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Archive for November, 2013

Review of Zumba Fitness World Party for the Wii

zumba fitness world partyZumba Fitness World Party is the latest version of Zumba Fitness to hit the Wii (for those keeping score, the other versions have been Zumba Fitness, Zumba Fitness 2, and Zumba Fitness Core. This review is for the Wii version, but I’ll follow up with a separate review on the Wii U version.

When you start the game, you’ll see a video of Beto, Priscilla Satori, Gina Grant, Loretta Bates, Peter Lee, Nick Logrea, Melissa Cruz, Heidi Torres, Armando Salcedo, Kass Martin, Eric Aglia, and Dr. B and the Bhenga Bros dancing in locations around the world. It’s a great way to introduce you to both the instructors and the locales you’ll be encountering in the game.

The options on the main menu are:

  • World Tour
  • Full Class
  • Quick Play
  • My Zumba
  • Options

When you select World Tour, you first select your profile. It took me a few tries to realize that I had to click on the small round icon next to “profile” to create a new one.

For your profile, you enter your name, date of birth, gender, weight, and height in inches. Whoever designed the interface for this thing needs to go back to user experience design class. You’re limited to seven characters for your name, you need to enter your height in inches (not feet and inches), and inexplicably, to change your weight or height you can’t just hover over up and down arrow buttons and press the button nor even use the arrow keys–you need to position your cursor over a tiny area and click, click, click for every pound or inch you want to add. It would have been nice if, like on Wii Fit, it let you use the Balance Board to check your weight, and it gave you the option to hide your weight from prying eyes.

In fact, this will be a recurring theme throughout the review: navigating through all the menus can be a chore, as you need to be oh-so-precise with your Wii remote.

Once you get started, you then see another video of montages of different cities around the world. Then a Welcome message:

Welcome to the Zumba Fitness World Tour! Earn Zumba Miles to unlock new songs in each destination. Collect postcards and souvenirs from these exotic locations!

The areas of the “world” you’ll be visiting include Brazil, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, India, Los Angeles, and Puerto Rico. When you visit each part of the world, the playlist reflects the music of that region, which is pretty cool. Here are the songs in each region, along with the genres and exercise intensity:

Brazil (Afro Samba, Capoeira, Brazilian Funk, Samba, Axe, Brazillian Pop, Reggae)

  • Na Ponta Do Pe – Medium Intensity
  • Batucada Dance – High Intensity
  • Garota Nacional – Medium Intensity
  • Ruas Encantadas – High Intensity
  • Coisa Brasileira – Medium Intensity
  • Mas Que Nada – High Intensity

Caribbean (Dance Hall, Cumbia, Calypso, Reggae)

  • Vibes – Warm Up
  • Marioneta – Medium Intensity
  • Loco – Medium Intensity
  • Caribbean Dream – Medium Intensity
  • Pega Pega – Medium Intensity
  • True to Myself – Cool Down

Europe (Irish Step, EDM, Burlesque, Russian Folk, Flamenco)

  • Clarity – Warm Up
  • The Beggerman Jig – High Intensity
  • Una De Salao – Medium Intensity
  • Russian Dances – High Intensity
  • Put the Gun Down – High Intensity

Hawaii (Hawaiian Pop, Traditional Hula, Modern Tahitian, Hawaiian Reggae)

  • Maoli Girl – Low Intensity
  • Haleiwa Hula – Low Intensity
  • 1865 (95 Degrees…) – Low Intensity
  • Jungle – High Intensity

India (Bollywood)

  • Mashallah – Medium Intensity
  • Indian Moonshine – High Intensity
  • Boro Boro – High Intensity
  • Kaim Rahe Sardari – High Intensity

Los Angeles (Pop, Hip-Hop, Swing, Blues)

  • Beam Me Up – Warm Up
  • Born This Way – Medium Intensity
  • Shake Your Hips – High Intensity
  • Next to Me – Cool Down
  • Exotic – Medium Intensity
  • Puttin’ on the Ritz – High Intensity
  • Do You Feel Like Moving? – High Intensity
  • Came Here to Party – High Intensity

Puerto Rico (Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Latin Pop, Reggaeton, Girly Funk, Bomba/Plena)

  • Limbo – Medium Intensity
  • Bailando Por Ahi – Medium Intensity
  • Echa Pa’lla – Medium Intensity
  • Corazoncito Bonito – Low Intensity
  • Perros Salvajes – High Intensity
  • Aguanile – Medium Intensity
  • Zumba Boricua – HIgh Intensity

For each country, you earn “Zumba Miles” for dancing to the first two songs, and then use those to unlock subsequent songs.

During the course of the “World Tour” you’ll unlock “passport stamps”, “souvenirs”, and “postcards” as you dance. There’s really not much challenge to earning these–just dance with some semblance of accuracy and throughout your dances you’ll see these goodies awarded to you every couple of seconds.

To get started, you first put your Wii remote into your Zumba Fitness Belt, which is included with the game. There’s nothing really special about this belt other than having the Zumba logo on it, it’s just a piece of flimsy plastic with a pocket that your put the Wii remote in. If you’re playing a used or rented copy and don’t have the belt, don’t worry, all you need to do is find a way to strap the Wii remote to your right hip, for example, using an old belt, a right pocket, or even just wedging it under a tight waistband. There are also options you can buy on Amazon. The key is to put the remote “up-side up” so that the power button is closest to your face and the “A” button is facing towards the TV.

Next comes the dancing. You’ll see a street scene from the area of the world you’ve visiting, and a Zumba instructor will be in the center of the screen. As with all these kinds of games you’ll need to mimic his or her moves as if you’re looking in a mirror. You’ll also see a running count of the “Zumba Miles” you earn.

You’ll also see a number of attractive professional Zumba dancers dancing along; the better you dance, the more Zumba dancers will join in. In a clever touch of humor and realism, in some scenes you’ll also see a crowd of “amateur” Zumba dancers in the background who like you and me may not exactly be following the moves correctly (but like you and me, are trying their best).

As with other games of this ilk, you’ll also see an animated preview of the next dance move that’s coming in a postage stamp-sized window in the upper right-hand corner. I didn’t find this very helpful, as it didn’t really break down the moves for me, but as I play the game more I can see how this can be helpful in anticipating the next moves.

Unlike previous versions of Zumba Fitness, instead of an animated cartoon figure or a faceless silhouette, you’ll see the actual video image of the instructor. This makes it a whole lot easier to pick out the moves they’re doing, and is a lot more like a realistic Zumba session than ever before.

