Released on: October 18, 2019
Available Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Price: $99.99 CAD ($79.99 US)
This review was a long-time coming, folks. Back in early 2019, Nintendo announced a bunch of upcoming games via a Nintendo Direct. For those not in the know, Nintendo Directs are essentially a set of previews for upcoming games. The internet tends to go crazy for these, to the point of getting upset when Nintendo doesn’t make one of these in a timely manner. During the aforementioned Nintendo Direct, Nintendo presented a strange-looking game that had the player squeeze, pull, and move around a ring-like device. They announced the game as a fitness role-playing game called Ring Fit Adventure.
Upon first hearing about Ring Fit Adventure, I dismissed it, thinking it was another gimmick like WiiFit. However, when it came out, it received positive feedback, and people I follow on Youtube were making videos about it and having a good time. It started to pique my interest when they pointed out that Ring Fit Adventure was a proper RPG. To do more damage, the player has to perform the exercises correctly. The prospect of playing a complete RPG by working out intrigued me to the point of asking for it for Christmas.
Come Christmas; I got Ring Fit Adventure. It was far more intense than I had previously anticipated. I did like what I was playing, but at the time, I couldn’t find the time to play it and was not in the best shape to be playing it for long; thus, I dropped it for almost a year. Now that I am at a much better place physically, I found more time to play Ring Fit Adventure, thus why I am reviewing it currently. Does Ring Fit Adventure have what it takes to get players moving?
In an unknown field, we find an athlete (the player) out for a run. Suddenly, they discover a mysterious ring-shaped rock. For whatever reason, they decide to pull on it (by having the player pull on the Ring-con). This causes the liberation of an ominous being named Dragaux, who is a super buff dragon. He flies away with the intent to cause mayhem across the land. It is here that the player hears a mysterious voice. It turns out, the ring itself is conscious and was the seal that kept Dragaux at bay. Now that Dragaux is free, it is up to the ring and the player to seal him away once again.
As far as stories for RPGs go, Ring Fit Adventure is weak in this regard. The plot is not bad per se; it is short, sweet, and to the point. For Ring Fit Adventure, it works well enough, but I found myself wanting to skip over the dialog most of the time to play the game. Even in the side quests, the game deviates little from “I need this path cleared of monsters, or I need special ingredients from this level, go do that!”
One of the first things I noticed with Ring Fit Adventure is how much I love the art style. While I find the gym sections a little lackluster compared to the other stages, I love the outdoor sections. When I find myself up a hill, looking down at the rest of the stage, I can’t help but enter a zen-like state. That is until I have to get back to running in place, of course.
When it comes to music in fitness games, I usually associate it with music-based workout games (like Just Dance Zumba.) Ring Fit Adventure manages to have some great tunes, mainly when fighting enemies. My favorite track in Ring Fit Adventure is when the player fights a mini-boss. Having to fight a bunch of mini-bosses in a row made it impossible for me to forget. Even the other tracks are pleasant, and it got me in the spirit to move.
Exercise is the name of the game in Ring Fit Adventure (quite literally in this case.) Much like old-school games like Super Mario World or Donkey Kong Country, the player selects a world, a stage; then they complete the stage by running to the end. How does the player make the avatar run? By running in place! Ring Fit Adventure requires the use of a Ring-con and a leg strap. The player connects the right Joy-con to the Ring-con, and put the left Joy-con in the leg strap. This allows the game to track the squeezing and pulling of the Ring-con and any leg movements.
During the stage, the player will encounter monsters, which bring the player to the battle screen. This is where the RPG elements start to kick in. Battles are turn-based, and the amount of damage the player deals to monsters depends on the type of exercise. Enemies come in five colors: blue, red, yellow, green, and neutral. Ideally, the player wants to perform exercises based on the enemy’s color: blue for legs, red for arms, yellow for the core, and green for yoga. The player can also mitigate oncoming damage by squeezing the Ring-con on their abs.
When completing battles and stages, the player will receive experience points to make their avatar deal more damage and take less damage. The player also earns money that they can use to purchase new outfits that increase their abilities or smoothies that heal the player during battle. Money becomes valuable the further along the player is in their adventure.
Ring Fit Adventure was a slow burn for me. I didn’t take to the gameplay loop until I got quite a ways into the game. Once I did get into it, I found myself compelled to play almost daily, which, being a game about exercising, is phenomenal. The game rewards the player at a perfect pace. The game gets progressively more challenging. During the later levels, Ring Fit Adventure requires planning and strategizing. Not only does Ring Fit Adventure give me a sense of physical satisfaction when mastering a strenuous exercise, but it also makes me feel intelligent when I can defeat formidable enemies using strategy.
I remember being worried that Ring Fit Adventure would be a short game and that one could beat it relatively quickly. I was a naïve man back then. When reaching world six, I started wondering how many worlds the game had. After doing some research, I found out that Ring Fit Adventure’s campaign had a whopping twenty-six worlds. What’s more, there are so many mini-games and bonus stages for the player to get through that there is no shortage of things to do in Ring Fit Adventure.
One neat thing the Ring-con can do is go into what the game calls “multi-task mode.” While in this mode, the player presses the right stick, then starts pushing or pulling the Ring-con, even when Ring Fit Adventure is off. Doing this will earn experience points that the player can apply to their avatar or send to a friend. I like this idea, as it offers flexibility with the Ring-con. If the player can’t fit a workout, they can do a few reps of the Ring-con and gain the experience from it the next time they log on to the game.
One word of warning to readers who are interested in Ring Fit Adventure: the game is more intense than it lets on. Sure, the game emphasizes exercising within the player’s comfort range, but it will not hesitate to push the player. This is beneficial for the player’s
health, but it can also make things challenging. Like independent exercises, I encourage perseverance when playing Ring Fit Adventure. It will take motivation to play Ring Fit Adventure, but it will get a little easier every time they turn the game on.
Since the game requires the Ring-con and leg strap, Ring Fit Adventure plays best on the TV. The player must buy the game in-store or second-hand with the Ring-con and leg strap. Those who want to play Ring Fit Adventure must make sure they got the Ring-con and leg strap, as the game is unplayable without those.
Ring Fit Adventure is one of the most unique RPGs I’ve ever played. It is also the best fitness-based game I ever played. It’s impressive that the game made me exercise, let alone make an enthralling game out of it. Those interested in exercise games should check out ring Fit Adventure if they can find it.