This evening I took my typical walk around town. I’ve got a wedding coming late this year so I am a bit more health conscious than I have been, but really I just know I let myself go a bit and I know I need to do better. For months now I’ve been trying to be a bit better with my eating and being more active. I was pretty sure I was somewhere under 250 lbs but I was concerned that it wasn’t by much. The last time I weighed myself was apparently August 2016, something I only learned after weighing myself tonight. Twenty months later. I couldn’t believe it had been that long since I touched my Wii Fit U game. Stood on the board. Did a Balance check. Luckily to my discovery, I had lost about 13.2 lbs since the last time I checked in. There was a time where I used Wii Fit daily. Sure there was a newness and novelty to it, which probably went a long way. I also didn’t work a normal 40+ hour work week like I do now so I had a lot more time to dedicate to it on any given day. I lost a significant amount of weight when I did that. It was quite amazing really. So between yesteryear and tonight I wanted to just take a moment to reflect on what I really connected with on Wii Fit and Wii Fit U while considering how they could or should perhaps go about it on Nintendo Switch.
For those who don’t know, Wii Fit and it’s sequel, Wii Fit U, are ‘games’ or ‘software’ in a genre apparently called ‘exergaming’. When the Wii hit the market, the motion controls were a breakthrough. Nintendo had a particular desire to focus on software that brought the betterment of an individual. Wii Fit ended up being Nintendo’s third-best-selling game for the Wii at 22.67 million copied sold (this is true when you consider only non-packaged games that is). At its core, this was a title which allowed me to easily learn and perform all sorts of Yoga and Strength Training moves and it got me running in my bedroom. Seems silly but at a time where I wasn’t a fan of running (still aren’t really) the game did help me fit some of that in while allowing me to break it up with moves I could do in the comfort of my own home. I never quite felt like my core was being worked to the max or anything but some of those moves did take balance and determination. The Aerobics and Balance games were a mixed bag too. Hula Hooping was pretty weird but got the heart rate up; the Free Run was great for what it was; the Soccer Heading was hard but kind of fun; but Table Tilt was something novel. The Rhythm Boxing was probably what got me the most fit. I used to do that all of the time. When Wii Fit Plus released to utilize the Wii Motion Plus, new games like Rhythm Kung-Fu, Snowball Fight, and Bird’s-Eye Bulls-Eye were excellent additions. The latter had my arms always tired but in a good way. Rhythm Kung-Fu had a fun soundtrack and was really enjoyable to experience. When the Wii U sequel released, Wii Fit U, Nintendo tried to capitalize on the genre again, this time incorporating a Fit Meter. The Fit Meter was a small pedometer device that helped log steps when you were not around the console. I carried this thing on me as much as I could, but having a beeper-like device strapped to my pants was not the most convenient thing. One day it fell in the toilet when I was making a quick pitstop. Luckily it was JUST toilet water but I honestly lost my drive to use the thing after that disappointing event. Despite cleaning it, I stopped using it. Wii Fit U ended up being the least-used Wii Fit game I had enjoyed. It seems it was loosing it’s grip on me. To be fair, by the time this game released, I was head-first into a new job and a long commute.
Ultimately I really did love the series and I still do. It even spawned one of most unique Super Smash Bros. fighters in that series with the Wii Fit Trainer. Nintendo isn’t the only developer who has gotten into the health market but to me they’ve had the most care about doing so. Whereas other games seem to try to cash in on a gimmick or specific aspect to exercise, the Wii Fit series aimed to be well-rounded and really connect with the user on a deeper level. Unfortunately this always fell a little short. I would love to see the Nintendo Switch get its own Wii Fit title. Perhaps it could be called Switch Fitness. It would need to evolve though as the Nintendo Switch has done for consoles. The series needs to grow up and be a better work-out buddy than ever before. Here are three key ways I’d like to see the series evolve.
