Hands-on with Wii Fit U for Wii U

Wii Fit U is the odd, almost personal name for the third installment in Nintendo’s mind-blowingly popular series of fitness-oriented games. It’s also a series in which I happen to own both installments.

However, I do have a confession to make: I haven’t done very well at keeping up with the whole “fit” part of the game for various reasons. But, in the time I’ve played them, there have been several games I’ve enjoyed in both iterations, and five of those types of games are what Nintendo had to show off at their post-E3 event here in Toronto.

First, it’s important to know that just as Wii Fit Plus built on Wii Fit, so too does Wii Fit U build on what came before it. Besides transferring your data from the previous installments, you will also be able to use the Wii Balance Board that came with the preceding versions.

All five of the mini-games available in the demo used the Wii Balance Board in some way, and while one used the Wii Remote in conjunction with it, three others used the new Wii U GamePad to help. This resulted in some interesting new experiences which may not only help one shed some calories, but also give a better idea of what sorts of experiences developers might be able to come up with for the tandem.

The first event I tried was Trampoline Target. It begins with the selected Mii on a trampoline as you step onto the Balance Board, and– without jumping– you extend your legs to lift off, and do so each time your Mii comes back down, allowing you to bounce higher and higher.

What makes this interesting is that the trampoline is fashioned after a bullseye target, and you ideally want to stay in the center. For this, the television screen displays the vertical aspect of your Mii’s jump, while the Wii U GamePad screen displays the horizontal. By using the two together, you can almost simultaneously get a sense of how much higher you want to go, as well as where to lean to keep centered.

One thing I did notice upon reviewing material for this preview, however, is that the rep had me holding the Wii U GamePad in my hands while performing the “jumps” for the game. However, in the video below, it shows the player placing the GamePad down on the floor; considering my performance, I cannot help but think back and wonder if I’d have done better with that sort of placement.

In the end, I’m assuming that the game worked– my legs were definitely feeling the burn.

Trampolines are good and all, but you know what really sounds good on a hot Summer day, such as the one the event took place on? Blasting people with a high-pressure water cannon.

And that’s exactly what the second game, Hosedown, offered. Again using the GamePad in tandem with the Balance Board, this time you are actually supposed to hold the controller, and you don’t stand on the Balance Board. Basically, the Board acts as a foot pump for firing the water cannon, and the GamePad acts as the turret, its screen giving you a first-person aiming perspective of the action depicted in full on the television screen.

Miis appear around a building, ready to throw mud at you, and your objective is to blast as many of them (and their mudballs) as you can without taking hits. Some Miis appear absolutely covered in the stuff, and have to be blasted clean before you can take them out for good.

On the downside, the water pressure gauge isn’t infinite, and the more you use, the longer it takes to refill. Plus, stronger steps exert more pressure, allowing you to shoot further but still costing you. It’s a matter of knowing how much to use and when before you get overwhelmed by muddy Miis.

Next up is the Core Luge. This one is Balance Board-only, as you need to sit down on the board and lean back, tilting side-to side in order to steer. The further back you lean, the faster you go, but the faster you go, the more difficult it is to control.

Truth be told, there’s not much more to say about this one. It’s fun, and more reminiscent of the original Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus standard.

Next we have rowing, which uses the Wii Remote instead of the GamePad, and a new accessory: The Wii Chair!

Okay, so it was actually just a regular chair. The idea is that you sit in the chair with your feet on the Balance Board, and use the Wii Remote as your oar. That’s the idea…

…but not knowing this, I wound up sitting on the Balance Board itself. Either no one knew there was supposed to be a chair involved (as per the picture above), or I was simply far too amusing to be corrected. Whatever the case, my performance tanked (and I’m only now realizing why), and so I’m leaving the jury out on this one, pending further attempts.

The final game on the demo is called Dessert Course. Sometimes I like to hold and carry around pizzas like there’s a tip in it for me, so I thought I’d be pretty good at this. But it turns out my lack of balance means I should probably not quit my day job.

The game is simple enough: You take steps in place on the Balance Board while holding the Wii U GamePad level. Different foods are displayed on the GamePad screen, and some are either taller than they are wide, or round enough to roll right off the “tray” if you aren’t careful. Oh, and walking doesn’t take you to the restaurant’s Mii patrons by itself; you also have to move the GamePad in the direction you wish to go.

It was fun, but judging by my Mii’s expression when the time ran out, he’s probably had to start looking for another job the following morning. Poor guy; I feel bad for him, especially in this job market. Maybe he’ll luck out and score a gig writing about video games…

The Wii Fit U pedometer shown in the video above and the gallery below wasn’t available at the showing, so we didn’t get to see that part in action. Still, despite my (literal) missteps, I’m looking forward to the full release of the game when it hits sometime during the Wii U’s launch window.

And on top of that, since the game can be played without the TV and will even use the pedometer to keep track of your activity outside the game, I might be able to use it more often to help shed a few pounds (and maybe more frequently still if they offer a downloadable version). And even if that’s not what you’re interested in, the arcade-style mini-games the disc contains still offer a fun time.

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David Oxford

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you're interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.