You’re gonna eat Wiimotes and crap nunchuks!
Your parents may have told you that violence isn’t the answer. Your parents may have also had you watch Rocky for its sweeping tale of an underdog overcoming adversity. Your parents’ idiocy notwithstanding, Rocky was about boxing, a time-honored sport the world over and one of the the most violent professions the law allows. The Punch-Out!! series (exclamation marks included) has, in its own way, always found an approach to make it less violent somehow and still keep it fun.
[image1]Little Mac is back, pink jumper and all, and he’s got his eyes on the title. In a sea of crappy-ass remakes and games with increasingly larger numbers tacked to the end in their names, Punch-Out!! stands head and shoulders above the rest as to how to do it right. The button layout, the controls, the design – everything is just how you remember right down to the cut-scenes and the order of the fights.
The ethnic and social stereotypes are still there, but since the "make fun of everyone but burn victims and the deaf" (not that they’d hear about it) is in place, nobody feels too alienated. There are some issues with the Wii motion controls (gasp!). They’re about the same as the boxing game in Wii Sports, only half as functional. They are fun to fool around with, but if you want to win against the computer, you’ll need the responsiveness of the D-pad and button combo.
Beside the complete cel-shaded graphical overhaul, there’s very little that has changed, right down to the classic controls: D-pad left and right to dodge, down to duck, and the 1 and 2 buttons to hit. A new addition is the Star Punch. At certain points during a fight, your opponent will flash yellow and hitting them in that brief moment will earn you a star (up to 3) allowing you to unleash an aptly named Star Punch for heavy damage. It doesn’t add a great amount of depth, but it’s a fun little extra that pulled my ass out of the fire more than a couple of times.
[image2]As mentioned earlier, the motion controls could use some improvement. They’re not entirely broken, but they are sluggish and unresponsive, and best used for multiplayer, another new feature in the game. It pits you against either one of your friends in local or some chump via Wii Internet or whatever it’s called [Wiinternet? ~Ed.]. It’s neat, but the single player is really where it’s at. It’s so frustratingly similar to the original that you’ll get flashbacks of hurling your controller at the TV and screaming about the game cheating.
You’ll see some familiar faces in your quest to the top and some newcomers as well: Disco Kid and Giga Mac will make for challenging opponents, but your quest for greatness still starts off with Glass Joe. All the characters are now rendered in full 3D and they all look great. The cut-scenes where they are introduced are collections of concept art depicting each character as whatever stereotype their country specializes in (even Canadians!). The fight card for this new iteration has a much larger fight card, featuring fighters from the four previous games and some surprise cameos from other titles.
Much to the dismay of whatever shadowy figure made his fortune selling replacement controllers to frustrated Punch Out!! players, Mike Tyson is nowhere to be found… so you may actually be able to beat it. That’s not to say Punch Out!!! is by any means easy. You’ll still be hoarse from screaming and your hands crippled with Nintendo thumb. However, you will have a tremendous amount of fun in the process (in fact, this review would’ve come out sooner had I not been so consumed by playing it for hours on end).
[image3]The one downside to this most faithful of faithful remakes is that anyone who mastered Punch Out!! still remembers how to beat everyone. The new characters and the characters from other Punch Out!! titles, though, mixes things up nicely and the overwhelming nostalgia of it all more than makes up for that one and only real shortcoming.
From the music to the controls and Doc’s worthless advice between rounds, everything in Punch Out!! harkens back to a time before bump-mapping and load screens, a time when games didn’t have to rely on downloadable content or pre-order bonuses to be great. Whether you’re an old hand to Nintendo bitch-slapping, or boxing is a new concept to you, Punch Out!! is as good as it gets for remakes. It’s changed very little and added just enough to keep the experience fresh for return players. If you own a Wii, Punch Out!! is a real
knock out $50 well spent.