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11/13/2019 Getting fit

I've been playing Ring Fit Adventure nearly daily for the past couple of weeks so I'm going to write a bit about that today.

Ring Fit is Nintendo's latest attempt at a fitness video game, following Wii Fit and Wii Fit U. As a long time DDR player, I'm no stranger to mixing games and exercise. I also played Wii Fit U for a little while a few years back, though it failed to hold my attention for too long. Anyway, Ring Fit was one of the rare games that caught me completely off guard. As in, I don't remember ever hearing a thing about it until release, when I happened across a review. And, being a game designer, I follow game news pretty closely so I'm normally at least somewhat aware of every notable upcoming release. Anyway, that review interested me and, with Connie and Zack having left for China a couple days before, I had already been planning to get my exercise routine restarted, so I grabbed a copy and gave it a try. But enough with the backstory.

Ring Fit is a Switch games that comes with two accessories, a leg strap and a pilates ring and you attach one Joycon to each while playing. Unlike most other exercise games, Ring Fit actually has a full fledged story mode. At the start, you accidentally release a very muscular dragon who was sealed away by Ring, a talking ring. Said dragon it out to...do something that's probably not good (so far, I'm not really sure what he's after beyond working out and making monsters appear) so you team up with Ring to put a stop to him...by exercising! The game is part platformer, with you running through the levels (by jogging in place) while getting past different obstacles (squatting to activate spring boards, squeezing the ring to create blasts of air to blow open doors and such, pushing the ring against your abs to crush rocks, etc.). The environments are actually pretty scenic (if a bit repetitious), and the game does a good job steadily introducing new mechanics and mini-games along the way. Though navigating the levels is only half of it. A good chunk of gameplay is made up of RPG lite type battles against various monsters (mostly themed after different exercise gear). But instead of stabbing or shooting the monsters, you defeat them by exercising at them (while drinking the occasional smoothie for buffs and healing). Yeah...best not to think about it too much. The story isn't meant to be taken very seriously but it's kind of amusing and gives you a reason to keep going. Anyway, battles involve choosing from your selection of exercises and doing a number of reps (based on your chosen difficulty level) to attack. Early on you'll be doing a whole lot of squats and ring presses but soon you'll be unlocking a steady stream of new exercises. as you gain experience points and level up. Add in AOE ranges and enemies that are weak to certain types of exercise (legs or arms, for example), and there's enough depth to keep things fun and, as with the exploration, new mechanics are periodically introduced as well. The story seems to be long enough to last for at least a couple of months of frequent play (though that's a guess; all I can really say is that I'm nowhere near the end).

Anyway, there's a ton of different exercises and activities to help you get and stay fit. One complaint I had about Wii Fit U was that it just wasn't a very intense workout. I never felt like it really pushed me. Well, I have no such complaints about Ring Fit. Based on my age and fitness level, the game started me out at a difficulty of 21 (out of 30), which I bumped up to 22 about a week later. I've been playing for 20 - 40 minutes a day and by the time I finish I'm often hot, out of breath, and a little sore. But I can tell that my muscles and stamina are improving. Assuming you play the game properly (use a mix of exercises and don't try to cheat the movements) it actually makes for a surprisingly intense and balanced exercise routine. Plus, it makes doing all of those exercises a lot of fun. I often find myself falling into the "one more level" mentality, just to push myself a bit harder and/or see what's coming next.

Long story short, I'm really enjoying Ring Fit. I'm finally getting back in shape and I'm having fun doing it. Plus, unlike many exercises tools or routines, I think it'll succeed in holding my attention for quite a long time.

Later!

Josiah



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11/11/2019 Phase 2

When Connie and Zack went to China last year, my big project here at home was setting up my library and office downstairs. Which came down to assembling a lot of shelves then unpacking all my books, games, movies, etc. Well, Connie and Zack are in China again and my big project this time is...doing more stuff in my library and office. Specifically, I'm finally putting in some wall shelves to display my figurines. Which means unpacking and organizing said figurines (a pretty big job). My parents also sent me a few boxes of stuff that had been sitting at their place for a while. But now that they're moving to Hawaii full time, and I have a house again, we figured it was time I finally got it back. So I need to sort and unpack all that too. Anyway, that's what I've been working on lately and I'm making good progress, but I probably need another two or three days to finish. Unfortunately, the next few days are going to be dedicated to grading. But hopefully, by early next week, I'll finally be fully unpacked for the first time since I left Hawaii. Maybe I'll post some pictures when I'm done.

