Punch-Out!! Producer Pontificates on Pressure, Puzzles

Nearly fifteen years have passed since Little Mac last laced his gloves and stepped into the squared circle.

In fact, Nintendo’s last Punch-Out!! arrived the same year NAFTA went into effect, Schindler’s List won seven Oscars and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain committed suicide.

Needless to say, our gloves are a bit dusty.

The series’ return is long overdue, and time has only fueled the high expectations surrounding the upcoming Wii revival from developer Next Level Games. One could argue the boisterous ballyhoo and unreasonable hype are downsides to working on such a legendary series.

But producer Ken Yeeloy doesn’t see it that way.

“There is no downside,” Yeeloy tells Ars Technica in a Mar. 29 feature. “It’s a really big IP. It’s been 22 years in the making since the original. It’s one of those challenges you really look forward to.”

The original Punch-Out!! figures largely in his and Next Level Games’ plans for bringing the series back to life on Wii. So too, apparently, does simplicity and embracing core Punch-Out!! principles.

According to Yeeloy, it’s all about the puzzles.

“People remember what was cool about (the original Punch-Out!!),” says Yeeloy. “It was a puzzle game. It was the rhythm that made it very easy for us to transition into the control scheme.”

“We knew it wasn’t going to be a Wii-type boxing game where we needed to have very finite controls,” he continues. “There are six regions, right? It’s a puzzle game; you have to figure out how to use those regions to solve the puzzles. The Wii remote is a good way to do that, or you can also take out the nunchuk and use the classic controls, which is what many people will do.”

As Yeeloy alludes to, Nintendo’s Punch-Out!! series has always been a boxing/puzzle gaming hybrid. Each opponent utilizes a unique attack pattern in the ring; by learning their patterns and the proper timing to counterattack, Little Mac can hammer them down and solve their puzzles.

Puzzles, of course, in which throwing punches and knocking fools out is encouraged. Next Level Games’ new Punch-Out!! is scheduled to trot down the aisle May 18 for the Nintendo Wii.