When you hit a right moves, you’ll see the words “Zumba!”, “Nice!” or “Hot!” appear on the screen, and the more precisely you dance, the more stars you earn. They did a pretty good job with motion tracking–as an experiment I just sat on the couch and waggled my remote to coincide with the music, but the system did a pretty good job of not rewarding me.

On the other hand, the scoring is pretty lenient as long as you’re “close” to the right moves. If you just go through the motions (literally), you’ll easily earn 4 or 5 out of 5 stars. So you’re kind of under the “honor system” to really put your all into the dancing and to try to really put the precise technique into practice each time you play. There isn’t an option to “break down” each song to really learn them, so you’ll need to learn them by practicing repeatedly and by mastering the basic steps in the dance tutorial (which I’ll describe below).

With the World Tour, you have to dance all the songs in your country in quick succession. In another bit of a user interface annoyance, you get only about half a second when you’re between songs to look at a screen showing how many songs you’ve played in the round, how many rewards you earned, and how many Zumba miles you’ve collected. Blink and you’ll miss it. It would have been nice for them to allow you to pause and read this screen, but perhaps they deliberately designed it so that you have to go to the next song immediately to keep your cardio going.

The “Full Class” option is more like a traditional Zumba class where you can choose one of 15 Short Classes (between 9 and 22 minutes), one of 15 Medium Classes (each about 40 minutes), one of 15 Full Length Classes (about 60 minutes each), or your own custom class. In the Full Classes, you basically dance to songs in the playlist continuously until the time is up. Your star rating will appear under each class, so if you don’t hit five stars, you’ll have incentive to go and play the class again.

With “Quick Play“, you can jump in and start dancing to any of the 40 songs.

My Zumba” lets you view your progress. You can see how many days you’ve been playing and get weekly reports on the amount of time you’ve played, the calories you’ve burned, the number of sets you’ve danced. You can also set goals for yourself and view the bonus videos, levels, and awards you’ve unlocked.

You can also view your postcards (signed by Zumba instructors standing in front of scenes from the different countries) and souvenirs (photos of cultural trinkets and knickknacks) in your “World Scrapbook”.

This section also has “Learn the Steps” where you can choose a dance style, basic step, and speed and master it. As I mentioned before, there’s no training option where they break down each individual song, but by mastering the basic steps for each song you’ll basically be able to tie them together when dancing the full songs. In yet another minor annoyance with the user interface design, you can’t use the arrow keys on the Wii remote to change steps or speed–you have to take the remote out, press the + button, point it at the screen to make your new selection, and replace it.

Here are the Dance Styles and Steps you’ll be able to practice:

  • Axe Samba – Basic Samba, Samba Box
  • Bollywood – Basic Bollywood Step, Step Together Cross Arms
  • Brazilian Funk – Booty Pop, In-Game Step
  • Burlesque – Hip Up and Down, Throw Arms
  • Capoiera – Balanco, Ginga
  • Cumbia – Front and Back, Sleepy Leg
  • Hip Hop – Cat Daddy, In-Game Step
  • Hula – Kaholo, Umi
  • Irish Step – Cross Over Leg, Knee In and Up
  • Merengue – 6 Count, Pas De Bouree
  • Pop – Booty 180, Kick Ball Change
  • Reggaeton – In-Game Step, Knee Lift
  • Salsa – In-Game Step, Side Step

My impression of Zumba World Class is pretty much the same as my reviews of past Zumba games. It’s quite literally the next best thing if you can’t make it to a real Zumba class. You get instruction from the top Zumba dancers in the world, you get 40 great songs to dance to, and you can dance any time of the day or night.

There are some minor annoyances in the game. There’s no excuse for still having such a poor user interface after so many releases. And anyone who’s a stickler for accurate and precise motion tracking in a game may be a bit disappointed.

Still, as before, if you’re a Zumba enthusiast, chances are you’ll be very happy with this one. The live action video dancing is an excellent new feature, and the new “world travel theme” that really provides incentives for you to keep dancing. Very highly recommended for Zumba fans; for those just looking for exercise and fitness I’d still give the edge to a game like Wii Fit U or Your Shape 2013.

 

Review of Wii Sports Club: Initial Setup and Tennis

Well, it’s been a pretty busy week for Wii fitness fans. We’ve seen Wii Fit U, and I’m expecting Zumba Fitness: World Party any day from GameFly now. After being neglected for a long time, it looks like active gaming is seeing a little bit of a resurgence. Let’s hope it lasts.

Of course, the mother of all motion games is making a comeback as well. Specifically, starting today, you can get a new game for the Wii U called Wii Sports Club. Wii Sports Club brings back Wii Sports to the Wii U, but with improved HD graphics, more precise MotionPlus support, and online play.

Wii Sports Club is only available as a downloadable title from the Nintendo eShop. When you enter the eShop, you’ll see a banner you can click on.

Once you’re in, it’ll give you the option to download it for free. Before you get too excited, what you’re downloading is just a shell, but you’ll have to purchase each individual sport you want to play.  Currently, Tennis and Bowling are available, but Boxing and Baseball are coming soon. There are two options for purchase: you can buy an individual sport for $9.99 and keep it forever, or you can “rent” a day pass for any sport for $1.99; obviously if you plan to play the game more than 5 days, you’re better off just buying the thing. In addition, for a full 24 hour period after installing Wii Sports Club, you can play any sport for free.

Some in the media have reported rumors that Nintendo will eventually release Wii Sports Club as a traditional retail boxed game rather than a download. My guess is that as usual, Nintendo will hold off on this option until it’s sure that it can’t squeeze any more money out of us early adopters.

The download took about 10 minutes for the main Wii Sports Club game plus the update, and then once I started up the game it took another 5-10 minutes to install. I have to admit, I’m not crazy about the time it takes to download Wii U games–at this rate I’d still much rather get a disc and install it myself.

But soon enough, the Wii Sports Club home screen showed up, along with familiar upbeat music.

wii sports club opening screen

You’ll be brought through a couple setup screens to configure the game. The first one says:

Do you want to enable SpotPass so that you can receive important notifications (including advertisements and promotions), ranking data (which includes Mii character information), and other information from Nintendo? Note: If you choose not to enable SpotPass, some services will be unavailable. 

Here’s the translation: If you let us spam you with ads, we’ll allow you to enjoy the game to its fullest. But I figured Nintendo ads are rarely annoying, so I Enabled it (if it becomes too intrusive, you can change it any time in the Settings menu).

The next screen said:

In Wii Sports Club, you can view the Miiverse posts of other players, including their custom, handwritten posts. Do you want to display other players’ posts?

I chose “Display” for now, but I can see this potentially getting annoying as more and more players join and it becomes harder and harder for Nintendo to moderate those who want to be obnoxious and annoying.

