Sophisticated Gamer

Ring Fit Adventure is the greatest fitness video game ever

Pokémon, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Super Mario mechanics with a wry sense of humor.

I am very scared of the muscly, hyper-masculine dark dragon in Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch, and I can't quite understand why.

Maybe it's the rippling muscles, or how the swole dragon's spandex evoke Borat's infamously revealing bathing suit. For a villainous dragon to be clothed at all is kind of weird, right? But that's what you get with Dragaux. His name is the only thing more terrible than his propensity to "radiate a dangerous, dark energy" that can "creep into the weakness of your heart to consume you." A fitness game talking about weak hearts feels less like Kingdom Hearts and more like a problematic lecture from Heavyweights' Tony Perkis.

It speaks to the utter ridiculousness of Ring Fit Adventure. Despite all its camp, quirks, and sometimes uncomfortably weird nuances, it's an amusing adventure. And heck yes, it will get you fit as a fiddle.

Why does Dragaux feel less like a villain and more like a jilted lover?Nintendo

I managed to snag Ring Fit Adventure as part of an early January sale that knocked $10 off the normal $79.99 price tag, and it's become a central facet of my fitness routine. Trust me. I once logged about 100 hours on his Wii Fit, a top-tier Nintendo fitness game, during the summer of 2008.

Somehow, Ring Fit Adventure is even better. It feels like Pokémon, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Super Mario rolled into one.

What's great about Ring Fit Adventure

  • An amusing story that will keep you chuckling
  • Dynamic, interactive workouts never get boring
  • Mashes several game genres together to great success

Everything about Ring Fit Adventure is ridiculous in the best way possible. The fact that somebody figured out a way to craft the Ring-Con at all — and more than 60 different fit skills to go along with it — is just brilliant. You strap one Joy-Con to your leg (it's more comfortable than you might think) and another to the Ring-Con itself.

Within this bizarre universe, your avatar discovers a pilates ring, named Ring, that imprisoned Dragaux long ago. After he escapes, you team up with Ring to pursue the dragon through a lengthy series of stunning vistas. You navigate via a Super Mario Bros.-style overworld. You literally run through each level like a 3D Sonic adventure. The exposition during cutscenes is comically bad, yet endearing. I found myself rolling my eyes so hard, laughing, and then biting my lip because I had to start running again.

There's a lot of cheeky fun to be had.

The story is silly and generic, but it works.Nintendo

While jogging along, you have to push or pull the Ring-Con to push or pull air. This lets you destroy obstacles, open doors, levitate, or vacuum up nearby coins. The random battle encounters with fitness-themed enemies a la Pokémon is where the hyper-specific exercises come into play.

By selecting a Fit Skill and performing the exercise, you whittle away at your opponent with each rep. Then, you compress the Ring-Con against your abs to defend before selecting a new attack. It's dynamic and engaging with a surprising amount of strategy involved when some enemies are weak to Leg Skills or, say, the mythical power of Yoga Fit Skills. Things get a bit weird when you have to compress the Ring-Con with your thighs to cause a spectral foot to stomp on Dragaux's head, but that's the game we're playing here.

What's not so great about Ring Fit Adventure

  • $79.99 is a lot of money for a gimmicky product you might not stick with
  • Quite plainly: The story is lame
  • My shoulders hurt!

The story mode takes an estimated three months of daily workouts, so $80 value is a solid deal if you commit. But you can do any of the unlocked exercises during a more leisurely gym workout. Still, this is the only game that works with the Ring-Con, so you're paying a decent amount of money for a peripheral with zero versatility.

If you're looking to invest in fitness alone, there are more traditional cost-effective streaming services out there (as long as you have at least a little bit of home equipment). But if you want your exercise to be gamified, you really can't do better than Ring Fit Adventure.

I happen to love the corny story, especially how instead of magic potions, there are smoothies. And your sidekick/trainer, the ring called Ring, is amusing and cheeky. However, plenty of people will just groan at the lameness of it all. But hey, fitness is always kind of lame, isn't it?

Ring Fit Adventure's first laugh-out-loud moment.Nintendo

Note: Because many of the activities involve compression or extension, it puts a very specific kind of strain on your shoulders. If you have any kind of sensitivity in your shoulder sockets, a history of dislocations, or anything like that, Ring Fit Adventure may not be for you. Despite living an active lifestyle, I experience a curious amount of muscle strain in my shoulders after using it. The feeling went away, but it was noticeable nonetheless.

But those kinds of hurdles come with every new fitness adventure, including one that's this charming, vibrant, and fun.

If you have a Switch and want a new fitness regime, you need to buy Ring Fit Adventure.

Sophisticated Gamer is a series all about elevated gaming accessories you won't be embarrassed to show to your Tinder date. We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too.

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