I’ve never had a gym membership in my adult life. If you discount running for the train, the last proper exercise I had was an ill-conceived new year’s resolution a couple years ago where a jog around the neighbourhood on a freezing cold January morning had me keeling over, swearing never again.
On the other hand, I love to play video games, and can sink many hours in the world of an RPG with unique and compelling combat mechanics.
So if there was ever a way to coax me back into exercising, pretending my workout was like playing Dragon Quest is surely the ticket.
That’s because the real tech isn’t so much in the Ring-Con as it is in the Switch’s Joy-Con, as you slot the right one into the Ring-Con, while the left one goes into a strap for your left leg.
Just as Labo has done, Ring Fit Adventure demonstrates just how innovative these controllers are.
But rather than just formed of straight-up workouts or a handful of hashed-out mini-games, you’re using exercises to control your in-game avatar, whether it’s jogging on the spot to run through levels or a whole variety of muscle-targeted exercises to defeat enemies in RPG-style turn-based battles.
The game’s constantly introducing new mechanics to keep things fresh, even with the same kind of movement. You’re not just performing squats, you’re opening treasure chests, bouncing on trampolines, even powering a minecart.
When it comes to battling enemies, your attacks are all real-life exercises and colour-coded according to different muscles groups – red for arms, blue for leg and glutes, yellow for abs, while green are yoga exercises.
Attack an enemy matching an exercise colour has an even stronger effect, incentivising you to use certain techniques.
You can however only equip a limited number of exercises at a time, and each take time to recharge so that you don’t just spam the same ones over and over.
Nonetheless, as the exercises you unlock later are more powerful, it also means you end up ignoring earlier exercises and look at it as a numbers game or whether an attack can hit multiple enemies, rather than how useful an exercise is for your own fitness.
Nonetheless, reworking RPG battles makes exercising so much more compelling.
It also helps that there’s a model on screen going by the name Tipp who’s always there to demonstrate the correct form, while your avatar’s movements also have near 1:1 accuracy to how you’re actually positioned to ensure you’re doing the exercises properly.
It’s not too strict either, which comes as a blessing during some failed attempts to hold a tricky yoga pose.
There’s some helpful features like Silent mode where you can just bend your knees instead of jogging to run, great for if you don’t want to disturb anyone late at night or any poor neighbours living below you.
You can even set certain exercises as just button presses. That may sound ripe for exploiting, but what it really means is if you’ve had a knee injury, you don’t have to worry about doing leg exercises and still get through the campaign.
Besides, the game’s still calculating how many your calories you’re burning from actual reps performed and how intense you’re exercising by measuring your heart rate, another mind-boggling thing the Joy-Con’s IR sensor can do.
At time of writing this review, I still have a long way to finishing Ring Fit Adventure, but just from a half hour daily workout, you’re looking at a couple months of exercises to beat the campaign, which covers over 20 worlds, side quests, and of course plenty of different fitness workouts.
Despite the focus on the adventure side, you can actually just work on no-frills sets, combining individual sets to customise your own workout, or get friends and family involved in some wacky mini-games.
Some of these are pretty basic at first, like how many times you can push in the Ring-Con in 20 seconds but are a lot more difficult than you realise when pushing for the high ranks, or competing in online leaderboards.
As a bonus, you can still use the Ring-Con even when the Switch is off. Just by keeping the Joy-Con inserted, you can record up to 500 reps while you’re for example watching TV then transfer that into XP and bonus rewards next time you play.
Obviously, the most hench fitness freaks might look at Ring Fit Adventure and consider it another fad that doesn’t really push you into a ‘real’ workout, and when you can ‘silent jog’ as an option, it’s obviously no substitute for stuff like going for a jog in the real world or lifting weights.
But by creating a piece of software that’s wholeheartedly a game, and has an approachable and accessible way to tailor how you want to exercise based on your own ability, Ring Fit Adventure bridges the worlds of gaming and fitness better than ever.
Fitness really does feel like an adventure.
Another innovative showcase of the Joy-Con working with the new Ring-Con accessory, the fun-packed RPG mechanics makes Ring Fit Adventure the perfect gateway to fitness for gamers.
Innovative use of Joy-Con in conjunction with Ring-Con accessory
A big lengthy and charming lite RPG campaign to keep you motivated
Welcome accessibility options and flexible with adjusting the difficulty
You can really work up a sweat without leaving the house
Older ‘less effective‘ exercises can end up forgotten in Adventure mode
Possible not to get a real workout if you misuse settings
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