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Hurtling down the ski slopes is one of the best activities available in "Wii Fit," which incorporates the Wii’s new pressure-sensitive balance board to get the whole body into the action.

The E-rated "We Ski" from Namco Bandai Games takes the experience even further by giving you an entire ski resort where you can test your skills.

Basic game play is pretty simple. You stand on the balance board, shifting your weight to the right or left to steer, and use the Wii remote and Nunchuck to simulate ski poles.

The integration of the handheld controllers makes the game a big improvement on the skiing games available in "Wii Fit." They’re used to propel yourself on flat surfaces, regain your balance or pick yourself up after a fall. Best of all, if you tuck them in toward your chest and lean forward, you gain speed.

The overall experience is very fun — but definitely geared more toward inexperienced gamers and children. The simple graphics, the chatty interactions with nonplayer characters and the relative simplicity of game play probably won’t satisfy hard-core gamers for long. Hard-core skiers might feel the same way.

"It’s like skiing without the pain," my son Kyle said, adding under his breath, "No wonder Americans are getting fat."

The game is set at Happy Ski Resort, which offers a number of slopes with varying degrees of difficulty.

First, you must decide whether to compete using your personalized Mii or a character that comes with the game. You then select clothing and gear.

The game offers a competition mode that features downhill racing, slalom and mogul, offering different kinds of courses and requiring different kinds of motions.

Its other mode, Freestyle, combines skiing with role-playing elements. You ski around the resort, talking to various people, taking up challenges, going on quests and getting your photo snapped. You might be challenged to a trick competition or asked to deliver hamburgers. The more challenges you complete, the more gear and activities you unlock.

The biggest problem with the Freestyle mode is that most of the slopes seem rather short. Unless you’re on a time challenge — picking up lost ski poles, for example — each event seems to end rather quickly. Another problem is the overly talkative nonplayer characters. Some just won’t shut up.

Although the game is balance-board compatible, the game can be played without the device. The benefit to this is that up to four players can compete head-to-head in the races. Since only one balance board can be connected to a Wii, players must take turns if they want to compete using that control method.

Most Wii warriors — and lodge-sitters — will find plenty to enjoy because "We Ski" offers innovative, easy-to-learn game play. But those who take their gaming and skiing seriously might not last long on this slope.


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