Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wii Fit vs EA Active

It's funny, considering that these two games have been in the Top Ten Selling Game lists for months now, you'd think there would be mountains of debate about their merits. For much the same reason that I bought a Wii as soon as they explained that the controller consisted of waving a remote, I bought Wii Fit on Day One. The vast, vast appeal of an immediate feedback system this fully realized is not just a gimmick. It's tapping into the same primal urge that makes babies look at themselves in a mirror and coerces people to fill out those awful facebook quizzes relentlessly. It is a videogame about you.

Feedback, coincidentally, is why I end up concluding EA Active is the inferior product. There were personal reasons for this like my distaste for rubber band exercises, but in terms of design that's the gaping flaw. Wii Fit has a dot in a yellow circle or a bar graph that is precisely indicating where your weight is and thus how you're doing the exercise wrong. There are even gradations to how correct your posture is, doing the exercise imperfectly will still get a pass but a low score in case the person is struggling. EA Active, on the other hand, is an all or nothing feedback system. You either do the precise gesture they want or you have not done the exercise. Furthermore, instead of an easily read graph or yellow dot there is just an avatar reacting to gesture input. The last thing anyone wants to deal with while exercising is a finnicky instructor or being perfect on every move.

I'll probably regret the snark I began the essay with but that whole "Western Workout" PR schtick got on my nerves. Sometimes when people were complaining that Wii Fit wasn't a very good work out it seemed like the equivalent of bitching that your toaster makes terrible eggs. I understand they both claim to make breakfast, but that doesn't make it reasonable to expect a white sensor board to be the equivalent of a full gym.

It is what it is. And apparently that's enough to sell millions of copies.

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