2008 is the Year of the Wii Balance Board

By: Martin Graf

Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere, chances are you've heard the buzz about Nintendo's latest creation, Wii Fit. If you haven't, here's a brief rundown. Wii Fit is the new lifestyle product for the Wii Console that combines the fun of gaming with the benefits of exercise. The Wii was a revolution in itself in the way that it allowed users to interact with games using wireless motion sensitive controls that were fun and easy to use, appealing to both gamers and non-gamers alike. Wii Fit takes this concept one step further with the introduction of the Wii Balance Board which comes bundled with the game.

The Wii Balance Board

The Wii Balance Board looks a lot like an oversized bathroom scale but it actually contains four pressure sensors that allow it to very accurately determine a user's weight and their position on the board. This information is sent wirelessly to the Wii Console, allowing games to interpret a whole new range of motions and provides a completely new gaming experience. Wii Fit is the first game to take advantage of the Wii Balance Board and features over forty different exercises and games including yoga, muscle workouts, aerobic exercise and balance games.

Wii Fit is an Instant Hit

Wii Fit was launched in Japan at the beginning of December 2007 and it was an immediate hit, selling almost 1.8 million copies in the first four months. It was then released in the UK on the 25th April 2008 and almost immediately topped the UK gaming charts. Within days, retailers had sold all of their initial stock allocations and it was estimated that over 200 000 copies of Wii Fit were sold within the first week. In fact, one high street chain claimed to be shifting 90 copies a minute on launch day. Wii Fit is scheduled for launch in Australia on the 8th May 2008 and in the US on the 19th.

What's Next after Wii Fit?

There's no denying the success of Wii Fit even before its US launch which will no doubt be massive, but I predict that ultimately it's the Wii Balance Board that's going to be the big hit in 2008. Wii Fit has taken Wii from being just another games console to being an actual lifestyle product that wouldn't seem out of place in the average home and this will mean a potentially huge increase in the gaming market. As the buzz and excitement of Wii Fit dies down, many Wii Fit owners will begin to wonder what else they can do with their Wii Balance Boards, and that's when things will really start to get interesting.

Upcoming Wii Balance Board Games

Right now (1 May 2008), Wii Fit is the only game available for the Wii Balance Board but that will definitely change in the coming months. Namco Bandai has already confirmed the release of We Ski in the US on May 13 and 2k Sports have Don King's Prizefighter scheduled for June and the list will grow. In fact, Nintendo US COO, Reggie Fils-Aime, confirmed that over 10 games were already in development.

No other games have been confirmed but there are already rumours spreading of Nintendo snowboarding, EA Skate, Rayman Raving Rabbids and even future Mario titles. Like I said, nothing's been confirmed but whatever the case, Wii Balance Board games are definitely going to be a big hit in 2008.

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