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Hands-On With Ring Fit Adventure

Nintendo is once again looking to get your up and out of your seat with Ring Fit Adventure. The new exercise-based adventure game is a part of Nintendo’s new initiative to keep you active and gamify your workout.

Ring Fit Adventure was recently announced alongside the new Ring Con and Leg Strap accessories. These new peripherals are the backbone of Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure. I got to break a sweat with Nintendo and try a few of the game modes as well as get a small taste of the game’s adventure mode. Nintendo is no stranger when it comes to encouraging its players to be more active. Ring Fit Adventure feels and plays as a natural evolution of Wii Fit. I’ll never forget the excitement and reception that surrounded Wii Fit. The game brought new players into the Wii ecosystem and provided them with an alternative from having to purchase a gym membership or equipment.

Instead of the Wii Fit Balance Board, Ring Fit Adventure focuses on using the Ring Con, a circular controller, with the left Joy-Con attached. Holding the Ring Con on both sides, you’ll be able to squeeze, twist, shake, and rotate it, all tracked and registered by the Joy-Con. The right Joy-Con is slipped into the Leg Strap which is secured around your thigh. Any action whether jogging, jumping, squatting will be registered by the Joy-Con and equate to your in-game movements.

Ring Fit Adventure is just as much a game as it is an in-home exercise application. The crux of the game is to take you through a detailed story mode, with RPG elements baked in. Donning the Ring Con and Leg Strap, I was taken into the game’s main core element and began going through one of the early levels in the game. I stepping into the role of a fitness-centric hero, who wields a magical ring. I began venturing into a world where evil monsters, all based on gym equipment have begun to run rampant, overseen by an evil, jacked Dragon who’s out to prove he’s the fittest. I took my first steps into the world. The game starts fairly basic, instructing me to jog in place, which was met with my character matching my movements. Turning the Ring Con from side to side, I was able to squeeze the ring to shoot fireballs or use the ring as a vacuum by pulling the ring to suck in collectible coins and other useful items.

Ring Fit Adventure wants you to go at your own pace. If you’re more comfortable taking a brisk jog, by all means! There is no consequence nor reward for how fast or how slow you choose to complete the level. Even with this knowledge, I began building a light sweat during the first level. You’re consistently jogging in place, while the game keeps you busy by placing collectibles throughout each level, mixing in a few platforming elements. Facing the ring towards the ground and squeezing, you’ll be able to propel yourself into the air. The longer you squeeze, the longer you’ll hover. Later on, I was met with a long staircase. Instead of jogging in place, I now had to lift my knees further to reach the summit. It became a good mix of light cardio and upper body movements.

After completion of each level, you’re taken to a stat screen. Using the IR sensor, you’ll be able to see your pulse by placing your right thumb over the sensor. You’ll also see the time it took to complete the level, and a rough estimate of calories burned. Although the results won’t be exact, there was enough data in there that could be a point of reference if you felt compelled to screenshot and hold on to the results.

Following what I’d consider the tutorial stage of the game, the game began ramping up a bit. Here, enemies were introduced and I got a sense of the real scope and vision of the campaign side of Ring Fit Adventure. Once you come across an enemy––which you naturally will seeing as though all levels are on rails––you’ll be pulled into a turn-based combat scenario. Combat portions will sometimes be a one-on-one battle, but I was also in a fight against four monsters as well. To put the beat down on said enemies, all attacks are based on workouts. For instance, one “move” was to pull the Ring Con as if I was shooting a bow 15 times, changing my stance halfway through. Another was focused more on leg muscles and had me sit down, place the Ring Con between my thighs, pressing and releasing.

All attacks are designated to work out a specific part of your body. Enemies can be weaker to certain attacks ie: upper-body attacks, or core-based attacks. The effectiveness and strength of each move are shown and are colour coded to align with the weakness of each enemy. After your turn, the enemy will attack you and to defend, I had to place the band of the Ring Con against my body and squeeze to absorb their attack. You can also unlock new moves and switch them out to replace others. Combat is very approachable and smacks of Pokemon’s mechanics, where powerups and levelling your character up will affect the combat.

