Fitness games for Switch and PSVR that are actually fun
Over the last two years, I’ve had a particular interest in fitness games—Nintendo Switch, PlayStation VR, basically anything that gets you moving.
This obsession started when, in defeat, I cancelled my Anytime Fitness membership for the fourth and final time. No matter how many times I’d try, I’d always end up falling off the wagon.
Getting there wasn’t an obstacle. There’s a gym a stone’s throw from my apartment and one just as close to my office. And it’s not like I ever found the workouts terribly tricky. More often than not, I’d slap the stop button on the running machine, not because I was exhausted, but because I was bored. I have a short attention span at the best of times, but there’s something about the sweaty, fluorescent inner-sanctum of franchise gyms that really saps the enthusiasm from me. That and they’re overpriced.
Next, I tried riding my bike to work, which I enjoyed for a while. No cramped morning commute, wind in your hair, the sense of exploration, it’s all good stuff. But the problem with riding to work is; eventually, you’ve got to ride home.
When my final attempt at making a habit out of physical activity failed, I figured it would just be one of those things I’d continue to battle with sporadically over my life. That was until I watched the Rocky spin-off Creed and purchased Fitness Boxing for Nintendo Switch on a whim.
What followed were two big surprises. Firstly, Fitness Boxing didn’t suck (it doesn’t look like much at first glance), and secondly, and most importantly, I stuck with it.
Now my Switch is loaded up with an assortment of fitness games, and I finally dusted off the PlayStation VR to see what kind of calorie-burning experiences it had to offer too.
So I figured I’d share the fitness games that I’ve had the most success with, in case anyone else struggling to find their motivation indoors.
Best fitness game for Nintendo Switch
Fitness Boxing plays like any old rhythm game; Guitar Hero, Rock Band, that sort of thing. After a short warm-up, you get into stance and face a stream of increasingly complicated jab, hook, weave, and block combinations. Bricks fly towards you to the off-brand tune of One Direction’s Live While We’re Young or my personal favourite to bop to, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen.
There’s a calendar for tracking subsequent workouts, as well as your calories burned and your ‘fitness age,’ which might not mean much, but it does feel good to hear you’re a 30-year-old living in a 21-year-old’s body.
Every time you open the game, you’re faced with the calendar and your current workout streak. It’s simple, but seeing a two to three-day gap is usually enough to get me fired up. Your virtual trainer will also go for a low blow if you’ve been slacking off; “it’s been a while” in the most condescending tone you can imagine.
There’s a certain bargain bin sheen to the whole experience. I struggle to explain it, but I kind of love that about Fitness Boxing. The motion controls aren’t always spot on, and early on, you can feel a little cheated, but catering to the quirks by refining your stance and actions feels like good practice in itself.
I’ve always had poor “form” as they say in the biz, but getting the inputs just right in Fitness Boxing has, I think, improved my form across the board.
I can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for a quickfire workout from home, but if you’re still struggling to find the inspiration, watch Creed, wait a day, then watch Creed 2.
Fitness Boxing requires no additional gear and has a free demo available on the eShop.
Next best fitness game for Nintendo Switch
Ring Fit Adventure
Shortly, after its 2019 release Ring Fit Adventure got its second wind when stock began to sell out in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. It’s mostly sold out in Australia, but Amazon AU has stock occasionally, and The Gamesmen have a shipment arriving in April.
If you do manage to get your hands on Ring Fit, you will find a more full-bodied workout with a dash of RPG Adventure.
The Ring Fit Adventure kit comes with two peripheral accessories: a leg strap and a Ring-Con (kind of like an electronic Pilates ring). To get started, you insert your Nintendo Switch Joy-con controllers into the leg strap and Ring-con, allowing for the peripherals to measure your movements through the system’s motion-tracking accelerometer and gyroscope.
The story in Ring Fit Adventure is a light, enjoyable and self-aware romp (your enemy is a swoll bodybuilding dragon) that is just a bit of colourful dressing on a ruthless exercise regime.
Seriously, if you’re feeling a little unfit, start with the difficulty setting on low. When I last returned to Ring Fit Adventure, I confidently waved away the game’s suggestion to drop the difficulty level down. I exhausted myself after roughly six minutes of exercise.
While I prefer Fitness Boxing for a quick, no-nonsense workout, Ring Fit Adventure‘s RPG elements should be a more tempting proposition for kids at home. In addition to that, Ring Fit has a more extensive library of exercises and accessibility options, such as switching off the running mechanic if you live in an apartment building with thin walls or customising workouts to fit your personal needs.
Next best fitness game for VR
Beat Saber isn’t a fitness game per se but boy howdy is it a workout and a half.
I purchased Beat Saber on PSVR (PlayStation VR) without any intention of using it as an exercise tool but one night with this dual-wielded lightsaber simulator was enough to realise I was… a little out of shape.
Like Fitness Boxing, this heart-pumping virtual reality experience is another rhythm game that uses the same logic as the Rock Bands and Guitar Heros of yore. Obstacles and targets fly at your face at breakneck speed while a thumping EDM soundtrack pulsates through your headset’s earbuds. Your goal is to break the targets using two virtual lightsabers while dodging hazards by squatting low and hopping left to right.
The first few levels are a little tender, getting you to grips with the games’ various actions and mechanics, but after a small handful of tutorial stages, Beat Saber starts to throw everything at you. Before you know it, you’re breaking more sweat than bricks as your heart rate punches a hole through the roof.
The real clincher here is that Beat Saber isn’t just a good workout, it’s addictive as hell too. Even when you think you’ve had enough and your body can’t possibly take any more, you somehow always muster the energy to give it one more go.
Next best workout game for VR
Another fitness game that’s not a fitness game, Superhot VR, is quite simply, one of the best games available for under-served VR platforms.
You play as a sort of polygonal John Wick, hounded persistently by fragile assassins in every direction. The hook of this prismatic puzzler is simple: time moves as you move. Every inch you move your hands or head invites a torrent of bullets, throwing knives and sucker punches from every angle.
Despite the game’s aim to keep you static, you get a real workout from trying to hold a Matrix dodge position while you figure out your next move. Unlike most of the games above, this is less of an adrenaline-pumping cardio workout and more of a yogic discipline where perfect form could save your (virtual) life.
Super Mario Party
If you’ve got a large family and you’re struggling to think of fun ways to get the kids moving, we’d recommend throwing the most sensible kind of party, a Mario Party.
Super Mario Party on Switch isn’t a top-to-bottom fitness game. In the game’s core board game mode, the opportunity for physical activity is at the mercy of chance. But there is a separate Sound Stage mode that throws a series of rhythm-based movement minigames at your four-player party. In addition to that, you can handpick the minigames you would like to play once you’ve unlocked them, allowing you to tailor the amount of physical activity in every session.
Besides all that, Super Mario Party is just a super wholesome way to spend an hour with the friends and family living under your roof. If there’s one thing we need more of right now, it’s quality time with the people we love. Unless the people we love use Lakitu to steal our stars, then all bets are off. It’s just not cool, get your own damn stars.