Originally announced alongside the Wii U's launch line-up at industry shindig E3 in June 2012, the Wii U sequel to the Wii's fitness-come-mini-game sensation has flown somewhat under the radar ever since. And by under the radar, we mean it's been absolutely nowhere to be seen. Without so much as a few new screenshots, yet alone any new information or a release date, we were starting to wonder if the game may have simply been scrapped as Nintendo focused on other things - but with their recent Wii Fit U Direct online broadcast (which also appeared without warning), it seems things are back on track - and we'll be getting our hands on sooner than we thought!
If you've played the original on the Wii (and with the game having sold 22 million copies, there's a pretty good chance you have), you'll be pleased to know the Wii U version looks set to stick to a fairly similar pattern - only with a number of upgrades and tweaks to make it all seem fresh. Once again, the aim is still ‘fun fitness’, with a number of routines, yoga, and a selection of not all that obviously fitness oriented mini-games aiming to get you working up a sweat with the Wii Balance Board - essentially a large slab of plastic that can track your weight, and your, well, how you're shifting balance, to translate what you're doing in real life into the game.
Fancy using your Balance Board as a luge and sledding your way down an icy track? How about doing some aerobic workouts disguised as a Flamenco dance routine? Whether you're a hardcore fitness fanatic, or someone who just wants to keep themselves active while having fun, Wii Fit U looks set to appeal to as broad a range of people as possible - not just the fitness fans, like other similar games (we're looking at you, Your Shape).
Possibly the biggest change this time around is the integration of the Wii U's Miiverse. Using Nintendo’s online network you’ll be able to create groups (called ‘Gym Communities’) with your friends, and share your progress and tips with them. Letting you keep track of the calories your friends are burning, and encouraging that all important competition, this kind of connectivity is perfect for a title like Wii Fit U, and we can see it becoming very popular as a result.
However, when it comes to actually buying Wii Fit, things aren't quite as straightforward as you might expect. And here’s where things get ever so slightly complicated. In an attempt to cover all bases, Nintendo is offering a number of ways for prospective fitness fanatics to get in on the action, so you can choose whichever way suits you best. Deep breath…
- Between November 1stand January 31st, you can download a free 31-day trial of the full Wii Fit U software from the Wii U eShop. Using your existing Wii Balance Board (if you have one), you can then try out all the features of the new game free of charge. If you decide you want to keep the software, all you need to purchase is the Fit Meter, which will be available separately in shops. Once the Fit Meter is synchronised with the Wii U, the time restriction on the software will be lifted and you can keep Wii Fit U forever.
- If you have a Balance Board but don’t want to take advantage of the free trial, Wii Fit U will be available as a paid download from the eShop in February 2014 or as a packaged disc from December 6th.
- If you don’t already have a Balance Board tucked away somewhere you’ll need to pick up the Wii Fit U bundle containing the game on a disc, Balance Board and Fit Meter.
As of yet, there's no word on the pricing for the Fit Meter on its own, but Game have Wii Fit U on its own down at a provisional £49.99, while the balance board and game bundle is up at £90. As these do just seem to be place holder prices, we'll keep you updated as soon as we hear more!
Wii Street U update
Perhaps as a sneaky way to get balance boards back in use ahead of Wii Fit U's release, one of the Wii U's more unusual apps has been updated to take advantage of the peripheral. Wii Street U, Nintendo's version of a maps application (using data from Google Maps) can now utilise the balance board - after all who wants to move through Google Maps street view just using boring old buttons(!)? Now you can use the balance board to walk on the spot in order to move through whichever environment you're currently viewing, and turn corners by shifting your weight on the board. Frankly we're a bit baffled by this one, as we can't honestly see that many people using this - just as we don't think people generally race to their Wii U to use Google Maps. Still, if it serves to remind people to put new batteries in their balance boards ready for Wii Fit U, then we suppose it's done its job. The free update to enable Balance Board compatibility is available now, so why not give it a try?