A rhythm nation is Walking It Out
Watch your back, Just Dance. A new challenger is ambling toward the title of sleeper video game hit of 2010, or more accurately, “the game the gamers love to hate and everyone else is finding irresistable”.
Of course we’re talking about Walk It Out, which was released 2 months ago and didn’t make much initial noise other than guffawing from game critics. In WIO, you just walk (or jog or jump) through a cartoony fantasy land called Rhythm Island, using a DDR mat (an Active Life mat also works), balance board or just the remote/nunchuck. With each step recognized by the game, you get a point, and you spend those points furnishing the nearly-barren island with trees, buildings, fountains and even bridges to other islands, as well as gaining new songs and a daily rainbow.
That’s all there is to it: walk, point and shoot at prize capsules. Even I thought it sounded a little dumb at first. But it got some good reviews out of the gate at Amazon, so when they put it up as a one-day special for $10 off, I bit. And like a growing number of fans – here, here, here and here – I got sucked into the happy little world (Bob Ross would’ve loved it) of Rhythm Island.
As with other addicting casual games like Bejeweled and Tetris, simplicity is key. The easy, monotonous gameplay lets you while away hours, only with Walk It Out, you’re on your feet and burning calories while whiling away. And while the soundtrack isn’t as party-in-a-box as Just Dance or We Cheer, it is huge (120 songs) and has a variety of both genres and tempos.
Wii often gets criticized for being standard-def in a high-def world, but Rhythm Island has terrific detail for its graphical limitations, from drifting clouds to shifting shadows in breeze-blown cherry blossom trees. Cows moo and streams whisper as you stroll past. And depending on the time of day, the island changes from sunny days to starry nights, or you can unlock the “magical” clock and warp to whatever time you choose. Most of the time, though, I stick to real-life time, whether it’s a mid-morning walk in the blazing sun (no need for sunscreen or bug spray), an after-dinner sunset stroll, or a late-night walk in lieu of Jay or SNL – or a midnight raiding of the fridge.
Walk It Out is also very well-designed as a fitness game, with enough profiles for 6 people to track BMI, calories, steps and distance. I’ll go into those record screens in detail in a future post. Two can play, and it’s ideal for families. My 8-year-old has been enthusiastically playing the game nearly every day.
This game combines pick-up-and-play simplicity, the fantasy-world attraction of Animal Crossing or Farmville, mostly-good tunes, and a healthy angle into a can’t-miss package. It also has much less of a learning curve than DDR, and superior workout record-keeping. (I just got DDR Hottest Party 3, which I’ll review in another post; it’s improved over previous editions, but workout mode is still lame.) With Walk It Out and/or Just Dance for cardio plus Wii Fit and/or EA Sports Active for strength and flexibility, you could have yourself a very well-rounded exercise program on the Wii.