Having now conquered the main campaign in Ring Fit Adventure, I think I’m definitely in a position to move beyond my first impressions of the game.
Prior to the first lockdown in 2020, I’d been a daily gym user for a few years. I had used a combination of regular, pretty intense workouts with a change in my diet to great results, losing quite a lot of weight in the process and keeping toned once I’d reached my target. Lockdown was tough to cope with, given that my autistic need for routine (and I don’t say that flippantly – I genuinely do have Autism Spectrum Disorder) is so important to me. Losing gym access so suddenly was difficult to deal with and I found it particularly tough to come up with a substitute for the exercises I’d built into my day, given that they relied on an awful lot of walking and fancy machines that I’d no longer have the opportunity to use.
For a while, it seemed that many people were in the same boat, because Ring Fit Adventure kept quickly selling out for months on end. The few copies that did surface on eBay and Amazon were being sold at ridiculously inflated prices, so it became a waiting game to try and get hold of it at RRP. Thankfully, I regularly checked my local Argos for stock and managed to be quick enough to reserve one when they got a few units in. That was in July last year.
Since then, I’ve used Ring Fit for all but three days. According to the stats that I was given after completing the game, it took me close to thirty six in-game hours to complete the main campaign.
Which isn’t bad, but it still pales in comparison to the time I was putting in at the gym – I’d have done the same duration of exercise in three weeks or so at the gym, rather than the six months or so it took me to do via Ring Fit.
And yet…physically, I’m not in bad shape. I’m not quite as toned as I was in certain areas pre-lockdown, but in others I can see a big, positive change. Though I’m doing a fraction of the exercise I was doing before, what Ring Fit does so cleverly is to give oa pretty intense, focused workout in which you can target very specific areas – and it does mix things up, pushing you to try new exercises, every few stages too. Another aspect where it excels is in reminding you to keep pushing and to increase the difficulty level if things are getting too easy. At the gym, it can be very easy to settle into a routine and leave it far too long before pushing weights up or increasing resistance. In Ring Fit, it’ll engage you with a question or two every few days, just to make sure it’s something you think about.
The pace at which you’ll face bosses, some of which force you to use specific exercises and push you outside of your comfort zone, is smartly handled too. They can be a real challenge, particularly if you’ve also had to run through a difficult course to get to them, but even if you lose, you find yourself preparing for a further attempt the next day.
It’s all so jauntily, charmingly presented too. It’s a far cry from the Mii-powered minimalism that often categorised Wii Fit, which felt a bit cookie cutter at times. The island and events that took place on it felt like they could just slot into any of the Wii Sports games – and, from what I understand, the island actually was the one that went on to be used in Wii Sports Resort. Ring Fit’s campaign takes place in a unique, well realised, colourful and varied set of environments, with an awful lot of character and nice incidental touches. The storyline isn’t particularly interesting, but it’s charming enough in a low key way. It’s fair to say that it isn’t the storyline that keeps you motivated to continue, however.
Outside of the main campaign are a number of different activities including rhythm games, but in all honesty I’ve barely touched them. More useful for those wanting to stick to workout routines are custom workouts in which you can choose specific plans that can be used as often or little as needed, targeting specific areas (legs, arms, abs etc).
Whenever you reach 10 minutes of in-game exercise time during the main campaign, you’ll be prompted to finish for the day when you next go to the overworld map. Again, it’s a nice feature that does help you to ensure that you aren’t pushing yourself too hard; if you opt to continue, it’ll issue a gentle warning about the dangers of working out too much.
Facts about nutrition and muscle quizzes appear when you’re cooling down – and, using the IR camera on the right Joy-Con, it’ll take your pulse too.
The Ring is an amazingly resilient and flexible piece of kit, though the leg strap for the left Joy-Con sometimes feels as though it’s not quite perfect at registering movement (there’s a certain few exercises that can be tough because of this). Though it’s understandable due to the way the hardware is designed, it’s a shame that there aren’t straps for each leg too – again, it would have made a number of the exercises a lot more accurate.
Though I initially balked at the price of Ring Fit Adventure, having used it for such a sustained period and seen the way that the main campaign is structured – along with all of the extra features that Nintendo have been included – I’m incredibly impressed and will continue to use it daily for the foreseeable future. At the cost of around four months of gym membership, it’s already paid for itself and – with a more difficult campaign now unlocked and accessible from the menu – I’ve no doubt that it’s going to be quite some time before I’ve exhausted everything there is to do in the game. Leave it to Nintendo to gamify fitness in such a compelling and addictive way.
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