Later!

Josiah

11/8/2019 Busch Gardens

Ok, travelogue time.

November 3 (Sunday): Busch Gardens and Howl-O-Scream
When I went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg back in the Spring, I was mostly focused on Zack so I didn't get to go on many of the rides. But, with Connie and Zack in China, I decided to go back get a better feel for the park. This ended up being their last full day of the season, and the last day of Howl-O-Scream, their Halloween event. While Howl-O-Scream doesn't really kick into gear until the evening, there were still decorations up all over the park. Anyway, as previously mentioned, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is sorta European themed. You start out in England and there's also, Ireland, France, Germany, Oktoberfest (which is essentially still Germany), Italy (which is also broken up into two areas), and...Northern Canada? Not to mention the two kids areas (Land of Dragons and Sesame Street).
Anyway, I made my way slowly through the park, checking out all the rides, shops, etc. as I went. In addition to that VR motion simulator I rode last time, there's a number of roller coasters. I'd say The Griffon is probably the best one in the park. Though all the big ones are fun, if sometimes a bit on the short side. One that really surprised me was Verbolten, which looked like a pretty simple and low intensity coaster at the start, but ended up having a lengthy dark section with a surprising twist. The newest ride is Finnigan's Flyer, which is a giant swing, not a coaster (there's a new coaster coming next year). A lot of fun, at least as long as you're ok with heights.
There's also animals. Not as many as, say, Disney's Animal Kingdom or Busch Gardens Tampa, but they've got wolves, bald eagles, and a lot of other birds. I even ended up hearing the eagles chirping(?) at something when I passed by in the evening. Didn't sound like I expected. There's also that pet show that I saw with Zack last time.
So I walked around and tried different things out. Unfortunately, my neck was a bit off (it's a chiropractic thing) so I had to take a break between coasters to avoid getting really motion sick, but it was still fun. Due to the time of year, a few attractions were closed (water rides, for example). Maybe next time. I will note that the European theme isn't especially deep. Not like, say, Epcot, which can be fairly educational in addition to fun. But it works. As a note, the best place to eat is in Italy (which has a lot more than just Italian food).
While I'm not big on Halloween, I figured I might as well stay for a bit of Howl-O-Scream. And besides, the sun sets really early these days. Before the main event there was a family friendly Halloween...disco? There was still a bit of time to kill before it got dark, so I decided to save some time and line up by one of the haunted houses. I ended up going through three of them (out of six), just because I was there. They seemed pretty much in line with the other theme park haunted houses I've been in (not counting Disney's Haunted Mansion, which is much higher quality but also much more family friendly). You follow a twisting path through loosely themed corridors filled with creepy decorations, dismembered limbs, and people in costumes trying to scare you. All fine, I guess, but they just don't do it for me. For one thing, stuff like that doesn't scare me in the least. Plus I'm extremely hard to startle (you basically have to catch me entirely off guard and even then it's iffy). In the end, the only time I was even a little surprised when when the girl behind me freaked out and hit me in the back. And since I'm not in love with the bloody horrific style Halloween aesthetic (pumpkins and ghosts can be kind of fun through), there just isn't much attraction. At least when I'm by myself. They can be kind of fun to visit with a friend, especially if he or she scares a lot more easily than I do. Outside of the haunted houses, there were also sections of the park where costumed actors roam around and try to scare you as you pass by. Once again, I don't care that much either way, but watching some other people scream and run was amusing. What I would have been more interested to try were the special Halloween escape rooms, but they cost extra and weren't open that weekend anyway.
So, to summarize, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a pretty good theme park. In this general area, I'd still give Hershey the nod for its larger selection of rides and coasters, though Busch may have more for younger kids and a bit more variety when it comes to food. As for Howl-O-Scream. If you're looking for a big fancy teen - adult Halloween event, it seems like a pretty good one, even if I personally don't care too much either way.

Later!

Josiah


Pokémon and all related images and trademarks are copyrighted by Nintendo, one of my favorite games companies who would certainly never waste their time by trying to sue me. Especially since I'm protected under the Fair Use Rule of the United States Copyright Act of 1976. Aside from that the actual site content is copyrighted by me, Josiah Lebowitz 2003.