Monday, February 21, 2011


Wii Fit Plus

There's not a lot to say about Wii Fit Plus that hasn't already been said. It's basically an expansion pack for the original software.

There are some new exercises and activities, including a whole bunch of new balance board mini-games that have been lumped together in a new category, "Training Plus". These games are considerably more "gamey" than the set that came with the original software, my favorite being the Obstacle Course game. The press description is pretty accurate -- it's like a Mario game, where you're running and jumping and avoiding obstacles, but you control it with your feet, walking in place to move forward and bending your knees a bit to jump. It's not a particularly energetic activity, but it's a fun way to relax and wind down at the end of a workout.

But for the most part, the real benefit of Wii Fit Plus isn't the new activities it brings to the table, but the way it arranges and streamlines what was already there. All of the basic functionality of Wii Fit is still there, and if you want to use it the way it originally worked, you're completely welcome to do it, but once you've seen what it can do, you might not want to look back.

Here's an example. After picking your Mii, there's a big "Start" button. And if you press that, you go through this dialog with the Balance Board where it gives you your tip of the day and all that. Then you select your body test, where you get your weight and it remarks on your center of balance, and then it asks you if you want to play some mini-games to get your Wii Fit age. When you're done with all that rigamarole, you can finally get on to the exercises. But in Wii Fit Plus, they've added a "Simple Test" button next to the Start button. It skips all of the expository dialogue, gives you your weight and center of balance, and then you're done. Simple and to the point.

Then on the next screen, you can select the Training button, which allows you to browse the categories and select an exercise as you've always done. But there's also a shortcut button that takes you to "My Wii Fit Plus", which is basically a new interface for everything related to the game. This is where you'll create workout routines. And there's a lot of options available.

First, there's routines recommended by the system. There are fifteen categories, including warm-ups, fat-burning, back and shoulders, and so on. Each system routine has three activities. You can string together as many of these routines as you like, tell the system how many exercises you want to do from each routine (if you only want one or two, they're chosen for you randomly), keep track of about how long your routine is going to be, and then do it. This is kind of a nice feature -- it gives you recommendations for areas that you might like to focus on, and it does the work of shuffling the deck around so that it's a little different every day.

Secondly, there's custom routines. You can string together your own set of exercises, pulling from the Strength and Yoga categories, and then you'll work through them one after the other with only a minimal break between exercises. You can also specify how many minutes you have available for exercise, and the system will come up with something. This is another great feature -- it's like building your own workout video. And without having to go back to the remote to move from one activity to the next, you don't have to spend so much time cooling down between exercises.

I really like Wii Fit Plus. It's helped to rekindle my interest in the software. The only real complaint is that it's kind of like they're patching the original software with things that they realize they had left out, but you get the feeling that they're really not doing it to gouge you -- the disc by itself sold for only $20, which is basically rock-bottom for a new Wii disc. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the original Wii Fit but got bored of it or felt that it could use a little more polish.


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