By transience 1 Comments
My favourite games tend to have simple controls but with a lot of depth. I would much rather play a game with a two-button setup than something like this:
The original Punch-Out is the posterchild for simplicity mixed with depth. It's basically a d-pad + one button, but the game's "level design" -- the opponents that you fight -- keep the game from being too simple. You have to have good reflexes, a little bit of knowledge of your opponent, and you have to experiment to find the best way to hurt the opponent. You also have to not get nervous because the line between success and failure is pretty damn thin. It's rewarding when you finally do it right and that excitement makes the game really fun.
Punch-Out Wii takes the original's formula and makes it more complex. Now you have to pay attention to how the opponent is trying to hit you instead of just reacting when you see him move. Now there's four times as many attack stances and just as many ways to get stars. Punch-Out Wii is essentially a remake of the original. It keeps the core mechanics but adds so much to the classic formula.
And in this case, I don't like it as much. Punch-Out Wii is focused more on pattern recognition and memorization than the original, which was just sheer reaction time. I liked that a lot more. I'm much better when it's pure reaction time. That's why I can crush Title Defense Soda Popinski, a guy that's really tough but straightforward, while getting beaten to a pulp by Title Defense Glass Joe thanks to his delayed punch. When I play Punch-Out Wii, I often get frazzled trying to concentrate on the visual and audio cues and reacting to them so quickly. It takes me a second to process what's going on and to make the connection to move or wait for a delayed punch. This is a hard game (which is cool), but there's no way to win some of these fights on your first try. That's kind of not cool.
One thing that Punch-Out Wii has over the original is that it's way more rewarding to down an opponent. When you beat an opponent, you absolutely know that you've earned it. You don't get lucky in this game, you get better. That, along with the awesome recreation of the classic Punch-Out boxers, makes this game absolutely worth playing. Too bad most of them don't talk in English anymore. You just have to be prepared for a hell of a lot of trial and error. Fortunately the game eases you into it with a nice difficulty curve and a training mode that lets you explore what you can and cannot do.
More than ever before, Punch-Out is a puzzle game. It's a game where you have to process what's going on and crack the puzzle before time runs out (or in this case, your life runs out). Some puzzles, like the Major Circuit on Title Defense Mode, are awesome. They're punishing but fair. Some, like Bald Bull 2, are just awful. Depending on the day, I can walk away from a session of Punch-Out Wii thinking it's a fantastic game or a frustrating one.
I usually lean towards it being pretty darn good. There are countless ways that they could have messed up a sequel to a franchise that's been dead 20 years. I may not like it as much but it's a damn competent game.