By Quentin H. / October 18th, 2019
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Release Date: October 18, 2019
No idea ever truly dies at Nintendo. And that is nowhere more evident than in Nintendo’s latest first-person title, Ring Fit Adventure. I was able to grab a friend’s copy and try out the first couple of stages -and some of the minigames- so I could see just how this combination yoga/resistance training/cardio/RPG title worked and if you could truly get a workout from it.
I am no slouch to exercising. I regularly lift weights and participate in a variety of the LES MILLS classes (especially BODYJAM) and Zumba. So when I saw what was included in my friend’s Ring Fit Fitness kit, I was a bit skeptical. The kit comes with a game, a Ring-Con, and a Leg Strap accessory. The left Joy-Con goes into the Leg Strap and the right Joy-Con slides into the top of the Ring-Con hoop.
I was first and foremost impressed with the quality of these items. The Ring-Con itself is clearly designed for resistance band training. With my friend watching, I stretched and squeezed and tugged and pulled on the Ring-Con as much as possible to try to see if I could break it or damage it. Spoiler alert: I couldn’t. The Ring-Con was a genuinely tough piece of equipment and clearly is exercise-quality. It is a good thing too, as the Ring-Con is the main piece of equipment you will use to navigate menus, advance screens (by squeezing the sides of the Ring-Con together), and more. The Leg Strap, conversely was incredibly comfortable to wear around my left upper thigh, and was held in place by Velcro. It was comfortable enough that I nearly walked off with it after my demo session.
The storyline itself is an RPG-lite title. You play the hero who journeys across twenty different worlds to defeat Dragaux, a giant dragon. After an opening cutscene, and across the two stages I played, I was surprised to find that the story was clearly a secondary device meant to frame the gameplay mechanics, despite what the game’s introductory video seemed to portray. Maybe this is just the little bit of gameplay that I did, but this is clearly not an RPG title meant to challenge the FINAL FANTASY or Xenoblade Chronicles franchises for their heavy story-driven titles.
Speaking of gameplay mechanics, Ring Fit Adventure lets you scale the difficulty for the game based upon your exercise fitness level. If you’re a fitness guru, then you can set it a lot higher than someone who barely exercises at all (or is not able to handle much). I purposefully picked a mid-tier option, and I dove into the game after a quick warm-up session that mixed resistance training, cardio, and yoga.
The levels themselves function, at their most basic form, as an auto-run. You are supposed to jog in order to move forward quickly, but the game will still move forward even if you stand still. You turn and squeeze or pull apart the Ring-Con in different alternating directions to (at least from my demo) shoot puffs of wind to hit targets or suck in coins.
When it came to fighting enemies in Ring Fit Adventure, it was then that the workout really happened. When you run into an enemy, the game goes into a turn-based battle mode. In a cross-bar battle menu reminiscent of the Wii/3DS classic Xenoblade Chronicles, you select what ‘attacks’ you want to use. When you pick an attack (which can range from knee lifts, holding a chair pose, knee-to-chest compressions while on the floor, and more), you then see a bar fill up on the screen to help you properly time your exercise build-up before the game tells you to release the position. In all of these activities, the game clearly uses the right Joy-Con to tell that you’re doing the exercise properly. With each attack, you do damage. When it is the enemy’s turn, you can reduce the amount of damage you take by doing abdominal presses with the Ring-Con against your stomach.
After the battle is complete, you get experience points for both the exercises you chose and the death of the enemy itself. This process then repeats until you complete the level. At the end of the level, the game tells you how much time you took to complete the stage, how many calories you burned, and how far you ran. You are then given a total score that you can then register on a leaderboard.
I also tried out a few of the minigames: Smack Back, Crate Crasher, and Squattery Wheel. These minigames are clearly meant to give you a quick, fun exercise workout if you don’t feel like playing the heroes main story quest at that time period. The miniquests themselves were fun, though I will say that Squattery Wheel, where you have to squeeze the Ring-Con to ‘carve’ a lump of clay on the screen into a vase while squatting down and up in order to move the cutter on the y-axis, left a lot to be desired. The other two minigames I demoed were fun, but somewhat forgettable: Smack Back had you turn and squeeze the Ring-Con to bat back discs being flung at you by robots and Crate Crasher had you aim and squeeze the Ring-Con to destroy rows of stacked crates.
I said at the top of the article that nothing truly dies at Nintendo, and that is evidenced by Ring Fit Adventure: the Vitality Sensor that Nintendo showed off in 2012 returns as an interesting use for the IR sensor. After you finish a stage, you are given the opportunity to take your heartrate by pressing your thumb against the IR sensor on the right Joy-Con that is embedded into your Ring-Con. This was both simple to do and quite elegant in practice. Nintendo finally has found a way to bring the Vitality Sensor to the market, and I couldn’t be happier.
The final question is: Is this game a good workout and is it fun? And I will say that is an unequivocal ‘yes’ on both fronts. While I was only able to demo two stages on my friend’s copy of Ring Fit Adventure, I had broken a sweat and I felt like I was getting a genuine work out from this game based upon the difficulty settings that I picked. I was breathing hard and I was soaking my clothes through with sweat by the end of it. While this is not a game that would replace a gym workout (you aren’t lifting weights for example), it is clear that this game is meant to be a solid supplement to your gym routine. Furthermore, despite the fact that the game is clearly an RPG-lite title, it is a lot of fun to play through. The graphics are colorful, the exercises are varied, and the gameplay is definitely unique. I found myself both wanting to play more of this game and to rest up afterwards, which is the perfect thing for a game such as Ring Fit Adventure.
I simply loved Ring Fit Adventure, and if the full game is anything like this demo, then it is totally worth picking up.
Ring Fit Adventure is out NOW exclusively for the Nintendo Switch, and you can pick up a copy for yourself here.
Are you planning on picking up Ring Fit Adventure? What do you think of a lite-RPG that focuses on resistance/yoga/cardio exercising?
Let us know in the comments below!
Leg StrapNintendoRing Fit AdventureRing-ConRPGVitality Sensor