Ring Fit Adventure is a fitness game / RPG hybrid developed and published by Nintendo. It released on October 18, 2019. Is a Nintendo Switch exclusive and costs $80.
I gotta admit, I didn’t expect I’d have this much fun with Ring Fit Adventure.
Over the past year I had a personal goal to improve my fitness. It wasn’t even a goal to loose weight or gain muscle, I just wanted to have an exercising habit of some kind. Knowing about my family’s health history, I wanted to prevent potential issues from starting in the first place. The problem was, I didn’t feel very motivated to do it, and it became just one more thing that I wasn’t doing that stressed me out, or at least, something I wasn’t doing enough. I especially felt guilty about it when COVID-19 really got underway and I spent even more time on the couch.
When Ring Fit Adventure initially released, I was skeptical about it. I still harbored bad memories of Wii Fit. The Wiimote and Balance Board felt too limiting, and the “games” involved were inanely repetitive. I didn’t find it engaging at all. But the more positive reviews Ring Fit received, the more I came around to it. I even softened to the steep price point when I thought about this game being worth several months at a gym. It seemed like a good fitness trainer substitute. So I subscribed to a stock tracking bot and managed to snag myself one for the actual MSRB of $80 (don’t let any scalpers sell this to you for more).
Remember when you first played with the Wiimote and you saw your Mii respond to your movement? It was magical, right? The Ring-Con works even better. You use the Ring-Con along with the leg strap to control your character and navigate menus. It’s surprisingly intuitive, and it is leagues better at motion capture than the Wii ever was.
That’s probably the best way to describe Ring Fit Adventure — it’s everything you wanted the Wii to be. It’s the promise of the Wii being met to its fullest.
Controlling the avatar feels good. It’s responsive. It’s hard to describe it without experiencing it yourself, but having that resistance and feedback in the ring makes moving and pushing and pulling feel more 1:1 than just waving around a Wiimote. And the lack of a balance board gives you much more freedom of movement. All the limiting factors of Wii Fit are gone.
And then the game itself is actually rather substantial.
The main mode, Adventure Mode, is complete with a story, an RPG battle system, levels to explore, and secrets to pick up along the way. Granted, the story is about as complex as a Mario game, with you trying to save the world from a jacked black dragon, and somehow there’s a talking golden ring? It’s a bare-bones Nintendo story serving as a charming backdrop for the gameplay.
The best way I could describe Ring Fit Adventure is a Fitness Platformer. You literally jog through each level, and along the way you can blast things with air or vacuum them up. You “jump” by blasting air downwards, and there are even alternate paths with goodies if you time your jumps right.
Along the level you’ll encounter enemies, where the game shifts over into an RPG battle system. You select a type of “attack” (aka a kind of exercise) which you use to damage the opponents. You can even mitigate damage done to you by using an “Ab Guard” during the enemy’s turn.
It all comes together as a fitness game designed for gamers. Not that a more casual player wouldn’t get a lot out of it, but it felt as if Nintendo scanned my brain and put in the exact things I would want in a fitness game. I felt satisfied with each play session, they got my heart rate up and my endorphins moving. Adventure Mode gives you a good general workout across all areas — legs, arms, cardio, and core. It has a bit of repetitiveness to it, but it’s miles ahead of Wii Fit.
One of the reasons exercising is so hard for me is that it doesn’t engage my mind enough, but Ring Fit Adventure definitely fixes that. I want to run through each level. I want to level up and increase my “fitness stats.” I want to beat the little monsters. I started looking forward to each new morning because I knew it meant I got to play more Ring Fit Adventure. It gave me the motivation to exercise that I was looking for, and it helped my mental health by lowering my stress level quite a bit as well.
Outside of Adventure Mode, you can engage in minigame exercises and rhythm games that were solid distractions from the main mode, as well designed as anything in Mario Party. You can also turn on Multitask mode, which lets you do some reps on your own while you do something else, and it will sync with the game later.
Additionally, if you feel like the Adventure Mode is not supplying enough of a certain kind of exercise — like say, you want more of a cardio-heavy experience, then you can go into Custom Mode and either choose some pre-sets, or arrange exactly what kinds of exercises you want. For example, you can just run through some levels without any battles and then finish up with some knee-lifts. Custom Mode is a great way of getting more mileage out of the whole package.
Thanks to its unique motion controls, I feel like Ring Fit Adventure is a good palate-cleanser between more traditional games. There’s a time when you want “comfort food” video games that you know well, and then there’s a time where you feel the itch to try new things, such as this game. And in an age where so many games start to blend together, that Nintendo Left Field approach can be so refreshing. Even if you are a typical “gamer” who has just a passing interest in exercising more, this is the game to get.