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Walk It Out - Wii Review

Game Info
Walk It Out (a.k.a. Step to the Beat)

Wii | Konami / Hudson | 1 Player / 2-4 Players (local multiplayer/co-operative play) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer); Wii Remote and Nunchuk; DanceDanceRevolution Controller; Balance Board
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27th March 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

So, you want to head to the park for your usual 15-minute walk but it's awfully chilly out! It looks like you'll have to settle for stair-climbing for the day - that is, until you realize that you recently purchased Walk It Out. Worried that it's not that good of a game, you've refrained from opening it, waiting for the right verdict to convince you not to return it to the store. Well, look no further! In this review, I'll be detailing this new fitness game from Konami, so take a break from your usual workout sessions and give this review a read.

    Walk It Out is a pretty modest concept that's very cohesive with Konami's recent fitness focus on the Wii. Essentially, you use the control scheme of your choice to step or walk in tune with one of over 100 in-game music tracks. Rather than simply walking with a plain old background (like in Wii Fit), players will take a journey around Rhythm Island, the main setting of the entire game. Before you begin playing, you can customize their very own character to represent you in the game. You can assign up to 6 different profiles, and you can play the game with up to 3 friends/family members simultaneously. Along the way, you'll be accompanied by a male or female announcer who will narrate gameplay and offer you tips on how to get the most out of your experience. They talk a lot more than they should (especially at the start), so don't be too surprised if you find them annoying. 

So what control schemes are supported in this game? Under the default setting, you place the Nunchuk in your pocket with the Wii Remote in hand as you walk in place or from a distance away. You can also use your DanceDanceRevolution controller, by stepping on any of the face buttons. Even the Wii Balance Board can be used to "walk" by raising and lowering your heels. As you walk around the island, you control the camera by clicking and dragging using the Wii Remote's cursor. Pressing the 1 Button on the Wii Remote causes the camera to reset instantly. If you're using one of the two latter control schemes, you can use the analog on the Nunchuk, if you find it hard to point while walking.

    Your overall goal in the game is not only to reach your fitness goals, but also to manage and develop Rhythm Island into a place full of life and enjoyment. There are tons of routes to explore and countless unlockable songs, landmarks and even special items. Along the paths you travel, you'll find capsules of varying colours on either side of you, or even floating in the sky. These capsules can be unlocked simply by using the step points you've accumulated over the course of a session. If you don't have enough points, it'll be placed into one of three slots at the top of the screen, and once you achieve the required number of points, the item will unlock automatically. But with landmark capsules, you'll need to return to the same spot where you found the original capsule to activate it. Even with the capsule costs set to the easiest setting, there is a whole lot to unlock and this is what gives players motivation to keep playing. It might not sound very compelling at first, but you might be surprised with how much you can get into it.

Various elements in the game also coincide with this idea of repeat play. Each day offers you new things to do beyond the main capsule unlockables. For example, each daily session you can collect a total of 7 Rainbow spheres scattered around the Island. Naturally, if you collect all 7, these will make a beautiful rainbow that will last for the rest of the day. In addition, depending on the time you play, otherwise-inaccessible capsules will pop up to be unlocked. Magical Clock fragments can be collected along your quest, and if you obtain enough, you'll be allowed to set the clock to a specific time on demand. At the end of each session, you may be awarded medals for your good performance and this, too, gives players something to aim for as they play. Because all of the points you obtain aren't deposited into a bank of sorts, players will need to use up all of their step points before quitting. It is rather irritating that points can be saved across multiple sessions, but in so doing, the game encourages players to come back regularly in a somewhat-effective manner.

    A game like this could easily become dull without great music and thankfully, this was considered as the game was being developed. Walk It Out features a decent soundtrack with songs hailing from a wide variety of genres and styles. This sense of diversity ensures that there's something for everyone of all ages to enjoy. 
Each song is divided into over 10 different playlists which can be selected whenever you want. There are sets for urban songs, instrumental-based songs, house tracks, fast songs, and more. You can even remove songs you don't like from the song selection which is a fantastic feature. 
Admittedly, not all of the 120 songs in the game are great, and because you'll need to unlock 98% of them, you're bound to tread through some poor ones along the way. 

