Let’s not beat about the bush here, Wii Fit was one of the pieces of software that helped the Wii go on to be a barnstorming success, both in terms of financial gain for Nintendo, but also in plaudits from fans and critics alike. In fact, it’s hard to not be impressed by the Wii Fit phenomenon in general. Everyone seems to have a balance board, everyone has at least tried Wii Fit.
But the Wii U isn’t the Wii, and naming conventions aside, to enjoy all of Wii Fit U you’ll need more than just the disc (or download) and the console. The Wii Fit Meter is an utter stroke of genius, yet again. Not only does buying one and syncing it to your Wii Fit U account enable the trial version to become the “full” version, but it means that you can always be playing, even when you’re miles away from a console.
It’s basically a pedometer, but with a few added extras. Of course, Nintendo are actually physically unable to make something that isn’t cute, so your Mii character’s face will appear on that meter, rather than have it just count steps, elevation climbed, and calories burned. In fact, so excellent an idea and so motivational is this tiny black circular meter, that after registering, for days the only interaction I had with Wii Fit U was to transfer my data from the meter to the game. It’s a simple process, too – you just have to go to the relevant menu on the GamePad and hold down the middle button on the Meter, then put it near the sensor in the GamePad.
This is classic Nintendo. Rather than saying, “Hey, this game will make you fit”, by creating the Fit Meter, you’re actively encouraged to exercise away from the Wii U. Hell, even going to an actual gym is worthwhile from a gaming perspective now – though you might want to turn the device down, as it does tend to make happy, chirping noises from time to time, informing you that you’ve hit certain goals and targets. There are mini-targets related to the meter, too. They’re as simple as setting a walking goal and watching your Mii walk it on a screen, but they’re fun nonetheless.
But back to the actual game. While there are a ton of new activities, there are also a lot of returning ones. In fact, a strong feeling of familiarity is present from the moment you first start, as the on-screen balance board talks to you with cutesy animations and friendly banter. Speaking of the balance board, Wii Fit U is a reminder of just what an excellent piece of kit it is. From the simplest balancing activities (that really show you up for the poorly postured slob you are) to the more fun “gamey” ones, it never lets you down; though it does go through batteries fast.
One of the big plus points for Wii Fit U is that you never need control of the TV. It may seem like a small feature (especially when most Wii U games offer it nowadays) but it really makes sense. Eke out your fitness corner, grab the GamePad and Balance Board, and just get on with your workout. Better still, this means that you can quickly and easily transfer your Fit Meter data across without interrupting anyone else.
All of this is great, but the best thing about Wii Fit U is that it’s actually fun to use. There’s plenty of multiplayer opportunities, but how much these are used depends very much on the kind of person you are. What this means is that solitary workout fans are catered for, and so are the more social exercisers – especially with the Miiverse integration allowing for entire communities based around working out. These communities are safe havens, potentially, as they are protected by having an ID that you need to share for other people to join.
Some of the activities and mini-games are actually excellent examples of the Wii U’s capabilities overall, offering fun, interesting uses of the GamePad’s functionality. Everything is used, whether it’s the gyroscopes inside or the camera – in fact there are some games that show the Wii U off better than the party-games that are available elsewhere. These are unique gameplay experiences that you won’t currently find elsewhere, all whilst breaking a sweat.
VERDICT: Bringing forward all of what made Wii Fit so great in the first place, then adding new features and the Wii Fit Meter means that Wii Fit U is an excellent package designed to get friends and family playing games while getting fitter. How can that be a bad thing? It can be a bit pricey if you don’t already own some of the hardware (Wii U, Balance Board), but this is an example of something succeeding in exactly what it sets out to do, and sometimes that’s enough. Bare in mind, however, this is not a full substitute for a real exercise routine and gym workout.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.
Fit Meter and Balance Board provided by publisher.