I only briefly got to play the original Wii Fit, but liked its idea; it served as both an example of the Balance Board’s potential and a decent way to get feedback on your exercise. So when this upgraded version (you can’t quite call it a sequel, it’s too narrow in scope for that) came out, I was very interested. Returning users can simply buy the disc-only version and gain access to roughly fifteen new exercise events, three new yoga poses, and about a half-dozen strength training routines, while newcomers will find the full distribution of game plus Balance Board to be a decent investment.
Like many of Nintendo’s ’Wii (Noun)’ games, Wii Fit Plus is primarily a collection of mini-games that are meant to teach you how to use the new controller that came with the game disc. In this case, you’re meant to learn how to use the Balance Board; a device a little larger than a typical bathroom scale. This board can track your balance and weight distribution, using it to let you interact with a variety of games. This could be as simple as stepping up and down to simulate peddling a bicycle, or be as involved as leaning your body from side to side while you throw snowballs at AI opponents. Most events track your body’s movement pretty well, with only a few presenting any serious problems.
Game play is divided between several short events; about 30 Wii Sports style mini-games are joined by some simple Yoga routines and strength training regimens. The mini-games use the Balance Board in various ways but are unified in their use of bright and family-friendly graphics; just like Wii Sports and similar titles. The other exercises use more detailed graphics, since they often require you to contort into specific postures; this is a welcome change. While most of the games on this disc are pretty simple, you do get enough of them to hold your interest for a little while and there is enough variety in activities to be useful for exercise.
Wii Fit Plus also tries to give you various medical and exercise advice. Some of this advice is very broad, obvious, and useful… but others I do not think will apply to all users, and you may wish to use caution in picking what advice you follow. It’s nice that it offers ideas and lets you organize custom work-outs, but the same interface that does that also likes to ask a lot of personal questions. My first few days of use were met with a non-stop barrage of criticism from the game, up to and including noting I’m “a night owl.” I’ll be honest; the last time a soulless machine asked me so many personal questions and made this many pushy remarks about me, it turned out to be a government agent. I don’t want that, I want it to be quiet and help me exercise.
While most of this review has covered newcomers to the game, Wii Fit Plus does come in a disc-only configuration as well and this is meant to let existing Wii Fit owners upgrade to the current edition at a low price. What’s in it for you? An interface upgrade is one reason to switch, but the real draw are the new events. In addition to the new Yoga and strength training routines, you get about fifteen new events to play. Admittedly three of them are very basic re-toolings of existing events, but that still leaves a dozen new ones and most of them are reasonably fun. There is the aforementioned snowball fighting where you lean around and fling snow at your opponents while seeking cover, but perhaps an obstacle course or Segway ride is more up your alley. Either way, I think Plus is a decent upgrade if you were satisfied with the original Wii Fit.
Admittedly if you’re buying this just as a mini-game compilation, you’re probably going to lose interest in short order. However, Wii Fit Plus becomes an interesting choice if you’re looking for an exercise aid that also happens to be a series of mini-games. Those already familiar with the original Wii Fit may find this to be a worthy upgrade (and at a mere $20, it’s a pretty low-risk plunge) while those who haven’t tried it before will gain a decent exercise tool. When you consider that the Balance Board works with a few other games too, including some genuinely good ones like Punch-Out, the $100 price tag becomes a little easier to swallow. I’m pretty happy with Wii Fit Plus, and plan to be using it for a while to give me motivation and feedback in my ongoing exercises; I think this, in addition to the board itself, is this product’s real value.