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Video Game Review

1415 words - 6 pages

If we can trust Wikipedia, Wii Fit is the second best-selling game of all time, if we don't include sales of games bundled with a console like Super Mario Brothers or Wii Sports. Considering that if you subtract the cost of the bundled controller people were going to buy anyway, the number one best seller, Wii Play, is really only worth $10. This beat out Wii Fit, a game/accessory that outright costs $90, which to me is a lot more impressive. Nintendo's success gave rise to copycats like EA Sports Active and Bandai's Active Life Outdoor Challenge. Except, Active Life Outdoor Challenge isn't really a copycat, it's the original exercise game series: the Power Pad!

The Power Pad's history is easiest to explain if we stay with Nintendo of Japan's naming schemes. A Japanese toy company named Bandai released a series of "Family Trainer" games on the Nintendo Family Computer (aka the Famicom or NES) that used a special controller mat. This mat was basically a large, flat controller whose buttons you mainly step on to interact. It couldn't tell if you were properly balanced, it didn't have any precise pressure sensors, nor could it tell how much you weighed. It could only tell if you were standing on a button or you weren't.

When bringing it to North America, they gave it a limited release in Woolworth stores under the title "Family Fun Fitness". Nintendo of America quickly saw its potential, so they bought the rights from Bandai, redesigned it, and renamed it the Power Pad to bundle it with their game console. Twenty plus years later, a new "Family Trainer" is released in Japan for the Wii. Except in the US they decided to call it Active Life Outdoor Challenge, which sadly glosses over any history the game carried. However, that didn't stop them from selling a million copies of their latest incarnation. Now that we've got the convoluted naming scheme out-of-the-way, I'd like to share my recent experiences actually playing some of these games.

World Class Track Meet

The Power Pad game that most people experienced is World Class Track Meet. If you still have a copy of the Bandai branded version, Stadium Events, you should know that it's worth about $13,000 (or $41,000 sealed!). The most common version came with the Nintendo "Power Set" that also included Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt on the same cartridge. I've noticed that a lot of people misremember the game as Track and Field, which I can understand, as there's a track, a field, and events you would expect a track and field to have. You have the 100 meter dash, where you are simply required to run in place over two buttons (i.e. 1 & 2, see chart). One important detail I missed out on not having the manual was that if you stand on a different set of buttons, your character runs either faster or slower. For instance, if you ran in place over buttons 1 and 2, you would run much faster than if you ran over buttons 9 and 10. I was probably cheating (or being cheated) without knowing it when...

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