Wii Fit European box art
|Developer(s)||Nintendo EAD Group No. 5|
|Engine||Wii Sports (modified)|
|Distribution||Wii Optical Disc|
Wii Fit (Wiiフィット Wī Fitto ) is a video game developed by Nintendo for the company's home video game console, Wii, designed by Hiroshi Matsunaga. It is an exercise game consisting of activities using the Wii Balance Board peripheral. Wii Fit is currently the third best selling console game in history (among games not packaged with a console) with 22.67 million copies sold as of March 2012.
The game uses a unique platform peripheral called the Wii Balance Board, on which the player stands during exercise. The game features yoga, strength training, aerobics, and balance games. Matsunaga described the game as a "way to help get families exercising together". Wii Fit has been used for physiotherapy rehabilitation and has been adopted by various health clubs around the world. Additionally, the game has been used in nursing homes to improve posture in the elderly. The game has received generally positive reviews, despite criticism over the lack of intensity in some of its workout activities.
Wii Fit requires the use of the Wii Balance Board, a unique platform peripheral that the player stands upon during play. Similar to a bathroom scale, the Wii Balance Board is capable of measuring a person's weight, but is also able to detect the person's center of balance (COB), a feature heavily utilized in the game. Wii Fit contains more than 40 activities designed to engage the player in physical exercise, which consist of yoga poses, strength training, aerobics, and balance games. Most activities generally focus on maintaining COB and improving posture.
Players register and play in Wii Fit via a user profile, assigned with the player's date of birth, height, and Mii character, that keeps track of the player's progress. Physical activities done outside of Wii Fit can be also be logged into the profile. Wii Fit allows up to eight different profiles to be registered.
Yoga and strength training
The yoga and strength training activities in Wii Fit provide the player with an on-screen personal trainer, who offers direction and evaluation. While standing or otherwise leaning on the Wii Balance Board, the player is instructed to perform the activity by precisely imitating the trainer's actions. In yoga, the player holds a particular pose or series of poses for a duration of time; while in strength training the player performs a set number of repetitions of the exercise selected. During these sessions, the player is shown a visual indication of his or her COB, represented as a red dot. The trainer advises the player to maintain the COB throughout the activity, requesting that it not move outside a particular threshold (usually indicated as a yellow circle). When the activity ends, the player is scored based on how well the player kept his or her balance during the session: points are deducted if the player's body haphazardly swayed or shook at any point. There are 30 yoga and strength training activities included in Wii Fit.
|Deep Breathing||Single Leg Extension|
|Half-Moon||Push-Up and Side Plank|
|Standing Knee||Rowing Squat|
|Palm Tree||Single Leg Twist|
|Chair||Sideways Leg Lift|
|Downward Facing Dog||Triceps Extension|
|Dance||Arm and Leg Lift|
|Spinal Twist||Jackknife Challenge|
|Shoulder Stand||Plank Challenge|
Aerobics and balance games
The other two major categories in Wii Fit, Aerobics and Balance Games, consist of 18 minigame activities that feature Miis as playable characters. Aerobics focus on activities that require more vigorous movement, and are divided into three distinct types: hula hooping, step aerobics, and jogging. In Hula Hoop, the player twirls his or her hips in order to spin a series of hoops, and is scored on the number of spins achieved within a period of time. Step aerobics (simply referred to as "Step" in-game) focus on stepping on and off the Wii Balance Board in a rhythmic fashion. In jogging, which does not use the Wii Balance Board, the player runs in place while keeping the connected Wii Remote in his or her pocket, which acts as a pseudo-pedometer. The game provides variations of step aerobics and jogging (called "Free Step" and "Free Run" respectively) where the user may exercise at his or her own pace and does not require viewing the game screen; the player is able to watch television or something similar while performing the exercise.
Balance Games consist of nine activities that focus on directly controlling the game using the player's COB. "Soccer Heading," for example, focuses on leaning left or right to control the player's Mii in order to head incoming soccer balls. Another, "Table Tilt," focuses on directing balls into holes by shifting the player's balance to tilt the platform they rest on. Activities based on slalom skiing, snowboarding, and tightrope walking are also available, as well as a Zazen-based game (called "Lotus Focus") in which the player sits on the Wii Balance Board and remains motionless for a period of time.
|Hula Hoop||Soccer Heading|
|Basic Step||Ski Slalom|
|Basic Run||Ski Jump|
|Super Hula Hoop||Table Tilt|
|Advanced Step||Tightrope Walk|
|2-P Run||Balance Bubble|
|Rhythm Boxing||Penguin Slide|
|Free Step||Snowboard Slalom|
|Free Run||Lotus Focus|
Players may undergo "Body Tests," in which the player's body mass index (BMI) is calculated and balance control is tested. Each Body Test determines and updates the player's "Wii Fit Age", which loosely suggests the player's physical strength in relation to his or her true age. A standalone application, called "Wii Fit Channel," may be installed to the Wii Menu in order for players to perform Body Tests without needing to load the Wii Fit game disc.
