Video games have always had a bad reputation when it comes to discouraging exercise, however Nintendo is hoping to change all this with the launch of the Wii Fit, a balance board that encourages gamers to get active. But does it? Or is it going to follow the same route as every other fitness gadget in your household, in the cupboard gathering dust? We got a first look at the Wii Fit at Nintendo's Mind, Body and Control event in central London.
The Wii Fit comes in two components: the gaming software and a Wii Balance Board that you stand on. Tested to withstand all gamers regardless of your weight, the idea is that you stand on the board and then interact with the game or exercise task in front of you.
For the gamer there are plenty of Wii Sports style games, however for the fitness fan there is also a series of exercises ranging from Yoga to Circuit training.
The idea of course is that whatever you choose, you get to exercise and play at the same time.
In our brief play we had a go playing football, skiing and yoga excerises while we watched other journalists enjoy hoola hoping and a range of other activities all designed to get you moving and shaking your stuff in front of the TV.
Training falls into four fitness categories: Aerobic Exercise, Muscle Conditioning, Yoga Poses and fun balance games.
Like Wii Sports the games or exercises are quick and linear. Those looking for a home workout can try Yoga, something in our play we found very hard. Following the simple (it was even simple on the Japanese version we played) you follow the computer animated character. Once in position you are then tasked with keeping a red dot centred inside a yellow circle. Sounds easy, but because the system works out where you are standing and what pressure you are putting where, it allows you to perfectly hone your skills.
From here you can then choose to run through a course getting progressively harder as well as the software telling you how to make improvements to your stance.
The Wii Fit also uses the Wii Balance Board for daily tests so you can monitor your weight on a daily basis. These evaluate two measurements; Body Mass Index (BMI) and Wii Fit Age, which looks at a user’s BMI reading, testing the user’s centre of gravity and conducting quick balance tests.
However where we can really see this working is making exercise fun. Skiing for example will see you go down a slope slalom style moving shifting the balance from your right to left foot. Making this a fantastic way of getting into practice for the real thing.
Rather than just the handful of games found on Wii Sports, Nintendo is promising over 40 types of training activity designed to appeal to all members of a household.
Our play might have been brief, but we are already longing for more. If you are a skier looking to get back in shape before you hit the slopes this is going to be great fun and much better than leaning up against a wall to do your exercises.
Like Brain Training or Wii Sports, this is going to be a cracking addition to the console. It might be been done before with snowboarding devices in the past, but the Balance board is more approachable and not as dangerous - it doesn't move for example, you do.
Those who can't wait that long can import one from Japan on 1 December, however you will need to import a Japanese Wii at the same time.
Either way this will certainly be one to take a closer look at when in launches in the UK next year.