When it comes to working out, I have a couple of simple rules. First, find an activity that you really enjoy doing, and second, make it easy to do that activity.
Konami’s new fitness game, Walk It Out!, definitely plays by those rules. As the title indicates, it’s a game about walking. Yes, you heard me, a game about walking. No, seriously. You play the game by walking.
Okay, it seems like a ridiculous idea, I know, but when looking for new Wii games recently, I noticed that the reviews for Walk It Out! on Amazon.com were for the most part very positive. So I decided to give it a try. I know from previous experience that walking is a good way to stay fit, and that I enjoy it. It’s easy, very relaxing, and if I do it often enough, my legs really shape up. But I dropped out of the habit for a number of reasons – kids, schedule problems, pollen allergies, bum knees that hate cold weather, etc. Walk It Out! let’s me get in a walk without having to worry about any of those problems.
The premise is simple. You walk in time to the beat of the music. As you walk, you accrue points, which you can spend on various floating icons that appear in the landscape around you. This landscape, by the way, is called “Rhythm Island,” and it has plenty of places to roam around in. The floating icons that appear all over the place will unlock either landscape items like trees, houses, gardens, or cars; new music tracks to walk to; different parts of the island to explore; different routes through the island; different times of day for the environment; constellations in the sky (if you happen to walk at “night” on the island); and different colors in a rainbow. The rainbow colors don’t cost you any points, but if you collect them all, a brilliant rainbow lights up in the sky and you’ll be able to see for the rest of your walk.
It’s a very simple game. You just have to walk in time to the music. The better your timing, the more points you earn. If you miss steps, you lose points. According to the game manual, you can walk using either Konami’s DDR dance pad, the Wii balance board, or by attaching the nunchuk to your wii-mote and then tucking it into a pocket. I have not bothered with that last method, since most reviews by people who have tried it say it doesn’t work very well. Instead, I’ve been using my DDR pad, and it works just fine (although in the course of an hour of walking, I find the pad tends to travel across the room and I’ll have to pause the game and move the mat to keep from ending up under the couch). Hubster tried the game using the balance board and said it was a little tricky at first, but after a bit he got the hang of it.
Once you get walking, it’s easy to get around the island. Direction arrows will pop up at various points, allowing you to select which route you want to take. Not all routes are open at the beginning, but you can earn new ones by clicking on their icons. If you’ve already earned enough points, that route opens instantly. If not, the route falls into a que at the top of the screen and you keep earning points toward it. Once you’ve earned the points, you can go back and select that route again and it will be available. And this is the same method for how you earn points toward anything else in the game.
You probably do want to play this game with the nunchuk attached, since that makes it easier to look around the island. Use the toggle switch on the nunchuk to pan left, right, up and down, and click the button on the front to return your view to normal. I use the cross button at the top of the wii-mote to select direction arrows while I’m walking, though you can also click on them by point the wii-mote at them and clicking the A button. Clicking on the floating icons is a bit tricky until you get used to it, but it only took me a couple of sessions to get very good at it.
I’ve been playing the game every morning for the past week, and I enjoy it a lot. I’ve been having a hard time lately getting up in the mornings to exercise because I just don’t have the energy to face a serious bout on Wii Fit Plus or EA Sports Active. Much as I love those games, I cannot seem to drag myself out of bed for them right now. However, I can convince myself to get up and walk in my own living room, and that makes this game a huge WIN in my book. I’m the kind of person who enjoys exploring various environments. I love that the game environment can reflect the time of day that I step onto the mat. If I’m walking at 6AM, I get to see the sun rise on Rhythm Island. Of course, as I unlock the various clock icons, I’ll be able to choose what time of day I want to walk, but having Rhythm Island in sync with the real day works for me. I also love the variety of the landscape. The first session of the game starts out in a stadium, but I was very quickly able to move to the town outside, the beach, local parks, and even cross the river to the farm land and mountain lookout beyond that.
Playing with a second player can add to the fun. Last night I set up a second DDR mat and a friend and I spent more than half an hour marching in place in the living room, and we had a good time! We moved like the world’s worst high school marching band ever, but we were having fun. Of course, when Pixie and Princess played, they weren’t quite as thrilled, since Pixie kept pointing the camera view into the ground just to annoy her sister. So choose your walking partner carefully.
Now onto the one question I’m sure everyone will ask about this game: is it really a workout? Well, you’re not going to work up the level of sweat you’d get with EA Sports Active or even Wii Fit Plus. However, you will burn calories (after a session, the game will even show you how many calories you’ve burned, along with the number of steps you’ve taken and the distance you walked). I know that after playing for a week, I certainly feel a difference in my thighs, hips, and calves, so my legs are definitely firming up. And like I said earlier, I wasn’t getting up to play Wii Fit Plus or EASA, but for Walk It Out! I have gotten up 7 mornings in a row at 6AM and burned calories. And if you have any doubts about whether a simple walk will help keep you fit, you might want to check out the Campaign for Walking.
In summary, it does seem like a ridiculous idea to have a game just for walking, but it’s worked for me and I plan to keep playing the game for many mornings to come.
Good on ya, Konami! Now be prepared to expand that game for next year, because I know I’m going to want more.