I have to admit, I am out of shape. I’ll even go a step farther–I am fat and out of shape. I’m lazy, sedentary, don’t like going to the gym, and the most exercise I get is walking from my desk to my University campus. That’s why I always love using my VR headset, as games like Beat Saber have me up on my feet, working up a sweat. Since the games are so much fun, I never even really notice that I’m exercising. While enjoying myself with these VR experiences, I came to a realization: it’s not exercise that bores me, it’s the fact that normal workouts don’t engage me in a way that I find entertaining. Unfortunately, with my recent move into an apartment while I attend University, I don’t have the room to play VR games like Beat Saber anymore. This has sadly meant that I’ve started packing on a bit more weight. That’s why it was a godsend that I got my hands on Ring Fit Adventure. Ring Fit Adventure is everything I would want in an experience that makes me exercise, while disguising itself as a video game. It causes me to work up a sweat every morning that I play it, making it more than worth every dollar so far.
Ring Fit Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: October 18th, 2019
Ring Fit Adventure is an RPG that has you exploring worlds, gathering gold coins, and defeating monsters, all accomplished through the power of exercise. To get around the world, you need to either jog in place or perform squats. To gather coins, you need to squeeze or pull the Ring-con.
To fight monsters, you need to use an ever-expanding arsenal of workout and yoga moves. I have been playing the game for about four days now, and my back aches, my legs feel like jelly, and my arms are sore. Honestly though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The game opens with warmup stretches, and ends with cooldown stretches. What’s great is that when you finish up a session, the game will recognize what kinds of moves you were doing, and respond accordingly with a specialized cooldown exercise. For example, this morning I did a lot of moves that required the use of my arms, and when I finished for the day, my cooldown targeted my hand and arm muscles.
Ring Fit Adventure will ask if you want to take a break after 15-or-so minutes, though I always try to push myself to at least 25 before I throw in the towel. It feels like the game is kicking my butt every time, but I know I can do better, which spurs me to continue. What’s awesome is that I’ve already started to lose some of the extra pounds I put on since moving onto campus, so I can say the game is definitely doing its job.
If I ever feel like I’m not engaged by the idea of playing through the adventure mode, there are also tons of minigames, and targeted workouts you can play that still utilize both the joycon and the leg strap controller. Another cool feature is that if you’re too busy to play the game for a day, but don’t wanna be lazy, you can still use the Ring-con in multitask mode.
You put the Switch into standby mode and press the thumbstick on the Ring-con, then you can either squeeze or pull it to get reps. The Ring-con can pick up on 500 reps before it stops, and when you log back in, you’ll get gold coins to use in game. It’s so convenient that while dictating the rough draft of this review out loud, I sat in my chair using the Ring-con to work on my arms.
One of the best features in Ring Fit Adventure is the silent mode, however. The game asks if you’re able to be loud or not, and has alternate options if you’re unable to do certain exercises. For example, to get around in the world in Ring Fit Adventure, you have to jog in place. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option for me at night, since I live on the third story above my roommates’ bedroom.
Instead of jogging, then, the game gives me the option to do squats instead. This isn’t really any easier when you take into consideration the fact that you’ll be doing somewhere between 200-300 squats during your workout session, but it’s still a great time. Those squats really did a number on my legs after a while, but I kept pushing forward through the pain. Besides, as a bonus, my butt is going to look incredible!
The story of Ring Fit Adventure is complete nonsense, and is definitely nothing worth writing home about. It has the depth of a sippy cup, and that’s okay. While this is an RPG, it’s simply trying to craft a paper-thin narrative to explain why you are running in place with a Ring-con in your hands. The story revolves around the player, who accidentally unleashes a body building dragon named Dragaux.
He sets out on a quest to get fit again, and exact his revenge against those who imprisoned him. Not long after, you meet up with a living Ring-con who asks for your help to take Dragaux down once more, and free him from the dark forces that have made him so evil.
From that point on, you are on rails, going through different levels and worlds to fight monsters and level up. At the end of each world is a boss fight, and these can get surprisingly intense. I found myself drenched in sweat by the end of the first boss, wishing that I had taken a break before it. I did take a break before the second one, though, thankfully.
While the story content is light, I still know that I will keep coming back to Ring Fit Adventure to get my daily workout. It’s not because I want to see the end of the story, though. This is no Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, so don’t expect that going in. It’s just silly, stupid, and fun.
Much like the story, the graphics in Ring Fit Adventure aren’t impressive, but they don’t need to be. The worlds range from nice to ‘meh’ with very little deviation. I don’t want to say the game is necessarily ugly, far from it. The graphics just clearly aren’t the selling point here. One problem I did have was that the monsters can be so darn cute, and I felt incredibly bad when I killed them. It especially hurt when instead of attacking me, they just kind of sat on the ground, with the game saying, “It looks tired.” I started to wonder if I was the real villain all along.
Let us wrap up this review with a cooldown stretch. Whether you’re a gym rat or a couch potato like me, I believe Ring Fit Adventure is a game that works for everyone. I honestly feel like video games are a perfect bridge to get people invested in exercise, and to help them lose weight.
I am living proof of that–over the course of the last year, I lost nearly 100 pounds just by eating healthier and playing a lot of Beat Saber. Now that I’ve added Ring Fit Adventure to that routine, I am going to have the body of a Greek God by next summer.
While it may not be my Game of the Year, and maybe not even in my top 5, Ring Fit Adventure sits in a completely different category. I think it’s almost required for anyone who owns a Switch and wants to be healthier.
There is just something special about games like Ring Fit Adventure, pushing for this type of positive innovation. I feel like my money and time were well-spent, and this might even be the title I end up playing the most this year. Now, the only thing left to do is to get active and get fit. We’re all going to make it!
Ring Fit Adventure was reviewed on Switch using a review copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.