Brain Age captured the minds of gamers and non-gamers all over the world. That one game may have single-handedly helped push the DS into its current state of world dominance (Pokemon sure doesn't hurt either), and now Nintendo's hoping Wii Fit does the same for its motion-sensitive console. We just stepped off the pressure-reading Balance Board and you know what? It's not too shabby.
As has already been explained, the device detects small movements of balance and shifting weight. The demo games on hand illustrated how sensitive the board can be - one had us leaning to and fro trying to get a billiard ball inside a hole and down to the next level. Each minute movement of the toes made the whole level react, showing that big jerky moves like in the soccer game aren't the only way to integrate the Board into gameplay. We'd love to see some Tony Hawk action or some kind of Zapper-compatible shooter where your shifting weight can dodge incoming fire. All told, the Balance Board feels comfortable and looks sweet, a true extension of the Wii itself.
Another minigame, downhill skiing, has you crouching down to move your center of gravity as low as possible, then straighten quickly and hold your position to maximize the leap. It's fun in a Wii Sports kind of way where you'd never do it alone, but in a group it could potentially clean up. Other games were more focused on graphs and precise movement, such as standing on one leg. Your balance is shown onscreen as seismograph-style line moving across a plane, shifting and dropping as your own foot tries to keep you from falling on your ass. Not really a game, but curiously interesting, just as Brain Age was.
Reps from Nintendo claim that once the Balance Board was revealed, plenty of third party developers phoned in asking for more info. We'd love to see the gadget take off and lead to a new wave of gesture-based games, but for the moment, this self-help software is the only piece of tech you'll see for a good lone while.
July 13, 2007