Trouble Thinking

January 28, 2011

Burn, chibi, burn?

Filed under: Game Reviews, Sports, Video Games — Tags: , , , , — Katherine Barclay @ 5:38 pm

So, I’ve avoided the Wii ever since it came out. I’ll admit, this had a lot to do with the fact that I was broke, and anyway, I never play games, so why exactly would I need a new console? Also, it asks you to, like … do things to make things happen on the screen, and ‘point and click’ is simple enough of a computer but gets remarkably confusing when you ask me to do it to my television. It also didn’t really help that the only games being made for the Wii  were tack-ons to franchises that I never really got involved with in the beginning — the ninth Zelda thing is probably a lot of fun for people who know who Link is, but for me he’s just That Guy Who Came Before Legolas, and it’s not really all that thrilling.

The one thing that did intrigue me was Wii-fit, mostly because it seemed too cute and soft and fluffy to be any good. I mean, everyone knows how exercise is supposed to work — you run around your dingy block fifteen times, or you go to your dingy gym, and struggle to figure out how the equiment works before the scary muscular guy waiting behind you decides you’re wasting his time and kills you over the leg press thingy. This soft-edged white board with it’s encouraging child-like voice is in complete contrast with that, and the adorable cartoon pictures that guide you through the exercises seemed too … well, silly, to be any good.

Seriously, what's up with these soft happy grey people? That's not exercise, it's interpretive dance!But my friends just got a Wii, and with nothing better to do with my evenings I bribed them into letting me try it, to see what all this fuss was about.  And, much to my surprise, I’ve actually found it to be remarkably … well, exercisey.

Sure, it took a while to get there – the gateway into Wiifit seems to be balance games, mini games that involve you throwing your weight around like a crazy person to walk a tightrope across a gap, or float a bubbleboat down a river without crashing into the rocks, or trying not to get hit in the head with flying soccer cleats. Each game seemed simplistic and a little big juvenile, but I quickly discovered that “doing my best” got me a measley one or two stars, and the unimpressive title of Amateur. In order to do well at even the simplest of these little games actually takes work, and muscles were aching the next day that I didn’t even really know I had.

And that’s the easiest of the options – if you’re feeling a little bit braver, the Aerobics section is full of equally chibi-looking childlike exercises … except that these ones actually make you work. A reasonably simple-looking hula hoop game that makes you swivel your hips like an idiot ended up with me panting after a minute and a half and their step-aerobics game requires a deceptive amount of precise muscle control (combined with a healthy amount of luck) to get the balance board to think you’ve done it perfectly. And if you’re feeling slightly more hardcore, there’s also free running, measured by putting the little remote thing in your pocket, and boxing, which involves flailing at the screen like an idiot while a deep-voiced black chibi man yells at you. Each of these last two start off reasonably short, with a 2-3 minute run and a 4 minute boxing set, but doing each short game a few times unlocks a longer version. And while four minutes of non-stop boxing seems easy enough, I quickly discovered that eleven minutes was hard.

No, it probably doesn’t match up to going to a gym and actually hitting the machines, but mixing and matching a combination of strength exercises (pushups still kill me, but I’m surprised by how well I did at the leg ones) and yoga and the aforementioned aerobics, I actually left the game feeling like I’d accomplished something. Sore muscles  on day two eventually started to fade, and a week later I can do a ten minute run without getting out of breath, where a week ago four minutes killed me.

It’s baby steps, but for someone with no access to a gym and a burning hatred for running around blocks, I’m surprised to say that I’m actually really enjoying this thing. Anyone who already has a Wii who’s looking for an easy-to-commit-to exercise regime that doesn’t feel like a chore might do well to check it out!

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