Wii Balance Board Games Roundup

For the latest news on Nintendo Wii Board Games

Padres' Heath Bell Credits Wii Fit

clock February 18, 2009 07:42 by author WiiBBG

Given my earlier post regarding Michael Torchia's class action suit against Nintendo, I though it would be nice to post a good news story on Wii Fit. News is that San Diego Padres reliever, Heath Bell, was motivated to get in shape by playing Wii Fit with his children. Weighing in at 270 pounds, good old Wii Fit labelled him as obese and adjusted his Mii character accordingly. According to Bell, "If you're obese, it makes (your character on screen) obese. I was disappointed that I was that big. I literally took the game to heart. I did the work but I kind of credit the Wii Fit."

Well he did the work all right, losing 25 pounds in time for his next season. Interestingly he doesn't mention spending hours on Wii Fit trying to lose weight which is highly unlikely given that as a power pitcher, he's most probably more used to spending many hours in the gym. The point is that Wii Fit was simply the catalyst that got him thinking about his weight and motivated him to do something about it. For many, I think that in itself proves Wii Fit's worth.

Source: The Canadian Press

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We Rock: Drum King Misses A Beat

clock January 21, 2009 12:19 by author WiiBBG

I'm not sure what the general feeling is, but I was somewhat disappointed by Wii Music. For me, the best part of the game is being able to play drums using the Wii balance board. That's why when I first heard about We Rock: Drum King (think Guitar Hero for drummers) a few months back I was quite excited that this would be a pretty good game for wiiboard fans.

At the time there was no mention of the game having balance board support so I thought I would wait and see before mentioning it here. The game's publisher, 505 Games, recently released some PR for the game which is scheduled for European release this April and the bad news is that there's still no mention of balance board support which is a real shame. I've tried to contact 505 to confirm this but had no response so it looks like wiiboard fans will have nothing to look forward to.

It's not all bad news though. If you still feel you need to beat the hell out of a set of drums and don't want to buy Wii Music you could always download Wii Drum High, a free download that will let you connect your wiimote/nunchuck/balance board to your PC via bluetooth to control a full drum kit. Pretty cool!

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Wii Fit Tops Game Resale Charts

clock January 14, 2009 12:44 by author WiiBBG

Already grown tired of your Wii Balance Board? Not interested in any of the other balance board compatible games on offer (not even Shaun White Snowboarding) and ready to sell your Wii Fit? Well according to information published by VideoGamePriceCharts.com, depending on how much you initially paid for your Wii Fit, selling it online may actually make you a profit.

According to their figures (based on eBay sales) Wii Fit tops their Top 10 Games By Resale Value chart with an average resale value of $139.78. That's 55% more than the MSRP of $89.99. I have to say I was a bit sceptical so I did some digging of my own on eBay. For the most part their average seems to be pretty accurate although I did see some 'gently used' Wii Fits going for $100 to $115. Bottom line is that taking shipping into account, if you do decide to sell your Wii Fit on eBay you should at least get back what you originally paid for it - unless of course you paid over the odds to begin with.

Interestingly, for those of you still keen to try out the balance board without having to buy Wii Fit, I also saw a few listings for the balance board only, going for less than $80. May be worth considering.

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Wii Fit Under Scrutiny

clock January 7, 2009 11:07 by author WiiBBG

Back in July last year I blogged about a study by the American Council on Exercise to measure the potential fitness benefits of Wii Sports. As I said back then, the results of the study weren’t earth shattering - yes, playing Wii Sports is better for you than simply sitting on the couch. As this study was done prior to the launch of Wii Fit, I mentioned back then that a similar study on Wii Fit would be interesting.

Later this year our questions regarding the effectiveness of Wii Fit may be answered scientifically when the results of a study by the University of Mississippi are finally published. The six month study which started last fall is tracking eight families who have been loaned Nintendo Wiis and will be evaluated for fitness, physical activity and body composition. The effectiveness of Wii Fit itself will be determined by comparing results taken in the first three months without Wii Fit in the home to the last three months with Wii Fit in the home.

