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Platform

Wii

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Next Level Games

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

May 18, 2009

 

 

- The Punch-Out!! magic is back

- Simple controls make for an "accessible" game (practice!) but much challenge for experienced players

- Big and bright

 

 

- Starting about mid-way through the second circuit bouts can be punishing until you master the patterns of your foes

- Reaching for button that activates the Star punch is in a bad spot

- Multiplayer is short lived

 

 

Review: Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers (Wii)

Review: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)

Review: Mario Strikers Charged (Wii)

 

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Punch-Out!!

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

Punch-Out!! is one of those franchise titles from Nintendo that appear to be so simple that it’s a wonder that a zillion would-be clones haven’t been launched.  There’s not much that can really go wrong, is there?  The player character, Little Mac, can dodge left and right, duck, and block; then throw high and low punches from the right and left, with an occasional explosive “star” punch included for good measure.

 

punch-out!!          punch-out!!

 

It all seems so easy, particularly the first tier of fighters that Little Mac challenges.  Soon after, it becomes an exercise in careful observation, timed button presses (or actual punches if you prefer to play with the motion controls), and some tactical dodging and ducking, the combination of which makes Punch-Out!! a very challenging experience.  Once the upper tier of circuits opens (by completing the

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initial three circuits), it becomes one of those games that made me afraid to blink because I’d miss a cue that my opponent was about to deck me.  Even though this is arcade boxing at its finest, it was good to have breaks between rounds so I could close my eyes for a few seconds.

 

Little Mac never changes but his opponents are as varied and as stereotypical as

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their names might suggest.  Among them: Bear Hugger, a massive syrup-swilling Canadian logger; Piston Hondo, a Japanese boxer; Glass Joe, a Frenchman with a head that swirls with croissants when he’s knocked to the canvas; Von Kaiser represents the lederhosen and massive moustache contingent from Germany; and King Hippo, a crown-wearing mutant of some kind that covers his belly-button with medical tape. (Must have an “outey.”)  Every fighter speaks in their native tongue without the aide of subtitles so unless you speak one of those languages you’ll have little to no idea what they’re saying.  There’s also been some debate about how “stereotypical” each character is but I think the concern is probably overblown.  Every character gets the same treatment.  I found Bear Hugger in particular to be pretty amusing even though he’s from my neck of the woods.

 

punch-out!!          punch-out!!

 

Besides the Exhibition and Career modes, Punch-Out!! includes a split-screen two-player component that will likely be of little interest to anyone over the age of 12; however, at my house that’s all my kids and because to them it’s similar to Wii Boxing it got a lot of play.  Both players use Little Mac to pound on each other until one of them earns the Giga Mac power-up, which throws one of them into the shoes a what Little Mac would look like if he was a ‘roid monkey and shifts the action to one screen, rather than split.  As much as I was pummelled by the higher echelon of boxers, it was (and continues to be) fun.  It’s also open enough to be kid-friendly and punishing enough to offer the kind of experience many of us from the NES era remember so fondly.

 

- Aaron Simmer

(May 18, 2009)

 

NOTE: Wii Balance Board functionality is an option but was not tested as I don’t have a Balance Board.

 

2ND NOTE: Next Level Games seems to have scored a hat-trick with Nintendo.  First it was Super Mario Strikers, then Mario Strikers Charged, and now Punch-Out!! – all “sports” games that are high on fun, accessibility and family friendly.  (Considering the background of some of those at Next Level, I wonder if a remake of the NES classic Ice Hockey might be in the works…)

 

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