The weight loss and fitness industries are worth big bucks today, with entire generations tending toward obesity, and the ever-present desire to better ourselves. It’s no surprise then that the fitness programs developed for the Nintendo Wii have taken our country by storm. Wii Fit, EA Sports Active, My Fitness Coach and more all attempt to get us into shape, while sparing us the monotony of the gym or the embarrassment of working our flab into shape in front of others. The latest title in the series, Wii Yoga, should therefore be a success. After all, it’s an excellent opportunity to incorporate this relaxing exercise into our everyday routines. Or is it?
Wii Yoga makes an attempt to introduce the gamer to more than simply a range of exercises, providing information as to the history of the exercise regime itself, and even lifestyle benefits. Unfortunately, while in principle the idea of incorporating these additional facets of interest is sound, the developers don’t seem to have spent much time considering how they would work together. This gives a disjointed impression of the game and makes it hard to get your teeth stuck in to any particular area.
Strangely enough for an exercise game, Wii Yoga actually offers a Story mode. This is the area of the game where you are likely to spend the majority of your time. After selecting your trainer to help and guide you through your yoga-based journey, you’ll find yourself transported to a temple where you will be taught a variety of exercises, interspersed with some information about the history of the practice of yoga. It’s a shame that what could have been an informative and entertaining exercise routine is spoilt by its ridiculously slow pace. You’ll spend the majority of your time wishing you could actually get on with doing anything useful, rather than being led around by an instructor determined to encroach on your exercise with their ceaseless voiceovers. To make matters worse, the temple itself looks like something dragged up from the depths of the PlayStation 1. While the Wii isn’t exactly a console known for its beauty, we’ve certainly come to expect better.
So the lack of control as you explore the temple, the severely disturbing graphics and the long time spent listening to voiceovers may reduce your enjoyment, but what of the exercises themselves? When presented with an exercise you will be required to follow the example of your on-screen instructor. Sounds simple in principle, but someone forgot that in performing the majority of yoga exercises you will be unable to view your television screen. This makes life particularly frustrating, as the game offers little to no audio response as to how your pose is progressing, leaving you in the potentially harmful position of simply guessing if you have it right.
The combination of the Wii Remote and Balance Board was intended to ensure accurate completion of the yoga positions, but even with both tools utilised you are unlikely to feel that accuracy anywhere at all. It hardly seems to matter whether your position is perfect or widely off track, and with no reward system and no progression there really is no incentive to correctly perform the poses.
Wii Yoga should have been a useful and enjoyable home exercise tool. As it stands, however, you’d do better finding yourself a good yoga DVD for a fraction of the price. In attempting to create something of a game, Wii Yoga has moved away from being a serious exercise companion, but failing in its recognition of poses and its lack of enjoyment, it also fails to create an entertaining gaming experience.