Everybody back on the balance board! Wii fit is back and packed with so much additional content that Nintendo had to add a Plus to the end of the title.
Wii Fit Plus is an enhanced version of the game that saw people who normally wouldn't be caught dead in a video game store flocking to them in droves. Along with all of the original game's content, Plus adds 15 new balance board activities, strength training and yoga, a calorie counter, workout planning, and the ability to make profiles for your pets. Add in streamlined navigation and Nintendo has a recipe for further success on their hands.
Right, assembled video game critics?
Basically, your mileage with Wii Fit Plus will vary depending on how you reacted to the first. If you already have and enjoy Wii Fit, this is kind of a no-brainer, as the additional games are well worth the $20 price tag for just the disc. If you tried Wii Fit, but found it lacking as an exercise program, you might want to check this one out as it is a little more focused, and you've already got the Balance Board. On the other hand, if you never bought Wii Fit, well, this is the game that will now come bundled with the Balance Board, so you don't even have to worry about the first game. Oh, and it should go without saying that if you really hated Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus is probably not going to change your mind.
The body test has been modified to include one standard fitness test, and another that taxes your brain alongside your bulk, so that your Wii Fit Age represents your mind and body, instead of just the latter. There are three additional yoga and strength exercises each, and all of them are among the most strenuous activities in the game. Can you make your body into a V shape while sitting on the balance board or lay your body completely flat two feet above the ground while supporting your body with only one foot? Wii Fit Plus will test your body a lot more than the original did.
One of my favorite enhancements in Plus is its calorie counter. Every action in the game has been assigned a metabolic equivalent of task (or METS) number. A lot of the mini-games feature METS ratings of 2, which isn't much — about the same as going for the easiest walk you've ever taken, but some, like push-ups, rate higher. In Plus, calories are counted by multiplying your weight times your METS. And after every exercise, whether yoga, aerobics or strength, and after every balance board game, you'll see the calories you've burned, which is both encouraging and discouraging; the former because you can visualize some scientific representation of your workouts and discouraging because the calories don't usually come off in triple or double digits, but single.
Not only will you receive the previous balance games, but also 15 new Training Plus activities designed to put some fun into working out. Rhythm Kung-Fu, one of our favorites, incorporates the remote, nunchuk and balance board, as players punch and kick with the beat. Meanwhile, Obstacle Course plays like Super Mario Bros., with gamers jumping over logs and dodging objects, except they physically perform those actions with the balance board. We're also fans of Bird's-Eye Bull's-Eye, a game where players flap their arms to control a Mii dressed as a bird, the goal to land on targets and score the most points.
Wii Fit Plus is a better product, but keep in mind that it's not a sequel. Like the second edition of a book, it looks and feels exactly the same as before, but the additions effectively make the previous version obsolete. And it's $20 by itself, which helps even more if you still have a Balance Board lying around. Still, things have changed in the year since the first Wii Fit, with multiple exercise games that just keep coming, and are more targeted at people who want nothing but to lose weight. Games like EA Sports Active are made by Americans and likely with Americans in mind, whereas Wii Fit Plus tries to go for a culturally-neutral — though still Japanese-leaning — approach, where traditional ideas of exercise seemingly clash with the practical (not that flapping away like a chicken to land on targets isn't appealing). In short, there still isn't much more focus or guidance in Wii Fit Plus, but the ease of use and greater number of enjoyable, not so "exercisey" games within, make it worth it.
Nintendo has been very careful to call Wii Fit a fitness "tool" not a fitness "solution" for obvious legal reasons. Neither Wii Fit nor its successor, Wii Fit Plus, will magically make you thinner or more easily able to resist tasty food. However, there's a lot to be said for a game that makes the very idea of fitness fun. It takes your mind off the anxieties about health we have in this country and reshapes your expectations of your body to something more positive than "Will I fit in my skinny jeans tonight?" With the multiplayer element and new games that Wii Fit Plus adds to the experience, I have to say, I've been converted from a skeptic to a believer. A believer with a 14 pound cat and a high score on the Obstacle Course.