Christmas is quickly approaching. Not only is it the time of year for sharing and caring (and we’ll definitely need some extra caring with the year we’ve had), but it’s also one of the only times of the year it’s somewhat acceptable to become a gluttonous pig… and I say this with a lot of experience. I mean, it’s a great way to insulate yourself in this blistering cold weather!
Of course, there comes a point where you may want to shed those extra pounds from all the turkey or chocolate, and Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise may be just the ticket with it launching only weeks away from the joyous event of the year. Will Fitness Boxing 2 become the saviour of that hibernation store, or will it add to that one gym membership which you only took advantage of for a week and have yet to cancel… come on, you’ve had it for two years now! Find out in our review, after the break!
Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise
Developed by Imagineer
Published by Nintendo
Released: 4th December 2020
Before I begin my review, I would first like to mention that I have not been able to play the previous game in the franchise, so I am unable to comment much on what has been improved since then. Instead, I will be focusing on the game as someone who is new to the series because… well, I am!
Upon launching the game, prepped in baggy shorts with an enthusiasm for a sweaty workout, I was greeted by the rather perky Janice, one of the nine instructors in Fitness Boxing 2. Once explaining how to grip the JoyCon controllers Janice will drop you right into a start-up workout (if you can even call it that). This tutorial explains nicely how you should stance yourself and the very basic, yet frequent, actions and movements you’ll encounter while exercising: jabs and straights.
In detail, Janice walks you through the Orthodox stance, one of two stances in the game. Just step back with your right foot, turn to the right by about forty-five degrees, and face forwards with your back straight, looking ahead and your right heel slightly lifted. Once you’ve balled your hands into fists, raise your right by your chin and your left in front of your chest. The other stance is Southpaw, this is the exact same as Orthodox, but mirrored. Though it probably isn’t needed, it would’ve been nice to receive a brief explanation about this stance in the tutorial and how you’ll repeat your movements in it during workouts. It did come to a surprise during my first proper workout that I needed to change my stance, though I wasn’t overly annoyed with it and felt I got enough instruction leading up to the stance change.
Your instructor then explains how the rhythm works. While gently bouncing up and down, calmly move forwards and backwards to the beat of the music. One! Two! One! Two! Front! Back! Front! Back! Yeah, just like that! To make matters easier every single song and workout is set to the same tempo, so there is never a situation where you’ll need to speed up or slow down your movements. If you are having any trouble keeping to the rhythm, there’s a fantastic little guide that always appears on the screen during workouts, displaying the outline of two feet. You should be putting your weight on the foot that is currently lit up. Do be aware that, after some movements, you may have to rest on one of your feet for an extra beat and you will usually always stay on your front foot during a string of movements, so it may be worth keeping an eye on that guide during a workout that you aren’t confident on.
Admittedly, I actually found it incredibly difficult to keep my timing when I first started. This isn’t necessarily the game at fault, rather my dyspraxia seriously acting up… I may have actually nearly fallen over a couple times to be honest. I feel that this could’ve been better alleviated if there were a way to practice at a slower tempo without music and just to the sound of a metronome. This could definitely help people who are in a similar situation to me. With rhythm being a crucial part of the game, not being able to keep to it will generate some rather poor scores.
The basic movements are pretty easy. A jab requires you to simply punch your front hand forward and quickly reel it back, while a straight has your twisting your body forwards, using your back foot as a booster, to thrust your back fist forwards and yank it back. These are frequently followed one after another respectively in a one-two movement. There are plenty of other movements within the game, such as weaving, uppercuts, and steps, but I won’t go into much detail for those. If, when throwing punches, the game thinks you aren’t quite hitting the mark, it may be worth checking out Fitness Boxing’s timing settings to solve any delays that your TV and speakers could be causing. This is done automatically by pressing A to the beat in the configuration screen. I felt this was really going a above and beyond taking delays into account even though this is a common practice in rhythm games.
