I think anyone who is roughly my age and older and had any interest in video games played Punch Out, or Mike Tyson’s Punch Out back in the late 80s. This game was awesome, there’s been plenty of great games from the past, but somehow, it was always very easy for me to pick up a controller and try my luck in the WVBA again. The characters were always so much fun to revisit. Sadly for me, over the years, defeating Mike Tyson/Mr. Dream grew more difficult as my timing declined with the lack of practice. The journey was always satisfying for me though.
For those who don’t know, Punch Out!! is a game for the original NES that takes place in a completely fiction boxing circuit called the WVBA. You play the role of Little Mac, a 17 year old kid from the Bronx, NY who weighs just over 100 pounds. Basically, the last person you would expect to be fighting pro boxers who are 6’3 and 250 pounds. Most of the fighters were flamboyantly patriotic to their respective countries, which made the colorful and gave them quite a bit of flair. After deciphering your opponents’ patterns and exploiting their weakness, you slowly overcome the odds and eventually become the World Champion and take on either Mike Tyson or Mr. Dream, depending on which revision of the game you got a hold of. Super Punch Out!! was released for the Super NES back in 1994. It featured new characters as well as characters from the NES version. It would be 15 years before we saw our friends from the WVBA again.
Once I heard that this game was coming out, I was psyched. I shot over to Video Game Buddy as soon as I got the call that this game was available. Lacing up the green gloves again was very exciting. We start with Glass Joe, as we did over 20 years ago. After a few snapshots of the opponent we are about to face in their element, the fight begins. I can’t help but wonder if the versions of the characters we see now are what the creators had imagined many years ago. Glass Joe yelling “viva la France” or Don Flamenco urging you to strike him with taunts of “vamos” and shouting “toro!” before throwing a punch at you. We have quick cut scenes between the rounds where your opponent will usually do something comical, followed by Doc giving you words of wisdom. By the way, the first thing I did during this was it the minus key, of course I heard a confirming jingle and when the next round started I had energy replenished. At the time of this writing, I’ve completed the Minor and Major circuit titles. So far, the game definitely feels like Punch Out!! I’ve opted to use the motion control instead of the old school method because, why not? It’s the Wii after all, I’m not so lazy that I can’t gingerly throw punches at cartoons yet. Let’s get to reviewing the game like they do on all the big websites.
Nintendo did a great job with the voice acting and sound effects. The music is excellent, borrowing many a track from the original Punch Out!! and glorifying it further.
It isn’t a huge surprise that the graphics are not the strongest feature of Wii Punch Out!! This is one of those games where it just really doesn’t matter. The characters are cell-shaded, which probably was the best avenue to take since the characters are based on their original cartoon counterparts.
I found myself getting very excited while watching the introductions for the boxers before a fight. The menus are flashy, but not too flashy. Load time is reasonable. For anyone who remembers what happens to Don Flamenco when you pound him enough in the NES game, you will not be disappointed this time around. One thing I don’t get, when did Doc develope this weird obsession with chocolate? They just throw it in, it feels kind of forced, but it is treated as if it’s something we’re just supposed to know like an inside joke.
Spot on for the most part and simple are the controls. Sometimes I found myself not executing head punches with as much accuracy as I would like. In some cases, I’d dodge left or right when I meant to throw a head punch. You can activate optional controls to throw head punches via the trigger buttons rather than the analog stick on the nun-chuck. I’m guessing the regular control is as easy as the NES controls. Nintendo has always stuck by the KISS method which works perfectly as far as I’m concerned. I have heard that the balance board is a crappy addition to the gameplay and just frustrates you above all else.
Gameplay is the feature that made the Punch Out!! series so legendary. The basic pattern-based combat mixed with colorful characters and some of the exhibition modes are just really fun, which is how all games should really be, fun. As I have been known to say, “Gameplay is key.”
Overall Overall Rating:
Obviously, I’m very high on this game. It’s fun for anyone who played the original or SNES version, at the same time it introduces Punch Out!! to a new generation. I know not everyone has the same taste in games that I do, but I would say that Wii Punch Out!! is a must play. Maybe it isn’t a must buy, but I know it’s one of those games that playing it makes you want to play it more. Rent it, buy it, borrow it, play it at a friend’s house, just make sure you step in the ring at least once, you’ll be glad you did.