Nintendo has revealed more details on the mysterious ring-and-leg-strap apparatus they teased last week. And, of course, it’s equally as surprising and interesting as their products get. The tools are part of “Ring Fit Adventure,” which is a twist on Nintendo’s approach to fitness—this time, the software isn’t just a few games put together. It’s actually an entire RPG, coming mid-October.
The most recent trailer unveiled the unique new kit for the Nintendo Switch. As we learned in the prior teaser, you attach one of your Switch’s Joy-cons to a large ring, and the other gets strapped to your left leg. In the game, you’re tasked with traveling across the world to defeat an “evil body-building dragon” named Drago(?) spreads chaos across the land. You must utilize exercises in order to traverse the world and defeat enemies.
It actually looks fairly intensive for what’s supposed to be a light-hearted fitness app. The game requires you to “run” across the land and take up different drills to surmount terrain. Boss battles implement a variety of styles, from yoga to arm- and leg-day exercises. And all of these seem to pretty accurately depict the form required to pull off each drill. (Which is important! It’s all in the technique.)
Of course, you can also take up some more traditional exercise modes, including fitness challenges and minigames. If you’re straining yourself too hard, you can tone down the required drills and skill level. Or, if you need to keep quiet, there’s a setting to make sure you don’t do any exercises that have you stomping around hard.
This isn’t Nintendo’s first foray into making their consoles into friendly fitness machines. The Wii itself was paraded out as an arm-swinging revolution (ironic given Revolution was the original product name). And a lot of games made sure your arms were worn out as they attempted to utilize the Wiimotes’ special features. Plus, who can forget the Wii Fit? The interactive board came with a game and software to help you keep up with, and track of, your fitness. Unfortunately, it got some justified flak for trying to measure its users’ weight—and calling its users “fat” or “obese.” Now, Wii Fit is just known for its Smash character.
Ring Fit Adventure eases off the focus on fitness alone and tries to reframe Nintendo’s entire approach to it. Instead of just doing more mundane “fitness class” activities, like boxing and yoga, you’ll be using your activities to interface with the game. It’s Nintendo’s own original attempt to “gamify” fitness. They’re not the first company to do such; apps from FitBit’s suite of online features to Zombies, Run!, a running app packaged with a fantastic fictional podcast, try to make fitness more approachable. But Nintendo’s always looking to branch out their product line as innovatively as possible.
For all the squishing you’ll do, the ring seems like it’ll hold up pretty well, given Nintendo makes their products hardy for all ages. The Switch can drop from literally hundreds of feet and still work perfectly fine. Wii remotes survived plenty of crashes into home televisions. And after all, what do you think the handle on the GameCube was for? I’m sure we’ll be seeing some stress test videos soon enough, anyway. More importantly, just don’t let it slip while you’re squeezing it.
I’m also personally curious, too, about questions of physical accessibility for the game. “Difficulty” can apparently be altered, but you still need to be using both your arms and legs. Nintendo has not been well-known for quickly implementing accessibility suggestions, or perhaps not really even considering them at all. But perhaps there’ll be options to further limit specific exercises, or types of exercises, so that those with limited range can still access the game.
Regardless, the Ring Fit Adventure does seem like it’ll be an interesting pick-up for fans of Nintendo’s diverse shenanigans.* You can pick it up on October 18; pre-orders have been promised soon.
*(If it’s even real. You can’t persuade me it is. The whole marketing campaign is off to me. Change my mind.)