I should probably stop volunteering to review fitness games. Not because I don’t need them or I don’t enjoy them, but because every time I sit down to write the lede, I have to face the fact that I ultimately failed at getting the most out of the last game I played. Every time I start one of these things, I tend to be in the same place I was the last time I reviewed one: overweight and out of shape.
But I imagine most people feel that way around the holidays. With all the cookies, candy canes, and prime ribs, it can be easy to let yourself go before making that big New Year’s resolution to lose weight. With COVID-19 lockdowns still a reality for much of the world, now is as good a time as any to start an at-home exercise routine. Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise is a fine way to get started toward your fitness goals, provided you don’t already have another game at your disposal.
Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise (Nintendo Switch)
Released: December 4, 2020
Let me just start by saying you probably don’t need to buy Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise. If you own the original, there are not enough changes here that make it a demonstrably better experience. If you own Ring Fit Adventure, congratulations, you’re in possession of the greatest fitness game on the market. Even if you’re getting your body moving with one of the Just Dance titles, I can’t really say this will be a better option for you.
That’s not to say it’s bad. The original Fitness Boxing was a great way to increase your activity levels in the comfort of your own home. None of that changes here. Punching in time to the beat still feels good and can wear you out quite quickly. Players will have to adjust how they throw punches to perform them in a way the game will recognize as successful, but Fitness Boxing 2 feels more forgiving in this regard than its predecessor. It was pretty generous with those “perfect” punches, or maybe I just never lost my muscle memory from the original.
When you first start it up, you’ll be guided through the initial workout that’ll give you your Fitness Age. The next day, when you’re no longer in the tutorial, you’ll get your actual Fitness Age. It told me I was 18 after that first workout but bumped my ass up to 48 when I quit halfway through day two. It was my fault for trying a longer workout rather than a shorter one to get back in the swing of things, but if there is one thing prolonged use of the game is good for, it’s building up stamina.
It pays to stick with it, and to its credit, some of the changes found in Fitness Boxing 2 make it more appealing to return to day after day. Your punches are now scored like any other rhythm game in how successfully you land them, and there is a “star power” mode where those scores multiply.
Like the last game, Fitness Boxing 2 has a Daily Workout mode and a Free Exercise mode, but players have more options this time around. In the settings, you can remove specific actions from your workout or use auto-assist to always land a perfect punch in the eyes of the game. If the timing of your punches feels off, you can manually adjust that as well. Free Exercise gives you more control over what activities you’ll perform than it did last time, and you’ll be able to choose from low or high-intensity workouts or download free DLC for a more challenging No Mercy intensity. In perhaps in the best change from the original, your weight can now be displayed in pounds. No more learning the metric system for this guy!
On paper, Fitness Boxing 2 sounds like a better version of the first game. In practice, nothing about it feels all that different. The 20 musical tracks are still bad instrumental versions of popular songs that might as well be replaced by a metronome for how little the music matters when I’m in the zone. The visuals have seen a nice upgrade, but there’s also a noticeable increase in the amount of slowdown I experienced during my exercises. The UI is quite sharp on my big screen but awfully small in tabletop mode. And there are nine trainers to pick from this time with customization options that are easier to unlock, but playing dress-up with my instructor was never really a draw for me.
I really can’t say anything overly negative about Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise because, despite the issues it has, it will produce results if you keep at it. And that’s the ultimate goal when buying an exercise game. But at $50, you really have to ask yourself if it wouldn’t be worth it to spend a little more money to get a vastly superior experience. If this is all you’re willing to spend and you don’t already own a fitness game, then go for it. But if you have the cash, you’ll likely be better served by Ring Fit Adventure.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]