Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Technology Demos

Personally, I love the concept of a technology demo. It shows what could be done with a product or an idea. It's a proof of concept. What I find amazing is the fact that Nintendo has turned these into a profit margin. It seems that they have decided to push the envelope not with high quality, well designed games that have folks really re-thinking how they play, but with gimicks and technology demos of what could be done.

Last week my wife bought Wii Fit. My overall impression is actually positive for the product, but right now I want to focus in on and be really critical of what it is - it's a technology demo. The "trainers" are horridly underdone - and I don't just mean the graphics, which are bad in almost every way. They aren't animated for the most part, heck their lips don't even move, and the backgrounds look like they are from a PSOne, not a current generation console. The balance board is sometimes slow to respond, and the software could do more to determine how well you are doing with the pose, but it doesn't seem to. It also is horrid for motivation. The first thing it does is it weighs you, and figures out your BMI. It claims that around 22 is "optimal", and tells you that while doing the tests, but it's also records that as borderline obese (you figure that one out). During the tests it asks if you easily trip while walking, or if you have problems standing up. Overall I'd say that the overall tone is "demeaning". I'd guess that at least 2 out of 10 households that play this are going to bring it back to gamestop as used within 6 weeks because they aren't having any positive effects from it, and the self image of their child (or themselves) is horridly impacted.

Down to the workouts. The yoga is good, and you do feel some good initial burn from it. The pushup-plank pose really gives me a chest workout so far. My big gripe here is that you can't configure a 10 or 15 minute workout and just go through the poses. To do 10 minutes of working out takes a good 5 minutes of downtime between poses to go through their stupid slow talking and menus. There is very little to help folks trying to learn on what they should do, like don't work out the same muscle group every day, but try to break it up (legs one day, chest/arms the next). The mini-games are good, but they are mini-games, and everything requires unlocking. Whoever came up with the idea of unlocking basic fitness routines should pretty much be shot.

Maybe someone will take the balance board idea and come up with a really solid workout routine around it, one that's can become almost a personal trainer for folks. The concept is there, the technology demo I'm sure will sell well. Now maybe a real top-notch studio will do the actual work. Maybe they can get a sponsor of a real fitness guru to go through the workouts, and then you can get a varied and healthy workout. Hasn't happened yet on the Wii, though. Then again, maybe it'll need to be mimicked by the other two systems to be taken seriously...

No comments: