Shortly after forming Untold Entertainment Inc, i bowed out of my role as a Canadian video game journhalist, forfeiting perhaps the only benefit of the job: playing hot new titles before anyone else. That decision had me standing in line this morning at the Bay + Dundas SuprPrice in Toronto with the chubby, unwashed masses, hoping for my chance to pick up Nintendo’s hot new game, Wii Fit.
i dunno … those green letters are looking a little “generously kerned”, if you know what i mean …
Wii Fit, which ships with the startlingly heavy Wii Balance Board, did big numbers in Europe. i reasoned that since Canadians were basically Europeans with less armpit hair, i’d better hustle down to SuprPrice on Day One.
SuprPrice shuffled the customers in their line-up by weight, reasoning that their heaviest customers were likely in dire need of the product. An overweight or obese person is more prone to heart disease and diabetes, which may shorten his lifespan. And dead people don’t buy DVDs. So there we were, fatties at the front, enduring the hours-long line-up.
The folks in the middle of the line were actually the best-placed people, because after the first hour of waiting while the SuprPrice sales associates tried to upsell customers on SuprPrice Points Cards and Extended Warranties, many of the morbidly obese people at the front of the line started dropping out, unable to stand unaided for more than a few minutes. Many of them were carted away on flatbed dollies, draped over empty HDTV boxes. The only exception was one gentleman, who had been transported to the store on a flatbed truck, having been carefully extracted from his home after his living room wall was knocked out with a wrecking ball. The SuprPrice people eschewed the store’s 1-per-customer rule for him, actually requiring him to purchase two balance boards – one for each huge, hammy foot – in order to guarantee the manufacturer’s 1-year warranty.
When i finally reached the front of the line and puchased my copy, i was quite dismayed at the sheer weight of the product. Feeling like a sack of potatoes, the Wii Ballance Board strained the flimsy plastic bag handles and threatened to pull my stick-like arms out of their sockets. Expecting me, a feeble video game designer with a physique like Gollum’s, to carry this product home was like asking someone to run a marathon before he can purchase a treadmill, or to win a weiner-eating contest before he can order dinner. In fact, i would much rather that SuprPrice had me win a weiner-eating contest with a free cab chit as first prize so that i could make it home safely with my technological plunder.
Cuddly Nintendo mascot Shigeru Miyamoto holds a styrofoam replica of the Wii Balance Board – the actual product, if held aloft, would crush an average man’s spine.
The First Five Minutes
By the time i’d lugged Wii Fit home, i was a little tuckered out, so i plopped down on the couch with a chocolate milkshake and some microwavable Kraft Dinner + mayonnaise to get my strength back. After that, i felt a little sleepy, so i channel-surfed for a few hours before opening the Wii Fit box. And finally, the morning spent recuperating, i hooked up the game.
One of the keys to good game design is your reward system. A good game constantly rewards the player. It’s especially important to reward the player early in the experience; this is why many XBox 360 games unlock an achievement within the first five minutes of play. Wii Fit is no different: within the first five minutes of playing the game, i was informed that i had already lost four pounds. Bonus!
While creating my Wii Fit character, i rolled a 17 for upper body strength, which hardly reflects my actual physique, but i wasn’t about to tell the game that. i usually play wizards or mages with extremely high intelligence, but i chose the Athlete class this time, because i thought it might give me a Wii Fit advantage.
The most surprising thing about Wii Fit’s gameplay modes was Deathmatch, where you have to exercise the hardest in order to murder other players. i was doing alright on the treadmills, until MarioLover99 got his heartrate up over 170, and my Mii’s head exploded. i spawned on an exercise mat not too far away, and did a figure-4 hamstring stretch right through his chest. It was awesome. Surprisingly violent for a Nintendo offering, but i suppose you have to hook players any way you can.
In addition to helping you get in shape, Wii Fit also makes suggestions about what you should be eating in order to attain a trim figure. i find this feature a little suspect, though – my first few times through the game, the Diet Guide kept popping up this ad:
i’m looking forward to making Wii Fit a lifestyle choice. The game tells me that if i stomp on 400 virtual Goombas a day, my appearance will be upgraded from “universally repellant” to “potentially sexy, given the right lighting conditions” by September 2009.