Ring Fit Adventure – Better Than Real Life

You planned on going for a jog today, but… it’s just not a good morning, is it? You’ve just woken up and it feels like a terrible idea. It’s hot, there’s smog in the air, people outside, lots of traffic and commotion. You might bump into people on their way to work or school. You might step in something. You might have to cross several roads and jog on the spot awkwardly in front of traffic. Birds could poop on your head. Car horns are going off, lights are flashing. You’re not going anywhere this morning… but what if there was still a way? Maybe tomorrow.

It’s a new day. You actually didn’t intend on going for a jog today… but wow, look how nice it is out there! Bright blue sky, birds chirping, waterfalls gushing, grass and flowers blowing in the wind. You can feel the pleasant, clean breeze on your face. It’s a lovely day for some exercise. How could you resist?

Onwards you go without hesitation. You have so much energy you can jump over bridges, shoot out gusts of air in any direction, suck in objects and even break boulders. You’re so busy looking around for secrets you forgot you were exercising. Uh oh… something’s approaching!

Whoa! Some enemies appeared! Huh, these look a little different to the people you see outside? What do you mean? They are sweaty and smelly just like you! What are you gonna do? You’re gonna slay them with your fine, capable body. You will literally kick, swing and squish them with your thighs. Have you ever been playing an RPG and pressed the button extra hard to do a stronger attack? Now you can live that dream as your physical actions translate to in-game attacks. Welcome to Ring Fit Adventure.

I’ve been playing this for 11 days (with a few days off) and enjoying it immensely. The first major impression I had was with the Ring-Con itself. It’s very strong, flexible and easy to grip. Seriously, I was surprised when I first used it because I was worried it would break during calibration. Are you SURE you want me to crush this piece of plastic? Turns out, it crushed me. It expands as far as you can physically push or pull. Not only that, but this has some of the best motion controls I’ve seen in a Switch game in general, using the right Joy-Con as its measurement. The Ring rotates on screen at the calibration screen to your movement almost perfectly. It just knows everything and tells you where to adjust. This means you can aim it anywhere during gameplay, while you run. It feels amazing. Before even starting the gameplay I was blown away by the tech. The second part is the leg-strap where the left Joy-Con slides in fairly easily. Combine both of these and Ring Fit Adventure knows what you’re doing with your whole body.

Whaaaaa! What the heck’s going on? No jogging today, you’re hanging on for dear life now. You never know what Ring Fit is going to throw at you next which keeps it from feeling repetitive. The worlds don’t repeat the same formula. I’ve done so many different kinds of exercises and still have more to find. The story will throw different mini-games and challenges at you in each world, as even the structure changes. It’s thoughtfully designed to keep your interest, and bursting with original content as a result. There are many Mario Party-style mini-games that are enormous fun to play with the Ring-Con. Whacking stuff and hearing the Nintendo-style sound effects is a very satisfying combination. I replayed all of these so far just to get better scores, forgetting that I was even doing fitness. You feel the aches later though for sure.

Each world in this game has an overworld map which gets more interactive the further you get. I’m only in World 5 now but I’ve suddenly started to get warp points, branching paths, shops, sidequests and now I’m gathering materials to make smoothies. You even squeeze these yourself. A typical level will have you jogging along a path, with enemies to fight and objects to interact with in the background and the path itself. The battles start off fairly simple but pretty soon you’ll be refining your tactics and customising your load-out.

The boss fights in particular can be really involving. I lost a couple already and had to rethink my strategy. If your basic attacks don’t cut it, you have quite a few options to grow stronger. I was silly at first, and didn’t realise that buying new clothes increased your stats. Its kinda like armour in an RPG, and you can get better clothes in shops and from doing sidequests. Then you can equip more attacks that are the same colour as the strong enemy. Then buy some smoothies, either to restore hearts or increase attack. All these elements combine to give you a good brain workout, as well as a good sweat. In addition to all this, you have normal level up progression with EXP that rewards you for even trying. Even if you fail you will probably get a lot of EXP, so if you feel like you’re under-leveled you still have a good reason to stay hyped and do your best. There’s no massive fear of failure like a traditional JRPG that will take you back to a checkpoint from 30 minutes ago. Here you can try again straight away (or the next day if you’re beat) and it’s a lot of fun seeing yourself get stronger.

The production value is up there with Nintendo’s best games. It’s got enjoyable music, satisfying sound effects, colourful expressive graphics, varied game mechanics, a full blown story with characters and a funny narrative. The writing has made me laugh quite a few times already and has a lot of charm to it. To further emphasise how polished this game is, they’ve even changed the screenshot button on the Joy-Con to the R button so you can actually reach it on the Ring-Con while playing. It also has a host of accessibility options for difficulty or noise level. You can also compare stats with friends. I’m lagging behind a bit in total playtime but made the top 3 for squats at least.

If I had one issue with the game it would be the leg-strap, it’s come off a few times. It doesn’t happen often but I just haven’t found the perfect way to put it on yet. It seems to slide down my leg when it’s not tight enough, but when it’s too tight the Joy-Con slips out of the pocket. Most days it has stayed on perfectly fine though. Also the Pulse Check doesn’t work half the time for me so I’ve stopped doing it. I love the idea of it though, not many games use the Joy-Con IR camera for anything, let along something as ambitious as checking your pulse. I’ve got a few readings that seemed accurate but usually get an error after the graph animation has stopped. Not a big deal as I didn’t expect this in the first place. Besides that I really have no negatives to say about this, it’s such a charming experience and very self-aware.

Ring Fit Adventure is a fantastic videogame as well as the best fitness accessory I’ve ever used. I highly recommend this if you even have a passing interest, it exceeded every single one of my expectations. It gives you that feeling of wanting to play even if you’re not in the best shape or mood. The motivation for me isn’t even fitness, just wanting to play more of this game. That’s my one weak spot with this game, forcing myself not to play it. Instead of overexerting I can see myself continue to play this in small doses for months. You can play just 30 minutes but feel good for the entire day, similar to yoga but less boring. I’m looking forward to seeing what awaits me in the next few worlds, and also hoping we see some other games try to take advantage of the Ring-Con accessory. If Dragon Quest XI or Pokemon patched in support for the Ring-Con, I would either become a fitness god or be found dead on the floor a few days later.

Moderation, kids. Don’t get cooked, stay off the hook. We’ll all have our opportunity to take down Dragaux when we are ready.

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