Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Sports & Music
Release Date: December 20, 2018 (JP) / December 21, 2018 (EU) / January 4, 2019 (NA)
Get fit or game trying!
Just because the dream of getting a Wii Fit game on Switch may now be dead, at the very least, a successor has emerged. Developed by Imagineer and published by Nintendo in the West, for all intents and purposes Fitness Boxing is a spiritual successor to Nintendo’s own series of fitness games and contrary to what you may have heard and read, it is an exergaming video game you might want to reconsider.
On the surface, while Fitness Boxing may look and come across as being a blander version of the Wii Fit games, it can actually be more in-depth than you realise. You see, when you do dive beneath the surface, you will actually discover Fitness Boxing is more than just a fitness aid, as there are some gameplay elements to it.
In light of that, before we dive right into the exercises and what you can expect from Fitness Boxing physically, we’re going to go over the additional features you might not have heard about. So, first things first, the instructors. While Lin is the first instructor you are introduced to when you boot up Fitness Boxing for the first time, it does possess a total of six instructors.
While Lin is the default instructor, you need only to play the game long enough to do your first daily workout, so as to be able to swap your instructors at will. Then and only then will you gain access to Sophie, Martina, Laura, Bernardo and Evan. From that point on, you can change instructors any time you feel like it, you can even choose to change their hair, skin and eye colour if you feel like it.
Only. That’s not the only way you can customise them as you can also change the tops your instructors wear, as well as their “bottoms” (trousers, shirts, skirts.) Heck, you can even give them gloves, change their shoes or have them wear a snazzy pair of shades. The “problem” with these customisable options though, is they need to be earned.
Some require players to earn a specific number of stars, others need a set amount of stamps and some just want you to punch, a lot and the only way to do that is to play the game as there is no shortcut on this one. So, when one specific clothing item tells you that it needs you to throw a total of 198,000 punches, you are going to have to put the time and effort into making that a reality.
Fortunately not every clothing item requires that much, so even if you spend around a month or two just to do 20,000 punches, you can still earn a small variety that is bound to have at least one thing you like the look of. Furthermore, because of how the stamps work, (you can only earn one stamp a day for each day you work out,) to get every last glove, you will need a total of 105 stamps.
As I said, there are no shortcuts and honestly, I actually like that. Sure, Fitness Boxing could have given players everything from the start but then what? While the additional outfits shouldn’t necessarily be an incentive for people to play this game, it certainly gives players something else to strive for.
Games like Wii Fit and Fitness Boxing, we play them because we hope they might be the thing that helps us lose some weight, but losing weight is not something that happens overnight. Sometimes it can take a couple of days if you’re skipping carbs and other times, it can be weeks or months. It’s such a long process that there often days where we get discouraged and can often be pushed to the point we want to give up.
This is a feeling I know too well sadly, but because the game does have outfit rewards, even if you’re not losing weight at the rate you want to, you are still getting something to show for all the hard work you have put into the game. It may not be a medal you can proudly pin to your chest and show off to your friends and family, but every minute you spend playing Fitness Boxing and every punch you throw, it all counts. It all matters.
As for two other things that can be unlocked, they are the game’s music tracks and individual exercises. To unlock new tracks, it’s simply a case of playing by yourself or with a friend and working out to one song at a time until you have all twenty of them. To get all the specific exercises that can be accessed via “Work Out to a Song,” players will need to get attempt the workouts available to them and get at least two starts on them to be able to unlock the next one.
While you don’t have to immediately commit to unlocking all 27 of them from the get-go, the option is there if you wish to do. Plus, should you master them on the easiest difficulty of low intensity, you can then attempt to tackle them all on high intensity and strive for all 162 stars.
