Nintendo’s senior marketing director and celebrated game designer Shigeru Miyamoto had the idea for the Wii Fit Balance Board peripheral long before the Wii itself was released back in late 2006, according to Wii Fit designer Takao Sawano.
Sawano was originally tasked by Miyamoto with creating a cheap weighing scale device that interacted with the Wii, because Miyamoto claimed to have fun just weighing himself.
Talking about the development of Nintendo’s innovative gaming controller at the Games Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco this week, Sawano added: "It was easy to get started, but I had a difficult time wrapping my head around it… I didn't think people would want to weigh themselves in the living room".
Initial weighing scale prototypes
As the project developed, Sawano moved through a long line of prototypes – inc luding an initial square scale with a rotary encoder from the old N64 controller through to designs which relied on the Wiimote docking with the board.
In terms of gaming, many gamers have levelled criticism at Wii Fit for being a one trick pony. Though Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime attempted to counter this flack at GDC yesterday announcing that there are ten more Balance Board games coming:
“We think here in the United States the reaction will be just as strong, if not stronger, given the American focus and psyche on being fit, and the game itself is going to be localized for our audience. We expect to have comparable success here in the U.S. if not a stronger result than what Japan has seen so far...
"Our sights are set very high for the this product so our goal is to make sure we have over a million units available at launch to support it... There are over 10 games in development that take advantage of the Balance Board. Certainly in terms of ongoing enjoyment, we believe that Wii Fit plus the Balance Board will provide that to the consumer.”
Are Brits as fitness focussed as Americans?
Whether or not us lazy and unfit Brits will pick up on Wii Fit as enthusiastically remains to be seen, when it launches here later in April – a month before our American cousins.
Andy Robinson over on games website computerandvideogames.com is not so convinced that the appeal of Wii Fit is all about getting in shape. He told us earlier today:
“Of course, it is going to sell loads to girls and grannies who love that kind of stuff, as long as it’s under £100. Just look at the success of the Guitar Hero series.
Robinson added: “The draw to be fit doesn’t have much to do with it, just the gimmick and the fact that it fits in nicely with the whole Wii philosophy.”