Wii Fit was first revealed as Wii Health Pack by Nintendo's chief game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, during a conference in mid-September 2006. Then described as a "way to help get families exercising together", the game idea had first been included in Miyamoto's original design document for a core group of games including Wii Sports and Wii Play, the entirety of which was scribbled onto a sheet of paper.
As with other games designed by Miyamoto such as Nintendogs, the design of Wii Fit was influenced by activities in his daily life. He states that he and his family had become more health-conscious, going to the gym and tracking their weight. He found that it had become "fun over time to talk about these things", and as weighing oneself "didn't make much of a game", Nintendo decided to build games around the idea to mesh with the concept. The Wii Balance Board had been worked on for "almost two years", and was inspired by sumo wrestlers' need to weigh themselves with two scales.
The game was announced under its current title at Nintendo's E3 press conference on July 11, 2007 and demonstrated by Miyamoto, Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime and other participants. Miyamoto revealed that Wii Fit had been developed with a "full-scale" team for a year at the time, and also stated that there were no plans to integrate WiiConnect24 functionality into the game. He did note, however, the possibility for taking advantage of WiiConnect24 in the future, such as using the service to keep in contact with a doctor to help with rehabilitation, or with a fitness specialist to help with training exercises.
A follow-up to Wii Fit, entitled Wii Fit Plus, was confirmed by Japanese newspaper Nikkei Shimbun. It was released in Japan on October 1, 2009 and in North America on October 4, 2009. Wii Fit Plus includes approximately 20 new games while still using the same Balance Board and other video game equipment.
Appearances in other games
The Wii Fit Trainer has been confirmed to be a playable character in the next installment of the Super Smash Bros. franchise, fighting in a style strongly influenced by the Yoga and Strength Training exercises as well as the Aerobics and Balance Games.
Wii Fit was well received by video game critics. It currently holds an 81.18% score on Game Rankings, aggregated from the scores of 57 media outlets, and got an average score of 81 on MobyGames. While the playful balance and aerobics minigames have generally been praised as simple fun, criticism for the game is aimed at its limitations in offering a serious workout regime. In 1UP.com's review, one such limitation was attributed to the lack of structure the game imposes on the player, stating that while having "complete freedom to choose what you want to do, you might find yourself cheating, despite your best intentions." X-Play also noted that the brief activities are separated by menus, making it difficult for one to keep up a constant heart rate, with Game Revolution criticizing a serious limitation: "as a stand-alone fitness trainer it suffers greatly by the inability to assemble a full, unbroken workout without the horrible 'fitness interruptus' necessitated by bothersome menu navigation and obtrusive Wii remote usage." Some have also pointed out a lack of Nintendo's usual charm in game design, specifically in the yoga and strength training exercises which take place in a muted setting that one critic referred to as "the world's most lifeless, depressing gym." Despite these limitations, the game's friendly front-end and amount of activities are cited as appealing features to those who are perhaps seeking an introduction to daily exercise. In a review on IGN, Wii Fit was said to create "an environment in which working out is less daunting and as a result enjoyable – fun, even."
According to a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, the aerobics portion of Wii Fit was not sufficient to maintain a heart rate of the recommended intensity (known in sports physiology as a target heart rate) for maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness.
A study published by Tokyo's National Institute of Health and Nutrition concluded that only 33% of the exercises (22 of a total of 68) qualified as medium-intensity, with the rest as low-intensity. No exercises qualified as high-intensity. The researchers concluded that only one-third of the exercises qualify towards the exercise guidelines provided by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA), and that the exercises offered less benefits "than authentic sports or exercises because playing these active video games involved little horizontal locomotion." However, to reach 30 minutes of moderate activity (5 times a week) as suggested by the ACSM, significantly more time is required, due to the repeated manual navigations of the menus required between each exercise and the inability to program customized exercise routines, repetitions, or time limits (or even personalized intensities—the "trainer" will never modify the speed based on the user's fitness level).
Wii Fit was awarded Best Use of the Balance Board by IGN in its 2008 video game awards. It was also nominated for multiple other awards, including Best New IP and Best Sports Game. Hyper commends the game for its "effective exercise program, its accessibility and its massive novelty value". However, he criticised it for not being a "gamer's game and no good for long sessions".
Cycling Weekly reported that Mark Cavendish, a double Madison World Champion and Commonwealth Games gold medalist bike racer had to stop his training regime when he injured his left calf's gastrocnemius after falling off the balance board while playing Wii Fit.
