Knockout Home Fitness - Sweaty Switch Not Included
Videogames have always had a peculiar relationship with the playing area.
Without going too far into the past and digging up accessories from before the time of most of our audience, there have been varying attempts at using the space within the home as an extension of play. Not content to have players sit upon the couch and twiddle their thumbs, many have tried to incorporate the space as a tangible playing field. While most of the gimmicky ventures into this used either cameras or headsets, the standout was the incorporation of motion controls into the Nintendo Wii, and to a lesser extent, the Switch.
Wherever such playstyles have come about, so too has a union between game and fitness. One of the recent games to embrace this has been Knockout Home Fitness. Having tried a few of these fitness games with varying levels of success, the immediate thing that stands out about KHF is that the focus on martial arts provides something that the general run of fitness games have not.
Being a Switch game about movement, it uses the joycons as a means to detect your motion, and while there is still room for error, the game does well enough at matching the movements you make. A strike is simple, while kicks, ducks, lunges and more form part of the different movements across the sets, and for the most part the joycon can tell when you’re doing it.
Playing at an age where my flexibility isn’t what it was in my 20s or 30s meant that some of the moves required were more than a literal stretch, but the game starts you off with simple moves and tracks how many of the moves you’re able to execute (at least to its best detection ability). It may occasionally misjudge whether you were successful or not, sometimes for better and other times for worse, but it’s close enough. The gamification aspect does help as well, but the mindset to bring to Knockout Home Fitness isn’t ticking off a bunch of boxes to get a high score – it’s about doing your best and growing into a more healthy way of life with the game. Over time the game does ease you into more complicated moves or sets, and you’ll definitely want to have room around you to ensure you’re not kicking furniture.
You begin with two of the four trainers unlocked, and as you play through, you have the means to unlock additional trainers and gyms. The lack of meaningful variation does hamper the game somewhat, and though the routines themselves do change around, the cosmetic change doesn’t really come through with a different feel. It’s just a cosmetic option, and each of the trainers will speak the exact same lines in the same situation. This is probably an aspect that could have been improved with a variation, as you could have some personality come through the trainers and create a different experience. In a similar way, the rooms where you train don’t really carry the sense of a real place and could have benefited from some virtuality in the gym, such as windows of a world outside or something to help the mind ascend past the confines of a loungeroom.
There is music in the game, and you’re able to unlock tracks as you play through, but it’s just there to do its job. The music is fine, but you might be better off muting it and putting your own tracks on in the background if you’re having trouble getting into the zone. That’s more a case of personal taste, but no track is a banger, and you’re not going to be clamouring for a particular tune from the game next time you take your new thirst for fitness into the outside world.
Like most fitness programs, what you get out of Knockout Home Fitness will depend on what you put into it. You can do the bare minimum if you want. You might even find you’re able to trick the game with tiny movements of the joycons, but for what? Instead if you can embrace the illusion, forget for a moment that you’re looking at a screen and become immersed in it, you might find yourself bouncing around all sweaty but feeling like a knockout yourself.