Ring Fit Adventure is the successor to Wii Fit, and in many ways, it blows its predecessor out of the water. It is more immersive, more varied, and more intense. It’s been popular enough to sell out at various times around the world. It’s quarantine-approved, but can you play it if you’re visually impaired?
About me and my play style: I have albinism. My visual acuity fluctuates between 20/100 and 20/500 depending on if I’m wearing contacts and how tired I am. I have color vision, but no depth perception. I also deal with eye strain if I have to focus too precisely for too long.
Going into this review, you should know that Ring Fit is an exercise-based game. It requires a lot of cardio in the main campaign, which you can take at your own pace, but it is still a lot of walking/jogging in place. There are a variety of additional modes beyond the basic campaign, but they still require a certain degree of physicality. I will not attempt to review the motor accessibility of this game, but I highly advise checking out some footage of people playing the game to get an idea of the physical requirements before you make the purchase.
Another note is that the game has explicit discussion of fitness, calories, and food recommendations. There are no options to turn these off.
Visual Characteristics 6/10
(Contrast, Lighting, Tracking, Clutter)
The art style in this game is really fun and enhances the game, but it’s not the friendliest to visually impaired folks. The contrast and lighting could definitely be better. The art style goes for a half cartoonish and half realistic vibe, which is interesting and adds character and ambiance, but makes things difficult due to the lack of outlines and the more realistic colors. The whole thing has a slightly hazy look, like the colors have been toned down to make things look farther away. In the main campaign, you run through worlds on a track. You don’t need to worry about which direction you’re running because that is automatically determined, but you do need to worry about obstacles and optional collectibles. I can never see the obstacles in time. Even if I could normally see the obstacles, I can’t recognize them while running in place. The added movement of your own body combined with the movement on screen makes for overall way more work to visually follow what’s going on. The tracking is made more difficult by the poor contrast and lighting. Many of the tracks are set at night or dusk. The worlds have some clutter of grass and branches that can hide collectible coins, but the coins aren’t mandatory to complete the level.
While the backgrounds of the worlds leave a lot to be desired, the interactive elements when it tells you to do specific exercises is excellent. The contrast on the words “hold” and “release” for the various moves is way higher than the rest of the game. Your character also catches fire when you’re doing things correctly, which is another point of contrast to look for.
Accessibility Features 4/10
There are no dedicated accessibility features. I’m being nice and giving it points for letting you select from a very limited list of exercise options within the main campaign. The rest of the game is very customizable. You can select from a varied set of minigames or basic exercises. You can also select a mode where you just run through the stages, which is just straight cardio. There’s the new rhythm mode that was added last month, and you can even have the Ring log your exercises while the game is turned off. That makes for a lot of versatility that is nice. I’ll also talk about the auditory and haptic feedback below, which make for a fairly accessible game overall. However, you aren’t given options for any of these features, which other players should take into account.
Assist Modes 8/10
In Ring Fit, you can select your difficulty level from 1-30 in the main campaign. The higher the difficulty, the more reps and longer your course will be. There’s no way around all of the cardio, but you can “run away” from a boss battle if you don’t want to do the strength training exercises. You don’t get the XP for this, but it’s a good option if you want to come back to something later.
To be clear, this assist mode does not assist with everything. It won’t help you figure out what the obstacles in your way are, but it will make the physical aspect of the game easier.
In the minigames and exercise modes, you can select from “novice” or “advanced” before you start each activity. These modes are meant to let you select the difficulty of your workout, and they are quite good at that, but it’s not a typical assist mode.
Non visual Cues 10/10
The real stars of this game are the non visual cues. When you’re doing an exercise in a boss battle, the Ring rumbles to indicate when you’ve reached the correct pose or when it’s time to switch poses. For instance, when you’re doing squats, it will rumble while you’re squatting like you’re supposed to and then stop rumbling once you can stand up again. It also verbalizes some instructions. This is particularly helpful for exercises where you are not facing the TV. If I could give this category higher than a 10/10, I would. It’s very refreshing to see audio and rumble used effectively.
