The Wii Fit balance board and the accompanying software caused quite a stir when it was released last year. Now the Wii Fit Plus has hit the stores, but will it be able to coax Wii owners into dusting off their neglected peripherals and get back on the path to fitness, or is it just another gimmicky, flawed piece of populist tat?
Wii Fit Plus is not a completely new fitness game. It is in fact an enhanced version of the software bundled with the balance board and as such it is packed with the same features that owners of the original will be familiar with. The aim again is to build muscles, teach you some yoga positions and improve your balance skills through a series of fun exercises, most of which utilise the capabilities of the balance board. The main inclusion that bolsters out the performance of the software here is the ability to create your own workouts. This is great if you have a particular area which you want to improve on and allows a lot more flexibility that makes the Wii Fit Plus software package an easily recommendable upgrade over the original.
Other additions include more yoga poses and muscle building workouts to satisfy the real fitness freaks out there. The user interface has also been improved and makes selecting a workout or choosing an exercise much easier than in the previous version. You can now string together exercises you enjoy into long sessions and there are plenty of pre-determined sessions which you can access if you do not fancy creating your own. This is a massive improvement over the first Wii Fit software and provides a level of customisability which will appeal to many. You have instant access to all of the new and old exercises straight away, which removes the unlocking element included in the original. Whilst this may be a good thing in general, the game element of the package becomes even less prominent as a result.
Speaking of the gaming element, this makes up the largest new set of features in the Wii Fit Plus rostra. There are 12 brand new games which use the Wii Balance Board, combining both fitness and fun with varying results. The balance board can be used to play a golf game, take part in a snowball fight and adjust the courses of balls in a puzzle game. Some utilise the motion and balance controls to great effect, whilst others are slightly more frustrating thanks to clumsy or inaccurate controls.
The Wii Fit Plus software adds a whole host of new ways to keep track of your fitness levels. It can quickly calculate your BMI and keep a record of how your fitness is improving if you continue to use the software over a long period of time. However, like the first version of the game, some of the advice which it doles out in relation to your fitness can be questionable to say the least. There is at least a fairly complex calorie counter which works out how much energy you have burned during a session and then compares this total to how much food energy you have burned off. Obviously such information and advice is intended to be motivational, but it can be equally disheartening when you consider that a lot of effort and time needs to be put in to burn off a significant number of calories. Such is the nature of fitness.
If you have the first Wii Fit and you have kept a save file stored on your Wii then all of the information is automatically converted for use with the new Wii Fit Plus software. This makes continuing to achieve your fitness goals painless. The look and feel of the Wii Fit Plus is identical to the game from last year. It incorporates the cartoonish, simplistic graphics of the Wii’s other home-grown titles like Wii Sports and even incorporates the island from Wii Sports Resort into certain games. The animated version of the Wii Balance Board is also back to help guide you through the different aspects of the software and it is easy for people of any ability to get to grips with the exercises and interface.
Overall the Wii Fit Plus software adds some much needed support for the excellent Balance Board peripheral. Since few other games offer compatibility with this device, owners will be pleased to see something taking advantage of it. It is also good to see that since this is a revision of existing software rather than an entirely new package they have kept the price low. Whilst the Wii Fit Plus programme is not quite perfect, it is at least an admirable attempt to get gamers off the sofa and burning off some fat, as well as attracting a wider audience to the home gaming scene.