A reader details how the inactivity of lockdown got him interested in the Switch’s Jump Rope Challenge and then Ring Fit Adventure.
Ring Fit Adventure is perhaps the very last game I ever thought I’d end up describing as Nintendo’s greatest triumph but that’s exactly what I’m about to do. When the game was first released last year I took barely any notice, dismissing it as an expensive novelty for fitness fanatics in much the same way I did with Wii Fit. I always appreciate Nintendo’s attempts to reach out to new audiences, but it just didn’t seem have any relevance to me. Then came the lockdown.
After months of being trapped at home, mostly playing games on the couch, my body was slowly turning to mush. My neck in particular was developing a horrible crick from sitting in the same position for far too long. Obviously I went for walks, very long walks, but I was missing my usual daily exercise from working and my weekly swimming.
I started to worry whether I could even cope with the physical demands of returning to work. Standing for most of the day seemed a daunting prospect in the midst of lockdown malaise. Then, with impeccably good timing, Jump Rope Challenge appeared out of nowhere.
The most important thing about Jump Rope Challenge was its price or more accurately its lack of one. Even if it had cost a few pounds I very much doubt I would have ever taken the plunge. Being free though meant I had absolutely nothing to lose. Here was a novel way to get a little extra exercise without breaking the bank. So I started doing daily Jump Rope Challenge before my proper gaming session. What surprised me was how much better it made me feel, not just physically but mentally.
It was really only a few minutes a day but I found myself giggling with glee as I repeatedly attempted to clear the invisible rope. The motions controls worked wonderfully, the clear visual progression did wonders for my motivation and the game just generally felt warm and encouraging.
I started playing longer and longer, sometimes looking forward to those cherished minutes more than the traditional game I had lined up to play afterwards. My eyes had been opened and I began to crave a more substantial take on this new gaming experience. Jump Rope Challenge had done its stealth marketing job perfectly. Nintendo know what they’re doing!
Ring Fit Adventure was still a risk though. Forking out £65 is a big ask in normal times, never mind in the middle of a pandemic with all the uncertainty it brings. I also had worries over whether the motion controls would work well with my set-up and whether the limited space I have in my flat would be enough. But after months of shortages the game was suddenly available to buy again, somehow it felt like it was meant to be. So I took a chance and boy am I glad I did!
The first thing that strikes you about Ring Fit Adventure is how welcoming it all is. Unlike Wii Fit’s much more sterile approach, this game instantly feels bright, colourful, and full of life. The courses, the characters and even the enemies all exude a tangible positive energy which is contagious and instantly makes the act of exercise exponentially more joyful.
The Ring-Con acts as an inspired and innovative interactive bridge to the game’s world, giving you a real tactile connection to what’s happening on screen. All my motion control worries were melted away by its superbly accurate responsiveness – it does its job beautifully.
The game goes out of its way to encourage you towards success. Your main allies, Ring and Tipp, are bursting with enthusiasm, Ring constantly using uplifting exclamations to reward your efforts and Tipp silently gesturing with fist pumps and celebratory dances. I genuinely feel like they’re pulling for me.
My absolute favourite piece of dialogue is Ring’s emphatic proclamation that ‘Your sweat is so shiny and beautiful!’ (I wish people complimented my sweat in real life!). The story is just chock-full of wry humour and charm like this, which helps keep your spirits up between courses.
As with Jump Rope Challenge, there are plenty of vibrant, visual indicators of your progress which definitely help keep your motivation up. But crucially, there’s no pressure. There’s no targets, no weighing yourself, no lectures, no real negativity at all. The game just isn’t interested in turning you into Arnold Schwarzenegger and if that is what you want you’re probably better off sticking with the gym. Ring Fit Adventure just wants you to feel good.
After 65 days and over 70 hours of play I can personally confirm that in this very simple but noble aim the game is a stunning success. Certainly I have experienced physical benefits such as having better posture, being more limber, having improved stamina and that crick in my neck disappearing.
But way more importantly I feel the mental boost of experiencing such a fun, invigorating endorphin rush of a game. The worst of moods can instantly be banished with a workout session with Tipp and Ring, which has been an absolutely essential boon during this challenging year.
Nintendo’s whole gaming ethos has always revolved around accessibility, innovation, and fun. Ring Fit Adventure truly exemplifies these qualities on every level, offering an inclusive experience that revolutionises the approach to a fitness game whilst never forgetting to provide anything less than a thoroughly joyful, life affirming experience.
It’s a game I will be playing long after Mario and Zelda have fell by the wayside, and likely even after the Switch has faded from the limelight. I honestly think it is Nintendo’s greatest triumph and the quintessential distillation of all their best qualities. If you don’t believe me, just try it for yourself and you too can discover the shining, beauty of your own sweat!
By reader Ryan O’D
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