SAN FRANCISCO--OK, so Nintendo's upcoming Wii Fit might not be an all-in-one solution for transforming you into Brad Pitt (or Angelina Jolie, for that matter), but that's not what the game is supposed to do. We've had the Japanese version of the game in the office for a few weeks now, but today, on the floor of the 2008 Game Developers Conference, we had a chance to check out the European version of the game to get a feel for how the English-language version of the game will work.
Given that we've been able to check out the various exercise games, yoga poses, and balance games that make up the majority of Wii Fit's gameplay, our interest this time around was in seeing how the game keeps track of your fitness regimen as you play it. In much the same way that the Brain Age series tracks your mental acuity over time, so too will Wii Fit measure your physical progress the more you play it. All of this information is saved in a profile that is naturally tied to your Mii.
To benefit from this kind of progress tracking, you first need to establish some baselines for Wii Fit to gauge your development. You'll first enter basic statistics, such as your height and date of birth. Then the game will calculate your body mass index (BMI: a statistical measure of weight scaled to a person's height), center of gravity, and balance capabilities. To do so, all you need to do is stand on the Wii Fit pad and follow the onscreen instructions. Interestingly, after measuring how you stand on the pad, the game will let you know how you carry your weight (we tend to carry our weight toward the rear of our feet, for example), and you'll also be asked to test your balance by shifting your weight from foot to foot.
Once all of this is complete, your Wii Fit age is calculated by the game. Goals are an important part of achieving fitness, and you'll be able to set specific goals in Wii Fit. You can choose to lose a certain amount of weight or achieve a target BMI within a certain amount of time. The game will help you keep track of your progress and even suggest when a goal might be unrealistic.
Once you've got your goals set, you can move on to the actual exercise events, which are organized in four categories: yoga, muscle-building, aerobic, and balance activities. These activities run the gamut from practicing specific yoga poses to playing fun games, such as walking a tightrope or skiing a slalom event. For each minute you spend on a particular exercise, you'll earn credits that will eventually unlock new, more advanced events you can check out. In addition to using frequent body tests to keep extensive records of all the time you spend on various events, Wii Fit will chart your progress on BMI, weight loss, your body age, and so on. You can even enter into the game other exercise activities you take part in away from Wii Fit, which will also count toward your overall progress.
Though there's no doubt that you can work up a sweat practicing your warrior pose in Wii Fit, the game seems best suited as a hub of sorts that keeps track of all your physical activity. Will Wii Fit contribute to slimmer bellies and stronger muscles across the nation? We'll find out when the game is released in the States on May 19.