Wii Fit U - Game Review

Think of it as a Bunch of Fun Mini-Games with a Fitness Bonus

Trampoline Target offers a more entertaining approach to doing squats. Nintendo

Pros: Interesting use of the gamepad. Clever new mini-games. Improved fitness routine setup.
Cons: Still not much of a workout. Some cool mini-games removed.

Few games have been as hardware-centric as Wii Fit, originally created for the gesture-based Wii and requiring the weight-sensing Balance Board. In its newest iteration, Wii Fit U, we now have a version of the game which still uses the balance board and remotes, plus the Wii U gamepad, and introduces a new twist, a fit meter that lets you track your out-of-game physical exertion.

That last piece of hardware may be one too many; it proves that there are a lot of things I do regularly that are a better workout than Wii Fit U.

Developed and published by: Nintendo
Genre: Fitness
For ages: All
Platform: Wii U
Release Date: November 1, 2013


The original Wii Fit was a canny package of exercises and mini-games that persuaded people they could get fit by spending a little time each day doing mild yoga exercises and a few push-ups. I was underwhelmed but warmed to the revised Wii Fit Plus, which increased the number of mini-games to the point where you could ignore the dumbed-down yoga and still find a lot to entertain – and perhaps exercise – you.

Wii Fit U is another evolutionary step. The exercises are not much changed since Wii Fit, although the yoga and strength-training exercises now show you exactly which muscles should be working and some simple routines can be done using sound cues while watching TV. But there are some fun new mini-games, some dance routines, and a lot more tools to track your progress and give you encouragement.

The New Mini-Games: Trampolines and Rock Climbing

Most of Wii Fit Plus’s mini-games are here. You can still fly a chicken by flapping your arms or run an obstacle course. A few are missing, including one of my favorites, a juggling/balancing game that was the best balance workout of the series, as well as a goofy meditation game.

The best mini-games are those that go beyond balance and aerobics to working your muscles. In Trampoline Target you bend then straighten your legs to make your avatar jump, watching a gamepad resting on the floor to make sure you land in the target’s middle. As a game, the goal is to jump higher and higher, but the exercise side effect is that you’re doing a bunch of squats. In Core Luge you sit on the balance board while your avatar sleds through a winding track, shifting your weight from side to side while leaning back to increase your speed works your abs (there are only two simple tracks that get old fast; it’s a shame Nintendo didn’t fancy them up with collectibles and power-ups and alternate routes to make fun for more than a couple of weeks.

My favorite new mini-game is not much of a workout. This is a rock climbing game in which you hold a Wii remote in each hand and reach and grab rocks, then step on the balance board to pull yourself up. On the advanced level, some rocks appear and disappear. It’s a clever, puzzle-like game, but you’ll get more exercise climbing a real rock wall for five minutes than you’ll get from an hour of virtual climbing.

The New Mode: Dance Routines

Nintendo has added dancercise to this latest version, and you can now learn Locking, Hip Hop, Salsa, Flamenco, Hula, and Jazz. Some of these are more challenging than others; Hip Hop and Locking are particularly good workouts, while Jazz is bland and unchallenging and Flamenco is tedious. In each, you shift your weight on the balance board while a remote in each hand tracks your arms.

One of the oddities of the dances is that the worse you are at them, the more of a workout you’ll get. Do a movement correctly, indicated by sound cues and vibration, and you will smoothly go through the routine. If you’re a bit off, the virtual instructor will say “let’s try that again,” and keep doing that until a clock runs out. This is boring and frustrating (I was never that clear on what the problem was or how I was supposed to fix it), but it also gives you a longer, more exhausting workout.

Done right, the dance routines are very short. There is a beginner level, and a more complex but equally short advanced level for each dance, meaning you only learn a few moves. I would have preferred fewer dances if I could have had longer, more interesting routines. As it is, a little time with a Just Dance game will give you a better and more entertaining workout

The New Hardware: The Fit Meter

The Fit Meter is a hip-worn activity meter that gauges that calculates how much energy you expend walking, running and climbing stairs. After syncing it with Wii Fit U by pointing it at the gamepad, you can see how much you did and how many calories it used up.

I discovered something very interesting using the Fit Meter; going grocery shopping burns more calories than using Wii Fit U.

When I go shopping, I walk down five flights of stairs (classic New York living), walk a few blocks to the store, wander around grabbing bread and fruit, climb back to my apartment, and put away the groceries. And when I synced up my Fit Meter, it told me that this had burned more calories than a half hour with Wii Fit U. A lot more calories.

Calories don’t really concern me much – my weight is fine – but they concern Wii Fit U a lot, as it constantly tells you how many calories you’ve burned. So introducing a device that proves being generally physically active will do more for you than the game seems like a miscalculation. Although if this realization causes people to walk more and drive less than it will have improved the world.

The Rest: Graphs, Routines, Clubs

Beyond exercise, Wii Fit U offers a variety of ways to track your progress, set up fitness routines, and encourage you to continue.

In terms of tracking your workouts, a graph shows off your daily activity, including calories burned, and you can use your Fit Meter stats to see how many days it would take you to walk up the Eifel Tower.  There is also something that lets you see what parts of your body the exercises you’ve been doing are working, so you can see if anything is being neglected

In terms of setting up workouts, you can choose from a variety of exercise sets, deciding what you want to work on, for how long, and how strenuously. You can also create your own workout program, and while Wii Fit Plus wouldn’t let you add mini-games to that program, Wii Fit U will.

Unfortunately, routines won’t allow you to skip over an exercise that’s annoying you. I created a workout that included a bunch of the dance routines, and for the first time, I had trouble with Hip Hop, which kept forcing me to do the same moves over and over until I’d had enough. But there’s no “skip to next activity;” so I had to simply halt my routine altogether.

I also discovered that while a good showing in the beginning level of an activity will unlock the advanced level, this isn’t true if you do it from a workout, so unlock everything before you start creating custom routines.

The hardest part of exercise is keeping to it week after week, so Wii Fit U gives you online communities where you can see how others are progressing. You can join a Nintendo community or create one of your own and invite people to it. Joining a user community involves typing in writing down a 12-digit-code and inputting it, so I couldn’t be bothered to join any of the communities announced on Miiverse.


Even before the Fit Meter told me I was getting more exercise shopping than virtual luging, a look at research on exergaming lead me to believe it wasn’t a very effective way to get in shape. I didn’t need the Fit Meter to know I burn a lot of calories dancing.

For me, then, it’s all about fun, with any fitness gained simply a bonus. By that standard, Wii Fit U is pretty good. I may not a better workout paddling in Rowing Crew or jogging around a pastoral village seeking Miis than I do picking up some milk and pasta sauce, but I sure have more fun.