn’t a problem exclusive to the Fit Meter.
Let’s get social
WiiFit U includes a communities feature – this is opt in, those of a shier nature don’t have to join. This allows you to share your achievements, favourite activities with fellow communities member whilst you keep an eye on theirs. Weight information is notably but wisely not shared and you can opt out at any time. Its a nice but under developed feature – you can only join one community at a time, although you can swap communities but that’s a bit archaic for our liking. Being able to join at least 3 communities at a time would have been great (we’re thinking friends, family and a spare).
We’d have liked to see some more social services added to the game, being able to share challenges and workout routines could inspire and motive, as would better sharing of Fit Meter data, challenging friends to beat weekly step count etc. We’re not avid gym-goers but we imagine people visiting real gyms do chat about their achievements and that sense of community is lacking.
Like previous titles WiiFit U does offer some local multiplayer otions but it’ll be no surprise to our readers that WiiFit U offer no online play despite many activities lending themselves to it quite well; we think the ability to have some minor online play; jogging, climbing or rowing together along with some voice chat or video would have been a great addition and really help motivate people that little bit more. Perhaps go fully embrace online and have the ability to work out with friends in a virtual gym?
WiiFit U is incredibly hard to score. When compared to the latest Call of Duty or Mario game the package seems incredibly weak and very basic but we’re conscious that this isn’t a traditional game and are scoring it compared to its own competition.
When WiiFit originally launched it had very little competition aside from a free pedometer packed into a box Special K cereal. Today, the world is very different with smartphones and smartwatches monitoring our health and diet with a wider range of measurements, they have the ability to record data in water for swimming, can track out running roots and share them… So has WiiFit been superseded? We don’t think so.
Smart devices and apps have some great functions but, at the moment, they simply monitor what you already do. That’s great for exercise fans but we think having a range of dedicated activities on the TV will inspire and that’s where WiiFit still shines, no other device takes you through a whole routine and takes the confusion out of exercise.
We feel the perfect heath software would combine WiiFit with the additional functions of some of the newer smart devices and suspect Nintendo will be working towards that for their ‘Quality of Life’ project for launch in 2015. As of today we still consider WiiFit peerless despite advances in the (arguably cooler) mobile world, having a range of activities and routines helps you stay focussed on your exercise – that’s worth a great deal.