Dig out the gym wear and pick up your sweat towel before you head into Nintendo’s latest fitness RPG, Ring Fit Adventure, where you’ll turn monsters into mulch with calorie-crunching exercises in exchange for in-game gold. But will this quality of life quest crank it up a notch to help you feel the burn for the long haul? We think it just might.
Let me start by saying this; my muscles ache. On a good week, I’ll hit the pool three times to either start my day with a bang or thrash out the day’s frustrations. But most of the time, I’m lazy and I’ll swim for 60 continuous minutes at the weekend. Above all, I’m not a gym bunny. I do my workout, I leave. It’s not a social activity for me. I suspect, for most people, going to the gym three times a week is difficult. And exercising for 30 minutes a day is probably out of the question. Our lives are busy and, let’s be honest, sometimes we just have other commitments (like eating all the nice things we’re told not to put into our bodies, but still do). So, if the aim of Ring Fit Adventure was to get people like us exercising every day, it’s done the job.
For 30 – 60 minutes every day for the past week, Ring Fit Adventure has helped hone my muscles in a way that no gym instructor has ever done before. Instead of arbitrary goals that seem impossible to reach, I’m battling monsters in a range of colours that can be beaten with advantageous exercises like Knee Lifts, the Bow Pull, Thigh Press and more. While jogging through a level, there are also items to collect, like ingredients for health- and stat-boosting smoothies, experience medals and gold. Plus, you can even take on minigames and requests from villagers to gain new clothing and smoothie recipes. Being able to visualise your progress and level up your character via your own gains does wonders for mental and physical health, especially when it can be done at your own pace, strength settings and difficulty level.
As explained in our hands-on preview, the Ring-Con can be used in a multitude of ways on- and off-screen to test your strength, while the Leg Strap is able to measure your natural running abilities and can accurately pick up on gains (and losses) in speed. The helpful guide Tipp is always on hand to keep you on track, asking if your muscles feel sore and you want to take it a little easier, or if you want to increase the challenge by upping the difficulty level. Set your own pace and exercise in the levels you feel comfortable.
Perhaps what’s most invigorating is how rewarding Ring Fit Adventure feels. There are milestones to reach, titles to gain and experience to earn while you’re on the move. For example, put the Switch into sleep mode and turn the Ring-Con accessory on by holding down the R stick. Press or pull on the Ring-Con while watching telly or listening to music and you’ll hear a beep every time you release. In a similar way to Pokemon Let’s Go’s PokeBall Plus pedometer, you’ll earn up to 500 gold coins every day which can be synchronised to your character in Adventure mode. A neat idea, nevertheless.
That said, the Ring-Con is best utilised on the game itself. Resting comfortably in your hands, the accessory is used in a variety of ways through Adventure mode and in minigames. In the former, there are 19+ worlds to discover, with roughly 3 – 8 courses and the odd minigame or treasure chest thrown in for good measure. Each course will test your strength against a range of monsters with adorable animation, river rapids, zip wires, springboards and track pulley systems. If your upper arm strength is in good form, you’ll enjoy the zip wire as you pull out on the Ring-Con for upwards of a minute. In the later levels, the river rapids get a good show with squats used to duck under low bridges and quick ab swings for paddle boarding uphill. With each course varying in length, players can easily get into the swing of things time after time, finishing with their victory pose.
You’ll work the Ring-Con the hardest during battles though. You can set up to six Fit Skills in your exercise slots to help you defeat both coloured and colourless enemies. Matching the Fit Skill colour to that of the enemy means you’ll do much higher damage. It’s kind of like Pokemon; the fitter you get, the more super effective your actions are. With more than 40 exercises available to unlock, you’ll easily be able to vary your routine. Want an abs workout? Set yellow Fit Skills. If you want to work your arms and legs, try red or blue, respectively. Green Fit Skills are great for your core and often focus on Yoga poses for slow and steady move sets. Boss fights work in much the same way; whittle down their health points with Fit Skills, defend with an Ab Guard and knock them out the park.
For the most part, Ring Fit Adventure features a simple storyline but it’s full of interesting and often humorous moments. Character voice-overs are a cross between Nintendo Labo characters and Beedle from The Legend of Zelda series, adding to its overall quirky appeal. Though Adventure mode largely follows a linear format with Dragaux (aka the body-building dragon) boss fights at the end of each world, it does incorporate some pace-changers to throw you off balance. Worlds appear as a snaking route across the screen, with circular ‘stepping-stones’ at different points to represent courses, minigames, treasure chests or warp panels. Going through a warp panel will transport you to a darker realm where Dragaux’s power is stronger. The courses here are a little harder but the rewards are much richer, giving players an incentive to take the more dangerous road and veer off the beaten track.
While minigames crop up from time to time in Adventure mode, you can easily access them from the main menu. Each of the 12 minigames will focus on a different core muscle group. Dreadmill – which lives up to its name – requires players to run at different speeds to grab coins, while Thigh Rider sees players squeezing their thighs to jump over obstacles or hover for long periods of time to avoid bombs or grab coins. Squattery Wheel is ridiculously difficult as it requires players to match the shape of the design on the opposite side while you squat at precise moments to recreate the shape. It’s personal preference as to which minigames you prefer but, since I value my legs, Squat Goals and Thigh Rider gets my vote.
For a little challenge with family and friends, minigames and simple trials are great for working up a sweat. Each user can record their score on a leader board to set the bar; Pectoralis Major Challenge (pressing the Ring-Con in as many times as you can in 20 seconds) and the Quadriceps Challenge (measures how many knee lifts you can do in 20 seconds) are firm favourites. And for those who don’t feel like doing much outside a regular workout, you can assign custom sets to work on your favourite exercises at your own pace.
With Nintendo’s unique charm, Ring Fit Adventure is a great fitness RPG for those who enjoy exercising at their own pace. Its sensitivity to movement, ability to estimate your heart rate, and wide range of things to do within the game keeps your daily workout routine feeling invigorated and fresh. And since the Ring-Con is so versatile, it’s easy to get carried away with different pushes and pulls. So, we’ll finish on this; is your body ready?
Final Verdict: Recommended
A review copy of Ring Fit Adventure was provided to My Nintendo News by Nintendo UK after a hands-on preview session. You can read our published preview right here.