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When I first turned on Nintendo's new "Ring Fit Adventure," I figured the exercise game would be a walk in the park. A few dips, some jumping jacks, and that's that.
Unfortunately, I've never been so wrong, or sweaty.
"Ring Fit Adventure," available for $79, is a kind of spiritual successor to Nintendo's (NTDOY) popular "Wii Fit," which was released back in 2008. But where "Wii Fit" required you to stand on a platform during your exercises, "Ring Fit Adventure" uses the Switch's motion-tracking Joy-Con controllers, and a new Ring-Con controller to track exercises ranging from squats and crunches to overhead presses, lunges, and more.
For gamers who want to get in better shape, or folks who don’t have room for bulky fitness equipment, "Ring Fit Adventure” is a surprisingly good option, even if you look a little goofy while playing it.
Getting a grip
"Ring Fit Adventure" includes the game cartridge, a Ring-Con and a leg strap. When paired with a Joy-Con, the flexible Ring-Con is able to measure how much force you put on it while squeezing and stretching it. It also allows the game to track your movements, so it can tell when you raise the Ring-Con over your head during exercises.
Nintendo even turned the IR blaster on the Joy-Con you attach to the Ring-Con into a heart rate sensor that can tell you your beats per minute, to give you a better understanding of your activity level.
You place a second Joy-Con into the included leg strap, which you then wrap around your left thigh so the game can track your leg movements.
There's a whole lot of technology here, and it all works rather flawlessly.
To navigate between in-game menus, you raise, lower and rotate the Ring-Con like a steering wheel. To select items, you squeeze the Ring, and to exit or go back you stretch it.
“Ring Fit Adventure” includes a number of different play modes to get yourself tight. There’s the main story mode, which sees you controlling an on-screen avatar via the Ring-Con and strap.
The story itself is certainly meant for younger gamers and you having to track and capture an incredibly jacked dragon named Dragaux before he can corrupt the world with dark energy. It’s all pretty goofy, but helps you understand the game mechanics.
To move your character you need to physically run in place. Jogging faster will in turn move your character faster. You’ll also need to stretch the Ring-Con to vacuum up coins, or squeeze it to fire air blasts to launch yourself into the air and open doors.
Occasionally, you’ll run into enemies who you can only beat by performing certain exercises.
I go to the gym between three and four days a week and run about as often, so I figured I’d be able to handle the game’s more difficult exercise settings. And while I never quit, it was certainly tough.
During one particular fight, I had to repeatedly do squats, hold in place, and then return to standing to damage the enemy. You can choose from a list of exercises including crunches, yoga moves, etc. during your fight or allow them to be chosen for you at random.
After my third enemy, my legs started tiring out. I had already run a few miles and worked out before trying “Ring Fit Adventure,” because I assumed it wouldn’t offer much in terms of exercise. But by the time I had beaten the first world in the adventure mode, I was drenched in sweat.
Ditching adventure for the gym
If the adventure part of "Ring Fit Adventure" isn't your style, you're in luck, because the game offers a number of additional exercise options that don't include dragons or evil energies. You can take challenges that target specific muscle groups, play minigames, work through various exercise sets, or set your own workout routine.
I wanted to really test myself with the "Ring Fit," so I tried doing a number of crunches. Pulling my legs in, holding them in place for a few seconds, and then stretching back out was easy at first. But after a while, I could feel my muscles burning. When I stood up, my core felt as though I put in a solid workout.
If you want to exercise, but don't feel like firing up your Switch, you can use the Ring-Con in Multitask Mode. In this mode, the Ring-Con will record the number of times you squeeze and stretch it, while doing things like watching TV or reading.
You'll receive a bonus in the game's adventure mode depending on how many presses and stretches you perform.
Unfortunately, the Ring-Con’s handles are covered in cloth that absorbs your sweat. You can wash them, of course, but that means you can’t share the ring with someone the minute you finish a workout.
Should you get it?
"Ring Fit Adventure" isn't going to appeal to true gym rats, who spend hours and hours getting their swole on. But if you're just trying to improve your health and get tone without having to leave your house, this game should do the trick.
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