This summer I am, to quote a popular phrase, fighting the flab and I’m doing pretty well, thanks for asking, losing a stone in around a month. To do this I’ve been cutting back on food and ramping it up at the gym, but sometimes you need that extra push as well and that’s being energetic whilst playing video games which, for all their benefits, aren’t the healthiest of pursuits. You may be running all over battlefields or open worlds or jumping up and clambering onto pipes, but the only thing these actions tone are your thumbs.
Step forward Nintendo Wii Fit many years ago, revolutionising the world of in-house exercise with its range of fun stretches and games designed to get you moving. No matter what you think about the science behind them, every little helps certainly and it’s no bad thing that modern games flex your muscles as much as your mind. With the WiiU’s official offering already on shelves, it’s time to look at a third party offering, and this is where ‘Fit Music For WiiU’ comes into it. And this certainly got me sweating.
Yes, it got my sweating as I had to make sure my Gamepad was charged, and I had batteries in my Wiimotes and in my balance board, and this was after sweating as I saw the estore download was a whopping 10Gb as I feared my ISP might cut me off for hogging all the bandwidth in the name of fitness. But, alas those of you looking for a way of trimming that tummy, ‘Fit Music for WiiU’ is not the solution you are looking for.
Coming in at £24.99 on the estore, you’d be frankly better spending that money on a month’s gym subscription or donating it to an angry relative who can shout motivational tips at you as you run down the street. ‘Fit Music for WiiU’ is about as much fun as losing weight by locking yourself in a cellar and not eating for a month, all the while listening to repetitive synth music that goes on and on and on.
But, for the sake of balance (which is something the game does test-ish) let me take you through the game. ‘Fit Music for WiiU’ is, roughly, an amalgamation of Wii Fit and Just:Dance, if you sucked all the fun out of both games. It’s made of four distinct sections: training; warm up; fit dance and calorie counter, all doing slightly different things. Your interface through this exploration of fitness is a mute female instructor who takes you through the motions in front of a lot of pre-rendered, and very simple, backdrops. Imagine the Just:Dance dancers if the backgrounds were dull, they had the personality of John Major’s pet stick insect and had the creepy look of one of those new interactive people you get at train stations. Shudder.
Before you get to the actual exercise bits you have to set up your profile, and this is where the game first shows signs that it’s not been put together with the greatest amount of love or care. You can pick one of twelve generic faces to represent yourself but there’s no ability to use a Mii, which has been possible on Nintendo games for near-on a decade. You then have to pick your age, height and weight from a list, but you have to guess from the drawings exactly what they’re after, with the age being a particularly obscure silhouette. Of course, only if you’ve checked out the settings menu before this will you know what units the measurements are in. By default they’re in kilograms and centimetres. Because that’s, of course, what we weigh and measure ourselves by in the UK. So, after a quick Google search I got my metric measurements, slapped them in, told the software whether my lifestyle was sedentary, moderate or active (I went with moderate) and how often I exercised, the game telling me I had a BMI of just over 31 and am obese. Thanks for that.
For experimental reasons I switched the default measurements to imperial and then the software went crazy, the numbers switching every time I moved them between metric and imperial, and then I’d become extremely obese. Clearly the bug testers were too busy crying into their sugar free doughnuts at this point to care about technical faults.
Onto the main attractions now and I started with calorie counter, which is not as you might imagine a way of tracking how much food you eat. No, it’s a tedious game that even ‘Brain Training’ would think twice about serving up, as you’re shown twenty pairs of food and have to say which one has the displayed number of calories in 100g of it. You have three lives, you’re working against the clock and it’s boring. Having said that, though, some of it was useful, though it often boiled down to whether you actually know cucumber is healthier than steak.
The warm-up feels equally as pointless for the vast majority of its time. The first three parts are neck exercises in which I had 46 seconds to move my head around in a circular motion which is a great way of losing weight by creating dizziness-induced vomiting; 32 seconds to move my head left and right; and 30 seconds to move my head left and right in a slightly different way. I’m not quite sure how effective this was.
The final section was more useful, three minutes and twenty seconds of stretches in a variety of different poses, done in a very Just:Dance way by mirroring the model on screen, with a beat counter to help you keep track. However, it’s not always very clear what she’s asking, sometimes with her hands behind her and no obvious thing she’s doing, and the penultimate one which asks you to kneels down and point your head backwards so you can no longer see the screen and thus know when to move onto the next move.
Training steps it up a gear and gives you a range of different exercises. Naturally you start on level one with seven easy exercises (it told me I would burn in the region of 63 calories) and each level gives you more exercises and more challenging moves to complete. Split into handy bite size sections, you do feel the burn in these moments, as you do with the final section of warm up, but the moves are again vague and often too quick to follow, especially for beginners, and of course you do have the urge to cheat as well or do it a bit half-heartedly.
The main course is the fit dance section but if you’re expecting a section to rival Just:Dance then you will be disappointed. With only fifteen songs on offer – of which only five are initially unlocked – it’s a poor show to begin with, and they’re all unlicensed generic tracks, like the ones you used to get on Playstation dance mat games after you’d got bored of the Steps, Cameo and Rednex tunes. Each song has a star rating, a BPM and a calorie count. But don’t worry! You can pick one of sixteen static backgrounds. I picked the one that looked like a red padded cell, as that’s how I was feeling by this point.
Your moves are naturally scored here, using the Wiimote in the way shown, but like most of these games it’s rather erratic, and when I was doing well it told me I was OK and when I was tiring and losing interest I was doing it perfect. You can, if you wish, join in with three friends if you have three who have got nothing better to do and they don’t mind being put off coming round to yours for social engagements in the future, but I’m not sure why you would.
I will sum up the game thusly. The graphics are average, the music tedious and the selection of activities bland. The Gamepad is redundant, used as a glorified touch screen remote, and I couldn’t get the balance board to work in any modes outside of the 30-second test to make sure the balance board is working. The song selection is poor and the general presentation of the game is half-hearted and shoddy, and just needs a bit more explanation – perhaps just a little more text or some narration.
I can’t recommend the game either as a fun distraction – as it’s just not fun – or really as a weight loss tool as, though you’ll feel some benefits from the exercises, it’s so tedious you won’t enjoy doing it. I’d suggest saving your money and buying Just:Dance instead as, though it’s not marketed outwardly as a fitness game, you’ll get the same benefits as this but with better music, more music and more fun. With a misleading title, bugs a plenty, a bland presentation, tedious music and a lack of clarity about the benefits of what you’re doing, this is definitely not fit for purpose. 1/10
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Wii U code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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