Next, there’s a little disclaimer:

When you play an online game, information such as your Mii character’s image, nickname, and club will be shared with your opponent. Additionally, data such as high scores and Mii character information will be stored on the server and used when compiling rankings. 

I admit, I’d be a little more nervous if I were on the Xbox where my real face might be shared, but I’m perfectly happy to let my little Mii go out there and show his face.

Finally, after a bit of a delay, you’re asked to do the familiar thing of pressing A and B together. Once you do this, you get these messages:

Welcome to Wii Sports Club! This is a game both for players who want tough competition as well as for players who just want to relax and play some games. 

First, let’s complete your simple setup.

The first thing you’re asked to do is to join a “club”. When you join a club, you can play as a member of that club. The cumulative stats of you and your fellow club members will be pitted against other clubs. You can also receive “Pep Talk” messages from other members of your club, which are basically canned messages that will show up at certain times of your game play.

You’re shown a list of states and provinces in your part of the world, but you can choose any of them. Since my home state is New York, I chose the New York club, but since I was born in New Jersey and lived there most of my life, I considered that one too. You can change clubs every 24 hours.

The first time you play, you’ll be told about your 24 hour trial where you can try out the whole game. You finally get to the main menu:

wii sports club main menu

Tennis allows you to play an online game, an offline game (similar to the old Wii Sports, where you can play against the computer or with local players), or training. Feeling pretty confident of my tennis skills from Wii Sports, I went right to the online game.

Online tennis matches are single-game matches that are like tie-breakers, where you play up to 7 points. You have to play doubles matches, whether you’re playing alone (in which case you control both players) or have two people playing (in which case each of you controls one person with a different Wii Remote Plus).

You choose right-handed or left-handed play, and then choose whether you wish to play anyone from around the world, only our friends, or only people in your club.

The system will then try to find a match for you. While you’re waiting you’ll be able to warm up by hitting tennis balls at targets. On this particular day, being the launch day, it never took me long to get matched to an opponent. Generally speaking, the system will try to match you with someone who’s about the same skill as you.

To start, both players point their Wii remotes to an icon of their Mii and press “A”. A set of bars in the lower right-hand corner will indicate how strong your Internet connection is. I noticed at times the play would get choppy or slow down, which was probably a result of either my Internet or my opponent’s Internet connection getting sluggish.

Right away, I noticed some differences in the aesthetics of the game. First, the tennis court is much more graphically detailed than its counterpart in the old Wii Sports. The grass is no longer a bright cartoony green, but a beautiful rendering of actual grass court, complete with dirt wear marks, stands, and a city in the background. The players seem a lot better proportioned, and the graphics were smooth.

I could also noticed the improvements in the Wii Motion Plus. Similar to the ping pong paddles in Wii Sports Resort, when I turned my wrist, the tennis racket in my Mii’s hands turned precisely as well.

In my first-ever experience, my opponent’s Internet connection was lost within a few minutes of playing.

I got a second opponent, a member of the Arizona Club. I put up a good fight, but he beat me 6-3. I learned quickly that my confidence in my skills was a bit misguided, as I tried to play using all the tricks I’d developed in Wii Sports, but the Wii MotionPlus is a lot more precise (and a lot less forgiving) than the old Wii Remote.

I made a couple adjustments and won my next match against Jakey from the California Club. By now, I was addicted. Playing against real people is definitely a lot more exciting and motivating than playing against a computer AI.

All during the game play, you can send messages to your opponent by using the cross buttons on your Wii remote. It can be as simple as “So Close” or “Well Done”, or you can customize the messages to a certain extent.

I’d definitely recommend that you go through the training again to learn how to control the racket with the more precise Wii MotionPlus. Unlike the old Wii Sports, where you’d just wind up and whack the ball with the right timing, in Wii Sports Club the position and angle of your Wii remote make a difference, as does the precise movement of your arm and wrist.

There are three training games, each which helps you master racket movement, and which are actually fun games in themselves. Ring Master has you trying to hit a tennis ball between giant rings on the court; Tennis Moles is sort of a tennis version of “Whack a Mole” where you try to hit your tennis ball on as many moles as you can; and “Rubber Ducky” is a game where you have to try to hit a tennis ball on all parts of the court to try to get a Ducky to chase after the ball as long as possible.

As brilliant as it was to see Wii Sports back in action, the experience wasn’t without its flaws.

From time to time my tennis racket would get distorted and feel like it wasn’t moving right during the gameplay. The system does say that when this happens, point your Wii Remote Plus at the screen and press the cross cursor to reset your racket’s position. But sometimes when this happens in the middle of gameplay, it’s not as easy to remember or do that.

In general, the controls seemed erratic, but it’s hard to say whether this is due to my own lack of skills with the MotionPlus or if there’s something wrong. But bottom line, unless online players find a way to cheat (which I hope doesn’t happen–that totally ruined games like Mario Kart Wii for me), we’re all playing on a level playing field.

In theory, I like how they allow you to post messages to your opponents, but I also hope that people maintain a certain level of civility, or I may find myself unplugging and just going back to offline play.

But these things aside, I think Nintendo yet again made a great move. Supporting online play adds a whole new dimension–it’s fun to compare your stats against other players around the world and you really do feel a sense of community among your “club” as you try to help it advance in the rankings. They managed to keep the fun, cute cartoony feel about the game, while still updating it for HD. And they did a nice job of updating the game for the Wii Remote Plus; while the new precision is going to be something that’s going to take getting used to, there’s no better motivation than competition to keep working at it.

Now of course this is a fitness gaming blog, so I should say that this is hardly strenuous exercise, although as we’ve talked about in the past, adding things like wrist weights while you’re playing can really help you with strength building and conditioning.

Overall, I’d give Wii Sports Club a 4.5 out of 5. I’d say it’s definitely worth the $40 to pay for all four games when they come out.

Review of the Wii Fit Meter – Like FitBit or Nike+ FuelBand for Wii U Owners

This post is part three of a three-part review of Wii Fit U. Read part 1 and part 2 to learn everything you need to know about Wii Fit U! 🙂

As most people know by now, Nintendo has a special deal for anyone who’s a Wii U owner and already owns a Wii Balance Board. If you download the free 31-day trial version of Wii Fit U from the Nintendo eShop, all you have to do is purchase this $19.99 Fit Meter and register it in-game to convert the trial version into the full version. Considering that the retail bundle of the physical game + Fit Meter will cost $49.99, you can save $30 right away. (This deal is only good until 1/13/14).

