With the rise of Wii Fit in the late 2000’s, Nintendo was able to dethrone predecessors like Dance Dance Revolution in order to be crowned king of the workout video game genre. Helmed by a plethora of motion-centric experiences, the Wii’s initial success allowed the console to become synonymous with fitness games as a whole. Now over a decade later, Nintendo is trying its hand at yet another title to help get its console owners in shape. Enter Ring Fit Adventure, a unique narrative-driven fitness experience that we’ll be taking a hands-on look in our latest review. Hit the jump for all of the details.
Similar to Nintendo’s series of Labo cardboard building kits, Ring Fit Adventure stands as an accessory to the Switch itself. Included with the set is of course the game, as well as the interesting new Ring-Con accessory, and a leg strap. Everything has the high-end build quality you’d expect, with the controller add-on being comprised of a premium soft plastic that’s become a staple of the Nintendo’s recent hardware experience.
Central to the overall experience with Ring Fit Adventure is the new aptly-named Ring-Con accessory. While it’ll be the main means of actually completing the workouts, using the controller add-on is how you’ll interact with the entire game. Everything from navigating the various interfaces to exploring the fitness world in Ring Fit Adventure is done with motion controls.
Squeezing in on the exercise ring acts as the confirm command, while pulling out allows you to go back or cancel. I shouldn’t have been surprised with how intuitive things are given that we’re dealing with Nintendo here. But there’s something really neat about how the Ring-Con has been incorporated into everything.
A narrative-driven workout session packed with Nintendo magic
For its latest foray into the world of exergaming, Nintendo has opted to center most of Ring Fit Adventure’s content around a, well, Adventure mode. Here you’re transported into a vibrant world where not even 30 seconds in you’ll set loose a horrible exercise-loving demon named Dragaux. Then in order to defeat the villainous, chiseled foe, you’ll team up with a magic ring who kickstarts the sweat-inducing journey.
Its overarching story is hardly groundbreaking, but where it does redefine the RPG tropes is with a hearty helping of fitness-related gameplay and even jokes. So if witty dialogue about getting swole is right up your alley, then look no further. Level design takes a unique approach as well, having you run in place in order to traverse various environments, collecting coins along the way.
As you dive deeper into Adventure mode, you’ll encounter more and more baddies to best, as well. These Fit Battles, as they’re called, have you completing a variety of exercise reps in order to do damage to the foe. It’s all pretty over the top and even a bit silly. Even so, don’t expect Ring Fit Adventure to go easy on you. After playing through the first stage in Ring Fit Adventure for this review, I was seriously beat.
Nintendo’s usual magic really shines through here. Adventure mode perfectly veils workout know how with a gaming experience that keeps you coming back for more. The introduction does a fantastic job preparing the player to not only know how the game works, but how to perform the various workouts needed to go from a zero to musclebound hero. So even someone like myself, who is a complete novice when it comes to correct exercise techniques, could get the hang of proper form without too much trouble.
Simple workouts and Mini games
On top of the main campaign mode, Nintendo has also thrown in a series of mini games and other workouts. In terms of the former, each focuses on a different type of exercise. These range from chest workouts that have you smashing robots to a racing game that puts your thighs to work. With the latter, you’ll be guided through a session without the gamified experience.
These aren’t nearly as intense as the Ring Fit Adventure’s core gameplay. But it still supplements the material with some notable alternatives to the story mode. The mini games are certainly entertaining and the desire to hit a new high score will drive you to get one last set of reps in before ending a workout session.
Joy-Con’s unique design shine once again
Since the Joy-Con first launched over two years ago, Nintendo has proved time and time again just how versatile the 2-in-1 controllers can actually be. Ring Fit Adventure features the usual sprinkling of unique applications for the gamepads, but even goes as far as to surpass past use cases. There’s of course the standard motion controls which log the workouts, but also HD Rumble vibrations to guide you through exercises, the gyroscope to ensure you’re keeping good posture throughout a session, and more.
By far the most intriguing usage here though is leveraging the built-in IR camera in order to monitor heart rate. Following a workout, you’ll be prompted to place your thumb over top of the right Joy-Con in order for Ring Fit Adventure to log one’s current heart rate. It’s surprisingly accurate when compared to data from my Apple Watch, which was a welcomed surprise.
So after a weekend putting Nintendo’s new fitness video game to the test, it’s hard for me to be anything but impressed here. From its foundation, Ring Fit Adventure is clearly teeming with classic Nintendo charm. This doesn’t just make the game enjoyable to play, but it elevates the experience into not feeling like exercise at all.
It’s easy to get lost in trying to beat the next level, even if that means pushing through one more rep of squats. That was something I experienced quite a few times with Ring Fit Adventure in preparation for the review here.
Will I be canceling my gym membership in favor of a Nintendo-only workout regiment? Probably not anytime soon. But that said, Ring Fit Adventure provides a unique alternative to conventional workout routines that’ll definitely be appealing for those intimidated by hitting the gym. So if that happens to be you, then I can wholeheartedly recommend the game. At $80 Ring Fit Adventure is certainly worth trying out.
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