The Nintendo Switch is a savvy device for savvy folks. Actually it’s a console for just about everyone. The world of fitness devices are way more diverse now than ever before. Price-points are lower too (for basic models at least) and Nintendo should be understanding of this. I think it might be great to offer a newly redesigned Fit Meter, I think that the system should be able to link with a person’s Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch, or other similar device that tracks stats. Tracking stats and treating my health like a game or equation I can solve with input and output really helps me focus. I don’t find myself ever caring to compete with others in fitness challenges but I do like to compete against myself and just all around work to grow my rank at things. Right now I use a food logging app to ensure I’m eating less calories than needed to lose a pound a week. I also use two devices to track my walks and bike rides throughout down. The Switch needs to be able to incorporate this information natively. I understand this might be harder than you’d think because each company has their own proprietary format. In that case I ask Nintendo to work harder at putting a more robust system in place to track these things myself with them. I wouldn’t mind logging in food or out-of-house workouts into the game if it would let me. Perhaps they could just develop their own phone app to tie into the software. Now that would be incredible.
More Adjustable Exercises
The Wii Fit series is intended to be simple to use and to not bog down the user with too much choice. The series did evolve to allow specifically customizable workouts that strung together exercises into a single experience. This help cut down on idle time but it still didn’t quite do the best job possible. On the individual exercise notion, once you did 10 crunches well enough, it let you do 20 at once, then 30 and so on. This way of ‘unlocking’ things really didn’t make me feel good about it. It felt like a lazy way to throw progression into the game. I was already a young and able-bodied person. Why did I have to go through such hassle and time to be able to do 30 crunches at once? If this series came to Switch, I would ask that each exercise level up a bit more naturally or be more customizable. It should let you try to teach it your own capabilities. How about a Push-Up test where it lets me do as many as I can and asks me a few questions afterwards. From that it will gain an awareness of what I can do and suggest how I could proceed. While it might come off as an arbitrary lock anyway, why not let me try the push-ups and instead of letting me now do more, let me do more complex ones or unique versions. Almost any exercise (from a strength training perspective anyway) can be modified to be easier or harder. Let me choose what’s right for me and help me discover new ways to challenge myself. Back on the phone app idea, why not let me choose my workout plan while I’m commuting home or on lunch, so that the game is ready and waiting for me when I get in the living room? When it comes to Yoga, I feel more poses would be the only upgrade you would need here. However why not throw in a whole section on stretches and how to stretch properly? For the Aerobic Games, have these continue to develop more and more. How they handled it previously was alright but maybe throw in some Nintendo franchise flair to keep someone like myself more engaged. Throw in the Super Smash Bros. trophy mechanic as a reward. Give me something to value and unlock besides more workouts and it might keep some folks interested longer as well.
Deeper Experiences With or Without A Friend
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. The Aerobic Mini-games are generally fun. It would be even more fun if you could play them with a friend and workout together. Couples in particular would find this fun. How about a live race as the Bird’s-Eye Bulls-eye birds? What about a hula hoop head to head? Imagine running through the obstacle course simultaneously? I think there is a lot of potential for fun for both parties really. In the past I have worked out with someone to this game but only one of us gets to use the balance board and actually provide input. To a degree it was still fun but with the versatility of the Switch to be bluetooth connected or portable in general, it would be easy to implement ways to enjoy co-op health consciousness. Tied in with this I’ve hinted that I want to see deeper Aerobic games. The obstacle course for example was a really fun one from the series. It was also one of the more fleshed out games but even if could use more effort there. There was a firehose-game where you had to spray mud-covered folk. Give me more levels and change the mechanics up. It could really go along way to freshen up the package. Of course I’d hope there would be new games as well.
In a nutshell, let me hold myself accountable in the easiest ways and I will continue to use the software. I want to see Switch Fitness, or whatever it might someday be known as, become something that works with you and can adjust with an individual instead of just be an idle tool to be used like a dumbbell itself. I understand it can be risky to get too involved in people’s health for liability reasons but just TOS the hell out of the thing. I would like to see Nintendo take this Quality of Life potential more seriously than ever. Ultimately it is I, regardless of the tools at hand, to make the most of my life and be as healthy as I allow myself to be. Having been a Nintendo gamer for decades though, I can’t help but dream of a day Nintendo lets me incorporate them into my healthy body along with my mind and soul.