Do you even lift, bro? If the answer to that is “no,” and you've got big bones and a crummy metabolism, get ready for your Balance Board to call you names like “overweight” and “obese.” It’s not trying to make you feel bad, though, as its jeers come with advice as well as a whole lot of fitness games and activities to help you get you in whichever shape you'd like. Getting fit takes hard work, of course, but Wii Fit U provides some great new tools for dropping pounds and proving that mean old Balance Board wrong.
Wii Fit U starts you off by having you take a fitness test that provides you with a BMI score and an overall assessment of your current fitness level. You’ll receive a Wii Fit age and an approximation of what you need to work on, but because the game still only takes into account your height and weight (and not muscle mass, bone structure, and other factors), it’s not very accurate, nor should it make you feel too bad. It’s as precise a measurement as you’re going to get without getting naked and having cold calipers squeezing your love handles.
Based on your results, the game recommends goals for you to work towards. If you think they’re too extreme, you can always adjust them to your liking. And that’s the best thing about Wii Fit U: You always have total control over how you use it. Say you want to work on routines to improve your vitality or increase your cardiovascular system. You can play a bunch of fast-paced minigames that will increase your heart rate, or you can go for a jog on your Balance Board. If you’re new to working out, you’ll appreciate the relaxed approach to fitness, as it doesn’t intimidate you with routines but still makes you aware of your progress. Best of all, Wii Fit U makes exercising genuinely enjoyable.
Most of its minigames may look familiar, but the addition of a dancing mode and a handful of GamePad games add a lot of variety to your workouts--if you have two Wii MotionPlus controllers lying around. You’re going to look ridiculous shaking your hips playing Super Hula Hoop, but you’ll feel it in your abs the next day. Play Desert Course, and you’ll feel the burn in your calves while running in place and keeping the GamePad steady in your hands. While the games are a bit childish and silly, you’re still exercising your body, making them not only fun but viable ways to work out.
Despite its effective structure, Wii Fit U feels more like an expansion than a direct sequel. It even goes so far as to incorporate all of the same techniques from its past games without introducing new yoga poses or strength exercises. You can even import your data from your old Wii, making the lack of new content even more obvious. This is fine for newcomers. For others, though, you get stuff you already mastered instead of being rewarded with more advanced techniques. If you want more yoga in your life or additional strength-training exercises, you’re better off hitting the gym or mimicking yoga routines from YouTube.
Not everything is the same, however, and Wii Fit U does include a few notable additions that make it superior to its predecessor. For instance, the revamped Personal Trainer mode now lets you customize your workout plan by duration or calories burned, letting the game come up with different activities that keep things fresh each time you start a routine. The GamePad also makes it even easier to work out since you no longer need to strain your neck looking at the TV while in the middle of, say, a triangle pose. You can also turn the GamePad into a mirror and have it record your movement to see what you look like compared to your instructor. And thanks to the additional screen, you can work out and indulge your inner slacker by watching TV at the same time.
The Fit Meter further enhances your fitness regimen by keeping track of how many calories you burn when engaging with the game. Sure, the meter is just a cute little pedometer with your Mii’s face on it, but it sends that information over to your game and adds it your daily records. You can also challenge yourself to traverse the distance of famous cities or climb notable landmarks, which turns the mundane act of walking into in-game achievements.
Feeling more like an afterthought, however, is Wii Fit U’s online features. In short, they let you join communities to see other players working towards the same goals. This could have easily been used to add some competitiveness to your workouts--letting you challenge other players to meet certain goals or burn X number of calories. Instead, all you get are useless Miis that populate your games and talk about how much fat they've burned.
Part of Wii Fit U may feel more like an expansion than a sequel, but the addition of new games, GamePad support, and even the Fit Meter expand the core regimen and provide a more complete workout experience. Its continued relaxed approach to fitness makes it not only approachable to couch potatoes, but it also provides enough challenge and insight to make gym bunnies break out in a sweat. Whether you own a Balance Board or not, you owe it to yourself (and your body) to give Wii Fit U a try.