Punch-Out!! Review


Originally posted on www.Defaultprime.com

Boxart

     After it’s disappearance for over 10 years the Punch-Out Franchise has finally returned. While many were overjoyed by the return of a old franchise many asked how much would change and could a game like punch out provide enough depth and game play to make it worth the full $50 value? While Nintendo promised that there would be enough content to justify your purchase, you can’t really trust the word of the one who’s trying to sell the game. Should Nintendo have left this franchise out of the ring, or can Punch-Out justify its place in the ring.

     Little Mac is back with his trainer Doc Louis and hes ready to get in the ring! Once you step inside you may realize something… that not much has changed. You can perform left and right punches, jabs to the opponents face and last but not least is the Star Punch. The Star Punch is a powerful punch you can perform after attacking a enemy at a opportune moment and getting a star. The more stars you build up the stronger the punch will be, but if you are punched before you can use them then you will lose the stars you have gained. All of the evasive maneuvers are still intact from previous titles. You can dodge left, right and duck under enemy attacks. There is a way to block attacks as well, but it feels a bit useless. It’s only useful for a few specific attacks. There are a variety of control options, Wii Remote NES style plays just like it did back on the NES. Wii Remote and Nun-chuck has you punching. Last but not least there is also balance board support. Motion controls can be fun and they work decent, but later on chances are you will want to use NES style since it almost 100% guarantees every move will be read correctly. Using the balance board is not recommended though, it’s to inaccurate to be used effectively.

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     Just by looking at what options you have available to you, you can probably tell that Punch-Out has an incredibly basic move set which any boxing game could easily triumph over, but the thing about Punch-Out is its not really a boxing game. It’s more like a pattern recognition game. Boxers have detailed animations that give slight cues on what attack their about to do. For example one of them may twitch their left eyebrow meaning hes going to punch to the left, meaning you should dodge to the right. One could say it’s more like a puzzle game with health rather then a fighting game. If this is your first Punch-Out title then get ready for some difficult fights. Those who have played past Punch-Out games will probably recognize most of the patterns right off the bat since a good amount of them are pulled directly from the character’s previous patterns in past titles. While that may make Punch-Out sound like a remake of the past titles, it’s definitely not. The main attraction for those who have played previous Punch-Out Titles is the title defense mode..

     Title defense mode is a all new mode where you defend your title after you become the champion. This new mode gives characters completely new attacks and different attack patterns. Even if you’re a experienced Punch-Out player, Title Defense mode will give you a run for your money. It’s far from a cake walk, if you have trouble in the initial challenges then title defense mode will seem almost impossible at times. After that there is also Last Stand mode, which lets you play through Title Defense mode again, but with a catch. First the battles are randomized, and second it only allows you to lose 3 times before the career mode option on your profile is locked  forever. In order to play it again you will have to make a new file. You can also unlock Champion Mode which makes some enemy attacks do more damage and removes some of the visual cues for attacks. Last but not least theres Exhibition Mode which serves two purposes. First if your stuck on a fighter you can use this mode and you won’t take any damage and you can practice against them to learn their moves. Secondly you can re-fight boxers. Each boxer has 3 challenges that act like achievements and unlock some content like music.

Glass joe

     An important aspect of the Punch-Out games are the boxers personality and looks. Their very stereotypical and are quite humorous, but its all very light and isn’t really offensive. Characters have amusing back stories that are portrayed in short still framed pictures of that character’s past. It’s a welcome addition and while at first it may start to get a little old, title defense mode spices it up as it shows characters getting jealous of little mac and planning on how to beat him by training more or some times even creating weapons and defensive equipment. The only complaint about the boxers is the fact that there are too many old boxers from past games and not enough new ones. Glass Joe, King Hippo and Many other classic characters make a return but only one new character, beside the secret character, Disco Kid. Disco Kid is a great addition though and fits right into the Punch-Out bunch. 

     In total there are thirteen boxers plus one secret boxer. This may seem like a low number but Title Defense mode really changes things up, making some character’s almost completely different from before. How fast you clear these boxers just depends on how experienced you are. If you’re new to Punch-Out chances are it will take quite some time. If you’re a experienced Punch-Out player then you probably will get a lot less time then other players. Each boxer has their own stats so you can try to beat your own times of knocking out a boxer or throwing as few punches as possible. Punch-Out may not seem to have a lot of content but it makes up for it with difficulty and replay value that extend the life of the game.

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     Visuals are great, but considering how much is on screen at once, it’s not a surprising. Its you, the ring,  the opponent, the referee and the crowd. The cel-shaded style really captures the art style of the previous titles.  The exaggerated features of the characters helps with noticing the small cues the characters gives for attacks. Character animations could make or break a punch out game, if the visual cues aren’t top notch  it can hurt the game’s game play, thankfully Punch-Out delivers. The charcter animations are fluid and the transitions between them are seamless. The crowd in the back looks less then stellar and  looks lifeless. A lot of the music is a remix of Punch-Out’s main theme but thats not really bad because it was already a great theme before. As for the other music, they sound great and work well with each boxer. All the characters speaks their first language from their country, Glass Joe speaks French, Von Kaiser speaks German and etc. It sounds great and authentic, but it would have been nice to have subtitles so you could understand what their saying. Some short cut scenes have them yelling things at little mac but you have no idea what their saying unless you know that language. Menus are uninspired and boring. They can only be controlled by the Infrared Pointer on the Wii Remote, which is frustrating when you’re playing NES style since you constantly have to turn the controller to point it at the screen.

punchoutmultiplayer

     There is a Multi-player Mode Called Head to Head which has two Little Macs fighting each other one on one. It has a completely different move set from the regular game. After a player counters enough they will become Giga-Mac which is a larger version of mac that is similar to the other boxers in the game. At which point it moves to a more traditional set up where it goes to a single screen view and little mac needs to dodge and counter. At times it can feel like a waggle or button mash fest since there is no real pattern. Although there are still visual cues that show you when some one is going to attack. Overall it’s fun. You may not play it much after the first few times but its a nice addition and something that you may play a few rounds with every once in awhile. It’s not going to be something that keeps you coming back though.

     Punch-Out on the Wii shares many aspects with its past titles, possibly too many. The game play it’s self has gone almost completely unchanged, whether or not thats a good or a bad thing is completely up to you. It’s very simple and it works. It provides a experience that today is still unique to the Punch-Out series. If you didn’t like the game play of Punch-Out before theres nothing here that could really change your opinion. People who love the old classic Punch-Out game play are going to like it unless their looking for something new. Is it worth the $49.99 USD price point? For Punch-Out fans, you probably already have the game, but if not I would say it should be a definite purchase and a great addition to your Wii’s library of games. Otherwise give it a rent and see if you like it, or try out Punch Out Featuring Mr. Dream and Super Punch out on the Virtual Console before spending $50.00 on it.

Score: 8.4

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