It’s worth pointing out however that before you choose a song, you can always press L or R to make the song faster or slower. As for what happens when you choose a workout or exercise you like the look of, it will tell you how long exercise should take, how many estimated calories you should burn during the workout and, by pressing Y, players will be able to select from six available stages (cosmic, grid & cubes, square ripple, illumination, fractals and circles) and change the theme of their preferred target (default, glass, wood, water, steel and lava.)
Then over in the likes of settings, you can adjust BGM, SFX, voice, HD Rumble, choose your instructor’s stance (mirror and copy) and you can even opt to make your instructors praise you in English or Japanese and now we can tackle the actual exercising and features.
To start things off, let’s talk about the calendar. Like with the Wii Fit games, Boxing Fitness features a calendar that keeps track of your progress. Be it what days you earned stamps on, how many calories you’ve burned in total and on what day, how many punches you’ve thrown and it will even keep you up to date on when it expects to earn your next present. For example, on January 18, Fitness Boxing is expecting me to surpass 22,000 punches (currently at 20,278 punches in total.)
Another thing that it takes into account, is the player’s Fitness Age. To find out what yours is, you will be required to do your daily workout, which after the very first one you do with Lin, is up to you to decide. By this I mean players are given the choice to choose their ideal fitness goal.
First, you will need to choose between cardio, strength and cardio or maintenance. Then you need to pick which part of the body you wish to focus on (biceps, chest, core, legs, calves or full body.) You can then round it all off by deciding if you want to stretch or not and choose for how long you want the overall workout to be. (10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes or 40 minutes.)
Once you have confirmed your selections, the game will give you a variety of exercises that are intended to fit in with your goal and the overall thing can be longer, or shorter than the time you selected, but only by a few minutes. Once the workout is over, how you performed during the whole thing will determine your Fitness Age, which can range from 18 to 69.
Although you can only do a daily workout once a day, should you head over to free training, you can always choose to work out to a new goal you set for yourself and take it from there. You won’t have to do it alone either as Fitness Boxing does allow for a second player to join you for a workout session and it will allow them to sign into their own Nintendo Account so that all of their progress will be registered and viewable whenever they boot up the game and select themselves as the user/player one.
There is a negative though with co-op play because should the two of you choose to work out to a song and do the various exercises to earn stars, the second player will still need to do those exercises again on their own account, with them as player one. I found this aspect to suck immensely, but it did prompt me to work out for another forty minutes before calling it quits for the day.
Something else that two players can do together other than 2 player Tandem, is 2 Player Combo Chain and 2 Player VS. With VS players must go head-to-head in a face-off against each other and take it in turns performing punches and blocks, in order to knock the other player out. In Combo Chain however, players must work together to string together punches to form combos.
That’s enough about the features and modes for now though, because now is the time for the nitty gritty gameplay, aka the stuff you actually came here for. So, how does Fitness Boxing work? How does it play? But most importantly of all, does it actually work? Well, being the rhythm game that it is, while Fitness Boxing looks like it wants to be Wii Fit, it plays a lot like a Just Dance game.
On screen, when playing alone, there are two vertical lanes, which icons will travel up and when in the indicated target zones, this is when you are required to throw one of the game’s many punch types. Gripping the Joy-Con (one in each hand,) you could be asked to throw a jab, a straight, a hook or an uppercut. Throw it too soon, and you might get an “OK.” Throw it on time however, you’ll get a “Perfect.”
Should you throw nothing at all, you’ll get a miss and this can affect your score at the end of the workout. It could even cost you a star if you miss more than once, especially during combos. Only, those aren’t the only punches you’ll have to throw, as there are also body jabs, body straights, body hooks and body uppercuts.
Then, when you’ve really advanced in the game, there are jabs where you are required to step forward and punch and there’s plenty of non-punching things for you to do as well, as there are movements that will require you to duck, weave left, weave right, side step, step backwards, step forwards, block left, block right and sway back.
Fitness Boxing might not offer quite the same workout as other games, but it will certainly get you moving in a way you’re not accustomed to and the more you point in, the more you will find your muscles aching the next day.
