Nintendo's exercise fad returns in "Wii Fit U," available until Jan. 31 as a free download from the eShop online store (and then available for a price at retail after that). The original "Wii Fit" was a genuine runaway hit for Nintendo's first Wii system, and the company has added a fun range of new activities for this sequel.
If you have played the original "Wii Fit," you'll find all your favorite exercises have returned. The basic strength training, yoga pose and balance games are identical to previous versions, just now upgraded to full HD. Many all-new activities make use of the game's two new hardware additions, the Wii U's signature GamePad controller and the Fit Meter pedometer.
The GamePad's camera lets you see yourself as you exercise, so you can tell if your leg lifts are high enough. In a gym, you might work out in front of a mirror, and this emulates that, although getting the GamePad properly pointed at you might take some tricky interior decorating. It's more fun when the pad adds to the activity itself, like acting as a tray stacked with food that you must balance, or a viewfinder for a 360-degree diving game.
The Fit Meter brings Nintendo into the realm of popular workout tech like the FitBit. Clip the Fit Meter on, and it tracks your steps, altitude and other statistics. The Fit Meter can be synced with "Wii Fit U" to give the game a more complete picture of your entire day's activity.
The odd thing about "Wii Fit U" is that it takes a lot of gear to get through a workout. Unless you craft your own custom workouts _ and naturally, you can _ you will be given activities that switch you from GamePad to Balance Board to Wii Remote, requiring frequent pauses to make sure you have everything close at hand and properly aligned. If you're looking for a serious workout, it's best to create your own "playlist" and avoid the repeated equipment setup instructions.
"Wii Fit U" is available as a free download until the end of January, but only runs for a 31-day trial period. To unlock it and keep it running, you have to buy and sync a $19.99 Fit Meter. However, this assumes you already have an old Wii Balance Board around the house (and probably a Wii Remote or two), as the game will not operate without one. Nintendo is preparing new bundles that pack the game with a Balance Board, but if you already have the equipment from the last "Wii Fit," getting the new version for the price of a pedometer is a fantastic deal. Of course, Nintendo would love it if you bought a Fit Meter for each family member.
When it comes to fitness games, you want to exercise or you don't. "Wii Fit U" has a great selection of activities, even if many are nothing new, and the presentation is simple and charming. Nintendo makes exercise fun, again, but the package is starting to get bulky around the middle.
(This review is based on product supplied by the publisher.)
WII FIT U
Platform: Nintendo Wii U
Released: November 2013
Verdict: You should TRY this game. 3 out of 5 stars