Ring Fit Adventure redefined expectations for traditional fitness experiences in gaming, showing that the genre can be much more than strict recreations of existing exercises in a bland, poppy setting, but Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise sits somewhere between the two.
The original Fitness Boxing offered a genuinely effective workout while providing players with enough creative exercises to remain engaged for hours. Despite this, it felt somewhat artificial compared to its contemporaries. But it was still incredible amounts of fun, and its sequel maintains that mantra in a number of engaging ways.
Rhythm and Exercise maintains the same basic mechanic, modes and visual aesthetic of its predecessor, simply aiming to expand upon it with a greater variety of workouts and customisation for your selection of virtual trainers. It’s an enticing experience that offers a sufficient workout, even if it isn’t the best fitness outing you can find on Nintendo Switch right now.
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Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise is controlled entirely with motion controls, with the player holding a Joy-Con in each hand to register punches, thrusts and general movements of your upper body. Jabs, uppercuts and straights are registered with surprising accuracy, more so for those who are willing to move their body to the rhythm of each song.
It feels great, and continues to be one of the platform’s best examples of modern motion controls, although I’d recommend wearing wrist straps to avoid flinging a stray punch directly into your television. Fitness Boxing is undeniably simplistic compared to Ring Fit Adventure, but it keeps you engaged with a frenetic pace that constantly switches up what routines are expected of you.
The opening moments are surprisingly relaxed as you pick a trainer, fill in your details and slowly but surely come to terms with the first round of exercises. Within moments I felt like a fledgling boxer, performing rhythmic movements with ease. Unfortunately, my confidence was knocked upon entering my first daily workout.
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Daily Workouts are very much the crux of Fitness Boxing, acting as the core incentive for players to return each day to complete an extensive routine to lose calories and hone their technique. My regular sessions lasted roughly 40 minutes, combining 10-minute rhythm routines with adequate times for warming up and stretching.
I’m no exercise master, and as such I vastly underestimated the physical endurance required to swing one’s arms constantly for over 40 minutes. Turns out it’s quite a lot, and within the first week or so I was left and a battered and broken gamer as my trainer lauded praise upon me as I crossed the finish line. I felt excellent, so the effort was arguably worth the end result.
Fitness Boxing does a great job of making you feel rewarded, with the in-game achievement system monitoring even the smallest of accolades and adding them to a virtual gallery. I’m a sucker for tracking my progress like this, and small little icons reminding me that I just needed to stay strong and keep pushing forward made a newcomer like me feel welcome.
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Personal customisation is a huge component of Fitness Boxing, and that doesn’t always relate to the exercise routines you’ll be jumping into. Trainers come in all different shapes, sizes and genders – offering you a solid range of motivational eye candy to ogle while throwing punches towards the screen.
Existing athletes from past games return alongside a couple of newcomers, although the voice acting on offer is definitely a mixed bag. I will admit that staying on my toes for over 40 minutes was a bit of a push when the trainer hurling commands at me was speaking with the emotional expression of a brick wall. It’s laughably monotone, and can make the whole experience feel coincidentally robotic.
Luckily, visual customisation is far more compelling. Trainers can be customised with an endless assortment of clothing to depict them as true fitness experts or someone who accidentally backflipped into a bin outside of Sports Direct. You can be as faithful to the sport as you like, or opt for something far more ridiculous.
Routines can also be altered to your liking. If you aren’t a fan of a certain exercise or routine, simply change it out for something else. The time of each workout can also be changed to fit your playstyle, slowly increased or decreased depending on personal goals or simply how you’re feeling on a certain day. There’s a great level of accessibility here, and you’re seldom penalised for missing a day or not sticking to a regular schedule.
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Those who played the original Fitness Boxing might be underwhelmed by what the sequel offers. It’s a fairly barebones expansion which maintains the same mechanics, aesthetic and overall design. The game feels like complimentary content as opposed to something that builds upon the existing foundations. As a result, the soundtrack is arguably the biggest draw here, and fortunately it’s filled with bangers.
Darude’s Sandstorm, Swedish House Mafia’s Don’t You Worry Child and Katy Perry’s Hot N Cold are just a few of the excellent hits crammed into Fitness Boxing 2, each of which have been altered somewhat to take full advantage of the rhythm-based gameplay. There’s always a possibility for downloadable content in the future, unless Nintendo decides to throw out Fitness Boxing 3 in 2021 with a similar, iterative approach.
Should you buy Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise?
Fitness Boxing 2 is a great exercise experience for Nintendo Switch that makes excellent use of its motion controls, although the game doesn’t introduce quite enough changes to stand out from its predecessor.
Fortunately, an excellent soundtrack, generous amount of content and mechanics that make it appealing to both newcomers and experts alike help it shine in the end.