Previewing Ring Fit Adventure left me with a positive opinion of Nintendo’s latest quality of life product. Ring Fit Adventure‘s blend between work out routines and RPG gameplay gave me the impression that there would be a lot more content to keep me interested in comparison to Nintendo’s earlier fitness-based titles. I’ve been playing Ring Fit Adventure nearly every day since my preview went up and I can say now with complete certainty that this is an adventure worth going on.
In Ring Fit Adventure, players control their own customizable athlete avatar on a quest to stop a bodybuilding dragon named Dragaux. Aiding the player is a sentient ring aptly named Ring, lending the player its power to fight the monsters serving Dragaux. While the story’s premise sets itself up for a simple and straightforward tale that doesn’t evolve much, Ring Fit Adventure does manage to bring a good amount of charm to its unnamed world. Each character you meet is completely enthusiastic about fitness and Ring Fit Adventure embraces this in a way that allows for some very entertaining interactions. There’s also a great deal of communication between Dragaux and Ring which manages to not only flesh out both characters but also manages to highlight some of the risks of extreme workouts.
Ring Fit Adventure uses vibrant colours to bring its world to life. Though it isn’t the most graphically impressive game, it borrows an aesthetic which reminded me a lot of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. As beautiful as many of Ring Fit Adventure’s landscapes are, however, players will likely be running so fast that they won’t get much of a chance to enjoy them. It’s a bit unfortunate that so much of the game’s traversal is menu-based, isolating many of the game’s areas in a way that made me wonder how exactly they connect. On the audio side of things, there isn’t too much to speak on. Aside from a somewhat catchy battle theme players will be hearing often, there aren’t really any standout music tracks to be found. The game is also almost entire unvoiced. The only character with occasional voiced dialogue is Ring, who speaks mostly in place of the silent protagonist. He also speaks to help encourage players throughout battles and more importantly, to help correct their form during a workout.
Getting the hang of Ring Fit Adventure‘s new method of control is an integral part of getting anything out of this game and thankfully, it’s a smooth transition. Nintendo’s new accessory is incredibly responsive and simple enough to use that whether you’ve previously played a video game or not, you’ll be able to figure things out. To select something, players only need to push in on the Ring Con. Pulling on the Ring Con will do the opposite. Players can scroll left and right by turning the Ring Con as they would a steering wheel, while tilting it upwards or downwards will scroll in their respective directions. Additionally, the second half of Ring Fit Adventure’s control scheme, the left Joy Con and leg strap, allow for just as much precision as the Ring Con itself. For players trying out the game for the first time or returning after a white, Ring Fit Adventure gives a very quick rundown of how to setup and effectively use the game’s controls.
The core focus of Ring Fit Adventure is its Adventure Mode. Using fitness as its base, Adventure Mode tells its story by blending platforming gameplay with RPG battles and mechanics, all while throwing in some on-rail shooter elements into the mix. These different play styles might sound like they’d clash, but they instead make for a title that always keeps either your mind or body active. Players progress through the game’s story as they clear each stage on the map, unlocking new ones along the way. Once a stage begins, the player needs to jog in place in order to move their character forward until the stage’s end. This is where Ring Fit Adventure’s on-rail shooter and platforming elements come into play. By aiming and pushing in on the Ring Con, players can shoot power gusts of concentrated air. This can be used to break a variety of oncoming targets and obstacles. Similarly, pulling on the Ring Con will create a vacuum effect which can pull in items and money scattered along the area. Tilting the Ring Con down and pushing in on it will allow players to jump, a mechanic which creates some simple, yet enjoyable platforming. With alternate paths and numerous events and obstacles popping up during each stage, traversing Ring Fit Adventure’s world managed to keep me looking forward to what was coming next.
For as much fun as it is running through stages, that only makes up about half of Ring Fit Adventure’s gameplay. The other half is the game’s turn-based RPG battles. While going through stages, players will occasion run into set encounters to battle monsters. Unlike typical RPGs however, these battles are fought through executing equipped workout routines in order to deal damage. As an added incentive to try pulling these moves off with better form, addition damage is done for each properly performed rep. In-between attacking, players are asked to press the Ring Con against their abs in order to guard against enemy attacks, When I previewed Ring Fit Adventure, I found the combat to be effective in terms of exercise, but simple overall. Having played further than what I was originally shown however, I’m glad to say that my first impression was wrong. As new abilities tied to the game’s story become unlocked, deeper mechanics found in most RPG titles are added to Ring Fit Adventure, helping to mask what would otherwise be a normal workout. There were a few times though, where those engaging RPG mechanics undermined the point of the game. At one point during my game, I found myself a couple of levels higher than the recommended level for a stage. As a result, my damage output was higher than normal and because Ring Fit Adventure calculates damage during an exercise routine rather than after it, I found myself defeating enemies well before my routines were finished. It felt as though I performed too well, and my workout was being cut short as a result.
Outside of normal stages, bonus minigames can be played for extra rewards. These games, while fun, were little more than a distraction for me and after doing them once for the goodies, I was far more eager to return to the main quest. Ring Fit Adventure does keep all of these minigames in a separate mode for anyone still wanting a fun experience, but without all of the RPG elements in the way. On top of that, the game also offers straightforward workout routines with the option to create custom regimens if you’d like to focus on certain muscles.
Ring Fit Adventure does its best to tailor to the individual player’s experience. When you first start up the game, it has you perform a quick series of tests to try to determine your athletic ability, setting a difficulty level. My test results landed me on a difficulty far higher than what I’d first experienced during my preview with the game, so those early levels that I’d once breezed through were now a decent challenge. Thankfully, Ring Fit Adventure would check in on me at the start of each play session, asking for my opinion on the current difficulty. This would’ve become an annoyance, but as if the game could detect my feelings, I was given the option to permanently stick with the difficulty I was on. I was treated to a similar experience when it came to taking breaks. Early stages of Adventure Mode were brief, taking between five and ten minutes to complete. For the first little while, Ring Fit Adventure would suggest for me to cool off and take a break after about twenty minutes or so. As I further into the game however, these prompts began taking longer to appear. I hadn’t even realized right away that single stages I was completing were now taking upwards of twenty to thirty minutes. My stamina had risen, and it was as though the game took notice. Ring Fit Adventure’s Quiet Mode was another greatly appreciated feature. Instead of having to jog in place, Quiet Mode allows players to move by squatting instead, a perfect feature for someone trying not to disturb their neighbours in the middle of the night.
For as rich an experience Ring Fit Adventure is, it’s a game that only gives what players are willing to put into it. Unlike with most RPGs I’ve played; I can’t simply rush through Ring Fit Adventure to consume all its content right away and I’m ok with that. The game’s slowly introduced items and crafting, stat boosting equipment and even elemental advantages in battle. As Ring Fit Adventure continues to grow into a more complex game for me to enjoy, I’ve been growing more accustomed to the different exercises available and I can both see and feel myself getting in better shape. It takes hard work, but Ring Fit Adventure will reward your efforts.