Punch Out – One of the all-time greats of the boxing-game genre, with kinetic control input and more tactical depth than you would think imaginable
Don’t Play Yourself, Player
Punch Out’s NES and SNES days are long gone, that much we do know. A 15-year gap between the old-school Punch Out games and Nintendo’s Punch Out for the Wii hasn’t allowed the series to even begin to go stale, however. The NES/SNES titles are still fun to play today, but if you don’t take advantage of the Wii’s motion controls, the stylish cartoon graphics, and the tactical depth offered by each of your 13 opponents in Punch Out, then you’re doing yourself a massive disservice. There’s more realism in this game than you would think of a Wii-based title, and its arcade style ensures that you’ll stick around for more than just a few shakes of the Wii controller.
Approach and Gameplay
There was a worry that due to Punch Out’s long absence, this modern-day Wii version would somehow have lost the magic or wouldn’t quite get the style of the original NES/SNES series. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however. Nostalgia should be the main emotion for long-term fans when you realise that the gameplay involves taking control of Little Mac, embarking upon a career by training a lot and fighting your way through a series of 13 unique opponents, each with their individual look, fighting style, and moves in order to keep your strategy evolving throughout.
Quite refreshingly, this is a thirds-person boxing game that plays a lot like a first-person one. You can still see your character at the bottom of the screen, but he’s translucent and the camera hands high over his head so that you get the best view possible of your opponent and the space around him. There are three control schemes: classic two-button Wii Remote control (held in side-orientation) lets you keep it old-school like the SNES and NES titles; Wii Remote + Nunchuk allows you to use the kinetic advantages of the Wii system so that you physically throwing and defending against punches; lastly, you can use the Wii Remote + Nunchuk in conjunction with the Balance Board so that you can control dodging and ducking down in a dynamic fashion.
Release Date: 22/05/2009
Available on: Wii
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Too Many Man
Now, fighter wise, you’re going to be battling against some pretty tough opponents. Many will be familiar from the original NES Punch Out!, but there are new additions: Donkey Kong, and also Disco Kid (see the IGN Wiki for information about this and the other fighters). The 13 opponents on offer may not bowl many people over with its weight, but you should keep in mind that after you’ve adapted to each opponent’s fighting style and beaten them all, you have to then go on to defend your title against these opponents again. The catch is that you foes yet again change up their styles, moves, and movements, effectively giving you another 13 unknown and increasingly difficult foes to defend your title against.
The designs of the opponents themselves are very similar to and reminiscent of Beast Boxing Turbo and Beast Boxing 3D. However, the graphics are much improved due to the console-based nature of Punch Out, as well as the unique illustrative style implemented by the developers here. The animation style is out of this world, utilising a 3D presentation with elements of cel-shading to make this look like a gorgeous boxing-themed storyboard that’s come alive. Characters all have unique animations, as well as unique taunts, specific movement patterns, and special moves to devastate you if you get complacent with your training.
Arcade-Depth Boxing Brilliance
One should not expect boxing-sim levels of detail or accuracy in the moves and control system here. Let EA’s Fight Night be the boxing sim, while Punch Out fulfils its role of awesomely addictive, arcade-depth boxing extravaganza. It’s an absolute thrill to duck, dodge, and weave before your screen in your living room, instead of simply tapping buttons to make your moves during the fight. The Wii controls give everything a sense of realism and like you’re actually in the ring.
Very few, if any, games can claim to be able to immerse their players in the ring quite like this one. There could be more of a variety of opponents of course, but the reactions-based counter-attacks during the matches, the sublime 3D animation and unique story-board illustrative style, and the Vs mode keeps this game fresh for much longer than most mobile boxing games. Next Level Games has truly captured the magic of the Punch Out! Franchise here, successfully placing it in the modern day while retaining some of the classic style of the series. Rating: 95/100
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Punch Out is developed by Next Level Games.