Since the Nintendo Store in Manhattan is within walking distance to my office, I made sure to pick one up on the launch date of November 1. I asked the guy at the store how they were selling, and he said they were selling great–on the first day of release they were already out of half their inventory. I also noticed that on Amazon, their stock keeps going in and out and whenever it does the price gouging third party sellers’ prices and inventory take over, ranging from $23 to $70. Don’t fall for this–try stores like Best Buy or GameStop; there may be inventory shortages for the first few days of its release, but you can bet that Nintendo is producing a ton of them for the holidays.

The Wii Fit Meter comes packaged in a small blue box. Opening the box revealed the Fit Meter itself carefully wrapped in a thin foam sleeve, all inside a small bubble wrap bag. There’s also a one-sheet instruction manual with basically one instruction: remove the plastic tab in the unit to activate the battery–and then refer to the Wii Fit U online manual for the rest. This sheet also has Nintendo’s standard 12-month warranty.

wii-fit-meter-unboxing

While early reports were that the Fit Meter would come in a variety of colors, for North America the only color you can get right now is black and grey. There are some rumors that they will be coming in red and green to match the upcoming Mario and Luigi Wii Remotes, and that other colors are already available in Europe. I’m sure they’ll be coming in multiple colors soon enough and the good news is, even in black and grey the unit looks really sharp and blends in with clothing when you wear it on your waist.

The unit itself is about the size of an Eisenhower dollar (or for you who don’t remember what that is, an Oreo cookie). It’s fairly light, and its edges are smooth and rounded, making it very comfortable to hold in your hand.

The Wii U logo is on top, and there are three buttons on the bottom, a left and right arrow and a large button in the middle. The middle of the unit is a 1″ x 3/4″ LCD screen; it looks like it can scratch easily, so I’d definitely cover the area with clear tape or a screen protector of some kind. For such a light object it seems pretty durable; I’ve dropped it about 3-4 times already each time expect it to come flying apart, but so far it’s stayed together. YMMV, of course.

There’s no backlight but the LCD display is pretty readable and as we’ll talk about later, you are able to adjust the contrast of the screen.

When you power up the unit (basically by removing the plastic battery tab), you’ll see an icon of the Fit Meter next to an icon of the Wii U GamePad on the LCD screen, basically telling you to register it to your Wii U.

The first thing you have to do is start up Wii Fit U, but make sure that you’re signed in to the profile that you want associated with the Fit Meter. While multiple users in Wii Fit U can use a Fit Meter, each person has to have their own.

To get started with the registration process, you can go under User Settings on Wii Fit U, or simply click on the bouncing Fit Meter. You’ll get a description of the Fit Meter, as well as the option to register it.

wii-fit-meter-setup-part-1

Click on the “Register” button. You’ll be told to point the Fit Meter to your Wii U Gamepad. It took me a few tries before I realized I had to point the *top* of my Fit Meter to the *top* of the GamePad, basically pointing the Wii U logo to the dark and shiny infrared sensor at the top of the unit (take a very close look at the diagram on your TV to see how things should line up).

sync wii fit meter and wii u

You then press and hold the middle (round) button on the Fit Meter (making sure not to move the unit). It may take a little trial and error to get the alignment right–the trick is to hold the Fit Meter really steady and parallel to the Wii U GamePad.

syncing the wii fit meter and the wii u

 

If you get an error message on your Fit Meter saying “Cannot Find Connection” or a message on your GamePad saying “Unable to connect with the Fit Meter. Shall I try again?”, chances are either the Fit Meter isn’t lined up just right, your hand might have moved, or you may not have kept the button held down. In any case, try again and it should work once you get the hang of it. When all goes well, you’ll see a “Transferring Data” screen as the system’s high-pitched voice repeats “transmitting data”.

On your TV, you’ll see the message “Your profile has been applied to the Fit Meter”, followed by a message from the animated Balance Board (with a new friend, the Fit Meter next to him) saying “I’ve put your information on the Fit Meter! Now you can record activity you do outside of Wii Fit U on the Fit Meter. When you’re training in Wii fit U, you won’t need your Fit Meter since I’ll keep track of the calories you burn. But be sure to wear the Fit Meter at your waist as you go about your daily activities! Then we can track the calories you burn throughout the day. To conserve power, the Fit Meter goes into sleep mode when not in use. Hold down the middle button to take the Fit Meter out of sleep mode. ”

fit meter and balance board

You’ll see two more messages:

  • A Fit Meter has been registered. You will now be able to enjoy this software even after the trial period expires!
  • Caution! Before deleting save data in Wii U System Settings, you must first reset and delete any Fit Meter registrations from Fit Meter in User Settings.

Lo and behold, when you look at your Fit Meter, you’ll see your Mii’s face magically appear on the LCD screen! Not only this, but with the typical Nintendo sense of humor, the Mii’s facial expressions will change as you exert more or less energy, which kind of reminded me of those old Tomagatchi pocket pets of many years ago.

You basically clip the Fit Meter on your waist, and keep it on all day. Your daily movements will be tracked throughout the day. The Fit Meter is more than just a pedometer. While it does track your number of steps, it also tracks your altitude, displays the current time, displays the current temperature, and shows how many calories you’ve burned. I was pleasantly surprised that unlike other pedometers, this one seemed to be pretty accurate at tracking actual steps and negating false positives (versus shaking or dropping the unit).

wii fit meter with mii, stii-wii

To save battery, the unit will go to sleep mode and shut off its display, but will continue to track you. It’s unclear how long the battery will last, but as long as the majority of the time you keep the screen off it should last for a very long time–many months if not longer. And when the battery does finally go out, the good news is that it appears to be easily replaceable. You unscrew a single Phillips screw on the back of the unit, which reveals a standard CR 2032 watch battery, which you can purchase on eBay or at just about any drug store or retailer.

There’s actually a surprising amount of information you can get on the unit alone. Pressing the left and right buttons simultaneously appeared to reset the altitude. Pressing and quickly releasing the middle button lets you scroll through various tiny graphs on the unit, including a METs (Metabolic Equivalents, basically a measure of exertion) graph, an altitude chart (great if you’re hiking up a mountain), a chart of calories burned by week, and settings for volume (of the various chirps the unit makes) and for contrast of the LCD display.

 wii-fit-mets-graph

Moving forward, whenever you start up Wii Fit U and select your profile with the registered Fit Meter, the system will ask you to point your Fit Meter to the GamePad and sync the data (note that you can’t sync data once you’re in the game–you would need to exit out of the game first to the Wii Fit Plaza and then re-enter).

