One Ring to rule them all
Ring Fit Adventure is exactly the kind of title that I needed to play before committing to. Nobody will argue that Nintendo have upped their marketing game since the train wreck that was the Wii U’s perpetually doomed advertising (or lack of) strategy. That being said, I was genuinely a little perplexed when the Big N showed of what we now know as Ring Fit Adventure days after the best direct in years, and weeks before the Nintendo Switch Lite launched. With Ring Fit Adventure utilising the Joy-Con and the Lite not actually being a Switch at all, this was a case of Nintendo muddying the marketing waters as only they possibly can. When the invite came to head up to the LDN and get some hands on time, I was all in.
One Ring to find them
While Ring Fit Adventure might seem like a spiritual successor to Wii Fit, with Nintendo once again keen to monetise the Fitness sector, it quickly became apparent upon playing it that this was very much an entirely new concept.
The core concept is that while it’s a fitness title aimed to make you sweat, it’s also an RPG, with all the bells and whistles that the genre brings. What I briefly played of the main campaign was actually quite in depth and I came away from it intrigued to play more. Visually, it looks like a blend of Breath of the Wild and RIME. Essentially it has a beautiful, not-quite-lo-fi, hue that works tremendously well with the fictitious fantasy land that you find yourself thrust into. The dialogue in cut-scenes was all voice acted too, to a reasonable level.
One Ring to bring them all
Beyond aesthetics, the game play mechanics are actually rather pleasing. You run on the spot to move and the faster you run in real life, the faster your character progresses through the linear level. If you approach a set of stairs you are prompted to lift your knees higher to traverse them more efficiently. The same method applies for wading through shallow water or a swamp. Later in my play time I came to an impasse at a bed of water and was prompted to hold the Ring-Con against my stomach. I then proceeded to twist my hips in order to pilot a raft across the lake. All of the different play styles that I tried really felt like they were working targeted areas, rather than just exhausting me through repetition.
The Ring-Con controller marvels in its simplicity. The right Joy-Con attaches at the 12 o’clock position and from therein out it’s all about the Ring Con. First and foremost, the peripheral is incredibly robust and feels both comfortable and sturdy in between your hands, thighs or pressed against your abs (edit: gut). As much as a big black ring can be considered an awesome piece of tech, the technology inside that clever right Joy-Con shines in Ring Fit Adventure and is probably the best use of all the bells and whistles it had to offer yet. When performing exercises, the workout feels focused and unlike Wii Fit, really gives the impression of progress, rather than just working up a little sweat. HD rumble provides resistance that genuinely surprised me and during a brief mini game where I was tasked with pressing the Ring-Con in as much as possible in a minute, it felt as though I was fighting a wild goat at times. The build quality of the Ring-Con is also a lot better than you’d expect, it’s sturdy, robust and has a lovely matte finish.
The main thing I took away from using the Ring-Con was just how perfect it would be for racing games. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe would be so well suited for the input’s on offer, with racing as one would expect, and weapon’s controlled with little pushes in on the Ring-Con. Surely someone at Nintendo thinks like me and we will see an update imminently.
The IR camera is also utilised and allows you to measure your active heart rate in between workouts. At first this was a bit hit and miss and often would be unable to complete, however once we worked out that an exact hand posture had to be utilised, it all came together and worked flawlessly.
And in the darkness bind them
Aside from the main RPG quest, there are quick fire mini games that offer variety and most importantly, a lot of fun. They range from driving a car with your thighs, whilst sitting down, to using the Ring-Con as a Zapper and shooting waves and waves of stacked blocks. Whilst the main campaign of Ring Fit Adventure is very much a single player experience, the mini games are perfect for local couch multiplayer. As well as these modes, you can also perform pre set routines that target specific areas you wish to work on.
Ring Fit Adventure might not be for the most ardent of gym enthusiasts, but it will appeal to families, gamers and in the case of this time deprived old coots like myself, people looking to just try and look after themselves a little better.