Review: In praise of Ring Fit Adventure

I bought my son Ring Fit Adventure as a reward for bringing home good grades. Little did I know that I would soon monopolize the game. Yes, he uses and loves it too, but only after school. For me, it is full of 2-10 minute exercise breaks perfect for pausing work and getting myself moving.

I recently left a position with a massive commute to a nearby city, ridiculous hours, and lots and lots of sitting. It completely broke up my routine, which had previously included a well considered mix of resistance, strength, flexibility, and aerobics (mixed with a bit of Restorative and Yin yoga, which are the bomb).

My fitness pre-job was hard earned. Lots of its early ramp-up was due to a mix of physical therapy and Wii Fit (or as I like to call it Wii Fiit). Despite the harsh criticism Wii Fit gets, it is an amazing tool for convalescence and several of its activities (most specifically boxing) can get a good heart rate and sweat going. I particularly love its quirky “yoga”, which opened me up to a much wider world of non-scare-quote yoga.

Wii Fit eventually evolved into Wii Fit Plus, which I have never played, mostly due to the fact that we own a bunch of Wii Fits and I never saw enough value to upgrade to the newer system. When the Switch debuted, I hoped they’d continue Nintendo’s fit tradition, and Nintendo finally delivered with Ring Fit Adventure. (Also, it tickles me silly that the Wii Fit trainers are now in Smash.)

Ring Fit Adventure is basically an interval training system based on jogging in place mixed with resistance training using a Pilates Ring and some minimal stretching. It doesn’t sound like much but it works brilliantly. If you regularly move a lot of iron around in your life, this isn’t going to do much for you but if you’re coming off six months of nearly complete inactivity and want to get back in shape to take advantage of more physicality, it’s perfect.

I find it’s never hard to build a sweat and get my heart moving for a good 20-60 minutes. In addition the game has incentivized many of my most hated activities (I’m looking at you, Mr. Squats) and turned them into something I am determined to conquer. Yes, being short means the travel of the thigh sensor may be occasionally tricky to detect (meaning deeper squats for me) but the pilates-style ring is deservedly the star of this show.

From what I can guess, it has some interior material that changes resistance as it bends to allow the system to detect interaction both pushing in and pulling out. There’s a larger-than-expected vocabulary of fitness activities you can incorporate using those two actions including overhead presses and pulls, forward and rear, and the star of the show, the engaged “ab-guard”, which when done correctly allows you to engage your gluts, abs, and shoulders, or basically all the things my PT regularly tells me to engage.

Technically this is a game and there’s some kind of irritating storyline about a picked-on pilates-ring and his steroid abuser ex, but you can ignore most of that and enjoy the beautiful tracks and vistas. There’s a bit of repetition from world to world and a “cheat” system that involves drinking lots of smoothies (because pure sugar is always what people trying to control insulin metabolisms want in their system, right?) but these, too, are minor issues.

Mostly, the game is great because it is, at least for me, hard and it ramps up its difficulty level to level. I’m savoring each “world” and I am in no hurry to finish.  Most recently, I spent time pushing and pulling blocks along a running track with my arms so I could run without falling into holes and by the end of the course, I felt it. For me, finding that physical edge and training to that point of exhaustion just before it’s too much is what makes a great workout.

No, the biggest issue is that we have the one Switch and occasionally my child wants to use his toy without his mom demanding 100% access through the day.

This isn’t a cheap hobby. A basic fully fitted Switch with dock will set you back $300. Add in a second pair of joycons, and that’s another $70-$80. The game alone is $80. And if you end up destroying the pilates ring (the “ring controller” or “ring con”) that’s $45 + shipping direct from Nintendo. (And if you do break that, chances are good you’ll have banged up a joycon as well.) Fortunately, our ring is doing well despite the abuse we have put it through. And we have, as yet, not flung any joycons across the room or into the TV.

Despite the price, most of the cost involves things we would have bought anyway or already own. They’re expensive but have proved to be a delight for the family.

As for Ring Fit Adventure, you shouldn’t have to wait for your report card to treat yourself or your kids to this. I suspect the adults will be playing it longer than the kids unless you treat some of its minigames as pass-and-play so you can enjoy it together.

I hope there will be follow-up fitness products but based on Wii Fit/Wii Fit Plus, Nintendo has a respectable heritage of a single, focused fitness title.

I’ve been waiting for great training and fitness innovation products that combines the Apple Watch and Apple TV but so far, nothing has grabbed me in the way that Wii Fit and Ring Fit Adventure have.

What about you? Any amazing finds?

2 Comments

  • I like using barbells to hit a lot of muscles in minimum time. I like to run for cardio and need to make progress to get back to what I lost. Tennis is great for HIIT. Running in the woods is great too. I do yoga for balance after falling down the stairs a few times.

  • Wii Fit Plus used the same balance board and, assuming you had a Wii U, could be downloaded if you bought a Wii Fit Pedometer for about $20.

    It was a nice expansion and totally worth the $20 (if you would have bought the Wii U anyway).

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