There was minor controversy regarding Wii Fit in the UK, where two parents complained after the known limitations of BMI led to their daughter being labeled as overweight. Nintendo apologized over any offense caused by the terminology used in-game.
Wii Fit sold over a quarter of a million copies in its first week, and despite not being released outside Japan, Wii Fit reached the one million unit sales milestone by January 6, 2008, after being released on December 1, 2007. As of January 4, 2009, it has sold 3,125,000 copies in Japan. It is also the third best-selling game of Japan in 2008, as well as the best-selling Wii game in Japan of that year, selling 2,149,131 in that year.
Prior to release, consumer reaction was also positive in the United Kingdom, with some retailers having to stop taking pre-orders due to its increasing popularity. Reports in the United Kingdom state that the Wii Fit launch had seen lines form nationwide. Retailer Woolworths claimed that the game was also selling at a rate of 90 copies per minute. Nintendo UK has stated it is working hard to ensure that enough stock is available. In its first week of release, Wii Fit was the best-selling video game in the week, topping the all-format chart. Despite the game being sold at a higher price than average (£70, compared to an average of £35–40) it became the UK's sixth fastest selling console title according to Chart-Track/ELSPA and garnered over £16 million in sales. During the week beginning the May 19, 2008, Wii Fit's sales in the UK fell from second in the all-formats chart to dropping out of the top 40 altogether, believed to be caused by Wii Fit being completely sold out. Subsequently, Nintendo UK promised to rectify the stock problems plaguing Wii Fit and vowed "We will end Wii Fit stock shortage".
In the United States, pre-launch sales of Wii Fit were reported to have sold out at retailers Amazon.com, GameStop and Wal-Mart. After the initial release, reports showed stores selling out of Wii Fit nationwide. Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, estimated that Nintendo shipped only 500,000 copies of the game in North America as opposed to as many as two million units to Europe. According to Pachter, the Wii Fit units were allocated by Nintendo to maximize profit, by prioritizing Europe over North America, taking advantage of the strong value of the euro compared to the US$. According to the NPD Group, Wii Fit sold 690,000 units in the US in May 2008, making it the country's third highest selling title for the month. Wii Fit debuted in the United States at a suggested retail price of $89.99 for the base system unbundled with other accessories. As with the Wii console itself, the demand for Wii Fit has far outstripped the supply. The perceived shortage has created a secondary market for private sellers to purchase Wii Fit at retail outlets and sell the product for inflated prices. In June 2008, Wii Fit was reported to be selling at an average of $175 per unit on Amazon.com and EBay.
According to the NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track, and Enterbrain, the game has sold 1.433 million copies in the United States, 624,000 in the United Kingdom, and 1.547 million in Japan, respectively, for a total of 3.604 million copies sold from January to July 2008. As of March 31, 2009, Nintendo has sold 18.22 million copies of Wii Fit worldwide. According to the NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track, and Enterbrain, the game has sold 1.283 million copies in the United States, 460,000 in the United Kingdom, and 346,000 in Japan, respectively, for a total of 2.089 million copies sold in the third quarter of 2008 (July–September). Wii Fit was the third best-selling game of December 2008 in the United States, selling in excess of 999,000 copies. It was also the third best-selling game of 2008 in the United States, selling in excess of 4.53 million.
Within 18 months by June 2009, the game helped health games generate revenues of $2 billion, most of which was grossed by Wii Fit's 18.22 million sales at the time. As of March 2012, the game has sold 22.67 million copies worldwide, and is 6th on the best-selling Wii games list.
Wii Fit has also been used for the treatment of balance problems in the elderly. In a study, an 86 year old woman was unable to walk without close supervision, even with a walker, due to poor balance and a tendency to fall, after a stroke. She participated in four training sessions along with physical therapy. She was tested on the outcome measures of Berg Balance Scale (BBS), the Functional Reach and Lateral Reach tests, Timed Up & Go test (TUG), computerized posturography, and the Short Feedback Questionnaire (SFQ). This was done before the first training session and after the last one. From the results and her own feedback, she had improved antero-posterior symmetry of stance. "When released from hospital, she was able to walk with a walker with minimal supervision."
In summer 2009, Finnish Defence Forces support organisation invested in 384 Wii consoles (including Wii Sports and Wii Fit) for military bases around the country, in order to inspire soldiers to exercise more in their free time. The feedback from the conscripts and officers has been positive.
Some nursing homes use Wii Fit as a way to engage in gentle exercise. The system is used to give the residents a yoga workout along with flexibility and balance exercises. The game allows for those who are unable to perform rigorous daily exercise to still increase their heart rate and improve their overall health. Depending on their level of mobility, some can perform the exercises while standing, while others may remain seated.
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