After you register your device you’ll notice that some of the things in Wii Fit U change as well, which is confirmation that you’ve officially gone from the “31 Day Trial” version to the full, unlocked version of the game. First, you’ll notice that your Mii is now wearing the Fit Meter on his or her waist. There’ll also be two new menu options:

mii and the wii fit meter

The first is called “Fit Meter Data”, where you’ll be able to view data transferred from your Fit Meter, with detailed information for each day. You can see the number of METs expended each day, by the hour of the day, whether you’re running, ascending, descending, walking, doing light activity, or resting.

Over time, it’s fascinating to look for patterns in your daily activities. For example, here’s a graph of my activity for today. Normally, I would have spent my Sunday afternoon lying on the couch and being lazy. But my wife asked me to walk with her to go shopping, so I did. At around 5:10 PM you can see the green line from where I walked down my three flights to stairs. You can see at about 5:15 that I took the short, slightly uphill walk to the CVS (the light blue line) and then did a little shopping (the dark blue line). Then, I walked to the supermarket (again, the light blue line), followed by even more shopping (the dark blue line). Around 6:05 I walked home, walked up the three flights of stairs (the orange line), and then got home. No running today, but I’m fairly confident that we’ll see red lines every morning as I’m always late to my morning train 😛

fit meter data graph of daily activity

It’s funny, but even after a few days I’m noticing that the Fit Meter is altering my behavior. I’m more likely to take the stairs vs. the escalator or elevator knowing that I’m getting “credit” for doing so. Likewise, whereas in the past I would take the subway to the train station in the afternoon, now I’m more prone to take the 20 block walk through the City.

The second is called “Fit Meter Challenge” where you can use your Fit Meter data and challenge yourself to complete “courses” from around the world. You can choose walking challenges or altitude challenges.

Since today was the day of the New York City Marathon, I chose the New York walking challenge. When I opened it up from the menu, I could see a rudimentary map of New York City with a running path from Midtown, up to Central Park, down through Times Square, and down the West Side to Battery Park for a total of 13 miles. There was also a “Enter Data” button with a picture of the Fit Meter. I pressed it, and then I saw my little Mii starting to walk the path, tracing out the 3.9 miles that I’ve logged on my Fit Meter since Friday, with coins blinging all along the way (which since the first Mario Bros game fills me, and no doubt you, with a weird Pavlovian sense of joy). When I got to the first “checkpoint” (Central Park North), I got some encouragement from the Balance Board (“The 3.9 miles that you traveled is about 91 times the length of a jumbo jet!”).

fit meter challenge
There are plenty of other course, including Chicago, Hawaii, Italy, Berlin, Sydney, Tokyo, and London, ranging from 26 miles to 653 miles! This should keep you pretty busy.  Similarly, you can choose altitude challenges; for example, climbing the equivalent of the Statue of Liberty, Mount Fuji, or Mount Everest.

Walking is based on both number of steps and stride, so you’re rewarded for brisk walking. Similarly, altitude is presumably calculated based on altitude changes as you walk, so theoretically you can’t “cheat” by taking an elevator.

If you have exercise goals set up, Wii Fit U will determine from the synced data if you’ve met those goals through your daily activity, and if not, will suggest additional activities within the game for you to complete your goals.

Overall, I’m very pleased so far with the Fit Meter. I’m not a hardcore athlete, but I do run to catch the train most mornings, and many afternoons after work I opt to take the 20 block walk back to the train station rather than taking the subway. I’d been thinking about getting a FitBit or a Nike+ to track my exercise, but those have been prohibitively expensive. I’ve also tried using iPhone apps, but it’s always hard for me to remember to turn them on and off. For me, the Fit Meter seems like a natural and hassle-free way for me to give myself “credit” for the energy I exert through the day–and to provide me plenty of incentive to keep moving.

 

Review of Wii Fit U – Part 2: Main Menu and Updated Exercise Activities

This post is part two of a three-part review of Wii Fit U. Read part 1 and part 3 to learn everything you need to know about Wii Fit U! 🙂

Continuing our review of Wii Fit U, you start off the game in Wii Fit Plaza, where you’ll see a list of all the Miis have have Wii Fit Profiles. You can also create new profiles, play the game as a guest, or play multi-player games (unfortunately, since there’s only one Balance Board, you have to take turns with these games, there’s no way to play them simultaneously nor compete online).

It’s actually kind of a pain in the neck to import another player profile–you need to exit the game, select the other Mii at the opening Wii U menu, go through a number of terms and conditions, and in some cases re-confirm the password and email of each player you want to add. All to satisfy the Nintendo lawyers, I guess.

It took me another 15 minutes, but I got the lovely Wii-sa’s information transferred as well. So in the Wii Fit U Plaza, it was me, Wii-sa, and the fake dog I set up when Wii Fit introduced the ability to weigh pets.

wii fit plaza

 

When you click the Start button, you get to the main menu.

main menu wii fit u

The Main Menu is divided into a couple areas:

1) A series of windows scrolling across the top of the page will allow you to:

  • View a monthly calendar of your progress
  • View graphs of your progress
  • Register or read more about the Fit Meter
  • View an album of “snapshots” taken of your Mii during gameplay
  • View a Notice Board of events that have occured in the game, such as unlocking features, new players being added, and so on.

2) Body Test – this allows you to take (or re-take) the Body Test

3) The Balance Board – when there’s an exclamation point over the Balance Board it means he has a message for you. The little guy is full of interesting tips (you’ll learn all you ever wanted to know about METs, or Metabolic EquivalenTS, for example).

4) User Settings – clicking on your Mii will let you adjust your height, birthdate, calendar stamp design, trainer (creepy male dude or the creepy female dudette from Wii Fit who’s slightly less creepy than she was before), outfit, privacy settings (whether you want pictures taken or a password to be entered to access your profile), and even when the date should change over to the next day (either 12 AM or 3 AM for those who work out after midnight).

5) Fit Meter – you can click on the Fit meter to learn more about it or to register your Fit Meter (and unlock the trial). The Fit Meter on the screen is the lovely green one they’ve been showing in all the promos, but the one I got at the Nintendo Store was black and grey.

6) Training – this is where you can access all the training activities.

