The first Fitness Boxing launched two years ago, when Nintendo and developer Imagineer presumably decided it was their duty to eradicate obesity around the world. Last time we checked, though, a load of us are still packing plenty in the podge department, so now the pair are back with a sequel to make sure they get the ruddy job done this time.
At its core, Fitness Boxing 2 doesn't appear to be massively different from the first one. Although we’re still only scratching the surface at this stage, the general gist seems to be similar: choose a workout, swing your Joy-Cons to perform certain punches to the beat, get a score based on your accuracy, feel a bit sweaty, wake up the next day with sore arms and repeat. This was a formula that worked well enough in the first game, so if it ain’t broke and all that.
One new addition, however, is three new trainers to accompany the six that were already in the first game. You’re introduced to the first of these, Janice, in the tutorial that appears when you play the game for the first time and she’s frankly terrifying. Whoever recorded the English voiceover for her was probably told to sound energetic, but it comes across as frantic, intense and downright intimidating. She often talks extremely quickly (presumably so her lines fit over whatever the original Japanese lines were), meaning she’ll regularly yell “OKAYTHAT’SGOOD” at you, which can be somewhat jarring during what’s supposed to be a relaxing cooldown exercise.
As before, you can unlock new costumes for your trainers, but this time the process appears to be a bit less repetitive. Before you unlocked specific outfits when you hit certain milestones, some of which required some serious long-term effort on your part. This time you unlock clothing items with tickets, which are given to you when you complete various achievements. Although it’s too early to look into the achievement system in any real depth it looks like there’s a load of them, and the game was throwing tickets at us like confetti in the first couple of hours we’ve spent with it. We even got an achievement for dressing up our trainer in clothes they don’t like, as if it was Style Savvy or something.
The actual workout sections themselves seem to have changed the least: though again, we should stress, we’re still very early in the game and for all we know, there’ll be a bunch of new punch styles introduced later on. At the moment we’re still performing the same jabs, straights, hooks and uppercuts we were doing in the previous game. The only noticeable change at this stage is a new gauge that fills up as you perform perfect hits. When this fills to the top, you’ll trigger a score multiplier and the background will go all psychedelic to denote that you’re in ‘the zone’ or some such nonsense.
If you weren’t a fan of the instrumental, karaoke versions of real songs in the first game, we’re afraid you’re going to have to put up with more of the same this time. The 20 songs that were featured the first time around are all gone and have been replaced with 20 new ones, and as before the tracklist is pretty daft: when you’ve got the likes of YMCA, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Ariana Grande in there, it’s clear most of the songs are going in one direction, and that’s pure cheese pop (speaking of which, One Direction is in there, too).
So far it’s generally a case of ‘more of the same’, then. Other than what appears to be a more well-rounded achievement system and a bunch of new trainers and songs, it looks like Fitness Boxing 2 is going to be more of an update to the original rather than a proper sequel. And hey, for fans of the first game who’ve been punching to the same 20 songs for the past two years, that may be enough. Games like this need to be put through their paces for a while before a definitive opinion can be formed on them, though, and it still remains to be seen whether Fitness Boxing 2 will be able to keep us motivated after we’ve been playing it regularly for a while. With that in mind, we’ll be back with our full verdict in a couple of weeks.