Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wii Fit Impressions

Despite having picked Wii Fit up yesterday, I didn't get a chance to play with it and do a workout until today. After spending over an hour with the game, I have emerged from my man cave laden with knowledge and am prepared to let you take a bite of its luscious fruit.

First, some words about the hardware. It is surprisingly heavy and very sturdy. It would have to be given that it can support up to something like 300 pounds. The board comes with four feet extenders so that if you're playing in a room with carpet, and the carpet touches the bottom of the board you can raise it up. The top of the board is nice and grip-y, which, again, it would have to be as Nintendo recommends that you play the game barefoot. I'm kind of surprised that they tell you not to wear shoes as shoes traditionally worn while working out have enough tread to not send you careening into the walls. I mean, it's not a treadmill. It's a scale for frak's sake.

But I digress. As a scale, it's pretty damn accurate. I've been checking my weight regularly, against the recommendations of both Linda and Andy, and the balance board had my weight and Linda's weight correctly. My BMI is enough that I'm considered overweight, which came as no surprise, and for this, my Mii was rewarded with a little pot belly. Linda's BMI is normal so her Mii remained unchanged.

I tried all of the workouts available to me from the beginning and man, I am horrible at most of them. The yoga ones are some of the hardest as I have zero balance. It doesn't help that I have low ceilings in the basement so some of the stretching is difficult. The trainer does a pretty good job of showing you how to do the exercises, so it's not to hard to follow along, as long as your legs aren't screaming in pain like mine were. The strength training is a bit of a mixed bag. The trainer does a good job of showing you how to do a push-up, however they don't show you what things will look like on the screen while you're doing the push-ups so you end up trying to watch the screen and do a push-up followed by a side plank at the same time. It's kind of difficult. Once you do enough of the strength training exercises you figure out how to listen for the whistle and do things, but until you see it a few times, you're going to tank on them. For the record, jackknifes suck.

The aerobic stuff is just ok. I am apparently the worst hula-hooper in the known universe as not only can I not swing my hips, but I can't catch hula hoops thrown to my by the other Mii's, including the one I made to represent our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. My lack of skills shamed the Son of God, so poor were my skills. The step class, or performance, was equally problematic as I couldn't get the rhythm or the steps down but eventually I got it. I think it just takes time. The running was silly, and, in my opinion, not particularly good for you as I would think running in place would be bad for your legs, but if you put the Wiimote in your pocket and ride an exercise bike, aside from some pacing issues, you'll do fine.

The balance games are fun, and the ski jump is a hoot, even if I have no idea what I'm doing. The best game though is the version of Marble Madness you play by using the balance board to navigate one or more marbles, emblazoned with the heads of your Mii's, into holes on the board within the time limit. It's a lot of fun and surprisingly hard. The slalom race if fun but it's not long enough. The tightrope is pretty tough and I have yet to make it across without plunging to my death.

At the end of my workout, I had gotten my heart rate good and up and my legs definitely were sore for the effort. I'm not a big fan of how an hour of total time only nets you about 30 minutes of credit towards unlocking other exercises, but at the same time, once you know how to do things you can skip all of the demos and go right to the exercises. I've unlocked something like three new exercises which I'm eager to try tomorrow, even if it means more accursed lunges.

As for whether or not the game will keep you working out, hell, I have no idea. Yoga and strength training can't be done while you're doing something else, for someone like me who hates exercising just to exercise, there's not a lot of extra to keep you doing those things. The cardio stuff and the balance board stuff definitely has enough extra to keep you occupied should you need that kind of thing. All in all, I'd say it's a good tool to get people started on the road to fitness and has the right balance of encouragement and shame to keep you going. The ability to add in any additional exercising you're doing every day is nice, even if the choices are limited and you can't add a lot of detail like miles ran or weights and reps. I'm just hoping that the game gives me credit for biking every day so that I don't have to have Jesus throw more hoops at me.

The balance board is an interesting enough peripheral that I think some really great games could be made for it. Personally, I would love a surfing game and I think they could pull it off to great effect with the board.

Is it worth 90 bucks? I don't know. Like any other piece of exercise equipment, and honestly you have to treat is at such until you know for certain what other games will be supported, it's only worth the money if you're going to spend the time with it and honestly push yourself. If you're not willing to do that, don't waste your money.

I've also started playing the Penny Arcade game, which is a hoot and a half, but I'll discuss that at another time. What I can tell you is that it makes a 30 minute workout go by in about ten seconds flat.

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