Let me start my multi-part Ring Fit Adventure review by saying that I’m fairly certain this is my game of the year. There are games that, by nature of playing them, you get exercise. There are fitness applications that use gamified functions to operate. There has not ever been, to my knowledge, anything quite like Ring Fit Adventure. This is the first video game that is entirely based around exercise - it is a simple RPG where you move around the world and fight your enemies by exercising. It’s hard exactly to explain just how truly new this is until you’ve played it yourself. Ring Fit Adventure is an incredible foundational game to what I hope becomes a new genre.
As an RPG Ring Fit Adventure is straight forward and operates on all the traditional tropes - whoops, you unleashed the bad guy! Guess you better save the world! You do that by grinding (though this may be the first RPG ever where it is literally impossible to grind) through areas and enemies to level up your stats. The simplicity of the game is necessary to it working so well. I can’t imagine reading a JRPG speech about the true nature of good and evil while trying to do squats.
The new feeling of amazement you get while playing is accompanied by the natural endorphins received from exercising. The simple truth is this game makes you feel incredible throughout your body and mind. Whether you have limited mobility or are in incredible shape there is a large sliding scale of access and difficulty that will make you feel happier and healthier while playing it.
Playing the game
My first time playing Ring Fit Adventure I put in my height, weight, and gender (there is a non-inclusive gender option that is male/female/don’t say that I will not even try to dissect on the internet, but suffice it to say I don’t think gender/sex identity matters at all in the context of this game) and my desire for an “intense” workout (the hardest is “extreme” which is one notch above that). I’m 6'3, a cisgender man, 36 years old, and 220lbs. It set me at a difficulty level of 20 out of 30.
I started the adventure mode and goddamn...by the end of the first world (took me ~30mins with all the cut scenes) I tore off my sweat drenched exercise clothes and laid down on a towel. It was HARD - the higher difficulty is no joke. I was instantly won over - this game made me SWEAT. I felt my whole body in use, although it seems to hit the back the least from what I’ve seen so far. After a few days of 30 minute sessions I decided to decrease the difficulty - I’m in worse shape than I thought! A rule of thumb in exercise is to start off slow and that certainly applies here.
I’ve read several reviews saying it doesn’t replace the gym, running, fitness classes, etc. and honestly...not really sure that’s true. I see little to no difference between Ring Fit Adventure and a fitness circuit class. I did several years of martial arts and the 30 minute workout I get is similar to the 30 minutes of exercise we did at the start of class. The key element is to find a challenging, but not too hard, setting to start at and go from there. The difficulty level (1-30) seems to match the amount of repetitions per exercise - meaning one single battle in the game at max level is 100+ reps and there are always multiple battles per level.
The ring-con and leg strap
It’s funny to see dudes online humble bragging that they’re worried they’ll break the ring con. Let me assure you there is ZERO chance of that happening. It is shockingly sturdy and durable and very hard to squeeze for multiple reps. I’m not the biggest guy but I can bench over 200lbs and I sometimes feel like a weak child squeezing that damn ring.
The leg strap works well - I noticed a bit of slippage but that was mostly due to me not quite being used to it. Once I found the right spot for my body it didn’t move at all for 30+ minutes. Just make sure you tighten it a fair amount - the game tells you (amid its many helpful directions) not to tighten it too much but I think that’s just a required warning - it should be very tight so it doesn’t move and as long as your leg isn’t numb you’re good!
The ring-con and leg strap work surprisingly well in tandem - I was surprised at just how well it was tracking my movements. Having done many of these exercises thousands upon thousands of times in the past I can still lose my form when getting tired. The game would inform me that my form was slipping and I’d wonder if the tracking on the joy-cons was off only to realize it was actually just me.
Should you buy it?
The tl;dr here is this: Ring Fit Adventure works. It really really works and is a lot of fun. It’s good for people of any any fitness level and at $80 for a home fitness routine it’s a steal. People might complain about the price but let’s be real - your health matters more than a video game. Fitness equipment is VERY expensive and there is simply nothing this cheap on the market. $80 to improve your physical and mental well being for an indefinite amount of time (seriously, that ring-con is sturdy as hell and I can’t imagine it ever breaking) is a better price than any $60 game.
The game is long, the replayability high as you strive to beat it on higher difficulties, there’s a variety of extras outside of the regular adventure mode that are surprisingly fun, and again - it’s your health. Do yourself a favor and buy it. My dream is Ring Fit Adventure takes off and Nintendo continues to release games paired with the ring-con and leg strap. I am totally won over by Nintendo’s new ingenious invention. I never thought something would blow my mind more than the Switch itself, but Ring Fit Adventure may have done just that.