So you've bought Wii Fit, got bored and now have a Balance Board tucked out the way under your television stand gathering dust. Nintendo hopes Family Ski will convince you to get exercising again. But will it? We jump on to find out.
Expanding on one of the mini-games of Wii Fit, Family Ski sees you hit the slopes of an imaginary mountain, giving you the chance to get more out of the racing, slalom and moguls elements in its own dedicated game.
The game itself is made up of two key areas: Freestyle and the Ski Race area. There are other sections like an Album area so you can view photos you take on the slopes and a Ski School giving you the chance to get to grips with the controls, but you won't find yourself using them much.
Freestyle as you might imagine gives you free reign of the mountain night and day so you can ski (not board unfortunately) to your heart’s content. As you might also imagine there is no focus here. Instead you are left to your own devices with the only interaction being other skiers on the slopes.
Interacting with characters who have bubbles over their heads will allow you to talk to them, and here they will either challenge you to a race or simply say hello. It's a pretty lacklustre offering and before you ask, no they aren't other players playing the game around the world (although that would have been really cool).
There are 13 slopes in total to master and just like a real mountain certain slopes feed into each other with four different difficulty levels so you get a variation.
The Ski Race area, rather than being based around tournaments, is merely a series of races you can access and everything is unlocked from the start rather than needing you to progress to gain access to additional content. It is a real shame that Nintendo hasn't taken a Mario Kart approach here with a Mushroom Cup style approach and it leaves you rather bored after only a short time playing.
So what about those controls? Well it's a multi-faceted affair with you having to you use the Wii Remote, Nunchuk and, if you've got it, the Balance Board (it's not essential but not as much fun without). The Balance Board is used for steering based on you shifting your weight from one foot to another and the Remote and Nunchuk act as your ski poles. Twisting the two hand controls outwards lets you go faster and yes you do look like a plonker while you play.
The controls are responsive, although shifting your weight from one foot to another isn't going to help you loose weight. Additionally we found the cable between the two hand controllers gets annoying - at times like this you really wish they where wireless too.
Family Ski for the Wii is one of those games that we hoped would achieve so much more. While there is support for up to four players you can only use the Balance Board in single player mode. There is no internet connectivity to speak of and no real challenge tournament mode that would have given it a much needed focus.
It's a case of the concept is really good, but the execution just doesn't follow through.
If you want to get more out of your Balance Board, this will help, but unfortunately it will also leave you wanting more as well.
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