When you click on Training, the menu has these options:

1) Select Exercise will let you choose an individual activity to exercise to. For each exercise, you’ll see the number of METs expended, as well as the number of times you’ve done the exercise and whether the Balance Board is required. The categories of activity are the same as in Wii Fit Plus, with addition of the “Dance” category. In this review, I only covered new activities; the older activities are essentially the same as what they were in Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus, although not all of the activities from those games carried over to this one.

a) Yoga (18 activities): here, you basically follow an on-screen trainer and mimic him or her in various yoga activities. These are mostly the same Yoga exercises from the original Wii Fit, including deep breathing, half-moon, warrior, tree, sun salutation, standing knee, palm tree, chair, triangle, downward-facing dog, dance, cobra, bridge, spinal twist, and shoulder stand. In addition, there are three new activities: spine extension, gate, and grounded V.

b) Strength Training (15 activities): As with the original Wii Fit, these exercises are meant for strengthening specific parts of your body. Again, you follow an on-screen trainer and again, these are mostly the same strength training activities from Wii Fit. They include single leg extension, push-up and side plank, torso twists, jackknife, lunge, rowing squat, single-leg twist, sideways leg lift, plank, tricep extension, arm-and-leg lift, and single-arm stand. The three new activities are balance bridge, side lunge, and single-leg reach.

c) Aerobics (15 activities): These are exercises that promote aerobic activity. They include a number of the same games from Wii Fit, including hula hoop, super hula hoop, basic step, advanced step, free step, rhythm boxing, basic run, two-person run, free run, island cycling, and driving range. Most of these games are the same as before, but many have interesting enhancements. For example, on the Hula Hoop, you can now twirl hoops not just with your waist but with your wrists as well with the Wii Remote Plus. On Island Cycling, the graphics are much improved, and as you “bike” you can see a beautiful day turn to a beautiful sunset and then turn into a starry evening, reminiscent of Walk It Out. Many of the activities also have a new “extra” mode that provides an additional level of challenge beyond the original.

In addition, they have a number of new activities.

  • Puzzle Squash – here, you use both the Wii Remote Plus and the Balance Board. You basically have to use the Wii Remote to hit a squash ball, and “walk” on the Balance Board to get your player to move to the right position. It’s a simple concept and fairly easy to master, but also surprisingly addictive.

  • Free Boxing – this uses the Balance Board, the Wii Remote Plus, and either the nunchuk or another Wii Remote Plus. This game is a lot like the Rhythm Boxing game except you’re using both your hands and your feet to punch in certain patterns. Again, this one is a lot more immersive than it might seem on the video.

  • Orienteering – this one is like the basic run, in that you’re travelling through Wii Fit Island. The difference is that you’re not using the Balance Board or the Wii Remote Plus, but you’re holding the GamePad in your hands.  As you walk in place, the GamePad can detect that you’re moving and if you’re turning to the left or right, and your Mii will respond accordingly. It’s a “hide and seek” type game where you’re walking around the island looking for Miis whose photos you see on your GamePad. You need to remember your surroundings and different faces, but you can always ask a random Mii for help too. It’s easy to “cheat” on this one by just shaking your hands and not really walking in place, but of course the greatest satisfaction is when you win the game and know that you’ve gotten exercise in doing so.

  • Rowing Crew – This one uses the Balance Board and a Wii Remote Plus. You can either site on a chair and put your feet on the Balance Board or (as I prefer), sit right on the Balance Board. You then grasp your Wii Remote with both hands, and make a rowing motion by bending your body up and down almost as if you’re doing sit-ups. You need to use the right technique–row to the cadence that your coxswain is setting, match your fellow crew members, and make sure your oar is out of the water when you’re not rowing by rotating the Wii remote the right way. You can see a first-person view on your GamePad and a side view on your TV. This one is hilarious–when you don’t row properly to the rhythm all your fellow rowers in your boat look back at you and give you dirty looks. But once you get the hang of it it feels remarkably authentic–and gives you a great workout.

 

d) Dance (8 activities): I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. The first thing to know is that this is isn’t a clone of Just Dance or Zumba Fitness. Rather, it’s a simplistic but still pretty clever set of rhythm aerobics exercises that actually come close to simulating the basics of actual dance moves. You work out with the Balance Board and two Wii Remote Pluses, and basically have to move your arms and feet to match the trainer. There’s a wide variety of music with unique “moves” that let you work out different parts of your body. Hula music lets you relax, jazzy music helps you work your waist and thighs, hip-hop music lets you work out your thighs, locking let you work out your upper arms, flamenco lets you work out your arms and legs, salsa lets you work out your shoulders and back, and burning beats gives you a calorie burning challenge. The first time you run through the dance the instructor will give you an explanation of the moves, but then after that you can dance all you want.

 

e) Balance Games (18 activities): In every version of Wii Fit, this has always been the section of the game that’s the most fun, and it’s true with this game as well. Returning are old favorites from the original Wii Fit like Soccer Heading, Ski Jump, Table Tilt, Rhythm Kung Fu, Ski Slalom, Perfect 10, Snowball Fight, Obstacle Course, Tilt City, Balance Bubble, Bird’s Eye Bulls-Eye. But they have a number of fun new games as well. As with Wii Fit, there’s a Beginner level an an Advanced level to unlock for each activity. And as with Wii Fit, there’s really not much “exercise value” in a lot of these, but in a lot of ways I don’t think they’re meant to do that–they’re more suited to helping test and build your overall balance.

  • Trampoline Target – This is a fun one that uses the Balance Board where you’re jumping on a trampoline. The only problem is, you still can’t actually jump on the Balance Board, so you have to bend and then extend your legs at the right time, and then when you’re in the air you need to shift your weight to “steer” yourself back over the target in the middle of the trampoline. The more accurate you are with your “jumps” and your targeting, the higher your next jump will be. Like a lot of the others, this activity makes great use of the GamePad by showing you a top-down view on the GamePad and a side view on the TV. This one is a whole lot of fun, and works your legs, hips and overall balance, but it takes a while to get used to not actually jumping (as with earlier versions of Wii Fit, if you do accidentally jump the game clears your progress and resets to the beginning). I give this a 4 out of 5 for fun, and a 4 out of 5 for exercise.

    • Hosedown – This one uses the GamePad and the Balance Board. You hold the GamePad in front of you and point it at the TV. Miis will throw mud balls at you and you have to hose them down with water. You press one foot down on the Balance Board to spray the water, lift your foot off the Board to refill your water tank, and use the GamePad to aim and shoot at specific targets, while the TV has a wide angle view of the scene. I get the sense this one doesn’t really give very much exercise (1 out of 5), but it’s so fun (5 out of 5) it doesn’t really matter.

  • Dessert Course – This game was pure genius. You’re a waiter in a crowded restaurant who has to collect desserts from the chefs situated in the corners of the room and deliver them to people standing and waving you down throughout the room. You hold your GamePad flat like a tray (balancing your desserts on it), walk in place on the Balance Board, and “steer” by rotating your tray like a horizontal steering wheel. You see a first-person view of the room on the TV–and a first-person view of the desserts on your tray on the GamePad (which look delicious)! As you advance in the game, you start getting all kinds of desserts, from jelly rolls and round cream puffs that roll off your tray to jiggling cups of pudding and have to try to deliver them without bumping into your guests. This one is probably a 3 out of 5 for exercise, but easily a 5 out of 5 for fun.