It's a bit difficult to assess the study without having the exact details behind it and the results could vary significantly depending on numerous factors. If during the three months with the Wii Fit, the families are given specific strict training routines to follow then I would expect to see some improvements in overall activity and balance (maybe even body composition if diet is involved). If however the families are simply given the console and left to their own devices, the results may not be that great and that wouldn’t really surprise me. I've always maintained that Wii Fit was never intended to be a proper fitness tool, but rather a way to market the Wii Balance Board and create opportunities for third-party developers.

Case in point would be EA Games with their forthcoming EA Sports Active title scheduled for release in May. Now this is shaping up to be a full-blown fitness tool and EA is going all out to promote it with endorsements from fitness pros Bob Greene and Carmen Bott. Personally, I'm less interested in the results of the Mississippi Uni study and more interested to see what users have to say once this title is released. Could it be the Wii exergame we've all been waiting for?

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How To Prevent Balance Board Knee and Wii Tennis Elbow

clock January 5, 2009 08:22 by author WiiBBG

In a recent post this blog reported on a new phenomenon that is occurring as a result of extensive and widespread usage of the Wii and the Wii Balance Board. To recap, as more people use the Wii as an exercise tool, they are sustaining injuries in their knees, back and wrists because of overuse and proper planning. Here are a few ways to use the balance board injury free.

First, treat the balance board as any other form of exercise. Warm up and stretch before any session lasting more then a few minutes, and don't do more then you are capable of. After each exercise, remember to cool down and stretch again.

Second, know your limits. You're probably not as in good shape as you were 10 years ago, and you will feel it if you're not careful. Work within your limits to get a good experience from the balance board without hurting yourself.

Third, give yourself time in between games. Play games 3 or 4 times a week instead of everyday, and make sure you get a good nights sleep before playing a game.

Fourth, consult your Doctor. Tell him you are beginning a routine that involves different exercises and stress on the joints (specifically knees, back and elbow). Ask him what suggestions he/she has regarding this type of exercise.

Finally, have fun - realize that the Wii and the balance board specifically are physical games that are new and require some getting used to. At the same time, they are designed to be fun. Try and find the proper balance between the fun part and the exertion part and you will end up having a much better Wii experience.

About the author
When she's not on her balance board, Maya Richard is blogging. Right now she is writing about high speed internet for Cable Modem Help. You can reach her with questions about Internet, Wii and blogging on mayarichard@gmail.com

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Anyone For Wii Knee?

clock December 23, 2008 08:36 by author WiiBBG

No, this is not the first in a serious of new Wii fitness titles targeting specific body parts. Instead it's a new Wii-related injury according to an article on The Tech Herald. Now I like to think of myself as fairly active so I wouldn't have expected to hurt myself playing a game, but I've also had my share of Wii related injuries, including Wii elbow from some particularly vigorous games of baseball on Wii Sports. As a result, this latest injury doesn't come as a surprise especially given the increasing number of wii balance boards out there now.

In part, you can expect an increase in Wii injuries as grandparents everywhere suddenly find themselves off the couch swinging wildly in the air and moving body parts they forgot existed, all for the joy of their darling grandchildren. But even regularly active folk are caught off guard as they use previously ignored muscles in strange new ways. I guess we're just not used to a 'game' that challenges us physically. Afterall, when you engage in sport you usually warm up first right? You don't just go at it guns blazing from the start (as you do in a game) and then wonder why the next morning you can't even lift your arms high enough to brush your own teeth.

I'm not sure what it's like outside of the UK, but I'm surprised that the health and safety nannies over here aren't all over this like a bad rash. Maybe they're still working on their 150 page manifesto "Preventing Wii Related Injuries In The Home".

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Virtually Fit: Getting a Full Body Workout with Exergaming

clock December 1, 2008 09:10 by author WiiBBG

Two decades ago, Nintendo published the first edition of Nintendo Power magazine and their 8-Bit Entertainment System remained the state of the art in the industry. Interaction with games remained limited to a fusillade of finger tapping on a wired controller, which made gaming a largely sedentary activity. As a result, the growth of home gaming led many researchers to link the activity to obesity (see Center for Advanced Health). Fast forward to today and the story couldn't be more different: Nintendo is leading the way in full physical immersion with the Fit series on its Wii console, which allows players to more meaningfully interact with games. No longer constrained by a static feedback between player and game, Nintendo has taken exergaming to an entirely new level and shifted gaming from a passive activity to a full body workout (see BMJ Medical Journal).

