The Big N addresses the biggest gripes about Wii Fit, and then makes it even better.

User Rating: 8.5 | Wii Fit Plus WII
I was an early adopter of the original "Wii Fit," and in my 500+ day experience with it, I have found it to be a useful tool in one's fitness bag-of-tricks. Was it engaging? Yes, thanks to fun games, positive reinforcement and a visual indicator of one's progress. Was it perfect? No, because the menu system wasn't designed to provide a rapid-pace, one-exercise-after-another workout plan.

Fortunately, Nintendo has listened to its users and made substantial changes for this year's offering, "Wii Fit Plus." Realizing that a number of users will be upgrading from the original, "Wii Fit Plus" makes it easy to do so. When you first load up "Plus," it will automatically migrate over your "Wii Fit" save file, complete with records, current goals, Miis, etc. Just like the original, you can install a stand-alone channel on the Wii's main menu that will allow users to conduct Body Tests without loading the game disc (this renders the original Wii Fit Channel obsolete, so feel free to delete it after the new one is added).

When you start up the game, the presentation will look very familiar. Most every detail from the original has carried over, complete with the anthropomorphic Balance Board mascot. While upgrading users may feel a bit put off, (a) it's at least familiar, so the learning curve is shallower and (b) be patient ... as the game takes great pride in unveiling the new options each time you navigate around. Therefore, along with your familiar favorites, you'll find some new gadgets to play with.

First up is the new Simple Test, which is basically a short-cut version of the full Body Test. As you may remember, the game offered you the option to end the Body Test after you measured your center-of-gravity and BMI/weight. Now, you can bypass the question altogether.

Also new is an extension of the often-touted "weigh anything" feature. In this year's version, new parents and pet owners can use the Balance Board to keep track of the weight of their infant and animal charges, who each get their own Miis in the Wii Fit Plus Plaza, joining the rest of the family.

Now on to the activities ... the Body Test adds new mental tests to the original five components. One test requires you to use the Wii Remote to pick off numbers in order while maintaining your center of gravity within a specified area, while another has you squat down when a displayed number is greater than adjacent number. The Yoga and Strength menus each get three new exercises. The Aerobics and Balance menus don't add anything new, but not to worry; the new Training Plus menu features 15 new activities, all unlocked and ready to go. Some are enhancements of original games (a new Cycling game is basically the old Running game, using the Balance Board as the "pedals" and the Wii Remote as the handlebars), while others require you to use your head and your hips to win (Tilt City has you using the Wii Remote and your shifting weight on the Balance Board to tilt platforms and sort colored balls into matching buckets).

In answer to the complaints of not having customized workout programs, "Wii Fit Plus" responds with the new My Wii Fit Plus menu, which features a broad array of options. You can select from one of four categories of fitness goals (Lifestyle, Health, Youth and Figure), each of which has three separate sub-goals (for example, one sub-goal under Lifestyle is meant to help you relax and thus get better sleep). Each sub-goal includes a pre-built three-exercise program meant to help the user reach that goal. Goals can be combined, producing more comprehensive workout programs. Users who already have a favorite routine can create that routine in My Wii Fit Plus, or the game can create one for you based on how much time you have to exercise.

Unfortunately, custom routines can only use Yoga and Strength exercises, so users whose routines include some of the Aerobics and Balance games will feel a bit shorted. Oddly, the pre-built programs do include some of these games in them, so why Nintendo didn't enable users to add them manually is even more puzzling.

Just as the original "Wii Fit" relies on the BMI metric, "Wii Fit Plus" adds in METs. Put simply, more strenuous activities have higher MET values. When an activity's MET value is plugged into a complex formula (along with the user's weight and how long the activity lasts), one can get an estimate of how many calories they would burn during the activity. Using this, "Wii Fit Plus" users can now keep track of about how many calories they've burned during their workouts. To add even more information, you can compare your calorie-burning against a table of foods and their calorie values from the USDA (for example, if your workout burns 140 calories, that equals a fruit-filled cereal bar).

Lastly, since the family that exercises together stays together, the new Multiplayer option allows the pre-registered Miis to play some of the Balance and Aerobics games in hot-seat fashion. Previously, users who wanted to challenge one another had to select their Mii, then go through the obligatory chat with the Balance Board, then select the game they wanted to play, then back out so the other user could do exactly the same thing.

Considering how many Balance Boards are already out there, Nintendo has wisely offered a stand-alone package. The price is right for existing users looking to upgrade, and the enhancements offered make it money well-spent. Of course, new users can pick up the Balance Board-equipped deluxe package. All this, combined with the array of third-party BB-enabled fitness games arriving in stores now and in the future, makes the Balance Board an even greater component in one's fitness arsenal.