Thoughts: The problem with Wii Fit

Ages ago when Wii fit first launched on the Wii I went out and spent $90 to purchase it. Being a gamer and computer user I knew (and still know) I need to put more effort into staying healthy, and playing games and having it teach/coach you through routines sounded great. I used it for a while, let it sit, picked it up a while later, let it sit and this pattern continued for years. Recently I started back up, but this time with Wii Fit Plus and playing on the Wii U. After a few days of training I found out the reason why I couldn’t stick with it for long which had baffled me for quite some time.

Personal/Hardware failure

In Wii Fit you will fail and it will let you know. That isn’t really an issue. However, it’s how it tells you how you failed that seems to annoy me. No I am not asking for it to tell me everything is perfect and that I am healthy. However I would like for it to tell me things that seem relavent to what I am doing and have some poise about it.

For example, while doing anything balance related it’s very easy to be shaky until you have practiced enough to really gain muscles to help perform. Let’s just say the balance board is highly accurate when being tasked to record this and it would tell me daily: “You seem a little shaky” or “You were shaky weren’t you, don’t over do it.” Over do it? I’m balancing on one foot?! How can I over do that? It just doesn’t seem to know when being shaky is OK and when it could be bad. I understand the developers had to be careful about this, but a text only clue would be better than hearing the canned line over and over at least once every workout session. Also, it seems to be too frequent. I mean, I had to work out for a while before I got my balance down for some poses. It takes time to reach that level of fitness.

Additionally it makes comments whenever the hardware acts up too. Recently, when trying to go for a run(in place) it said I could put the remote in a pocket or keep it in hand. I had no pockets on my shorts so I kept it in hand. The trouble lies with there is no option to let it know what method you are using. So while running the Wiimote registers too much movement when it suggested swinging my arms for a greater workout. Now it buzzes at me and tells me to keep and even pace. I AM! It’s your hardware that isn’t recording it right! This happened multiple times and I quit because I was tired of it telling me I was doing it wrong when the hardware wasn’t doing it right! The same goes for doing the Jack-Knife exercise. I was told 3 times in 10 reps to not use momentum to do the exercise. I was placing my feet lightly on the board. I don’t want to whack my feet on that hunk of plastic! It was expensive and it would hurt! Was it programed to pick sayings? Or use the input as feedback? I couldn’t tell and that’s incredibly frustrating.

No beginner balance settings

Along the lines of having feedback that has no actionable/relevant item but to repeat until they stop telling you, there is another problem I have with how it registers movements/balance in tasks. A flat floor is a must because if the balance board is tilted your results will be skewed. However in addition to that, there is no beginner/intermediate/advanced balance zones. When doing some of the activities they ask you to put a certain amount of weight on each foot or maintain your balance within the yellow/blue area. Choosing a difficulty doesn’t change this zone at all. It only affects reps.

This is bad because I think I have found a few bugs with their targets. I am not a heavy guy, but I could stand to lose 30 pounds. So there are a number of poses where it wants me to put 60% of my weight forward while leaning over my front leg. That’s pretty much impossible when over 60% of my body weight is over that leg. I get reprimanded for not staying in the zone or being shaky trying to match the pose when my weight doesn’t allow me to fit it perfectly. I feel that it over emphasizes these areas and doesn’t let you be able to find a middle ground. You can either put up with it’s failure/low scores, find a real trainer who can be more encouraging or just quit. It would be most helpful if picking a lower skill level adjust the zone placement and then have the rep count for additional options? That would make things a little more encouraging than trying and failing the exercise daily until I improve enough and can actually meet the target.

Motivational Style

There is no motivational style to choose from. Wii Fit forces you to accept what they thought was best. For me, this just doesn’t work. The sound queues on failure for the mini-games get demoralizing after a while with no encouragement sprinkled in. I am not asking to be treated like everything I do is fantastic, but highlights of anything it found to meet up with its goals would be great. Or perhaps instead of telling me the same thing 3 times while doing an exercise, just save it until the end? I feel Wii Fit is really held back but not letting each player pick the style of motivation they want. It would certainly help retain users because we all vary here.

Closing Thoughts

I do enjoy some aspects of Wii Fit. It’s great for learning how to do certain exercises or yoga moves as it walks you through and can sometimes do a great job at measuring things and most of the time an incredibly accurate job. However the hardware issues that dock performance points combined with repeated messages of not meeting the goal is enough to make me shelve it yet again. Sorry Wii Fit, it’s me not you. I just don’t like your style of play and engagement.

Will I pick it up yet again? Possibly, but if I do I will be sure to resign Wii Fit to nothing but a yoga instructor because at least most of the time it can’t complain too much. Oh well, at least it can still get me off the couch on occasion. Unfortunately for me I just can’t look past these flaws. It’s not fun enough to do so.


Author: Trevor E

Technologist. Programmer. Artist. Gamer.

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