Once the tutorial has been completed and you’ve filled out your health profile, you are then free to try Daily Workout. This is a mode that is tailored toward you and your goals. You can change various settings such as which parts of the body you want to work on, the duration of your session, and what type of goal you want to work towards. Using this information, the game will automatically create a playlist of various workouts you’ve unlocked every day you come back to it. You can even shuffle the songs it picks, change the animation in the background for each exercise, and even choose to do a heavier or lighter workout, which will increase or decrease the length of your session respectively. The first time you take on a Daily Workout, however, you will only be able to perform a basic session that consists of a warmup stretch, Straight Combo #1, and a cooldown stretch; this will take roughly eighteen minutes to complete. After this though, the world’s your oyster… or protein shake.
One feature I would’ve found useful, which unfortunately isn’t present, would be the ability to avoid specific workouts. Some days, my body just can’t handle uppercuts, so it can be annoying to be presented with a workout that contains both Uppercut Combo #1 and #2 together in a row. Luckily, there is an option to remove specific actions within Daily Workout, though it only lists half of the available movements. There’s also an option to auto-perfect these actions too.
You may shrug off the advice to bring a bottle of water and towel, I know I did, and boy did I regret it. Though that initial workout only summoned a mere drip of sweat, the real deal is a lot different; my JoyCons were absolutely drenched, though this may be due to my persuasion to not exercise as much. Either way, the majority of the exercises can be quite intense, but I honestly had a lot of fun doing them with the variety of punches and movements. You may think that you are only working your arms while playing, but you’ll find you’ll also be putting your core and legs to work too; my entire body was definitely aching the day after my first set of workouts. I’d recommend not to skip out on your stretches, there’s nothing worse than developing a stitch right as to step in for a hook. What’s a bit dull however is how the stretches are always the same, it would be nice if they mixed them up a bit from time to time or depending on which parts of the body you have been working on the most.
The flow of each workout is simple enough. Your job is to perform the specified actions in time with the music and the scrolling icons. You’ll get a ‘Perfect’ if you time it perfectly, an ‘OK’ if your timing is a little off, or a ‘Miss’ if you… well, miss. I felt the controls were accurate for the most part, however, I found that you need to move very smoothly and succinctly, otherwise the game may not be able to recognise all your movements; double jabs were mostly hopeless for me as the game would recognise my pullbacks as the jab right after the first one. Workouts start off simple with a set of basic movements. The game will gradually add more after each set has finished until you build up a big combo towards the end. Once a few combos have come your way, you’ll swap over to the Southpaw stance to mirror what you just did, making sure that you get a balanced workout.
Fitness Boxing 2 comes packed with about twenty or so tracks, including some original pieces which I actually quite liked, but may not be everyone’s cuppa tea. The other songs are… interesting. Most can only be described as popular songs that have been remixed in the style of a cheesy 90’s village hall disco performed by someone’s gran on the keyboard. Surprisingly, this style actually works for a couple songs and some are still fun to box to, though I honestly can’t wait to listen to the original version of Y.M.C.A. after that abomination! It also doesn’t help that some songs, at least for me, can mess up your rhythm at times. There also comes the issue that twenty songs just isn’t a lot to choose from, even Just Dance 2021 has double the amount of songs, and that’s only in the base game; Just Dance Unlimited has hundreds!. There is actually a button on the main screen that links to the Nintendo eShop, though, at the time of writing, it only leads to an error message. It could be assumed that the game will be receiving DLC in the future, possibly in the form of song packs perhaps?
If you’d rather be able to choose which workout to try out, you may find better luck in Free Training. Here, you can create your own playlists from the workouts you’ve already unlocked; more can be unlocked by receiving two-star ratings on other workouts. This mode is especially good if there are certain combos that you really enjoy, it may even motivate you to come back again and again to best your score. Unfortunately, you are unable to save playlists, which is a right shame, it would’ve been nice to go back to sessions I’ve created in the past rather than have to remember which workouts I added.
Each exercise has two intensities: low and high. Low intensity is essentially half the workout as the high-intensity ones in duration and the size of the combo. You’ll swap your stance once in low intensity rather than three times too. There are also two speeds: regular and fast. As one would assume, playing a song using the fast speed setting increases the tempo, perfect for building up a sweat more quickly, or if you don’t have as much time for your exercises.