Exergaming is simply the extension of video game controllers from static inputs to a full body interaction, which gives the games an exercise element. With advances in feedback controls for the Wii, games can utilize a whole series of interactive controllers to direct in-game movement. Dating back to the 1980s, there have been a number of exergaming devices, starting with the Nintendo Power Pad, which allowed gamers to control in-game movements through a pressure-sensitive exercise mat. Most commonly used in the game World Class Track Meet, the controller had a number of compatible games and laid the groundwork for future releases such as Dance, Dance Revolution (DDR) in 1998. DDR became the first mass-market, exergaming success, selling millions of dance simulation copies world wide and spawning a number of sequels and clones. In the game, players adjust their feet on a motion-sensitive control bad to the rhythm of a given song, requiring players to move rapidly in shifts as quick as 1/32 notes. Requiring coordination and fast-twitch muscle movement, the game even became integrated into school curriculum in West Virginia (see New York Times).

As the design of interactive games has evolved, workouts are shifting to providing a full-body cardiovascular workout. The Gamercize add-on, for example, allows gamers to utilize a complete array of workout machines, ranging from exercise bikes to elliptical machines, to work many major muscle groups while they play. The Yourself Fitness game series for Playstation, Xbox and PC develops games which provide direct exercise instruction and tracking, although the games require an external monitor to provide a full feedback element. With activities ranging from Yoga and Pilates, Yourself Fitness provides a virtual gym.

The recently released Wii Fit game takes the genre to a new level by allowing full-body, direct interaction through the Wii Balance Board controller. Gamers can build up strength through a variety of directed exercises ranging from lower body exercises such as aerobics and balance games to upper body activities such as push ups and strength training. With complete physical activity tracking, Wii Fit has taken exergaming to the next level to provide a complete full-body workout.

About the author
This guest post was written by Maya Richard, who writes about Cell Phones. She can be reached via email at mayarichard at gmail.

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Guest Post: 5 Benefits of Exergaming

clock September 23, 2008 11:31 by author WiiBBG

For many years, video games were blamed in the mainstream media for contributing to laziness, apathy, and a downturn in the level of physical activity for those who played video games. When the Wii broke onto the market in 2006, however, gaming became immediately more physical. With the introduction of WiiFit and the Wii Balance Board, the possibilities for more physically demanding games became more far-reaching still.

How does exergaming benefit the people who play these games? The benefits of these games, both physically and educationally, are the focus of this article.

  1. Exergaming has a wide appeal. Going to the gym is not for everyone, and neither is going outside to exercise. Exergaming appeals to people of all ages and walks of life, and enables people to exercise on their own time and on their own terms.
  2. Exergaming is interactive. For many, the idea of exercise is boring. Exergaming offers an interactive way to stay physically fit and breaks the monotony of exercising alone in a gym. Turning exercise into a game involves people who may not normally have wished to exercise in the first place.
  3. Exergaming tracks your progress for you. Rather than maintaining your own records, WiiFit and other games that use the Wii Balance Board save your statistics, making it effortless for the user to track his or her progress. This in turn motivates the user to challenge him or herself to do better, which is the beauty of pairing up exercise and gaming.
  4. Exergaming creates interest in other activities. Exergaming is the gateway for many real physical activities. From tennis to skateboarding, players of physically active video games soon develop interests in the real-life versions of the games they play on the Wii. Those who like certain formats also seek out other video games that offer the same interactive physical activity.
  5. Exergaming has limitless possibilities. With the popularity of the Wii, WiiFit, and the Wii Balance Board, the possibilities truly are limitless. From more physically demanding games, to educational applications, the integration of physicality into the world of gaming is truly the way of the future for gaming.


About the author
This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick who writes on the subject of graduate school scholarships. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com.

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ResponDesign Sues Ubisoft For $26 Million

clock August 11, 2008 11:57 by author WiiBBG

Last month I mentioned Yourself!Fitness as an example of an exergame that developers should definitely refer to when creating a dedicated fitness title for the Wii. It seems that Ubisoft were meant to be doing just that but have now found themselves at the wrong end of a $26 million lawsuit as a result.

