Fat with content.
Before going any further, Nintendo has addressed the criticism of it calling children "obese" in the original Wii Fit with their latest balance board fitness entry, Wii Fit Plus. The moniker "obese" is never uttered if the player is a child (it’s still there for adults). In Wii Fit Plus, children are labeled either "underweight", "healthy weight", "at risk of overweight", or "Overweight". "Overweight" as a label still stings, but at least it doesn’t jiggle. If a player hits an unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI), there is a long explanation that reads as if it were drawn up by a team of lawyers spurred on by angry moms brandishing hairbrushes as weapons. Somewhere, a conference room full of sweaty execs reeks in the odor of stale donuts as they explain that the BMI calculated may be incorrect because it can vary based on age, gender, and other factors.
[image1]My favorite thing that Nintendo did in the face of all this criticism, however, is how it calculates a player’s Wii Fit Age. In the original, it was based mainly on balance and BMI. Now it takes into account a player’s mental acuity, calculated using simple tests that require the player to follow simple instructions. So basically, the game no longer tells you you’re fat. Now it tells you you’re fat and stupid. And it may be genetic. I love it! Parents may complain when a game calls their child fat, but they’ll never admit to the world what they already know: Little Johnny is an idiot. I guess this is an example of the honey-flavored vinegar approach to resolving consumer complaints. Chalk one up for Nintendo.
With the whiners busy patting themselves on their backs (or enrolling their offspring in after-school enrichment programs), Nintendo was able to make some changes that will probably bring about measurable improvements in a player’s fitness, such as estimating calories burned during an activity and stressing getting exercise outside of the game (again). There is also a whole section dedicated to personalizing one’s workout, and a way to password protect statistics such as weight and BMI so that others cannot
laugh at see it.
[image2]All five categories from the original Wii Fit are back. All those yoga poses and strength training exercises you never got around to unlocking are open to you now, and every category has a handful of new activities thrown in to give you something new to work towards. There are two new categories in Wii Fit Plus as well: Training Plus and My Wii Fit Plus. Training Plus has 15 new activities like bike riding, snowball fighting, and a really fun Kung Fu rhythm game, even though Chop Chop Master Onion is sadly missing. There’s plenty here to keep the casual player occupied, and the personalized workout section highlights the game’s efforts at being a true workout companion.
My Wii Fit Plus has three main categories: The first gives a player the ability to choose from a long list of areas they would like to work on (Tummy, Posture, Arms, and Relaxation are a few), and the game spits out three activities to perform as a routine that will focus on those areas in the workout. The second category lets a player build their own workout regimen, and the last tracks a player’s most frequent, most recent, and most seldom played activities. Using these categories can help give a well-rounded or more focused workout, depending on how it is used.
[image3]This area of the game also contains the requisite charts and graphs, which all seem a bit overkill, but are there if you find them useful. A final feature of note in My Wii Fit Plus is the Calorie Check option that shows the calorie content of foods alongside the amount of calories you burned that day. If you just do three more aerobics activities, maybe you can splurge on two slices of American Cheese later!
Nintendo can’t create anything that’s completely serious and somber, and that’s a good thing. You’ll find cuteness sprinkled all over this game. Need an example? Well, there have been real world studies that suggest having a pet has positive health benefits. Whether or not that translates in any way in the virtual world, you now have the option to register your cats and dogs in Wii Fit Plus, simply by holding them as you stand on the scale and creating a Mii (Meowii?) for them. They can’t really do the exercises, but they do run alongside you in some of the activities that take place in virtual parks or beaches. And hey, if your pet is wriggly or more than 1/3 your body weight, getting them on the scale may burn a few calories too. And if that makes you laugh, well, that burns calories, too.
All in all, Wii Fit Plus is everything Wii Fit should have been and more. It’s a solid entry in the fitness genre. They’ve effectively squashed the pesky obesity issue, though I’m positive someone will find something to complain about. If you already have Wii Fit, this new Plus version will import all the data, and the added activities and exercises will leave you impressed. If this is your first try at a fitness game, you will come away feeling good about your purchase. So if your kid develops an eating disorder, don’t blame it on the Wii. Look in your refrigerator, then in the mirror, hide the chips, and take little Johnny for a walk down to the recycling bins, where you can throw away all those sugary drinks together.