Exercise games suck. Everyone—not just the gaming community—knows that any video game that forces you to get off your couch and do squats is usually dumb and hollow as all hell. For years, Nintendo tried to get players to get moving, with titles like Wii Sports and Wii Fit urging gamers to swing glitchy motion controllers all over the living room, wobble on weird floor-pad peripherals, and pretend like the medium of video games could legitimately qualify as a substitute for a gym membership. No developer has ever really cracked that code.
But Nintendo’s wild new Ring Fit Adventure game, out on October 18, seems to have done the impossible. It’s true; we may finally have a video game that makes exercising “fun.”
Ring Fit Adventure combines fit culture with adventure game storytelling and RPG elements.
To my knowledge, there has never really been a game quite like Ring Fit Adventure. Unlike Wii Fit or Wii Sports, the completely new Nintendo franchise somehow incorporates an Adventure Mode into an exercise-based experience. And, to make things even wilder, the developers also implemented a turn-based RPG element as well. In an exercise game.
The game will have you running, squeezing, squatting, and pressing your way through fast-paced levels, where you will face enemies who take you into an RPG-style battle. From there, your attacks come from a series of exercises—and there are more than 40 Fit Skills to choose from. So, imagine, every time you do a squat, you attack an enemy in a turn-based battle. Your enemies can attack too, which will have you shielding yourself by doing other types of exercises. Yeah, it sounds insane. But it actually works pretty well, and if you’re anything like me, the competitive nature of the game will force you to put your back into it.
When you’re not down with the whole Adventure Mode thing, there’s also a Quick Play mode that will allow you to get a workout and fight over some high scores.
Nintendo unveiled yet another new peripheral, the Ring-Con.
Ring Fit Adventure uses a brand new Switch peripheral known as the Ring-Con. Looking like a little black hula hoop, the squeezable resistance ring makes full use of Nintendo’s surprisingly deep Joy-Con capabilities. You attach one Joy-Con to the Ring-Con, with the other Joy-Con strapped to your thigh via a velcro accessory. Using a combination of technology in the Ring-Con together with the Joy-Con’s infrared camera, and whatever the hell else might be in that little half-controller, Ring Fit Adventure is able to track your motion and monitor activity levels such as heartbeat, pulse, caloric expenditure—and it’s so acutely aware of your body that it will even tell you to get your knees up higher during step-climbing sequences.
I am not an inactive person, but I’ll be honest, this game kicked my ass. The breadth of exercises is actually quite wide, offering a comprehensive-feeling workout, which from my short experience playing it is resistance- and cardio-based, with a big yoga influence.
Yes, it’s multiplayer. But not in the way you’d expect.
This ain’t Wii Sports for Switch. That’s for sure. Ring Fit Adventure will not have you and your friends lunging around with Joy-Cons blazing in your dad’s unfinished basement. The game really depends on the Ring-Con and Leg Strap accessories, so you’ll be passing the peripherals back and forth to compete for high scores in a variety of intense mini games. Finally, you can yoga against someone.
It’s not just for your gym bro buddies. This game is made for everyone.
In typical Nintendo fashion, Ring Fit Adventure is designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages and body types. And in that sense, it’s hard to knock it. The company seems legitimately concerned with giving us an experience that motivates body positivity and an active lifestyle. Ring Fit can be adjusted to any player’s level of skill, and as the game’s press release says, “Even if players don’t have experience with fitness, they can change the exercise intensity to suit their ability.” Essentially, the core mechanics of the gameplay are relative to your particular body type and desired level of exercise. Good on you, Nintendo.
But where’s Mario and Link and Donkey Kong?
From my time with the game, it seems that Nintendo is rolling out a completely new set of characters for Ring Fit Adventure. There are new villains, new heroes, and the art style of the game feels distinctive as well, with character models that are perhaps not unlike those of the early Switch title ARMS. Let’s hope we see some of these Ring folks in Smash Bros. someday.
It’s coming out soon. Very soon.
Ring Fit Adventure is set to drop on October 18. The game will retail for $79.99 and include the Ring-Con and Leg Strap peripherals. With all the Nintendo news that was announced in the early-September Direct, it’s absolutely nuts that we’re getting a brand new game from the company on such short notice. It’s 2019, and Nintendo is no longer fucking around. We’re here for it.