  • Ultimate Obstacle Course – I think back in the day I described the Wii Fit obstacle course as sort of a “3D Super Mario Bros”, and wrote that I wished it could be longer and have more variety. Happily, this game delivers on that. As with the original version of this game, you walk in place on the Balance Board and try to avoid obstacles like giant rolling balls and falling off cliffs. Something new is the ability to “turn” by turning your feet on the Balance Board while walking in place, admittedly something it took me a while to get used to, with with enough practice I finally got it. This one is a 4 out of 5 for exercise (mainly because you’ll be playing it over and over until you get it right, and somewhere between a 2 and a 5 for fun depending on how quickly you master things like “turning in place”. A nice bonus is that your Wii Gamepad displays an overhead map of the course.

  • Core Luge – This is another of those really cool simulations that almost feels like the real thing. You sit on the balance board and just like a real luge-r, you start out on the course by pushing off with your hands to get some speed, and then lean back and navigate the luge course by moving your butt. Exercise value is about a 2 (you really don’t work out your core as much as you’d hope), but fun value is a 4 or a 5.

  • Scuba Search – This is a treasure hunt game that uses the Balance Board and the GamePad where you’re a diver searching for different kinds of fish and treasure. You can see a first-person view on the GamePad, and a map of the entire area on the TV. You basically shift the weight on your legs to make your diver swim, and you can bend and straighten your knees to make him zip forward. This one reminded me a little of Endless Ocean for the Wii. It has a lot of replay value because you’re always wanting to go back and find the fish or the treasure you missed. I give it a 4 or 5 for exercise (again, because of the replay value), and a 4 for fun.

  • Climbing – This is a rock climbing game that uses the Balance Board and two Wii Remote Pluses. You use the Wii remotes to grab towards the rocks (pressing A to grip them), and use walk in place on the Balance Board to climb. Technique and speed are important: you need to grab onto small (red) or medium (blue) rocks with one hand, and large (green) rocks with two hands, keeping your balance the whole time just like in real life. 3 or 4 for exercise value, 4 or 5 for fun.

2) Personal Trainer will let you input a certain goal (for example, calories you’d like to burn in a workout session, amount of exercise time, type of exercise, and activity level), and will put together a custom workout for you pulling together different activities and exercises.

3) Wii Fit U Routines are collections of routines (made up of three specially selected activities each) that are designed to help you work out specific goals, such as easing tension in your shoulders and back, relaxing, trimming your waistline, improving your posture, and even helping with your digestion and circulation.

4) My Routine allows you to put together your own custom workouts based on your favorite activities.

5) Ranking shows you statistics of how many times you’ve played each activity, which activities you’ve played most recently, and the total amount of calories burned and time spent playing each activity.

6) Finally, there’s a Group option that lets you select a group to work out with. You’ll be able to view the group’s statistics and leaderboards as a way to further incentivize you to work out. By the way, if you’re interested in joining the Nutwiisystem Gym Community, you can join Gym Community ID 5291-0085-6502

There are substantial improvements in the Wii U version of the game:

  • For Yoga and Strength Training, unlike with previous versions of the game, you can choose either a male or female trainer. The female trainer has gotten a bit of a makeover–she has a little more color and definition than before doesn’t look at pale and ghostly as she once did. They’re done an amazing job with the trainer’s animation so you can see exactly what the proper form is from any angle. You can use the GamePad or Wii remote’s arrow buttons to get a 360 degree view of the trainer from any angle, and use the 1 and 2 buttons (or X and Y buttons) to zoom in and out to get a close-up view.
  • For Yoga, Strength Training, and Dance, there’s a new feature called “mirror mode” that lets you see an actual video image of yourself next to the trainer. This one is a little tricky to set up–you definitely need a GamePad stand, and you need to put it in just the right place, preferably about 5 or more feet away from you (obviously, you’ll need to do the navigating with a Wii remote instead of the GamePad). Once you get it set up right, you can see a real-time video of yourself next to the Wii Fit U trainer, and you can match his or her moves precisely. The system doesn’t attempt to use video to judge if you’re using the right form, but you can easily eyeball whether you’re doing the moves correctly or not.
  • You can press the “-” button to swap the action between your Wii GamePad and the TV. This way, if you or someone wants to watch TV, you can continue your exercise unabated.
  • After you finish an individual exercise you’ll get a recommendation of which one to do next.
  • As I’ve mentioned the game makes great use of the GamePad to provide a new dimension (literally) to some of the activities.
  • Your “piggy bank” of calories and time expended in the lower right-hand corner has a personality now and will change colors and hop around as you progress in the game.
  • I like how there’s an option to switch players without having to restart the game, for situations at parties or family gatherings where you want to take turns playing. Speaking of taking turns playing, there’s also an option on the main menu to load up certain games where users can compete against each other by taking turns. I would have liked to see them support multiple balance boards for head-to-head action, but it looks like that’s just something they’re going to support.

As for negatives, I have to admit there aren’t many. I do have the same complaint with Wii Fit U that I had with Wii Fit, that most of the activities are so short they don’t really get your heart pumping at an elevated rate at a vigorous or even a moderate intensity zone, but then again if you string enough activities together and do them in a rapid-fire you can certainly get close. My other gripe is about the GamePad battery–it runs out way too fast, especially when you’re trying to use it as your main screen, so you basically have to keep it plugged in most of the time.

All in all, this gets a solid 5 out of 5 stars from me. It’s that good. It takes all the best things from the original Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus, and adds a lot of extras thanks to the Wii U. Graphics are faster and cleaner. The GamePad isn’t just a gimmick like it is in other games–they did a great job of using it to really enhance the enjoyment of the game. There are enough new activities to make the game feel fresh and new, and yet they kept enough of the old to keep it familiar. And the games are easy to learn, but have great replay value as well, something great for workouts.

Would I go so far as to say that if you don’t have a Wii U, that this game is so good that you should run out and get one?  I’d say if you were on the fence before and are serious about using your video game system for exercise, this game should be enough to push you over.  It has a multitude of innovations, from the Fit Meter to the innovative use of the GamePad, continues Nintendo’s brilliance in designing really fun and cute games with a great sense of humor, and both its games and its system are orders of magnitude cheaper than Sony or Microsoft’s upcoming products.

 

Review of Wii Fit U – Part 1: Downloading, Setup, and Body Test

Wii Fit U is the sequel to Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus, and is playable only on the Wii U. Clearly Nintendo is hoping that they’ll strike lightning again and that at least some of the 42 million people out there who own a Wii Balance Board will not only decide to dust off their old Boards but also join the 3.6 or so million folks who have purchased a Wii U (if you’re on the fence about buying a Wii U, they’ve sweetened the deal for the holidays by lowering the prices of the Deluxe Set by $50 to $300 and bundling either Zelda or Super Mario Bros U).

