Nintendo’s return to fitness gaming, 2019’s Ring Fit Adventure, delivers a fun way to push oneself with effective exercises, but it feels at times like its aesthetic doesn’t match its challenge. Ring Fit Adventure needs a darker, more serious sequel, in the style of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
Despite its initially odd-seeming concept (and terrifyingly stiff reveal trailer presenters), Ring Fit Adventure turned out to be a surprisingly great game. The Switch workout RPG uses a unique peripheral called the Ring-Con to provide resistance for various exercises, which are used to deliver blows to enemies in turn-based battles. Jogging sections between the fights provide a solid cardio workout on top of the resistance training, and additional modes allow players to build their fitness in a variety of ways.
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The entire experience is coated in a wonderfully colorful art style. It’s a beautiful game, with an almost Breath of the Wild-like softness to its lighting and some very pretty landscapes. But this may not have been the best aesthetic for its gameplay.
Why Ring Fit Adventure’s Sequel Should Go Darker
Because Ring Fit Adventure relies on actual physical exertion to deal damage to enemies, battles can feel much more intense than in other games. This is especially true when players are locked in one-on-one duels with Dragaux, Ring Fit Adventure’s body-building, winged demon antagonist. As the player performs exercises and experiences pain in real life, it can almost feel insulting to see Dragaux’s big, cartoonish face, smiling smugly and shrugging off blows like they’re nothing. This could arguably add to players’ motivation to take him down, but as the in-game companion, Ring, shouts way-too-enthusiastic encouragement and Dragaux continues grinning, it can also feel a bit like the game is mocking players’ pain.
The solution to this problem is clearly not something overly dark. It’s an exercise game, after all – if it was as gory and depressing as Dark Souls, it would just feel silly. But Ring Fit Adventure’s sequel could easily walk a line between colorful and serious. Majora’s Mask did exactly that years ago, introducing players to a cast of interesting, creative characters and concepts, all set in a world on the edge of certain doom. It retained humor and a plucky sense of adventure, but it also took its world and players’ relation to it seriously.
Using the power of abdominal crunches to take down something like Majora’s Mask’s evil angler fish boss, Gyorg, or its armored Iron Knuckle enemies would feel infinitely more satisfying than doing so to a buff, goofy dragon-man. Perhaps this could simply be implemented with a texture pack DLC rather than a full sequel, but it would work best if “Ring Fit Adventure 2” was built from scratch to take its premise more seriously, while still maintaining a unique color and style of its own.
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Ring Fit Adventure released for Nintendo Switch on October 18, 2019.
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