Punch-Out!! - WII - Review
There’s no game like Punch-Out. Many have tried to capture its essence, but the end result is never comparable. We could speculate for hours on what it would take to meet or beat the Nintendo classic, but I figure if some of the industry’s brightest minds can’t solve this problem, we probably won’t either.
Considering this, there has been a tremendous amount of hype surrounding the long-awaited, motion-controlled Punch-Out sequel for Wii. If this game doesn’t get it right, then what? Wii Boxing was a tease – a mere mini-game to show off the console’s potential. Wii needs a real boxing experience, and not one hampered by a lame attempt at realism. Fun – the thing Wii is supposed to be about – needs to come first.
And it does. In a nutshell, Punch-Out!! is a grand-scale upgrade of the original. You could call it a sequel, but with many of the original game’s physics, characters and attack patterns back for another round, the game isn’t too far beyond the NES original. It is, however, ridiculously fun to play, offers impressive motion controls (and Balance Board support), and features a comedic twist that makes the game – and its crazy cast – very enjoyable.
As expected, the motion controls are fairly primitive, at least by MotionPlus standards, a device Punch-Out!! does not support. Despite this, the mechanics work really well. Shake the Nunchuk or the remote to throw a left or right hook. Push up on the thumbstick while shaking one of the controllers to turn your punch into a jab. With the Balance Board hooked up, you can dodge by leaning left or right, or duck by pushing your body into the board. Without the Balance Board, those same actions are performed with the thumbstick.
Punch-Out!! features a super attack called Star Punch. These attacks can only be performed when you possess at least one star. Stars are acquired by striking your opponent at a key moment, such as when he’s taunting you or just before he’s about to throw an uppercut (or a special punch of his own). Once a star is in Little Mac’s possession (he can store three of them at one time but will lose them the moment he’s attacked), hold the A or C button while throwing your next punch.
This probably sounds too easy for words, but remember that you aren’t supposed to be shaking the controllers (even though that’s all it takes to execute a move) – you’re supposed to punch your fist forward to simulate the moves of a boxer. All motions are accepted since the game can’t differentiate between the two, allowing lazy players to be lazy and more energetic players to get a workout.
Also, Punch-Out!! has never been about complicated controls. Like the others, this one begins with pick-up-and-play mechanics and a few cakewalk battles. After that, the gloves come off.
The fighter lineup consists of Glass Joe, Von Kaiser, Disco Kid, King Hippo, Piston Hondo, Bear Hugger, Great Tiger, Don Flamenco, Aran Ryan, Soda Popinski, Bald Bull and a couple others who might just give you nightmares. Their patterns are essential to your success. But as you’ll quickly discover, not all of them are predictable.
Ryan is a weak fighter that relies on sporadic movements to confuse the player. Popinski may have the power of cola on his side (something I personally am very jealous of), but it’s his super-fast attacks that are most deadly. Trying to predict Bald Bull’s next move is especially difficult; at any time, he may switch between a very slow attack to a very fast attack. The former is used to get you to doge too soon, allowing his punches to make contact. The fast attacks are used to trap players that are too overwhelmed to react.
These and other boxing styles make the game interesting, challenging, and occasionally cheap. Whether or not the game is truly cheap is hard to say, but you are bound to feel that way whenever Little Mac is pounded unexpectedly.
Punch-Out!! is given a comical edge with characters that are infused with unique personalities. Their stories are told through a series of paintings that depict the way each boxer trains. The results are often laugh-out-loud hilarious, making this one of the few games whose story you won’t want to skip.
In addition to the new motion controls, Punch-Out!! can also be played using the Wii remote alone. Hold it sideways like an NES controller and you’re good to go. Every motion is mapped to one of the buttons, mirroring the motionless controls of the original.
This is a nice alternative, but it is my recommendation that you stick with the remote and Nunchuk combo. Punch-Out!! is a fun game regardless of the control style that you use. But when playing with the Nunchuk, the game is much more aggressive and interactive. Even if you don’t throw any real punches – even if all you do is flick the controllers forward, it’s still a more engrossing experience than the old-school control style, which is very repetitive and makes the game easier to finish.
Punch-Out!! may not be a breathtaking step ahead of its predecessors, but it is still a game every Punch-Out fan will want to play. The gameplay is incredibly fun, the boxers are hilariously inventive, and the replay value – while nowhere near a fighting game like Street Fighter IV – is strong enough to warrant a purchase.
Review Scoring Details for Punch-Out!!
Fans of the original won't be disappointed by this addictive, pick-up-and-play upgrade of the NES classic.
Punch-Out!! is a visual treat with stellar cel-shading effects, hilarious story images, top-of-the-line KO animations and impressive facial expressions.
A little repetitive and slightly annoying (is it me or do the menu screen jingles sound exactly like a sound effect from Pikmin?). But overall, the sound and music are very well done.
Enemy attacks are tricky at first, but once you learn their patterns, the game isn't very challenging.
The motion controls, Balance Board support and subtle game adjustments are great. But underneath it all, Punch-Out!! isn't that different from the NES original.
The lack of online play and Balance Board support during multiplayer might be disappointing to some. Still, the one-on-one combat is excellent.
Boxing at its best. Many games have tried to capture the arcade essence of the Punch-Out!! series, and all of them have failed. But nearly 20 years later, the king is back and is better than ever.