I’ve had a chance to spend some time with Wii Fit Plus. Before diving in, let me just give a little background on the core game, Wii Fit.
Last year Nintendo launched Wii Fit bundled with the balance board peripheral, kicking off a wave of exer-games that had gamers and grannies alike stepping, leaning, squatting, and hopping their way to fitness bliss. While you can find plenty of Wii Fit knock-offs at the store these days, the original is still considered by many to be the best.
However Wii Fit got its share of legitimate criticism. Its quirky approach emphasizes “awareness of your body” over the sort of exercises that most would consider essential to a basic workout. Wii Fit focuses on posture, balance, and breathing rather than breaking a sweat and going for the burn. It makes no attempt to provide a structured exercise plan, or nutritional suggestions. And it tracks your progress using a bizarre unit of measure known as your Wii Fit Age, which heaps its highest praise on those who can stand completely motionless.
As the name suggests, Wii Fit Plus is not a sequel. It’s an expansion. Expansion packs have been around on PC games forever. Likewise, Xbox 360 and PS3 games are often extended with downloadable content. But on the Wii, this sort of thing is unusual.
Wii Fit Plus includes all the balance games and exercises from the original and adds some new balance tests, 15 new minigames, 3 new strength exercises, and 3 new yoga poses.
More importantly, it adds “My Wii Fit Plus”, a mode where you can play through preset sequences of themed exercises, or roll your own routine. The preset sequences retain the game’s quirky charm. There are exercises for people who recently overate, have trouble sleeping, and even for those who struggle to stand completely motionless.
The expansion puts a greater emphasis on calories, using the difficulty of the activity and your weight to estimate calories burned. You can also see the real food equivalent of the number of calories that you’ve burned, or would like to burn. For instance, you can tell the game that you’d like to burn the equivalent of a piece of fried chicken, or you can look at the exercises that you’ve done so far and realize it only amounts to a single slice of cucumber.
The progress graph now includes a place to track your waistline, and the number of steps you’ve taken that day (pedometer not included). The game won’t ask you for this information, you have to be proactive about entering it yourself.
There is now a mode for weighing babies and animals. And why not? It wouldn’t be Wii Fit without a few non sequiturs.
And there are also new multiplayer modes, which I haven’t tried yet.
Best of all the transition from Wii Fit to Wii Fit Plus is seamless. When you first start up Wii Fit Plus it will read your save file from Wii Fit and import it automatically. You don’t lose any progress in the transition, and you don’t have to worry about any games being locked when you jump into Plus.
Speaking of games, I have yet to play all 15 of the new games, but those that I have tried have been a lot more entertaining than the original Wii Fit balance games. It feels like the developers had a stronger grasp of the weight sensing technology, and they’ve put that experience to good use in some genuinely entertaining minigames.
Nintendo priced Wii Fit Plus at $20.00, and that feels about right. It is a robust upgrade that refines the functionality of the core game and addresses many of its greatest weaknesses, and also offers some great new content.
Have you tried Wii Fit Plus yet? Do you feel it was worth the price to upgrade? Have you put together any custom routines?