Nintendo has been the leader in pushing the boundaries of console peripherals for a while now. Ranging from fitness and sports equipment to cardboard, finding new ways to make gaming different is something they normally succeed at. Ring Fit Adventure focuses on making exercising fun, and by integrating RPG elements into it there’s a surprisingly big game to enjoy. Going to the gym before work is difficult, and committing to a healthy lifestyle at the same time means sacrificing a comfortable life snacking on all the good stuff that the supermarket sweet aisle and various junk food outlets have to offer. What Ring Fit Adventure does is give you a reason to enjoy yourself whilst taking part in an involving and versatile workout routine, even on days you may not feel like it.
The main story sees you play through various levels trying to defeat an evil spandex-wearing dragon and his minions. Each new area is split up into levels that take around 10 minutes to finish each one, and in that time you’ll use the Ring-Con and leg strap to run, shoot, and jump your way through them. The Joy-Con strapped to your leg records your speed, and the faster you run the quicker your avatar moves. I struggled a fair amount to keep it attached to my leg as it kept coming loose and sliding off. You can adjust the tightness and easily reattach it, but it can affect the flow of your work out when it happens.
The Ring-Con is a sturdy piece of equipment, and is incredibly reactive when pushing, pulling, and aiming. As you squeeze it, your character will fire puffs or air when aiming in front of you, which helps to break boxes and collect coins, as well as opening doors. If you aim it at the ground and squeeze it in, you’ll jump through hoops or across drops. Getting used to the pressure required doesn’t take long at all, and it’s incredibly responsive to your control of it.
The levels are colourful, albeit lifeless, with a motivating soundtrack that keeps you pushing through to the end. What Ring Fit Adventure does surprisingly well is incorporate turn-based battles with enemies that you get to fight against. These monsters take on the guise of different gym equipment, ranging from kettle bells to yoga balls. When a fight initiates, you’ll take it in turns to attack one another. You earn new attacks by collecting XP as you play – essentially new exercises – and in a way to make sure you’re completing a wide range of exercises which are colour-coded, meaning different ones do more damage depending on the enemy. Defending against them requires you to squeeze the Ring-Con against your abs, forming a protective barrier against them.
Other elements in the game that make it feel like an RPG are the skill trees and smoothies you can use to defeat enemies. There is a point where the game becomes tougher, and an element of grinding is also needed to level up. Don’t fret, though, as you’ll enjoy the different level designs and enjoyable battles, especially once you have a variety of exercises to partake in. There’re always a handful of workouts that we don’t enjoy. For me, it’s those damn squats, but luckily you’ll unlock a wide range the more you play.
The Nintendo charm is in full effect in Ring Fit Adventure thanks to the childlike charm it oozes throughout. Not only that, it always feels like it has your back. Constant checking in on you to see if you’re OK with the exercising helps to reassure you, and it checks your pulse and shows you how many calories you’ve burned to show you how well your doing. It also lets you know that no amount of Ring Fit Adventure can replace a healthy lifestyle, so if you want to lose weight as well, a balanced diet is also a necessity.
Ring Fit Adventure offers mini-games to play if you’re not feeling the main campaign, and even when you’re not in the game you can squeeze the Ring-Con when the Switch is in sleep mode, which’ll then be counted when you turn it back on. Personally, I struggle to find time to go to the gym with the types of shift work I do, so finding something like Ring Fit Adventure that can be played in my front room offers a different kind of experience that makes exercising fun to play, and less like a chore.
Whilst Ring – the character that acts as your personal trainer and motivator – can become annoying at times, Ring Fit Adventure’s RPG-lite elements and enjoyable levels make it a great alternative to heading outside and running around the block. With lots to get stuck into, Ring Fit Adventure is this generation’s Wii Fit, and where that focused more on realism, this wants you and your family to have fun whilst playing, encouraging you to push yourself to become a much fitter version of yourself.
Nice RPG elements
Ring-Con is sturdy
Leg strap can come loose
Ring can be annoying