It's pretty fair to say Nintendo changed the game industry in 2008, with the launch of their self-described "best-selling bathroom scales" Wii Fit, causing millions who'd never even though of touching a game console before to pick up a Wii, and experience some Nintendo fun for themselves. Since then, there's been an explosion of fitness games and a raft of imitations – but none of them have sold quite as well as Wii Fit. Around a third of all Wii owners own a Balance Board, and Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus have amassed a whopping 43 million sold – that's more than Mario Kart Wii, and second only to the original Wii Sports game.
As such, it would be silly for Nintendo to ignore such a huge portion of their audience, so a sequel to Wii Fit on their latest console was pretty much inevitable. And rightly so. Out of the many pretenders to its throne, Wii Fit's the only game that's actually managed to make exercise seem fun, particularly with the many daft mini-games included, so it's nice to see Nintendo have another batch up their sleeves.
Unlike other fitness games, which talk you through a po-faced series of
workouts, Wii Fit, and Wii Fit U take a more light hearted approach to
staying healthy, offering a variety of madcap mini-games that are designed
to get you moving and using your muscles without really realising it,
along with a choice of more serious workout options, should you be that
way inclined. At Nintendo's conference last night, their simulated family and pre-recorded couple showed off a few examples of the twenty or so mini-games that'll make up the collection.
First came trampolining, which asked you to bend and straighten your knees at the correct time to launch your Mii as high up in the air as possible - basically, making you do stealth squats - before the camera switched to a top-down view, where you had to lean from side to side to make yourself line up with a red dot in the centre of the trampoline, in order to give yourself the best possible start to your next jump. Next came a game which used the Wii U GamePad as a way to aim your Mii's water gun to wash the mud off a building, followed by a tobogan-y game, where you needed to sit on the balance board, lie back, and lean to go around corners – something which would absolutely kill your abs. There was also a funky little game demonstrated by a Grandma that had you walking in place on the Balance Board, holding the Wii U GamePad out in front of you as a tray carrying cakes – the aim of the game was to deliver as many cakes and puddings as you could in the time limit, whilst being careful not to drop them; something which she did, frequently.
Seeing as the Wii Fit Balance Board was quite pricey the first time round, it's good to see the Wii U will be giving people another way to get some use out of it, rather than forcing everyone to shell out for another, slightly different, board. That's not to say that Wii Fit U won't come with anything exclusve, though, as at the event, Nintendo also showed off the Fit Meter, which looks disturbingly like the PokeWalker that shipped with Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver a year or two ago. Essentially a pedometer what can communicate with the Wii U GamePad via infrared, it lets you upload your daily activities to your Wii Fit U profile in a much easier way than it's predecessor, where you had to type it all in manually, which, in all honesty, we could never be bothered with doing. While nothing's been mentioned about it yet, we can't help wondering if you'll be able to do a similar thing using the 3DS's built in pedometer and the Wii U GamePad, uploading the steps you've done with that too; especially when you consider the 3DS has a so-far-unused infrared transmitter on the back...
That's about all Nintendo announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo for Wii Fit U – although plenty more may come out in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. Hopefully we'll have some sort of release date in the coming weeks too, and whether Wii Fit U will launch at the same time as the console or not. Until then, here's the uber-competitive couple: