I should probably stop volunteering to review fitness games. Not because I don't need them or don't like them, but because every time I sit down to write the lede I have to face the fact that I ultimately failed to get the best from the last game I played. Whenever I start one of these things, I tend to be in the same place as the last time I looked at one: overweight and in shape.
But I imagine most people feel that way on vacation. With all the cookies, candy canes, and prime ribs, it can be easy to get carried away before making that big New Year's resolution to lose weight. With COVID-19 lockdowns still a reality in much of the world, now is the perfect time to start an at-home exercise routine. Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise is a great way to start achieving your fitness goals, provided you don't already have another game at your disposal.
Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise (Nintendo Switch)
Released: December 4, 2022
MSRP: $ 49,99
Let me start by saying that you probably don't need to buy Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise. If you own the original, there aren't enough changes here to make it a demonstrably better experience. If you own Ring Fit Adventure, congratulations, you are in possession of the best fitness game on the market. Even if you get your body moving with one of the Just Dance tracks, I can't really say this will be a better option for you.
That doesn't mean it's bad. The original fitness boxing was a great way to increase your activity levels from the comfort of your own home. None of that changes here. Punching to the beat always feels good and can wear you out pretty quickly. Players will need to adjust how they throw punches to execute 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 never lost my muscle memory compared to the original.
When you first start it, you will be guided through the initial workout which will give you your fitness age. The next day, when you are no longer participating in the tutorial, you will get your actual physical age. He told me I was 18 after that first workout, but I bumped my ass at 48 when I quit halfway through the second day. It was my fault for trying a longer workout rather than a shorter one to get things back on track, but if there's one thing that prolonged use of the game is good for, it's boosting endurance.
It's worth sticking with, and to its credit, some of the changes found in Fitness Boxing 2 make it more appealing to come back to day after day. Your punches are now scored like any other rhythm game in how you land them, and there's a 'star power' mode where those scores multiply.
Like the last game, Fitness Boxing 2 has a daily training mode and a free exercise mode, but players have more options this time around. In the settings you can remove specific actions from your training or use auto-assist to always land a perfect punch in the eyes of the game. If the timing of your punches seems off to you, you can also adjust manually. Free Workout gives you more control over the activities you'll perform than last time, and you'll be able to choose from low or high intensity workouts or download free DLC for more challenging No Mercy intensity. In perhaps 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 looks like a better version of the first game. In practice, nothing looks so different. All 20 musical tracks are still bad instrumental versions of popular songs that might as well be replaced by a metronome for how unimportant music is when I'm in the zone. The visuals have been improved, but there's also a noticeable increase in the lag I experienced while exercising. The UI is pretty crisp on my big screen but terribly small in tabletop mode. And there are nine trainers to choose from from that era with easier to unlock customization options, but playing dress up with my trainer was never really a draw for me.
I really can't say anything too negative about Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise because, despite its issues, it will deliver results if you keep going. And that is the ultimate goal when buying an exercise set. But at $50, you really have to wonder if it wouldn't be worth spending a bit more money to get a far superior experience. If that's all you're willing to spend and you don't own a fitness game yet, then go for it. But if you have the cash, you'll probably be better served by Ring Fit Adventure.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game purchased by the reviewer.]