A beloved franchise receives an excellent upgrade.
Originally written 9-5-12
Little Mac is an up and coming boxer who has winning on his mind. He hopes to become World Champion. However, before he can do that, he must fight through the two lower circuits before he can get a shot at the world title. It won’t be easy for him at all due to the very tough competition, and some of these fighters have a habit of playing dirty. -summary
The Punch-Out! series is definitely one of the most consistent video game franchises in terms of quality. Nintendo has never disappointed when it comes down to the wacky boxing series that takes the sport to a whole different level, which is why I’m still amazed it never made it to the Nintendo Game Cube. I always enjoyed the series for its colorful characters and high challenge. This fifth addition to the line up hits the mark and improves a great deal over the previous game Super Punch-Out! for the SNES. I will go so far to say that it’s the best in the series surpassing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!.
Punch-Out! follows Little Mac through single player third person action, as he fights his way through the three boxing circuits: Minor, Major, and World. The bouts return to the three round format found in the Nintendo version with the possibility of going into a split decision. The main game takes place in Career Mode, which is one of many modes to be found. Here, there are a total of 13 boxers with one secret character, and it’s definitely a secret not to be spoiled. You will fight 3 matches before going into the championship match of that circuit.
The game play is where the game is at its strongest. The first couple of fights in the Minor Circuit is to get you familiar with the controls and basically how the AI fights. For the most part, I thought the first circuit was pretty easy. Eventually, the game becomes more difficult and I can imagine all newcomers being floored rather quickly. I would like to think of myself as a veteran of the series, and although many of these boxers were very familiar, I found myself being smashed pretty bad.
The game uses all of the early entries as its pool source, and you will go up against familiar fighters such as Glass Joe, Bald Bull, Bear Hugger, Piston Hondo, and many more. Little Mac possesses all of his pass skills, with his vicious uppercut having to be earned by collecting stars when you counter an opponents punch. Some of these fighters really make it difficult to earn those stars, but when you finally pick up at least one, it does reward you with potential to deal out some hefty damage. The player can earn up to three stars, with all of them being used at once for monster damage. The matches are 3 minutes, with the possibility of scoring a TKO with three consecutive knockdowns in the same round. I never went the distance with the fighters, either they floored me or vice versa.
Punch Out! is indeed a serious challenge, because you have to heavily rely on quick reflexes. The boxers will always give you some type of sign before throwing punches, but Nintendo added a twist to this. Some of the boxers uppercuts and hooks are very tricky, and you will have to dodge in a specific direction or you will be nailed every time they punch. The PunchOut! series has always been a trial and error type of game; Nintendo embraces this by putting some serious effort into making these matches very tough. Every person I know who played this game has had some big trouble fighting against characters like Great Tiger, Sodapop, and Sandman. You will lose a lot in this game. Personally, that’s what I find to be so fun about it.
Nintendo pretty much outdid themselves with the main game. Once Mac wins the World title, then he has to defend it against all of the opponents he beat. This is when the challenge pretty much skyrockets. The boxers come back far tougher than before, and even the pathetic Glass Joe can now knock you out. There’s another mode called Mac’s Last Stand (which has to be unlocked), and I’ll just say this mode is even more challenging for those who think they’re the man. Also, expect to spend some time in the training mode; this mode is actually pretty awesome. Mac’s trainer Doc, sets up a ring where you battle against a hologram of the opponent who just beat you, and they fight exactly the same way as in the main game.
Punch Out! is such a cool game that just doesn’t get old. The cartoony, wacky style of boxing is just as fun to watch as it is to play. And the colorful character roster plays a huge role in this. The boxers are in your face stereotypes, with Glass Joe pretty much playing the cowardly French guy, and Disco Kid being well, very disco influenced. The characters have some funny and memorable personalities.
The game doesn’t have an on-line mode, which really doesn’t bother me. However, it does have a two player split screen mode that can be pretty fun. Unfortunately for me, it’s not as addictive as the main game. I know of some people who felt the game could have used more story or even character development. I honestly don’t care when it’s a game of this type. This is something you come into for the game play and Nintendo nailed it with that. I will admit that it could have used an even balance of original characters, instead of a whole bunch of older ones.
The game is very strong here. Now I don’t own a Wii Board, so I don’t know how that performs. The Wii Remote though is very responsive. The D-pad performs very well when tossing punches to the head, as well as dodging and ducking. The Wii Nunchuk is surprisingly very fun to use with this game and it’s every bit as responsive. The sensor reads your left and right punching motions and button presses respond very well. You dodge with the Nunchuk though, which might be a problem for someone looking for a real workout. My only problem here is that physical motion can distract from the actual game. You have to pay a lot of attention to the opponents movements. This can actually make the game more difficult. For the most part, I skip the Nunchuk.
The game maintains the cartoony goofiness canon with the series, therefore it has a pretty light-hearted atmosphere. The 3D character animations are done very well, and when fighters like Great Tiger go into his magic tricks, there is no slow-down and the frame rate remains consistent. This is also the case with Aran Ryun, whose entire fighting style is made up of constant movement. The backgrounds are nothing that will blow you away, but at least the ring and arena lights look nice enough. There are also some cool cut scenes taking place with Mac’s training.
The sound effects deliver nothing worth mentioning, however I think the voice acting is overlooked. The Spanish fighter from Spain, Don Flamenco, stands out as he uses very clear Spanish when taunting you. Aran is also pretty aggressive when putting the bad mouth on you. I think the voice acting is better than what some folks let on. The music definitely pulls those nostalgic strings with remixed versions of old tunes. The BGM though is nothing that will make love to your ears and I’m fine with that, because I think a high tempo track would have been distracting for a game I think that requires plenty of concentration.
Punch Out! does have some replay value with its additional mode, plus trying to take down that secret character. In addition, the training mode also offers an exhibition mode, where you can try and meet certain challenges against beaten boxers. For example, one of the challenges pits you against Glass Joe, and you have to beat him without dodging or ducking. There are some weird challenges here that are possible, yet they seem impossible to complete, but on the plus side, they will help you a great deal in mastering the game. I’ve spent hours in this mode and the practice has paid off.
This is definitely among the better games I came across for this generation of games, and it’s a very good game for the Wii. If your Wii has been collecting dust and you missed this title for whatever reason; I recommend giving it a try.
The Good: Pretty high challenge, additional modes
The Bad: Could have used newer characters, some may find it too difficult