Easily the most complete, balanced Wii Fit game to date.
When I’ve talked to people about Wii Fit in the past, I’ve always had to clarify its purpose. While the original and its sequel did feature some amount of aerobic and strength training exercises, Wii Fit was better as a companion to your workout than the only source. It excelled in holding you responsible for your actions because of its excellent ability to track your progress day-to-day. Well, with Wii Fit U, that distinction becomes blurred and, for the first time in the series, it’s actually feasible to get a great daily workout that burns plenty of calories.
Wii Fit U achieves this is in a few ways, starting with the new Dance Mode and Balance Games. While previous Wii Fit games had very few aerobic exercises, save for jogging in place or hula hooping, Fit U’s Dance Mode features eight different dance styles with increasingly difficult routines. Hip hop, flamenco, jazz, locking-- each presents you with vastly different styles of dance. Shuffling your feet on and off the Balance Board while waving two Wii Remotes around in rhythm to the music is a surprisingly great way to break a sweat, and one of the highest calorie burning workouts in Wii Fit U. More than that, it’s actually pretty fun to get up and dance around like an idiot.
The new Balance Games, which can be played in multiplayer modes, are cleverly designed to discreetly work different parts of your body while you play. Hosedown, for example, has you use the GamePad as a hose, moving it around in real space to spray incoming Miis who are covered in mud. You stand with one foot on the Balance Board and one behind you, applying pressure to the Board to shoot streams of water, effectively having to do a lunge each time without even realizing it. Trampoline Target, meanwhile, requires you to squat down low on the Balance Board before quickly standing up straight to bounce higher and higher on a trampoline.
The best and most impactful Balance Game has to be Core Luge, though. Sitting on the Balance Board, you hold on to the sides and lift your feet into the air. As your Mii navigates the luge track, you must shift your weight left and right to steer, strictly working your abs. Even after just a few rounds of Core Luge, I could feel my abs beginning to grow sore. I didn’t expect such effective results from a mode I considered to be strictly for fun multiplayer bouts.
Apart from the new Dance and Balance Games, most of Wii Fit U’s exercise content is pulled from previous games in the series. Side planks, downward facing dogs, lunges, rowing squats, it’s all pretty familiar for Wii Fit enthusiasts. One problem here, though, is that unless you transfer over your Wii Fit data, you are stuck progressing through easier settings before you unlock more reps. I appreciate Wii Fit U’s concern, but I’m quite positive that I can do more than six push-ups and side planks at a time. For those who are already in pretty good shape and don’t have their Wii Fit data to transfer, the need to unlock harder settings is simply boring.
The robust routine system is a welcome addition. Wii Fit U will construct a custom workout routine for you that addresses your criteria. Whether you want to tighten your core, workout at a moderate pace for 20 minutes, or burn off the calories found in a can of soda doing strictly aerobic activities, Wii Fit U will pluck various exercises from each of its different modes to cater to your needs. You can even create your own routine by picking the exercise and number of reps you’d like to do. It’s great to know ahead of time roughly how long a routine is and how many calories it will burn before you start. One downside though is the constant stop-and-go between exercises; after you finish one part of your routine, you typically need to press A a few times to progress to the next one, which slows your heart rate just a bit. I wish Wii Fit U would seamlessly transition from exercise to exercise to keep you moving.
Apart from good new exercises, Wii Fit U features a few new ways to keep you involved and motivated. The Fit U Meter, which is small enough to fit in your pocket if you don’t want to strap it to your belt, tracks your activity and movement outside of the game and allows you to transfer that information into the game. It tracks steps as well as changes in speed and altitude, and is actually able to differentiate between your own physical movement and vehicular transportation, adjusting the amount of calories you are burning. You can even set goals for yourself, such as walking through Chicago or climbing to the top of the Statue of Liberty, that your Fit Meter data is applied to. It’s a fun way to encourage you to use the Fit Meter every day.
Gym Communities are a great way to share your progress with friends. You can create or join a gym of your choice with ease and then post your completion of goals and overall impressions of different exercises. Your weight and BMI are hidden, so you don’t have to be shy if you aren’t quite at the weight you want to be. While Wii Fit has always done a good job of tracking your weight loss through daily body tests (which return virtually unchanged here), this extra, community-driven approach is a fun way to stay involved.
I should mention, too, that while Wii Fit has toyed with Off-TV Play in the past by playing sound effects through the Wii Remote, Wii Fit U truly achieves it. Everything can be done with just the GamePad and Balance Board/Wii Remotes, so you can have something else on TV while you exercise. You can even enable Mirror Mode, which uses the GamePad’s camera to display you while exercising, allowing you to be mindful of your form and adjust if necessary.
Wii Fit U, through thoughtful use of the Wii U’s GamePad and online capabilities and an overall better aerobic experience, easily outshines its predecessors. The new Dance and Balance Games add a better variety of ways to workout, and the customizable routines are a great way to address exactly what you want to work on. While it would be nice if more difficult exercises were readily available from that start and if routines didn’t feature a jerky start-stop-start progression, Wii Fit U remains the best exercise game I’ve ever played.