Nintendo has a decent history with fitness based games. Previously, they’ve put out multiple games in the Wii Fit series, targeting the more casual crowd that made the Wii the success that it was. I actually used the Wii Fit version, Wii Fit U, for a while. And while I think it was a very well made fitness game, it didn’t do much to keep me attached to it besides wanting to work out. With their newest attempt, Ring Fit Adventure, they’ve gone in a decidedly different direction.
Instead of a big, bulky balance board that you do all your exercises on, Ring Fit Adventure comes with a resistance ring that the right Joy-con fits in and a leg strap that holds the left Joy-con. Because of this, the majority of the exercises you’re asked to do involve running in place and stretching or smashing in the ring. The controllers do a good job of detecting what you’re doing, so long as you’re doing it correctly. I had a couple issues with squatting, until I moved the leg strap further up. Suddenly, it worked as intended.
The thing that really sets the game apart though is the presentation. Wii Fit and games of its type are usually very to the point. You are here to exercise and the game is going to tell you what to do and if you’re doing it correctly. Instead, Ring Fit Adventure is presented as a normal video game with both adventure and RPG elements.
You begin by putting in some information about yourself; your age, gender, and approximate weight. Afterwards, you move on to making your character. Your actual gender has no baring on the character you make, so I made a lady. After that, you’re thrown straight into the story. Your character is tricked into freeing an evil body-building dragon named Dragaux from imprisonment by a being named Ring. Now Ring, who is basically just the in-game representation of your resistance ring, teams up with you to try to defeat him.
I’ve only competed the first world as of this point, but it seems like the majority of the game is spent running through fields to your destination. You do this by running in place, sometimes lifting your knees way up to run up stairs. Along the way, there’s various pick-ups you can grab and boxes you can break by interacting with the ring. Pressing it together shoots a blast of air to hit targets, while stretching it out will suck up collectibles. There’s even some light platforming, accomplished by pointing the ring towards the ground and shooting out some air to lift your character into the sky.
You’ll sometimes get into battles with different enemies. These play out kind of like a traditional turn-based RPG, but all your attacks are different exercises. For example, one attack will have you squatting down and holding your position for a little while before straightening back up. Do the exercise with proper timing and you’ll do more damage. You can also defend against attacks by pressing the ring against your stomach. It’s a really neat system, although I’m not sure how deep it gets. In the first world, I prioritized exercises that I liked better. I’m not sure if there’s actual strategy in choosing which attacks against certain enemies like most RPGs. If there is, it wasn’t apparent in the early going.
One thing I never thought I’d be praising about a fitness game is the visuals. That’s not to say that Wii Fit looked bad or anything, but it was all very simple. Ring Fit Adventure’s graphics are stylized, but really pop, making running through fields and jumping on platforms a joy. There’s even little details like animals running by that really didn’t need to be there, but showed that the developers cared about making this game interesting to look at.
Of course, when talking about fitness games, you have to mention how good the workout is. I’m certainly no expert in this field, but I will say that after just the first world, I was sweaty and absolutely exhausted. My legs in particular were just screaming by the end of the world 1 boss fight. But it felt good, it felt like I had done something. So, in my non-expert opinion, this game provides a very good and fun workout.
The question now is how long will I stick with this. This first play session was a ton of fun, even if it was completely exhausting, so as of right now, I want to keep going. That’s much better than what I would say about Wii Fit, which I would do to exercise, but not genuinely want to keep going. If it doesn’t get old, Ring Fit Adventure might be something truly special.