We’re sweating bullets - and we haven’t even stepped onto the board yet. Of all Nintendo’s wacky lifestyle experiments there are none that skirt as close to the game/non-game border as this. Nintendo’s previous jaunts into the realms of mental and ocular betterment have always had gamey connotations - we cannot, after all, pull homemade eye and arithmetic tests out of thin air. But exercise? That’s free to anyone willing to whang around a few cans of baked beans as impromptu dumbbells.
Not only does it sit on the edge of what we understand as gaming, but it challenges our way of life to boot. It states in our contracts that all games must be played slumped in a chair with at least one can of Pepsi within grabbing reach. We’re not part of the National Union of Journalists, but aligned with the National Union of Sitters. In fact, our standing on the balance board elicited gasps from our sister mags’ teams, so shocked were they to see we actually had legs.
The main sweat-maker? The idea that Nintendo may be resting on their laurels - they’re creators extraordinaire, not in the idea-repackaging business. This particularly applies to the muscle conditioning and yoga posing segments in which an on-screen mannequin guides you through a common catalogue of stretches and pulls. Bending to touch your toes? You don’t need Nintendo to tell you to do that. Turning contortionist with an ankle under the armpit? People were adopting the lotus position long before Nintendo was even a glint in Fusajiro Yamauchi’s eye.
And it’s all so lacking in that Nintendo charm. The expanded audience titles may not be brimming with cute characters and silly touches, but at least we had Kawashima’s boxy head giggling at coriander and Professor Lobe strolling the academy to remind us exactly who was behind the steering wheel. But here? Well, there’s the metallic piggy bank that measures time accumulated through in-game activities, but bar his ecstatic squeals as you burn away the calories, this has all the personality of a cold, sterile gym.
You’re guided around by an anthropomorphic balance board named Wiibo, but he/she/it’s an uncharismatic presence. Very much of the Microsoft Office Assistant variety - though not as unholy as Clippy - he teeters around spouting out reams of instructions and dull acronyms. Your BMI (body mass index), your COG (centre of gravity), your target lb loss over X amount of time, a rough calculation of your GROF (gross rolls of fat); people said weight measuring couldn’t be fun, we think ‘people’ may be right on this one.