Some of the later workouts can become really difficult at times, and it can become pretty easy to fumble some of your movements. Luckily, Basic Training is here to help. Within this mode, there are plenty of tutorials which guide you through each of the actions and combos you’ll encounter during your workouts. Your instructor will talk you through an overview of the action or combo, followed by a detailed explanation of each movement, finished with an opportunity to try them out for yourself to get used to the movement and rhythm. You’ll sometimes also be told which parts of the body you’ll be working. This mode has been incredibly useful for me, especially during actions that makes me unbalanced due to my dyspraxia, I also appreciate that the game asks if you wish to practice if you play a workout with an action you haven’t done before or if you have a habit of missing a particular movement.
If you have a buddy who wishes to workout alongside you, you can choose to hand them one of your JoyCons (or an extra pair, if you’re being fancy) to join your routine of fighting with the air in front of you. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get anyone to join me, likely due to the perspiration, so I am unable to talk much about this mode. I do think it’s cool however that you can play two player mode with a single JoyCon or a pair each and that the mode is available in both Daily Workout and Free Training.
Let’s talk about the instructors for a moment. Janice is incredibly enthusiastic and bubbly, but if that isn’t your style, there are eight other instructors to choose from, including three new trainers introduced in this sequel: Janice herself, Hiro, and… Karen; surprisingly, her personality is the complete opposite than some would suspect! Each instructor has a different personality, so it may be useful to ‘shop’ around for the one you most click with. Though their personalities may be different, most of what they say during workouts is essentially the same (or use words to that effect), so you won’t be missing out if you stick to only one; you’ll be forever mine Evan!
If you find your instructor’s fashion sense is feeling a bit stale, you can also change what they are wearing from their wardrobe. Turn them into a stylin’ boxing guru, or create the next sweaty fashion faux pas, it’s completely up to you. More items of clothing and accessories can also be unlocked by completing your daily exercises and obtaining achievements. The game has a wide range of different achievements to work towards, some of them are as simple as just getting a three-star rating in a workout, whereas others may take a little effort more time to obtain by throwing a lot of punches, performing a certain amount of exercises with each of the instructors, and more.
There are plenty of settings which can be altered to help make your experience a better one. As I mentioned before, you can alleviate any delays caused by your display or speakers through the automatic timing tool. This can also be done manually with a couple of sliders. You can also find the action assist options here too to make some exercises a little easier.
The game makes use of the scariest feature on the Nintendo Switch: the alarm function. This allows you to set an alarm on each day of the week, causing your connected controllers to violently vibrate at a designated time. Why is it so scary? Well, it tends to always go off on all three pairs of my JoyCon while I’m in the middle of something completely different which scares the pants off me. Perhaps this is part of my fitness regime though. I know I’m being very picky here, but it is rather annoying that there is no way to input the time on a keypad, rather you have to scroll through each time in fifteen-minute increments on each day you want to set the alarm.
Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise, it’s intense, you’ll sweat, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun with a lot of variety in the actions you can perform. Though the workouts may come to a shock for some beginners, there are some fantastic guides that can help you on your way to perform better, there’s also a bunch of options that can make your experience slightly more accessible by disabling certain actions in-game. What lets the game down, ironically enough, is its selection of songs, the majority are poorly remixed and don’t boast the same mood as the originals… there’s also only a small selection of them. In addition to this, from what I’ve researched at least, it doesn’t seem that the game builds onto the original all that much other than a few extra instructors and different songs. If you can forgive those points however, I don’t see why anyone who is looking for a decent workout that’s a bit different from other fitness games wouldn’t enjoy this title. The game may not replace an actual personal trainer, but it still holds up as a decent alternative, especially during these strange times.
Final Rating – 3.5 out of 5
Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm and Exercise launches exclusively on Nintendo Switch family consoles on the 4th December 2020.
I am a huge Nintendo fan, hence why NintyBuzz exists. I especially love all things Zelda and Metroid. NintyBuzz was started by me back in the Summer of 2014, it started out mainly as a hobby, though the site has gradually grown, and I hope it grows for many years to come!