Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure review TL;DR: The Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch is an amazing fitness game that will not only offer a different gaming experience but also get you fit in the process.
Ever since the release of the Wii, Nintendo has been keen on introducing more novel ways to play video games and thanks to success of Wii Sports, which came bundled up with the Nintendo Wii back in the day, there has been an emphasis on fitness and moving people around in their homes when playing video games.
The Ring Fit Adventure feels like the culmination of all the efforts and experiences Nintendo put in developing fitness-themed video games in the last decade and offers a truly unique gaming experience. I was a bit skeptical about the viability of the ring controller before I had the chance to try it out but by the time I was done with the setup Ring Fit session, I knew I was up for a fitness challenge, in a good way.
Before we get to the meat and potatoes of the review, though, I'd recommend watching the official Ring Fit Adventure trailer to get a sense of what this game has to offer.
Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure: official trailer
Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure review: price and availability
The recommended retail price of Ring Fit Adventure is £64.99/$79.99/AU$124.95.
Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure review: what is it, and what's in the box?
The Ring Fit Adventure is an adventure RPG video game for the Nintendo Switch. It uses a special controller setup to track the movement of the body: one part of the JoyCon is strapped to one of the legs using a velcro-fastened sleeve while the other JoyCon is inserted into the Ring-Con frame that comes included in the game package.
The Ring-Con frame is essentially a pilates ring (opens in new tab), a flexible plastic loop that can be pushed and pulled without it breaking apart. The Ring-Con is definitely durable: it "uses fiber-glass reinforced plastics in its spring, the same material used for aircraft and ships", according to Nintendo of Japan (opens in new tab).
Movement data is fed into the game: the on-screen avatar will mimic your physical movements, meaning when you move, the little avatar moves too. The Ring Fit Adventure does a great job explaining how to perform exercises correctly and whenever you are required to do an exercise, a little explainer animation is shown on the screen to help you perform each exercise correctly.
Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure review: calibration and setup
When you first boot up Ring Fit Adventure, the JoyCon inserted in the RingCon will be updated which will take a couple of minutes. Before each session, you will be required to pull and push the Ring-Con to calibrate it. The game will also walk you through a little warm up at the beginning and a cool down/stretch at the end. As well as that, when you start the game, you will be asked how the last session felt and you can adjust the increase/drop the difficulty to your liking.
Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure review: game modes and health tracking
The main story mode of the Ring Fit Adventure can be considered as a simplified RPG: as you complete more and more sections in the game, you collect XP and unlock new moves as well as new abilities. There are altogether 44 different unlockable exercises but you can only equip six for each 'mission' so there is an element of planning present in the game.
I was a bit concerned at the beginning about being able to swap exercises in and out: I thought people might use this feature to pick only easy exercises and complete the game with less effort. Thankfully, the designers at Nintendo thought about this and introduced a colour-coding system: some enemies can be defeated quicker using a certain type of exercise. So, if an enemy is purple, performing purple exercises will damage them more. This way, players have to equip different exercises to maximise their attack power and work different muscle in real life.
There is also an element of crafting in the game, further reinforcing the RPG-pedigree of Ring Fit Adventure. Different concoctions can be created from ingredients you find when run around the stages which will give you a temporary boost. Clothes can also provide more permanent stat boost; these can be purchased in the shops. All things considered, Ring Fit Adventure won't require Final Fantasy VII team-planning but it's a nice effort to include some level of customisation so you have a sense of control over your progression.
There are also mini games that focus on different areas of the body. Completing mini games is a great way to train certain muscle groups and really build muscle definition, should you want to. Granted, playing Ring Fit Adventure won't replace dumbbells or kettlebells but you will be surprised how much effort it takes to squeeze the Ring-Con above your head, 30 times in a row.
Ring Fit Adventure uses a range of metrics to calculate the body's energy expenditure. Based on your age, gender, weight and your heart rate, the game will calculate the amount of calories that you used to complete the stage.
At the end of each stage, your moves are tallied up and the appropriate amount of XP is given to you which is used to level up your avatar. When levelled up, your avatar's attack and defense points go up, but since the enemies will get tougher too it doesn't really feel like a huge upgrade. Pretty standard RPG stuff, really.
Truth to be told, I haven't tried grinding away on easier stages to see if I can beef up my character but even if you could do that, I don't see any point as the main storyline is fun and rewarding enough as it is.
Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure review: verdict
I was genuinely surprised just how fun it was to play Ring fit Adventure. Being a member of a special breed – I like video games probably almost as much as fitness – I found playing Ring Fit Adventure a rewarding and fun gaming experience. In a world of hyper-realistic FPS and ultra-detailed real-time strategy games, Nintendo yet again showed us that there is another way to keep players engaged and moving in real life.
Ring Fit Adventure is not a perfect game: especially at later stages, repeating the same exercise a million times can get a bit repetitive and thanks for the 'best of all worlds' approach, it doesn't quite deliver the perfect RPG or adventure experience. That said, Ring Fit Adventure does a really good job in gamifying fitness and to introduce the concept of daily workouts to people who might otherwise just sit around most of the time.
If you are even vaguely interested in video games and fitness, you should definitely try Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch. Some might find the price tag for a fitness game a bit too steep but given the unique gaming experience, the huge replay value and the quirkiness of the concept, it is worth investing in the game. If you need further justification, consider buying Ring Fit Adventure as an investment in your fitness (also health) and not just getting yet another game for the Switch.