Decent Fonts 6/10
The font itself is great. It’s a sans-serif font that is a pretty typical size for Nintendo, but the font is really light, both in color and in width. The font would be much better if it were just bold. The font they use for the boss battles is super bold, so I’m not sure why they made all of the menu and dialogue font super light. I would also prefer the font to be bigger. At 20/400, I had to squint to see it, even when standing less than a foot away from the TV, but mostly because it wasn’t bold enough. So be prepared to make good friends with your TV to get through the menus. The fonts don’t always have the best background colors, either. Some menus and dialogue have white text on light gray backgrounds.
Necessity of Text 4/10
(The higher the rating, the less necessary the text is)
The text is pretty necessary for instructing you in the basic exercises. Even if you know how to do the exercises, you won’t know how the game wants you to hold the Ring so that it registers your movement correctly. And you certainly won’t know when you’re supposed to perform specific exercise. In-game, though, there’s not much text beyond the giant text used for boss battles, coupled with the instructional bits that you see during the game. I wouldn’t worry too much about the instructional sections because you’ll remember all of the exercises after one or two attempts.
Handheld Play – Not Applicable
I think you can technically play this in tabletop mode, but don’t.
Level of Precision Required – 9/10
The game is very forgiving with relation to your precision, at least for visual elements. The game grades your movements, so it does want you to be fairly precise in your postures. However, as these are larger body movements, you don’t need to rely on visual stimulus to achieve them. The haptic and audio feedback guides you quite effectively. Once you learn the posture it wants from you, you can also use your own proprioception to feel if you’re in the right form.
When there are obstacles in your way in the main campaign, there are always backup paths if you fail to stay on the main path. The secondary path is a little harder than the main path, but since the whole point of this game is exercise, I don’t count that as too much of a punishment.
Some of the minigames are scored based on the number of coins you collect. You might get a mediocre score, but you can still play the game and get your workout.
Controls and Depth Perception 6/10
The Ring is quite intuitive, especially when it comes to jumping or sucking up collectibles. The menu controls are frequently confusing to me since the controller is not in its standard orientation. There are instructions for navigating the menu, but they are smaller than the standard text. The depth perception is not great at all because you only see one perspective on the paths and worlds. Occasionally, you’ll run into an obstacle and realize you aren’t moving before you know you need to jump. That’s pretty harmless. Other times, you’ll fall off the main path because you didn’t realize you needed to do something, but you’ll fall onto the secondary path harmlessly.
I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, but I do feel I should mention that the game comes packaged with one Ring-con and a leg strap. You can easily get another leg strap or make one yourself, but the Ring-con has some tech inside of it, and I haven’t seen an option to purchase additional ones in case you lose it. This means that you’ll want to identify a place to store the accessories to be sure you can find them. I did not do this and spent several weeks thinking I had lost them when they were just blending in with my black entertainment shelf. It would have been helpful if they made the accessories some sort of distinctive color. Since they didn’t, you might consider adding some color yourself.
I have several small complaints about the game that I will touch on very briefly. First, I wish you were given the option of playing your own music somehow while still having the sound effects. Second, the instructions in the game occasionally suffer from poor translation, which can be confusing. Lastly, I’d like to see simultaneous multiplayer added. I think simultaneous multiplayer could help visually impaired folks by allowing a sighted buddy to not only provide information, but also play together for a more cooperative, competitive experience.
Recommendation for visual skills needed for enjoyment
I’m going to recommend around 20/600 for Ring Fit. You may need some sighted assistance with the menus because it’s not very practical to use the system zoom while playing. If you’ve got a sighted buddy, I think this game would be an excellent candidate for gamers with no residual vision because the audio and haptic feedback are so good.
Overall, I recommend this game if you’re looking for an enjoyable home workout. It provides a great workout and tons of nonvisual feedback. If you have any sort of secondary disability that affects your movement, I would do additional research before buying. Every time I get the game out, I’m pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoy it… but then it takes me a long time to get it out again.
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