Ring Fit Adventure’s story mode is, in fact, a fully rounded game. The gameplay loop does it’s best to shroud the fact that you’re working up a sweat and getting every bit of your body working, but at the same time, doesn’t shy away from the fact that it wants you to push yourself towards your personal fitness goals. The RPG mechanics are very tied to the basis of a fitness game. For instance, if I choose to dedicate 30 minutes a day to play the game, I’ll not only see personal results, but I’ll also be levelling up my character in the process. It’s a win-win if you ask me!

Now, Ring Fit Adventure doesn’t only offer a story mode. No, there’s a handful of extra goodies to keep you on a cycle of staying fit. Outside of the main story, you’ll find a mini-game component, which is a collection of Mario Party-esque games that’ll have you working different muscles and smiling all the way through. You will also find Custom mode, which serves as a personal fitness playlist, where you can string separate workouts and minigames together to fit your personal preference. Taking a bit of time to explore the minigame section. The game I tried was a take on pottery––you read that correctly. The game fuses squats and a bit of upper arm movement as I had to shape a block of clay down to match the design of a pot that was shown. This one was a little strange as the round I played seemed a bit too easy, but that could have been the luck of the draw.

Next up, I completed a round of Custom mode. In this mode, I was able to select a workout that specifically targeted a certain area or muscle. You’re then thrown into a series of different workouts that encompass that area. The mode ranges from intermediate-levels to more advanced and even has an endless variant where you can continue exercising until you’ve hit your threshold. Custom is more traditional than anything else the game offers. As with every other routine the Ring Fit Adventures offers, there always a demonstration of how to properly do the exercise on the side of the screen for reference.

Finally, there was an additional mode that while I wasn’t able to effectively try myself, it was worth noting, which is Multitasking. This mode allows you to turn the Switch off, walk away with the peripherals and go about your day while still logging any cardio or Ring Con workout while away from your TV. If you’re in a different room, but want to get in a few reps, you’re able to do so without having to use the Switch console. The game will log all those extra workouts and reward you with gifts and experience points upon your return. You can even send your rewards to friends if you’re so inclined.

Ring Fit Adventures isn’t just another fitness game. It’s got a breadth of content that should satisfy those who have the itch to build a workout routine or continue to make progress towards their fitness goals. Based on what I was told by Nintendo, investing 30-minutes a day towards the game, you’ll find upwards of three months of content built into Ring Fit Adventures. This will allow just about anyone to build and adjust their habits. That should be enough time to allow you to create, customize, and fulfill and milestones you want to hit this fall and early winter. The nice thing about the game is that while full-fledged accessibility support is limited, there is are modifiers built into the game to help you ease your way into feeling comfortable if you’re a novice. One, in particular, is the Silent mode option, where the game will avoid having you jog in place, but rather take smaller, less strenuous steps to move. Another modifier that I tested rids any leg movement whatsoever, so you can concentrate on only using the Ring Con.

Now, of course, the one hurdle in place may be the price point. At launch, Ring Fit Adventure, which includes the two peripherals will cost $99.99 CAD. As of now, Nintendo has not disclosed whether or not the Ring Con will be supported for more games. For the time being, the Ring Con peripheral will only be a fitness accessory.

Ring Fit Adventures has a lot to offer. I was quite hesitant when Nintendo first announced its latest deep dive into fitness. Having the title’s gameplay contingent on using what looked to be an awkward steering wheel and leg strap, I thought Ring Fit Adventure may have been too weird, even for Nintendo. After getting my hands on it, and running through the brief gauntlet, it seems game accomplishes what it sets out to do. As someone who finds themselves overwhelmed and left scatterbrained when setting foot in a gym, I never felt that playing Ring Fit Adventure.

Ring Fit Adventure launches on October 18th, 2019 for Nintendo Switch.

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Steve is based in Toronto, Ontario. His enthusiasm and adoration of the video game industry go back to the days of SNES. Find him on Twitter and join in on the escapades.

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