I am at that point in life where I need to exercise if I want to get to an old age without too many health problems. Specially because I lead a very sedentary life and don’t have any sport that I particularly like to practice. The problem though is I dislike gyms. They make me uncomfortable and feeling out of place.
A solution I tried was to play Wii Fit U. In fact that was secretly part of why I bought it in the first place1. Even that was problematic though because I end up in a cycle of exercising for a few weeks then stopping for months due to mood swings or changes to my routine.
I even tried looking at some alternatives like the demos for the Fitness Boxing and Just Dancing 2019 for the Switch but found them not to my liking. Even the Ring Fit Adventure was something I tried to ignore at first because I was afraid it would be another game that wouldn’t work for me. But then I read a review of it at Destructoid and in my typical impulsive way decided to buy it and hope for the best.
A game with exercising
One of my worries about Ring Fit Adventure is that it would be one of those attempts at gamefying an otherwise mundane task and failing at it. You know, the kind where they slap some levels and XP to something and just call it a day? Yeah, those I find pretty boring and not very motivational.
With the Ring Fit Adventure I won’t say they went the opposite way and did a game first and slapped some exercise later but they definitely gave it a lot of thought in how to make it feel like an actual game. It has different worlds with a series of levels to beat, monsters to fight and even bosses at the end of each world. There is even a player character with some minimal customization, a health bar (in the form of hearts), level ups, stats and gear to acquire with the coin you earn through the levels. Oh, and also mini-games and titles as you achieve certain milestones in the game. There is even a bit of a story to give an excuse on why your character is going on this journey to defeat the big bad guy.
And just like a regular game as you progress through it the levels get longer and slightly more complex, the monsters get more varied, the boss fights gets harder and some new mechanics get introduced to keep things varied.
The obvious difference to another regular game is that you do all of this through physical exercises. So to progress through a level you actually run in place. To fight the monsters you have a set of exercises, that you can choose before the level begins, that you need to do to defeat them. And just so you don’t keep doing the same exercise over and over, there are cooldowns for individual exercises and pretty soon in the game it introduces a mechanic where certain types of exercises are more effective against monsters of a matching color.
Somehow this all works. There is a certain charm to it and I am finding myself not only having fun playing the game but also pretty motivated to do so. This is more than I could say for the Wii Fit U, even though I still love it, and any other kind of exercise game I tried.
If for some reason you don’t want to do the gaming part of Ring Fit Adventure, there is another mode where you can just select a set of exercises you want to do and for how long. In this case it is not really different then going to the gym or playing the Wii Fit U. There is even a multitask mode where you can just use the Ring-con while doing something else like watching TV or something else.
There is also an option for people who can’t run in place, called Silent Mode, where you pretty much do squats instead of running to move your character. As well as some options for people who have limited mobility.
All in all I’d say there are options for everyone.
Because nothing in this world is perfect I do have some nitpicks about this game. One of them is that in the first time you launch the game it asks you to choose an unit of measure that will be used to show how much you run and to input your weight. The only options I had were “Canada” (Km and Pounds) and “North America” (Miles and Pounds). Since I don’t live in either country I had to choose Canada which is the closest to the one my country uses (Km and Kg). I imagine in other regions of the world the options are different but this is the one I got. It is not a big deal but it does irritate me considering that most of the world settled in with the International System of Units. This feels like, unintended or otherwise, a very narrow view of the world.
The other is that the strap band that we put on the left thigh slips with one of my exercise shorts2. The solution I found was to just strap it directly to my thigh which isn’t a very good solution when you sweat a lot like me.
Having said all that, does it actually work to improve a person’s health or to lose weight? I don’t know. Ask me in three months. Right now I’ve only played for 14 days and the results haven’t been all that different from what I got from the Wii U. Honestly I don’t think just exercises will be enough for me. There is still the question of my eating habits that needs a lot of improvement.
All I can say right now for sure is that I am having fun so at least in that aspect it has been worth the price. I do hope I can get some health benefits from it too. I do wonder what will happen once I beat the game…. I guess I could play the different levels I unlocked at a higher intensity. I will cross that bridge once I get there. For now I still got some levels to literally run through. 🙂