Top positive review
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Punch yourself out, lads and lasses!
on 18 July 2009
Compile a list of Nintendo's traditional and best series of games for their generations of consoles and you're going to get the obvious titles like Super Mario, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., Metroid, Star Fox, Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda and Kirby. Punch Out is one of those series that may not be that well known compared to the others, but it's nevertheless one of Nintendo's biggest and popular series of games.
In a nutshell, Punch Out is Nintendo's boxing franchise. You punch your way up through the ranks of pro circuits, ploughing through opponent after opponent all in aim to become the champion. Punch Out is a great cartoon of a slugfest with radical toon-like boxers and unforgettable stereotypes with a simple, highly addictive and enormously fun control system. It was a huge hit in the arcades and utterly brilliant on both the NES and SNES.
Perhaps the reason why Punch Out may not be as memorable as Nintendo's other series of games is that it faded into obscurity somewhat. After all, there were NO Punch Out games for the N64 or the GameCube. But in any event, absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder with the Wii incarnation of Punch Out, which is simply another absolute winner that Nintendo have given us for this wonderful console.
True to the spirit of the series, Punch Out pits you, Little Mac (the only boxer you can play as), against all manner of stereotype comic characters, each one getting harder and harder as you progress through Career Mode. Each fight consists of three rounds, each lasting three minutes. Knock your opponent out three times in a round, or score a TKO, and you win. If after all three rounds there's no clear winner, it goes down to a ref's decision based on who performed the strongest.
How does it work? Well, there are three control methods for players to choose from. It's either Wii Remote and Nunchuk, or just the Wii Remote on it's own. Both of these options can be supported by the Wii Balance Board, if you choose to use it. And these control options are what help to give the gameplay it's incomparable depth.
Starting with the Wii Remote on it's own, you hold it like you would a joypad, using the D-pad to block, weave from side-to-side and duck, and using the 1 and 2 buttons to jab/uppercut left and right. It's done in the simplicity of the old NES controls which is simply brilliant. Instead of radically tinkering with the winning formula of Punch Out, Nintendo have opted to keep the simplicity of the controls for the Wii version. It's really easy to get into and quick to master, all the while being completely addictive. For die-hard gamers who want to master all the challenges, crush all opponents in record time or simply want to relive the NES/SNES glory days, using the Wii Remote on it's own is ideal and perhaps the easiest control option to use.
However, using the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk is UNDOUBTEDLY the most fun of the control options on offer. In typical Wii Motion control fashion, using the Remote and the Nunchuk means when you punch in your room, Little Mac is throwing punches the instant you do. Swinging the Remote forward throws the right, swinging the Nunchuk forward throws the left. Using the Nunchuk's analogue stick will help Little Mac perform extra moves; Up for block/uppercuts, left/right for weaving and down for ducking.
The Remote/Nunchuk option is what will really makes this game a hit at parties. Even if you're playing on your own, you'll get so much fun and exercise out of this. It's true to what Nintendo have brilliantly done with the Wii, and that's come up with brand new ways to make gaming more innovative and combine it with exercise, ergo, making it more fun.
Combining this with the Balance Board will also make things more deep. You use the board to weave and duck, really adding to the exercise experience and making you feel as though you're in a real boxing match. As I said earlier, using the board IS optional, and although it makes things more difficult, it can make things even more fun when mastered.
The game itself has just as much depth, what with the Career, Exhibition and Head-to-Head Modes. The sheer variety of colourful opponents exemplifies what makes the fun-factor so worthwhile. Fans of the series will be pleased that old favourites like Glass Joe, King Hippo and Piston Hondo are back. And each fight will really test your strategy. Throwing reckless punches will just tire you out and leave you easy-pickings for a KO/TKO. All fighters perform differently, and will make you think fast on your feet, as you try to determine their next moves/study their patterns. Because all fights are unique, you'll really get a challenge out of Career Mode. Going through the Contender path is reasonably straight forward, but once you've beaten that and are on Title Defence, you'll face the same opponents again, having learnt from their losses and picked up some new tricks, making them even more dangerous second-time round. This all speaks so highly of the game's AI.
Exhibition is also wonderful in that it allows you to safely practice against opponents so you have a sporting chance in Career. There're also special challenges to accomplish against the boxers which provides even more replay value. And for two players, Head-to-Head provides another thrill, what with the option to transform Little Mac into Giga Mac to beat your friend/fellow family member into the ground.
Graphically, Punch Out is a beautiful cartoon brought to life. Sound-wise, the reinvention of vintage NES music, the voice-acting and the various music tracks make for fantastic listening. All-in-all, it's a total package. Punch Out is something that all kids and adults will be sucked into. One of the most essential titles to get for the Wii.