Wii Fit U breaks up a sweat this November

Surprise announcement lends a reason to break out the balance board

Wii Fit U breaks up a sweat this November  Everybody Plays
20th September, 2013

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.

Wii Fit U Screenshot

Shift your weight to row the boat - it'll be harder than it sounds!

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.

Wii Fit U Screenshot

The Wii Fit U "Fit Meter"/pedometer.

Beyond the online features, though, one of the more unusual additions to the Wii Fit experience this time around is the ‘Fit Meter’ that allows you to keep track of your activity away from the living room. Essentially a smart pedometer, this little gizmo actually does quite a bit more than just measure how many steps you’ve taken. In fact, it also collects and displays all sorts of data while it’s attached to your waist, including how many calories you’re burning, your calorie target, and even changes in elevation (so it can detect if you’re using stairs or walking uphill for example), along with showing the time and various graphs to give you an idea of how you’re doing at a glance. Once you’re done for the day, you can then transfer all the data that the Fit Meter’s collected wirelessly to the Wii U GamePad via infra-red and add it to your profile. Wii Fit U will then suggest activities designed to help burn off more calories to help you reach your goals. All very clever, but the Fit Meter is an optional extra designed to complement your Wii Fit routine, as it’ll be perfectly possible to use the software without it.

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.

  • Phew.
With its late November/early December release, it seems Nintendo will be positioning this (and the Wii U) to be the perfect New Year's Resolution companion. Stuff yourself with turkey, buy a Wii U to shift the weight - at least, it makes sense to us. It’s worth pointing out, though, that the downloadable version of Wii Fit U is reasonably large at around 3GB. While that's not a problem for those who bought the Premium Wii U (the black one), those with the Basic model (the white one) won’t actually be able to download the game without an external hard drive (for more about the differences between the two models, read our handy guide). While you'll be able to buy the disc based version and run it on either system, if you're looking to download, you should bear this in mind!

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?
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