When it comes to video game consoles and motion controls, Fitness video games are very widespread and popular. Throughout multiple generations of gaming systems there have been several fitness titles across different types of fitness strategies. Even handheld gaming systems, tablets and some smart phones offer a variety of fitness games. However, one video game system took the fitness gaming genre and revolutionized it as a whole. Many know this to be the Wii and its incredible popular Wii Sports and Wii Fit series.
But before the history of the bestselling fitness video games started, there were plenty of failures that many don’t know of or remember.
Humble beginnings for fitness video games
Prior to 2006, when the Wii was released, there were several exercise video game devices that had been released. The Foot Craz was one such device, which was released for the Atari 2600 in 1987. In 1988, the Power Pad was introduced for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Both of these devices had limited success with consumers. Other exercise video game systems did exist, but they were too pricey for entertainment value. The 1986 Computrainer and eRow fell into this category.
Up until 1998, the only exercise video game devices created were for adding a virtual reality element to gym equipment. An example of this is the VR Bike, which was a fitness bike that had a virtual reality component. However, in 1998, things changed when Konami released Dance Dance Revolution. This game had an attached gaming pad that allowed users to follow the dance steps that appeared on the screen. This game alone brought exercise gaming into the mainstream for consumers.
How the Wii revolutionized fitness games
The Wii was released in 2006 and with it Wii Sports. Players used the Wii remote to represent certain movements in the games, so naturally this could be used as a fitness element. Wii Sports utilized the motions of playing its five sports into a fitness mode that offered light exercise to players. This type of interactive gaming was the first affordable model of its kind, which attributed to its popularity. In addition, Wii Sports was sometimes used as an aide in occupational rehab services.
In 2007, shortly after the release of the Wii and Wii Sports, Wii Fit was introduced. Wii Fit introduced the Wii Balance Board as a peripheral. During exercises, players would stand on the balance board. The game offered many different types of exercises that players could do, including yoga, aerobics, balance games, and strength training. Though players could only attain lower and moderate amounts of exercise using the Wii Fit, the device has remained widely popular. Players of all ages can use it, including the elderly. With such a broad audience to appeal to, Wii Fit became very popular.
According to VGChartz, Wii Fit is number 14 on the top selling video games of all time chart. Despite the fact that it is an older game, it has staying power due to its innovative design and wide range of functions. The game is not only used for fitness purposes. Many rehab facilities and even nursing homes make use of Wii Fit to help their patients with range of motion exercises and physical activity.
Both Wii Sports and Wii Fit had very popular sequels. Wii Sports Resort was the 2009 follow up to Wii Sports. It included enhanced versions of the original five Wii Sports games along with seven additional games. The game was very successful just like its predecessor. It is currently at the number four spot of the bestselling video games list compiled by VGChartz.
Wii Fit Plus was the 2009 successor to the original Wii Fit. It is essentially an enhanced version of Wii Fit, but it also adds 15 more aerobic and balance games. There are also six added yoga and strength training exercises. Players were thrilled to have a calorie burning calculator and the ability to customize workouts. Wii Fit Plus was very successful, both when it was released and even now. It ranks very high among the top selling video games of all time.
Another incredibly popular series is the Zumba Fitness series of fitness games, released between 2010 and 2013. This series of exercise video games includes:
- Zumba Fitness
- Zumba Fitness 2
- Zumba Fitness Core – Nintendo Wii
- Zumba Fitness World Party
- Zumba Kids
- Zumba Fitness Rush
Zumba Fitness is offered on the Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The sequel, Zumba Fitness 2, was only created for the Wii and Xbox 360. Each of these games were wildly popular and are high in the ranks of the bestselling fitness video games for consoles. Unlike Wii Fit and Wii Sport games, exercise levels will be moderate to heavy, offering the opportunity for a maximum workout.
Sony answered the popularity of the Wii with the PlayStation Move in Q4 of 2010. Designed for similar usage to the Wii Motion Plus, the PlayStation Move was released for use with the PlayStation 3, and later the PlayStation 4. Though very popular, the PlayStation Move has not attained the popularity of the Wii or Kinect for use in gaming. Just like with Wii Motion Plus, players can use the Move controller for various fitness games available for the PlayStation 3 system.
PlayStation Move Fitness
PlayStation Move Fitness is a game released on the PS3 for use with the Move controller. It consists of a download on the PlayStation Network. This popular game download features 25 exercises and a virtual personal trainer who will push you to meet your fitness goals. For a downloadable fitness game, the $10 price tag is completely worth it.
In 2010, the Kinect was released for the Xbox 360 to compete with both the Wii and the PlayStation Move. And in 2013, an updated version of the Kinect came packaged with the Xbox One. The Kinect differs from both the PlayStation Move and Wii Motion Plus by using a camera to track movement instead of a controller. This leaves the hands free, making the Kinect more desirable for some gamers. The voice recognition is also better than that of the competition. The Xbox 360 currently offers a variety of fitness video games that is tailored to work with Kinect.
Zumba Fitness Rush for Kinect
Zumba Fitness Rush is a very popular Xbox 360 game that utilizes the Kinect for a full body workout. The game is highly-rated with a huge following. DLC support offers many different options to change up the fitness routine. There are 42 routines that feature top musical hits and Zumba originals. Players can also learn 24 different dance styles throughout the different routines.
Xbox Fitness is not exactly a game, but an app released for the Xbox One. It is included with the $60 a year Xbox Gold subscription for 2014, but starting in 2015 it will require a separate subscription. The workouts offered have a variety of options for different fitness levels, all taught by celebrity trainers. It is also user-friendly according to many reviews. With time, it is possible that this app could become one of the most popular fitness games of the year.
With more advanced console systems come more advanced fitness games. Many of these games offer moderate and heavy exercise workouts. However, some offer light fitness routines that are perfect for beginners or those who are sedentary.
When each year passes, fitness games advance in both high-tech design and functionality. It’ll be interesting to see where fitness video games will be heading with newer technology like Xbox One’s Kinect.