Warning: this article contains awkward images of a journalist flapping around in a room full of people.
When Ring Fit Adventure was announced with that somewhat creepy trailer, many people (ourselves included) assumed it to be a successor to Wii Fit or Wii Sports. Having had a chance to check out this new game at a packed-out Nintendo event in London, however, we’re now able to report that Ring Fit Adventure doesn’t really feel like a successor to anything – it’s very much its own product, with unique ideas in abundance.
After signing in, making some small talk and climbing up several flights of stairs (which felt like a harsh extra level of warm-up), we found ourselves in a mock-up of quite a fancy living room. Sofas, lamps and tables were dotted around, and a Nintendo Switch console had been hooked up to a massive telly – all in all, it was nicer flat than the one we travelled in from.
A friendly member of the Nintendo staff guided us through the basics of getting started with Ring Fit Adventure: we put our name in, set our height and weight, and customised the gender, eye colour and hair colour of our on-screen Avatar. We slotted on Joy-con controller into the ring-shaped peripheral and slid the other one into a leg strap (which goes on your left thigh). A faceless bloke named Tipp appeared on the screen to guide us through a few simple stretches by way of a warm-up. And with all of that housekeeping out of the way, we were ready to get started on our adventure.
A short cut scene welcomes you to the fantasy world of Ring Fit Adventure, introducing two key characters: there’s Ring, a chatty mentor figure that serves as the on-screen representation of the Ring controller; and there’s also Dragaux, a very buff dragon that emanates dark energy and serves as the villain of the piece. A simple “us versus them” narrative is established, and it’s not long before we’re taken to the level selection screen.
In a similar way to Nintendo platformers like Super Mario Bros U Deluxe and Yoshi’s Crafted World, the main story mode of Ring Fit Adventure has a simple overworld map that shows a series of levels – connected by a winding road – that players must work their way through one by one. We loaded up the first level, with the leg strap attached and the Ring-con in hand, and got ready to get our fitness on. We weren’t fully sure of what to expect, but, thankfully, this opening gambit is very much a tutorial.
After noticing the Zelda-alike nature of the game’s lush visual world, we started jogging on the spot to make our on-screen avatar run forwards. Soon, a deer ran into view, around the same time that Ring told us how to fire an air-blast: by squeezing inward on the Ring-con, we sent a whoosh of air flying towards the deer, which promptly scared it off. You can use this ability to smash crates (which contain coins and other useful things), open doors (to access the next area) and also to jump (a downward whoosh sends your character flying). You can also pull outwards on the Ring-con to activate a hoovering effect, which will suck up nearby coins, hearts and any other items that are lying around.
Anyway, here are some very awkward pictures from the session that you might enjoy…
The levels of Ring Fit Adventure are mostly on-rails, but there are points when you can veer off in different directions. For instance, if you mistime a jump, you might fall onto a different track. The first level introduces all of these ideas in an easy-to-understand fashion, and it only takes a couple of minutes to feel like you fully understand what’s going on.
The second level introduces the turn-based battles that will punctuate your journey through the game. A bit like when you bump into a wild Pokémon in that iconic RPG franchise, you could run into one or more little fitness gremlins at any point in a Ring Fit Adventure level. To defeat them, you’ll need to do a series of damage-dealing fitness moves, which could include anything from squats to yoga poses. You’ll have to do each move several times, following Tipp’s example on the screen (which will show you the correct posture and motion to deploy).
From the early levels that we tried, Ring Fit Adventure‘s story mode seems like a nice blend of gaming and exercise which tries hard not to alienate anyone: the fantasy elements aren’t so wacky that a non-nerd won’t be able to follow what’s going on, and the exercise side of things is tailored to each individual’s abilities. The more levels you complete and the more battles you win, the more experience you’ll gain, which will allow you to level up your character and unlock new moves. It’s an easy cycle to get to grips with, and you can dip in and out as much you like. We fully intend to play more of it.
Fancy another awkward pic? Oh, go on then. This one even has a cameraman in it…
After letting us play through the first few levels, the Nintendo rep pointed us back to the main menu (skipping over a ‘cooldown’ that the game recommended) to show us some minigames. There is a decent number of smaller challenges on offer, which you can jump into quickly. On each of them, you can record your score instantaneously on a leaderboard for your friends and family to try and beat.
The first one we tried was all about smashing crates. A wall of crates descended in front of us, and we had to clear it using by squishing in on the Ring-con to deploy some airblasts. Some special crates that explode when you hit them, taking out multiple crates nearby, were thrown into the mix for an extra challenge. Every time you cleared the wall of crates, it would refill, until the timer elapsed. It was fun, and felt like a decent workout for the arms as well.
The second and final minigame that we tried way another arm one. This one presented us with a circular whack-a-mole sort of challenge, with tiny cute robots popping out of a ring-shaped area on the screen. We had to rotate, squish and stretch the Ring-con to try and whack them all before the timer ran out. Again, this provided a flurry of enjoyment and exercise to boot. If we had a living room full of friends, all trying to beat each other’s scores, this could be a really good time. All things considered, then, Ring Fit Adventure makes a strong first impression. We look forward to running back into it.
Ring Fit Adventure for Nintendo Switch launches on 18 October.