Up until now, ResponDesign has pretty much lead the way in the exergaming genre with Yourself!Fitness which it released in 2004 for PS2 and PC. In 2006 the company began developing a follow-up title for next-gen consoles (including Wii), titled Fitness Lifestyle. In early 2007 ResponDesign began negotiations with Ubisoft with the aim of licensing Yourself!Fitness and the Fitness Lifestyle code and all of the related game assets to Ubisoft which was to develop, publish and market a new Wii title called My Fitness Coach.

The agreement was signed in August 2007 and according to ResponDesign, Ubisoft received all of the required game assets and committed to delivering a "playable" first version of the game in November 2007. The aim was to start marketing in December 2007 for an April 2008 launch, which would have put the game in direct competition with Wii Fit. (Bear in mind that I have yet to ascertain whether or not there was ever any intention by ResponDesign or Ubisoft to include Wii Balance Board support but it just seems illogical not to.)

Clearly none of this happened and as of August 2008, we have yet to see any mention of a Wii fitness title from Ubisoft. According to ResponDesign, the release date for the agreed title is now Q1 2009, almost a year after it was originally intended to be released, and understandably, ResponDesign are not happy. Not only did Ubisoft miss the boat in terms of benefitting from the increased awareness of exergaming generated by the launch of Wii Fit, but ResponDesign feels it has missed out on millions of dollars worth of royalties for a game which never materialised. You have got to wonder why Ubisoft would miss out on an opportunity like this. Were they perhaps afraid to incur the wrath of Nintendo by releasing a competitor to Wii Fit or was there more to it than that? According to ResponDesign's claim there was.

In February this year, Ubisoft announced the release of a DS title called "My Weight Loss Coach" which was to include customised coaching sessions based on skill level, personalised profiles and objective setting, a success based rewards system and nutritional coaching. All of these features were critical components of Yourself!Fitness and Fitness Lifestyle and so according to ResponDesign were subject to the original license agreement for My Fitness Coach which was never intended for release on DS.

As this stage we have yet to see any kind of response to these allegations from Ubisoft but this will no doubt turn into another drawn out court case where only the lawyers win. And while all this is going on, it's ultimately us, the consumer, losing out. As a fitness title, Wii Fit can only go so far and as users begin to tire of the game and look for more fully featured exergaming titles, My Fitness Coach could have been the perfect solution.

It's not all bad news however as ResponDesign CEO Ted Spooner had this to say:

"The Wii Balance Board is a great peripheral and we are considering utilizing it in our future development. Wii Fit has been a great validation of the fitness category that we pioneered. It has shown there is tremendous pent up demand for content for this audience."

Let's hope that as the lawyers battle this lawsuit, ResponDesign continues to forge ahead and bring us the Wii exergaming titles we really want.

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Xbox VP Calls Wii Balance Board Gimmicky

clock August 8, 2008 08:43 by author WiiBBG

Ok, maybe I stretched the facts a little bit. Xbox VP David Gosen didn't exactly call the Wii Balance Board a gimmick in so many words but he certainly implied it in a recent interview with develop magazine. When asked about Microsoft's peripheral strategy here's what he had to say:

"What Nintendo have done with the Wii is truly fantastic – there is no question about it. But I think sometimes there is a thin line between gimmick and great gameplay. We've seen some research that says 60 per cent of people who bought a Wii Fit play it once and don't play it again. ...We have to ensure that the peripheral strategy that anyone employs makes sense and delivers a truly game changing experience. Because if it's just 'okay' it will end up in the cupboard under the stairs."

Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive but in my view, I think it's clear what he's implying there. As for the "research" he's referring to, that sounds a lot like the original IT Media poll in Japan which doesn't necessarily reflect what's going on in the rest of the world today, especially if our survey is anything to go by which shows that 56% of Wii Fit owners use it every day.

I don't see the Wii Fit game as a measure of the success or failure of the Wii Balance Board as a peripheral. Yes there are lots of balance boards gathering dust but that's not because it's a gimmicky peripheral. It's because people have gotten bored or frustrated with Wii Fit, and I'm pretty sure that if there were more balance board compatible games available, those Wiiboards would be well used.

You can read David Gosen's full interview here.

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