After an amazingly successful debut in Japan, expectation and hype for Wii Fit and its accompanying Balance Board is slowly reaching fever pitch elsewhere around the world. With a game that will have millions of us up on our feet, helping to convince us that exercise can be fun, arrives hope and anticipation about the future potential uses for the Wii Balance Board. From ball-rolling to dancing, Nintendic suggests five of gaming’s most popular franchises to which the accessory could make revolutionary changes.
Super Monkey Ball
The Super Monkey Ball series has always, at its heart, been about absolute precision when it comes to directing the entrapped simian from start to finish across some of gaming’s most difficulty evil courses. Presuming the Wii Balance Board’s technology is up to it, SEGA could develop a Monkey Ball title in which players shift their weight to propel the sphere forward, backwards, left and right along the designated path. What’s more, the accessory’s weight-measuring abilities could tailor custom balls for each individual gamer, defining its movement depending on the bulk onboard.
Wave Race’s last outing was as a launch title for the Nintendo GameCube in 2001 and was criticised for being overly similar to its Nintendo 64 prequel. The implementation of the Balance Board could give the series just the boost it needs, thrusting it back squarely into the limelight. Imagine standing on the device, using the Wii Remote (and Nunchuck?) as your jet ski’s handlebars, and leaning to the left and right to cut sharply through the tight, watery courses. Throw in a variety of tracks, dramatic weather effects and an online multiplayer mode, and Wave Race Wii could be something very special.
We wouldn’t be the first to claim that after a fair amount of positively-tinged anticipation, Electronic Arts’ dance-em-up debut for the Nintendo Wii turned out to be something of a disappointment; a title with the flair and charisma of a drunken uncle at a wedding reception. It’s characters to have a certain charm, though, and for that we think it deserves a second chance. With the Balance Board making interactive dance moves a possibility, if only the karaoke and shallow gameplay were sorted, we reckon EA could have a real casual hit on its hands. C’mon, the firm has to at least do something to make up for EA Playground and Ninja Reflex.
Jet Set / Grind Radio
Jet Set Radio (known as Jet Grind Radio in North America) is another franchise for which a return to the world of videogames is long overdue. Set on the mean streets of Tokyo, it saw SEGA Dreamcast (and later Microsoft Xbox and Game Boy Advance) players inline skating around the city, graffiti-ing tags, marking territory and avoiding the long arm of the law. While the Balance Board’s dimensions might make a skating action a little difficult, we’re sure SEGA could come up with something to make it work, especially since spray painting with the Wii Remote’s pointer would compliment said movement brilliantly.
This is one of the simpler and more obvious ideas, and one that might have been perfect for Mario Kart Wii had Wii Fit and the Balance Board arrived a fair time beforehand: using the accessory’s pressure sensitive pads to accelerate and brake. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as comfortable as buying a ‘proper’ steering wheel and pedals piece of kit, but even if developers other than Nintendo added it as a secondary control option into their future software, it would make sure that the Balance Board wouldn’t be left languishing in a cupboard collecting dust - or being used as a sturdy marquee for an insects’ garden party. We can but dream.
We know that there are over ten Wii Balance Board-compatible games currently in development (including Rocket Company’s Wii Exercise and THQ’s All Star Cheer Squad - and of course Namco’s We Ski is due soon), but which of your favourite gaming franchises would you like to see given a Balance Board makeover? How else do you think the technology could best be used? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.