Ring Fit Adventure full review

Wii Fit was, it’s probably fair to say, a bit of a system seller. So the most surprising thing about Ring Fit Adventure isn’t that it exists, it’s that it took Nintendo so long to release it

Like that game before it, this sits somewhere in between a fitness sim and a full game, but unlike Wii Fit this skews much closer towards the game side of life - though don’t make the mistake of thinking that means you’ll get to take it easy.

Whether that's enough to earn it a spot in our best Switch games chart I can't say yet, but at the very least it isn't like anything else on the console. And if you don't own a Switch yet but are tempted to pick one up, we're rounding up all the latest Switch deals to help you get the best price possible.

Releasing on the Switch on 18 October for £64.99/$79.99, the centrepiece of the game is another new accessory: the Ring-Con. Included in the price of the game, this circular resistance band connects to a Joy-Con and tracks about half the game’s exercises, with the remainder handled by a leg strap which attaches the other Joy-Con to your upper thigh.

The strap is just a simple elastic-and-velcro affair, but the Ring-Con is a sturdier plastic construction, bolstered by foam palm grips on either side. It feels like it should take a beating - which it’ll have to - and actually offers a lot of resistance, so it will give your arms a fair workout.

The core of Ring Fit Adventure is, well, the adventure. Attached to a (very) thinly sketched story involving a confusingly buff dragon, this mostly consists of an endless runner where you actually have to run.

Jogging on the spot moves you forward, while squeezing the Ring-Con fires an energy blast to destroy obstacles, and pulling it apart triggers a vacuum to attract coins and other collectibles. You point it down to jump, and between all that can basically navigate every level.

Where the game gets a little more interesting is when you hit enemies. They pop up every now and then, triggering a fit fight. Yup.

You essentially get to pick your exercise - early ones included squats and leg extensions, but more will unlock as you progress - and do ten or so reps, dealing more or less damage based on how good your form is. You rattle through a few different exercises to deal damage, squeeze the Ring-Con into your stomach to block, and after a while you’ll be back to jogging along.

If it sounds simple, you’re not wrong. But that’s hardly a fault - this is a workout first and foremost, but one with just enough going on to distract you from the exercise. And it is a workout - across just under an hour of play I did work up a sweat, even running through the tutorial stuff for a chunk of that time, and with customisable intensity and a progression system that amps up the exercise as you play this definitely will work you hard if you want it to, while doing its best to stop you from noticing.

That’s actually a mindset best exemplified by the mini-games you can find in a separate menu. Whether it’s squatting your way through everyone’s favourite Ghost scene in Squattery Pottery, balancing on a tightrope while dodging bombs, or using a fan to hit back discuses (discii?) thrown by inexplicably aggressive robots, these are geared around tiring you out while making you focus on something else - and giving you a high score to chase to boot.

The main game is structured lightly like an RPG, with a currency, XP, and level progression. In my brief hour preview I didn’t get much of a sense of how deep those mechanics go, but my guess would be ‘not very’. But again, that’s fine - they’re just another little crutch to help pull you back into the game every day.

To go with the added gamification Nintendo has also given Ring Fit Adventure a jolt more personality than Wii Fit ever had, but Splatoon or Arms this ain’t.

There’s a faintly Dragon Ball-inspired aesthetic to the main adventure - ripped dragons, glowing hair, you know - but isn’t a setting I expect to inspire an ardent fanbase. Still, the environmental backgrounds are definitely more beautiful than they strictly need to be, with a subtle cel-shaded effect, and the cutesy critters you'll be trying to out-exercise are sure to pick up a few fans.

Early verdict

If you’re hoping for a fully-fledged RPG that’ll work up a sweat, Ring Fit Adventure ain’t it.

But this feels like a measurable step forward from Wii Fit, with more character, depth, and progression that should keep players coming back and hopefully save the Ring-Con from dusty relegation to the back of the cupboard - at least for a few months.