I never would have guessed it when it was released last year, but the Wii Fit really can provide quite a work out. I've taken to doing the assorted exercises and activities featured on the game disc, along with running every other day or so (for exactly the length of two episodes of Arrested Development at a time), and I've lost about seven pounds in the last few weeks. All without changing one, single, other unhealthy thing that I do (like drinking bacon grease). So it must be the exercise--the hula-hooping, ski-jumping and penguin-sliding, specifically--that is helping me turn my flabby ass back into the chiseled Adonis I once was.
And like I said, I'm quite impressed. I would have thought that the game was mostly for entertainment, and the giant white foot board they include as useful as the "wheels" you can get for the latest iteration of Mario Kart. But the exercises really do make you break a sweat. If you do them like you're supposed to, of course. They won't really do much for you if you attempt them like Jess caught her dad doing one morning this week: sitting on the couch with the Fit Board under his feet, shifting his feet slightly to keep his digital hula hoop from hitting the ground. He just probably wasn't incinerating calories to his full potential with 75% of his body completely inanimate. At least that's what I'd think, but I'm certainly no personal trainer. However, I've always been told that a good general rule for sports and exercise is that if you could theoretically both drink a beer and smoke a cigarette while participating, then the activity in question is probably neither a sport nor an exercise. Excepting, of course, softball.
Perhaps the most entertaining activity (besides sliding across an iceberg to catch fish in a penguin suit) is what took me most by surprise. It is simply a running exercise, where you jog down a predetermined path beside an unnamed trainer, as the rest of the Miis (the avatars that players can design to resemble themselves--or in my case, celebrities like Adolph Hitler, Woody Allen and Dog the Bounty Hunter--if you aren't already familiar) cheer you on. As you run more, and explore the rest of the exercises that the game offers, lengthened and more advanced activities are unlocked. It was while I was jogging a circuit around the fictional Wii Fit island (complete with a quaint little downtown area that reminds me of a quiet Bavarian village with its beautiful timbered houses) that I realized a game I desperately want to be released for the Wii. A game that will never be released. One that probably hasn't even crossed developers' minds because of how ridiculous it seems on paper.
The next game I want from Nintendo is: City Jogger 2009!
Now stay with me here! I so loved jogging around this wonderful little island, but what if I could take that one step further? What if I could have a game in which I'd run through Manhattan! Up the Vegas Strip! Past the Space Needle! It could be developed in a partnership with Google Earth--hundreds of different cities from all around the world, all collected on one disc for me to jog through, seeing the sites, chasing the pigeons, and developing rock-solid quads! It would be even better if the game would up the ante with human interaction: let me choose my route as I run it, changing my mind at each light--to the Met or to Radio City Music Hall?? The possibilities could be endless! Or if you really want to blow some minds, run the entire game through the Wii's online capabilities and let me run with friends and strangers from all over the world!
The technology is already in place. I can turn on Mario Kart Wii at any time of the day or night and have my ass handed to me by homeschooled 10-year-olds from Wisconsin. And if Nintendo agreed to slap Google's name on the cover, they wouldn't even have to invest time or money in developing maps! If they want to develop original maps, give me places to jog in Hyrule, Donkey Kong Country and, of course, the Mushroom Kingdom--not some tiny island some designer threw together in ten minutes before lunch break (seriously, as enjoyable as it was to take a lap around the thing, I can't see myself wanting to run that exact same course every other day for the rest of my life).
That's what will ultimately kill the Wii Fit; there are only so many activities to open up, and then you're just doing the same thing over and over again, until you stop putting the disc in at all, and go play Metroid Prime: Corruption instead. You're supposed to keep us active, Nintendo Wii! You're single-handedly keeping Oreo-stuffed youngsters all over the world from dying of heart failure before they reach puberty--the least you could do is give us some variety. I know it sounds crazy at first, but you have to admit it's got a damn fine ring to it: City Jogger 2009!. Even if I have to wait until 2010, that's fine (so long as you keep the exclamation mark--it's essential to the marketing campaign). You deliver it to me, Nintendo, and I'll deliver to you the corresponding fifty bucks out of my wallet. I know that's all you really want from me anyway.