It’s probably too late to get my gut ready for swimsuit season
If you own a Nintendo Switch and want to keep in shape or get in shape, you have a lot of good options. There’s Ring Fit Adventure, three Fitness Boxing games (including this year’s Fitness Boxing Fist of the North Star), several Just Dance titles, and Nintendo Switch Sports if you really get into it. Those are the ones you’ve probably heard of. If you really dig into the Switch catalog, you can find less mainstream but equally effective games like Let’s Get Fit and Yoga Master.
There is simply no shortage of available games that’ll get you off the couch and into an exercise routine, and Fitness Circuit is yet another option.
Fitness Circuit (Switch)
Developer: EXFIT, Jupiter
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Released: May 26, 2023
There are a few great ideas at play in Fitness Circuit. The exercise concept at the core of the game is Super Circuit Training, where you alternate between cardio and strength workouts. Each day you log in after creating your profile, you’ll be presented with a custom fitness routine that ties into your goals. The routine will mix cardio and strength activities that each ask players to go hard for about 45 seconds to a minute. At the end of your routine, you’ll get a minute-long break to hydrate before you repeat the exercises. If you don’t have enough time, you can choose to go through your daily routine just once, but the option is there to go through it multiple times.
Like with 2021’s Knockout Home Fitness, Fitness Circuit is aimed at people who are either already fit or at least not completely out of shape. I’m somewhere in the middle, meaning I had no trouble keeping up with the speed of the routines while also ending each training session drenched in sweat. And not in a sexy way. It took me about a week to gel with the program, but once I bumped my runs through my daily training routine to three, I started to understand the effectiveness of the alternating strategy.
The cardio exercises are designed to keep your body moving. You’ll do heel taps, kicks, punches, and other movements that wouldn’t be out of place in a Richard Simmons workout tape. Strength exercises are often slower and usually have you holding a position while stretching your muscles. There are 45 exercises in total, but not all of them feel equally effective. Cardio exercises like the March and Butt-Kick didn’t really feel like working out. But they were effective enough of giving my body something of a breather between the more impactful strength exercises. One thing to note is the game will say you train for “10 minutes a day,” but between the pre-workout stretch and the post-workout cooldown, you should give yourself at least a half hour to play.
As with other fitness games, you’re not going through this alone. Fitness Circuit has six trainers, voiced by anime voice actors like Emi Lo, Mick Lauer, and Amber May. These trainers are customizable with new outfits you unlock as you level up. Technically, the trainers aren’t trainers but rather runners. In the game, they’re competing in events in Extreme Park, which is basically a sci-fi version of American Gladiators. The better you do at your exercises, the faster they’ll complete their courses. This could have been a neat idea if the time and money were there to fully explore it, but Extreme Park’s inclusion here is merely a justification for them to do a lot of different sports in a futuristic setting.
I haven’t paid attention to the sports my runner was participating in because I’m too focused on doing the movements right. Fitness Circuit has a simple-to-understand guide for all the movements you need to do for each exercise. Do the move correctly, and you’ll get a “cool” rating. If you do it even a little bit correctly, you’ll earn an “ok,” while failing to do the exercise right will result in a “miss.” At least, that’s the intention. Because over the past 10 days of playing this game, I’ve found it doesn’t always accurately track your movements.
I’ve earned “ok” ratings where I know I should have had “cool,” and there should be no reason why I ever get a “miss” on any of these exercises. You can tell when the game fails to capture your movements. Each movement track has little stars you collect. The joy-con controllers softly vibrate with each one you get. If your controllers aren’t vibrating, it’s not reading your movements right. You can make little adjustments to your movement in order to get a better reading, but unless the controller is held perfectly still, there is no reason any player should be hit with a “miss.” It’s not like the controls are so exact that it can tell if I’m not moving my arms at a perfect 90-degree angle.
One intriguing feature I sadly wasn’t able to try out is the online multiplayer mode. You and up to three friends who also own the game can compete in different exercise routines. This isn’t available locally, but exercising with a friend is a great way to keep on track. Multiplayer is only available in the Custom Circuit mode, where you can build your own routines or use ready-made ones using exercises you’ve unlocked. I’ve never been good at making my own routines (which is probably why Wii Fit didn’t work for me), so ready-built circuits are welcome. The one I’ve been using regularly is called Back Pain 1, and I’m really starting to feel its effect. If there are certain parts of the body you don’t want to work out, or if you don’t have the best balance out there, Fitness Circuit does allow players to exclude any exercise they don’t want to do.
There are some weird localization issues where the text doesn’t match what’s happening on the screen, and the audio could be better at guiding players when their faces are turned away from the screen. But beyond that and the aforementioned tracking issues, Fitness Circuit is a well-rounded package. If you’re looking for your first fitness game on Switch or have tired of all the other ones, consider it an effective way to keep active every day.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]