Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Wii Balance Board: Tremble at the possibilities

Lots of people are looking at the upcoming launch of Wii Fit as a great way to get in shape while still having fun. I too look forward to it for this fact, but I also look a little further into the package deal, and think of how amazing the Balance Board within is. The Balance Board isn't a peripheral for playing Wii Fit. It's more of Wii Fit being a game for the Balance Board.

That's right, the Balance Board will be like a whole different console when it finally hits shelves worldwide in a little less than two months. At least, that's how I see it. This new peripheral brings so many new possibilities to the realm of videogames. It boggles the mind!

First and most obviously, look at the possibilities for boarding games. Surfing, skateboarding or snowboarding, take your pic. For these games, the Balance Board could be rotated 90 degrees from it's standard broadside-facing-TV orientation to one of the narrower sides facing the screen (Left or right would face forward, depending on the player's preference). This would only be useful for controlling your character's movements, though. Additional input (Tricks, jumps, etc.) would be relegated to a Wiimote held in the player's hand. And I suppose switching which leg is facing the front while boarding may be difficult to pull off. I don't think the Balance Board is built for players to be jumping, switching direction in mid-air and landing on it. Especially not when it comes to the heavier-set gamer. Maybe the Balance Board is stronger than that... I dunno, I haven't used it. Whatever the case, I'm sure the developers will find a way around it.

How about gas and brake pedals in a racing game? You could simply set the Balance Board on the ground in front of a chair or couch, take a seat, and hit the road. Steering would, of course, be handled by the Wiimote, as would be the emergency brake. The Balance Board has the ability to sense pressure, so depending on how hard you press down on the left and right halves would affect your acceleration and braking power. This is a great advantage over simple button input, where achieving a steady speed anything less than your max velocity is a carefully-timed game of pressing and releasing the A button. The same goes for tapping the brake just right to slow down the perfect amount, accommodating turns of any angle. The Balance Board would be a must for the pro racer looking to get even more control out of his ride.

When it comes to a Balance Board-enabled WarioWare title, the above image pretty much says it all. Players would stand on the Balance Board for the entirety of the game, leaning, posing and perhaps even stepping off the board in order to fulfill the requirements of each activity. To further mess things up, players would hold the Wiimote in their hand for even more options. Leaning to avoid a flying cannon (The ball stayed still, launching the cannon), putting one leg up and against your other knee in a flamingo pose to avoid having a rat touch your foot, and stepping off the Balance Board at just the right moment to leap onto a passing train car. As for Wiimote-enhanced activities, players could lean to dodge an arrow, and fire back with at the right moment. Perhaps players could get down on one knee and slip the ring onto some grotesque bride. Or maybe we'd even see players doing quick push-ups, with results similar to the above screenshot? Heck, my ideas are probably complete crap to what the developers would think up. In fact, I'm sure of it! Those guys at Intelligent Systems are brilliant whack-jobs, and their past WarioWares prove it.

So there you have it. Three suggestions for awesome Balance Board applications. We Ski is already out to prove that the first section can be done right, but I've yet to hear any word of the last two becoming reality. Get on it, developers!

Feel free to discuss this article in the comment section, or in this forum thread. Or none of the above. I'm cool with that.

The Duck Has Spoken.

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