Only, it’s not all just about punching when you’re told to, as in between movements, players are encouraged to rock backwards and forwards on their feet, as a boxer would. So, if you were hoping to get by and stand perfectly still, although you can, it is intended that you do move to the rhythm, even when not punching.
Furthermore, for those of you who are curious, yes, you can play it sitting down. You won’t burn as many calories and you do make yourself more likely to get less Perfects, but you can play Fitness Boxing from a seated position, as it doesn’t matter which direction punches are thrown, are what kind of a punch is thrown, as long as a punch is thrown on time. (By this I mean, you could be told to throw a hook and a jab or a straight will work just fine.)
You can even get away with just shaking the remotes for when it comes to pulling off this bothersome weaves. (Bothersome because if you have a knee injury, the weaving can aggravate it, but by doing a little shake, you can cheat that aspect of the workout so as not to do yourself harm and carry on as you see fit.)
Throughout the entirety of your workouts though, a timer will be present in the middle of the screen at the bottom, so you can always keep track of how much longer you need to push yourself. There will also be instances where the instructor, who will speak to you throughout the entire thing, will have you switch positions so as to get a balanced workout and have you use both sides of your body equally.
In the event there are two of you playing together, there will be four lanes instead of two and if there are any particular movements you feel you need to know more about, in-game explanations are available, you will also be told in advance that certain workouts feature moves you haven’t done yet and you’re welcomed to practise them should you wish to do so.
Should you forget some punches and movements though, you can always check out the game’s Basic Training function and watch the instructor perform each action so as to get a better idea as to what you should do and how you should do it. With regards to does it work, for now, it is just too soon to tell as I have yet to lose a single pound, but, I haven’t gained anything either.
I also need to change my diet as that is something I haven’t done yet, but I do feel better for playing Fitness Boxing, I do enjoy my sessions and the HD Rumble is a nice touch, but it can be turned off and you can silence the instructors if you want to, since all the “Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom!” comments can get tiresome pretty quickly.
Something that you will need to do however, which is important, is to stay on top of your imputed data. While you don’t need to regularly change your height, it does help to keep the game up to date on your current weight since it will help it better estimate how many calories you burn.
Speaking of calories, although you may have heard some outlets and reviewers question the legitimacy of Fitness Boxing’s estimated calorie burn, when working out with a Fibit on, although the results weren’t 100% accurate every time, it was extremely close, with the biggest ever noticeable difference being the Fitbit saying I had burned an additional 24 calories.
One huge negative I do have however, is the fact that screen and video capture is not supported and sucks immensely as it means taking a photo of your in-game progress with your phone, is the only way to share off your hard earned work. However, to bring it back to the music for a minute, while I do detest the current selection, there is nothing stopping the player from creating a playlist of their favourite songs on their phone and listening to that instead.
Funnily enough, you can create a playlist in-game with the songs available to you if you’d rather. It would also be remiss of me if I didn’t point out that as well as the instructors being a little out of proportion, due to long things, wiggle mechanics are supported so as you play, there will be wavy hair and heaving chests.
At the end of the day though, Fitness Boxing is a game that will put you through your paces and to get the most out of it, you will have to put a lot into it. Like Master Yoda said, “Do… or do not. There is no try.”
The music selection may be bleak and unappealing to this particular reviewer and the small stutters in gameplay, are the only things I dislike as far as Fitness Boxing goes. Fitness Boxing is by no means a true substitute for working out a gym with real instructors to guide you, but while it does seem a little too pricey for what it is, for its one time asking price, you can have as many boxercise workouts as you could possibly want and all in the comfort of your own home.
It’s not perfect, but the full thing is a lot better than the limited experience the demo offered. Sure, it hasn’t helped me lose weight yet, but I certainly feel a lot better about myself this week than I did last week and after working out for 10 hours in seven days, I can’t wait for next session!
THE VERDICT: 7/10
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