As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I’ve been a prolific juggler at various stages in my life. I was president of the Juggling Club at the University of MN for about 2 and 1/2 years, and I’ve juggled on and off for at least 17 years now. That’s the main reason that I tend to pick up any new juggling and/or circus related games that appear on the market. They’re usually terrible, but I have a small collection, for various ancient consoles mostly, and now, increasingly, for the iPhone.
Read on for some mii juggling in Wii Fit Plus, and some iPhone mini-reviews.
First off, I think Wii Fit is great. I don’t “play” it nearly as much as I should to loose any sort of weight, but it’s really got a lot of fun games in there. If you buy a Wii Fit now, all the newer bundles come with what they call Wii Fit Plus, which is a minor update, but one that adds about 20 or 30 minigames, making it easily worth the stand-alone $20 upgrade price (for anyone who already plunked down $80 for a fit in the first place). Incidentally, I think Nintendo really dropped the ball on not doing the same thing with Wii Sports. They started shipping all the new Nintendo Wiis with a newer version of Wii Sports after about a year or so. (I bought my console at launch.) But they did it without much fanfare, and there was no way to buy an upgrade. (Of course, recently they released Wii Sports Resort, which has 12 games, but two of them are the same as Wii Sports, which literally everyone who owns a Wii already owns, so that was a tad disappointing. There’s a lot of content in there though, and it’s probably worth the upgrade. Harder to say because it requires a $20 controller upgrade also.)
Anyway, one of the new Mini-games for Wii Fit is this juggling one. What makes it hard is not necessarily the juggling, although that can get a bit tricky with more than two balls, it’s the fact that you have to balance left and right while you’re doing it. Basically, you’re in a ring in the bigtop, and you’re standing on a rolling globe (aka, giant ball). Fortunately, there is no forward backward balance required, as I think the left/right is hard enough. You have the wii controller in your right hand, and the nunchuck accessory in your other, and you basically just flick each one up when you catch a ball in the corresponding hand. Fun stuff, and really, it’s the closest to any sort of juggling simulator I’ve ever seen in a video game.
Incidentally, I knew there were a few other Wii circus games that I hadn’t checked out yet. Circus Games by UBI Soft (Oct 21, 2008) and Carnival Games by Take 2 (Aug 27, 2007), but I didn’t know about the recently released Go Play Circus Star by Majesco Sales Inc. (Jun 9, 2009) until I just now checked Amazon. I then also realized that there are some notable upcoming titles (already available for presale) also: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus by 2K Play (Nov 10, 2009), and Playmobil: Circus by Dreamcatcher Interactive (Nov 16, 2009). The collector in me wants to order these RIGHT NOW. (But realistically, I’ve put off ordering those first two because they look pretty awful. It’s possible this new wave will be more interesting.)
I promised I’d mention some iPhone games. A little less than a year ago, when I first started wanting to make something for the iPhone, I was going to make a juggling app where you just flick your finger to catch and re-throw the ball. I had a proof of concept working using chipmunk physics (which a co-worker can take at least as much credit for as I should), but then I found an app called “Juggle” in the app store that was pretty much what I’d wanted to make (but not as cool as I’d wanted to make it). Juggle is no longer in the app store, oddly enough. (The icon is pictured above.)
Soon after, I downloaded another juggling related app called “Circus Clown”, which is also no longer available. In that one, you ride a unicycle back and forth across the screen, catching stuff (or avoiding it, I can’t really remember) using the accelerometer. It was quite simple, but hey, a unicycle!
More recently, I was going to show a friend that “Juggle” app, but since I removed it to make room long ago, I did a search to download it again, and found iJuggle, which is an iPhone port of a relatively old desktop application allowing you to view a simulation of various juggling patterns. For those who don’t know, juggling can get incredibly complicated and technical, to the point where there are a few different systems of notation. One of them, called “site swap”, is supported by iJuggle. It’s pretty sweet if you like this sort of thing. (And it’s free!)
A new search reveals that there are several new iPhone juggling and circus arts apps. Maybe I’ll download a few and write a follow up.