majormitch's Punch-Out!! (Wii) review

A comeback is like a yo-yo

Punch-Out!! is one of those "classic" Nintendo franchises. You know, the kind that everyone who played it back in the day can't seem to get enough of. So while I had never played a Punch-Out!! game for myself, I continuously heard good things about the series everywhere I turned. Thus, when the updated Wii version came out, I decided it was high time I jump in and see what the fuss was all about. Long story short- I wasn't disappointed. Punch-Out!! is a ton of fun in a "down to earth" sort of way, and should be a great buy for anyone not put off by a stiff, old school challenge.

Said old school design is apparent in Punch-Out!! right from the start, as the control scheme is so simple that Punch-Out!! could easily be played with a 25 year old NES controller. That is, if you are playing with the sideways Wii Remote setting. Punch-Out!! is a very precise game- an ill-timed dodge or punch could cost you dearly, and the Wii Remote's fickle motion sensing just doesn't do it justice. Buttons, however, allow you to dodge and throw punches instantaneously, and prompt the game to deliver a stiff challenge as a result. And make no mistake- the game comes through on this front. Punch-Out!! is challenging in the way that you'll frequently feel hopeless. It's the kind of controller-throwing inducing challenge that served as benchmark game design back in the 80s, and demands a ton of patience on the part of the player. This kind of challenge can be a mixed bag- some will certainly get frustrated by its high demands, while others will find it refreshing in an era of gaming that's generally all too forgiving.

Other than the occasional frustration, however, this old school design serves Punch-Out!! incredibly well. It harkens back to the days where games were simple and unambiguous, and can appeal to a wide audience as a result. This also makes the game incredibly easy to get into, and once you do you'll realize that Punch-Out!! is very much a propagator of that classic "easy to learn, hard to master" mantra. It also throws just enough curveballs to keep things interesting throughout, and while someone who's perfected the game could breeze through it in a few measly hours, a first play through is an almost epic undertaking that requires a good deal of time and effort- an amount that ultimately feels about right. Finally, while Punch-Out!! is more or less a game that could have been released 20+ years ago, Nintendo hasn't cut any corners on making sure it looks like a game made in 2009. The graphics are incredibly smooth, and the animations are top notch. There is also a ton of personality pumped into each and every character, making the entire presentation fantastic. It's actually one of the best parts of the game, which is impressive considering how good the controls are.

In fact, most every aspect of Punch-Out!! feels pretty much how you'd want it to. Tight controls, an entertaining presentation, and a solid challenge are only the highlights. At the same time, it can occasionally be frustrating, and might put off a few timid players as a result. But for the rest of us, Punch-Out!! is simply a blast, and is well worth your attention- even if it's gotten plenty of that already.
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.


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