Now if you haven’t heard yet, there are a few different options for purchase.

  • If you own a Balance Board already and are reading this before January 31, 2014, you’re going to want to download the free trial from Nintendo eShop and then purchase the standalone Fit Meter for $19.99. Once you connect your Fit Meter, the free trial will unlock to the full version of the game, so you’ll have the complete set of what others will be paying $89.99 for.
  • If you own a Balance Board but prefer to own a physical disc with the game, or are reading this after January 31, 2014, you’ll want to purchase the Wii Fit U and Fit Meter bundle for $49.99.
  • If you don’t own a Balance Board, you’ll want to purchase the Wii Fit U + Fit Meter + Wii Balance Board bundle for $89.99.

Being cheap, I of course went for option #1.

My first step was to go to the eShop to download the trial. Since it’s free, you don’t even have to worry about putting a balance in the shop.

– You start by browsing to the eShop from your Wii U Gamepad. Select “Wii Fit U Trial Version”

nintendo e-shop with wii fit u

– You’ll get to a screen where you can read more about Wii Fit U. Click the blue “Download” button to begin.

wii fit u download

You’ll go through a couple more screens. The first screen is called “Confirm Your Purchase” that gives the following information about this product:

Due to the larger size of this title, the download could take some time. Additionally, factors such as the speed of your Internet connection will affect the amount of time it takes to download the game. You may need an external hard drive to download this software. Sold separately. Visit support.nintendo.com for information about storage options.

If you have a Wii U Deluxe, you’re probably okay, but if you have the basic I’d have an external hard drive or Flash drive handy.

Click the blue “Next” button. The screen will then turn white and say “Processing..Please Wait”. Finally, you’ll get to a page called “Thank You” where you can view your receipt. While it may seem like the process is finished, it’s actually only begun. I was confused because the eShop didn’t have anywhere to go to view your download in process, but all you have to do is click the “Home” button on your Wii U Gamepad and select the last icon called “Download Management”.

Now I have a pretty fast FIOS connection, but even my download time took about 40 minutes (the estimated time was way off).

download wii-ft-u

While I waited for the download to finish, I decided to get the rest of my equipment ready. I dusted off the old Balance Board and put fresh batteries in. Then, I put fresh batteries in the Wii Remote. Then, I waited…and waited…and waited. I wasn’t too upset, because I figured it was confirmation that yes, I really would get the complete game unlocked once I use my Wii Fit Meter (more on that the next post).

The download finished, but then it took another 20 minutes to install! Total time to get this thing into my Wii U:  1 hour.

When I went back to the home screen, after a delay with the annoying “Preparing…” screen, I finally saw it: the Wii Fit U icon!

wii fit u icon

The Wii Fit U opening screen starts with the familiar logo and music. A message reminds you that you can use this trial version for 31 days. Another screen will remind you that you need a Wii Balance Board to play the game, and then yet another screen will tell you to register a Fit Meter to continue using this version after the 30 day trial expires.

If you have a lot of saved data from Wii Fit that you want to transfer from your old Wii to your Wii U, you’ll need to go through the process of transferring data from your Wii to your Wii U, another long and rather painful process.

Assuming you’ve done this, another screen shows up saying “Wii Fit Plus data will be transferred, and Wii Fit U save data will be created.”  If all goes well, the “Creating Save Data” screen shows up, and then you get confirmation that Wii Fit U shared save data and my save data have been created, and that Wii Fit Plus data has been transferred (as well as any pet data).

On the next screen, it asks me to confirm the right date and time. My clock, for some reason, was off by about an hour, so it made me quit out of the game to adjust the time. I’m not sure why the Wii U can’t just go to the Internet and update the right time for me, but whatever…

When I re-entered the game I was able to see my Mii (and his data) and select it for use.

At long last, I saw our old friend, the Balance Board welcoming me back. Note that my Mii was still in pretty good shape as of the last time I used Wii Fit two years ago.

welcome from the balance board

 

The Balance Board goes on to explain the new features of Wii Fit U. First, he explains there are new training modes that have been designed for the Wii U GamePad. Also, the Wii U GamePad can be used as a personal display, so the TV can be turned off for certain activities, such as the Body Test (no more having the family crowding around looking at your weight).

You then proceed with the Body Test.

You start up the Wii Balance Board and as with the old Wii Fit you’ll be told to turn on the Balance Board with your foot and to stand on it (without fidgeting) until it’s properly set up.

You’re then told of a new feature that allows you to take photos of your face during the Body Test using the GamePad camera. You can choose to turn this feature on or off, but if you turn it on it’ll store the image of your face and you can see how your face changes over time (it’ll be available in the calendar along with your BMI and Center of Gravity). Photos are saved for three months, but the first photo you take each month is saved for five years so it’s a clever way for you to visually keep track of the progression of your weight loss.

You then proceed with the Body Test. You’ll hold the GamePad in your hands throughout the test, but the weight of the GamePad will be subtracted from your results. As with the old Wii Fit body test, you’ll be asked how much your clothes weigh.

As with the old Wii Fit, you’ll then test your Center of Balance by standing on the Balance Board as straight as you can. The difference this time is that you’re holding the GamePad at eye level and also taking a picture of your face. So you have to stand up straight while keeping your face centered on the screen in a frame. As with the original Wii Fit, you’ll then see a plot of how balanced you are when you stand. If you’re off balance, you’ll get advice on how to correct it, which, according to them will help raise your abdominal pressure and improve digestive health.

center of balance

Next you’ll see your BMI (or optionally, your weight). As with the old Wii Fit, you see a colored bar telling you in you’re underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. I’m sad to say that while I was just overweight the last time I played Wii Fit, now I was well back in the obese column. And sure enough, my poor little Mii suddenly changed to have a gut the same size as my real one.

The Body Test continues. There’s the same basic balance test as in Wii Fit where you need to shift your weight to balance both your left and right sides at certain percentages.

basic-balance-test

 

There’s also a new balance test using the Wii U GamePad where you need to do the same balance test, but at the same time follow a moving ball as it floats in front of you.

wii u balance test

Finally, you get your Wii Fit age. Amazingly, mine was at 31, which is much less than my real age. Although notice also that in the course of weighing myself, my poor Wii gained a lot more weight back. Good incentive for me to get back on the saddle.

wii fit age

After all this is done, you “stamp” your progress into the calendar and then proceed to the main menu, which I’ll cover in the next post.