The Adonis-like figures bestowed by Wii Fit go someway toward justifying that hefty balance board start-up cost. But, for our money, it’s the strength of supporting third party software that will truly justify the purchase. ‘Babes’ digging our mad balancing skillz will only get it a free pass for so long; a sorry looking pile of sneered at DK Bongos reminding what fate befalls a library-less peripheral.
So, We Ski, all eyes are on you. Consider the Balance Board on trial - a vicious smelting awaits a losing verdict - and you’re its defense attorney. Oddly enough, it’s not the showiest of balance board debuts. Unlike Wii Fit’s skiing task, where leaning forward and backward controls momentum, input is pruned back to left and right teeters to control direction. All other tweaks are added by remote and Nunchuk thrusts, acting here as your ski poles.
A quick pull on both controllers gets you going. Repeat digs build momentum - although flick strength doesn’t make a jot of difference to the speed. Angle the controllers inward and poles slip under the arms for a streamlined speed jolt. Hold C and angle the controllers in and your skis angle inward for a nice smooth slowing. Add a few analogue stick tweaks to pull off those old hands, the 360/720/1080 brothers, and you’ve a scheme of some clarity.
The option’s there to take to the slope minus board, with remote and Nunchuk tilt steering replacing the human analogue stick. Finely calibrated - we found it slicker than SSX Blur’s sometimes tumultuous tilt work - it makes for a much easier game. The alien nature of the balance board is clearly factored into the difficulty, relatively simple tasks artificially hardened by our inept body wobbling. It’s not that the board is poorly tuned; it just needs a gentler touch.
Picture it like this: there are two easy positions - standing straight and leaning heavily to one side - and a spectrum of nuanced turning in between. Mastering the game involves being able to lean without over-leaning and going into a right angled skid. Your first race is likely to be a stop-start mess as you constantly overshoot with over-enthusiastic leaning. After a few weeks of play we still can’t command the slopes quite as well on the board as off, but the marked improvement is immensely satisfying.