There's less than 20 songs that are actual master tracks or covers of licensed songs. A few of these also appear in DDR Hottest Party 3 such as When I Grow Up and Closer, but there are a couple others that have a good measure of appeal such as Boom Boom Pow and Holiday. The remainder of the in-game soundtrack consists of KO's from original Bemani artists that have composed songs in past DanceDanceRevolution games. Many of the songs sound like they have been sitting in the Konami archives as rejected KO proposals for past DDR games. This in itself isn't bad, but you can tell that a lot of these are either not very memorable or just plain awful (especially the rock ones). There are a few gems hidden away, including Someone to Love, Ribbon, In the Fire, and Boundcloud, just to name a few. In fact, some of these could easily pass as strong songs for DDR Hottest Party 4 (perhaps as DLC?). 
Although there's a fair share of unappealing songs, there's enough good ones that can be selected to make gameplay that much more enjoyable.

    Further on the aspect of presentation, Walk It Out features fairly-pleasing visuals that neither impress, nor do they feel tacked on. Going from farmlands, to apartment areas, there's a good amount of detail around each and every district on the entire island. The visuals during mini-games look a bit different from the standard graphics. The framerate here appears to be smoother and more slick as a whole (especially in the puzzle game). But overall, it's a decent effort on the part of the developers and it's something you can appreciate more as you develop the island.

So, out of all the control schemes in the game, which one serves as the most ideal gameplay experience? If you have the ability to play using one of the two peripheral-based control schemes, then don't even bother with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo. Using the DanceDanceRevolution controller not only makes the most sense, but it works much more reliably. Admittedly, playing songs with a slow BPM may be hard to get used to for DDR veterans, but there's a good number of songs that verge on jogging speed. Using the Wii Balance Board, though, is definitely the best way to play the game. Although the manual tells you not to raise your feet off the device, you can walk as you normally would and it'll work perfectly. One might argue that it works even better than the DDR controller because of having less spacing required in between your two feet to step in place. 

    If you've tried the spectacular Balance Board mode in DDR Hottest Party 3, you may be surprised to learn that Walk It Out can be played in a slightly similar fashion. Rather than walking, you can simply sway your hips back and forth to the beat of the music. Some songs are more fun than others but as a whole, it's not only a great workout, but it's a lot of fun too. Players can even add an additional element to the gameplay by using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in a way that resembles the Hand Marker system from DDR Hottest Party 2. As players shake their hips, they can also shake the controls in time with the music just as an optional, added touch for an even stronger experience!

The entire game keeps track of a lot of data that should give you a good indication of how well you're doing. By means of ranking tables, players who have assigned themselves individual profiles can compare high-scores in a variety of categories such as the total number of Perfect's and the total distance traveled in the game. Additionally, fitness charts keep track of the number of calories burned if you're looking to monitor that kind of information. There's a surprising amount of depth here in the volume of statistics that are collected as you play. 

    If you ever feel like taking a break from the standard gameplay, Walk It Out features 3 mini-games that serve as a nice diversion from the normal walking. There's a Whack-a-Mole-style mini-game, a game where you run around a soccer field to smash enemies with a giant hammer, and there's even a neat colour puzzle game. They're likely not going to stick with you but they are nice to try once or twice.

    Although most of the menu options have been executed well, probably one of the biggest issues I have with the game is a lack of an autosave feature. In order to save all the progress you've made in a given session, you need to go into the Main Menu and press the 'Save/Quit' option. I've been experiencing some issues with my disc reader as of late that cause some Wii games to freeze during play. So naturally, I would be playing, just about ready to call it quits, and a disc error would make me lose an hour's worth of progress. I don't expect people to have issues similar to the ones I did, but still, any number of potential complications could have been avoided had the developers implemented an Autosave feature.

Walk It Out may not be fantastic, but it's surprisingly good, (maybe even great depending on your point of view). It will take you a very long time to unlock everything, and even then, it's still a worthwhile investment because of the physical benefits that can be derived. The soundtrack is a mixed bag but the variety appeals to the tastes of almost every possible player. The game can be quite fun to play, especially with a Balance Board, and you might get sucked into it after a few sessions. Families will benefit the most from this release, but if you're into music/fitness games on the Wii, give this a go.

23/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Controls are a mixed bag, decent concept, building up the Island isn't terribly exciting, surprisingly enjoyable
Presentation 7/10 - Graphics look decent, soundtrack contains a varied mixture of good and poor songs, save feature could be better
Enjoyment 4/5 - Using the Balance Board is the best way to play, more fun with another friend, some songs are fun to walk to
Extra Content 5/5 - Tons to unlock, great replay value if it sticks with you, multiplayer support, achievement-tracking menus, forgettable mini-games

Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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