Monday, 12 April 2010

Wii Fit Plus game usability review

I recently did a game usability review of Wii Fit. I  suggested a couple of changes, and ended by saying that I wouldn't be getting it myself due to a lack of space - at least until we move. I haven't moved, but I have broken and got Wii Fit Plus. What can I say? I'm weak. That and whenever we visit my brother, a proud owner of Wii Fit, the girlfriend and I are always on it. The decision was made (... that and we suddenly realised we spend far too much time sitting on our behinds doing very little).

So - my game usability review for Wii Fit Plus.

In my last write up I suggested for 3 key changes.
  1. A shortcut to switch between players profiles when several people are playing together.
  2. A choice to allow people to hide their BMI/weight from other players.
  3. Multiplayer - to allow people to play together.
I made these suggestions after playing the original Wii Fit. This was before I got my grubby hands on Wii Fit Plus. So how does the second iteration of Wii Fit do? When compared to my suggestions I'd give it a 1 out for 3.

It DOES offer a shortcut to switch between players. You've now got a small button in the bottom right corner, allowing you to select other Miis. This means if/when several of you are playing together you can much more easily switch between you (meaning the balance board won't complain when someone else tries to gets on as you).

It DOESN'T allow players to hide their BMI/weight when joining.

It DOES allow exercising in a pair - but only jogging, not anything else. This is fine, not many houses have multiple balance boards anyway. The game also offers a multiplayer option, allowing lots of you to play together.

So why not 2 out of 3. The 2 it DOES do aren't done properly (see below).



The 'multiplayer' mode doesn't save your 'progress'. The length of time you spend playing and the high scores you achieve are lost ("fit cash")(both when you leave multiplayer mode and in someone elses training after using the 'switch' control). Why? They should be saved in the player's Wii Fit profile (if they have one).

Switching between players isn't a true 'switch'. The advanced levels a player has unlocked aren't offered - only those associated with the original player selected. Also getting a high scores doesn't have any effect (i.e. achieving a good score won't unlock the advanced mode). However if you are the original player selected then you CAN unlock advanced modes.

Players are going to get confused - "Why can't I play advanced cycling? I unlocked it yesterday!", "How come you just unlocked advanced? I got a higher score!". The game should properly switch between players, all unlocked advanced modes for that players account should be offered, as well as allowing the player to unlock further advanced modes if they do well.

Whilst the game does offer 2 player jogging, only 1 '2 player' mode is offered. I'm not sure why a 2 player option isn't offered for all the jogging modes?

Additional suggestions from my girlfriend - The ability to turn off tips. She sees them a "patronising, annoying little shits". Also - to have the ability to play without music. We wanted to listen to a new CD yesterday, but couldn't as the games often needs sound to play well. Joggers often have an MP3 player with them - it's easier and more fulfilling to exercise with your own music playing. The game should support this.

General list of positives

So I've been rather down on the game. But overall I am a fan. Here's some positives:
  • The game uses other Miis whilst playing - there's nothing like throwing a snowball at your mother or seeing your housemates doing the activities with you.
  • Allowing you to create and personalise your own exercise regimes is a nice touch, meaning you don't have to interrupt your heavy yoga session selecting the next exercise. BUT the process to set up the regimes is FAR too complex (a blog post in itself I believe...)
  • The Wii Fit age is a great way to both measure your progress and get competitive with others - I went from 20 to 38 years in a day though, so I'm not entirely convinced of it's reliability.
  •  Great new games (cycling, segway, tilt city and the obstacle course stand out) and more advanced versions of old classics (table tilt and balance bubble)
  • Overall a good variety of activities - yoga, muscle workouts, balance games - there's not many games about that allow you to do some yoga, then some kung fu, before finishing off flapping like a chicken!
As I say, I'm a fan of Wii Fit generally, it's a great game. But there's lot of little snags that noticeably reduce the user experience in this version. This wouldn't be a major issue, but a lot of these are pretty simple stuff, and as I mentioned before, this is a sequel, this sort of minor issues should be ironed out by now. Nintendo must try harder...

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