by Chris Scott
reviewed on WII
Like many gamers I have a long standing relationship with Nintendo with an innate love for many of their franchises. And while I wait with bated breath over every announcement for the newest Mario or Metroid, there is one franchise that I have wanted to be brought back for quite a long time now. That franchise of course is Punch Out!!. My history with the series dates back to when I first received a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) as a Christmas present in December 1989. I did not receive Mike Tysonís Punch Out!! alongside the system but it was the first game I ever purchased for the system. I spent many a long gaming session attempting to beat Iron Mike and sadly I donít remember it ever happening.
My game cartridge stopped working a long time ago and no amount of blowing into it would get it to work. But a few years ago I was able to relive some of my childhood memories by playing the Mike Tysonless version of Punch Out!!. Attempting to take Little Mac to the World Title re-kindled my long forgotten love of the title and got me to think about how great an updated version of the title would be for the Wii. After all wasnít the boxing portion of Wii Sports just begging to be made into a full game labeled Punch Out!!. Late last year my visions were answered when Nintendo announced that Next Level Games, developer of the generally well regarded Super Mario Strikers and Mario Strikers Charged, were going to be in charge of a Wii version of Punch Out!!.
Updating classic games can be a tricky proposition, especially games that havenít been relevant in nearly two decades. Long time fans of the series will be critical if anything from the original source material is altered too much while new gamers need something to be able to latch onto that feels like it is not a game that is two decades old. Next Level Games succeeds on every count. Players will still control Little Mac on his quest to capture the world title and he is still managed by Doc, the chocolate gobbling trainer. The models for characters from past games are instantly recognizable, yet have a stylized hand drawn cartoon look to them. Everything looks authentic yet fresh and that all extends to how the game feels while playing it.
Instead of forcing gamers to play the game like the boxing mode in Wii Sports, Next Level Games gives gamers playing Punch Out!! three options. Like Wii Sports you can play using waggle control with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck and generally it works pretty well. I did feel the Nunchuckís analog stick was a little to imprecise resulting in some matches being harder than they should have been. Classic gamers however are more than likely going to do away with the Nunchuck completely and play the game old school NES style. While the Remote and Nunchuck mode works fine (if a little loose) I felt right at home playing it with the Wii Remote turned on its side like a NES controller. There is also a third control option that enables those that have a Wii Fit to use the Balance Board in conjunction with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck to play the game as well. This third option is by far the most complicated and sadly the least fun way to play the game. I am sure that a select few will really enjoy using the Balance Board control scheme but I found the movement detection to be shoddy at best. Being that the simplistic nature of the gameplay is one of the series strong points it is odd that they included this option in the first place.
No Pros and Cons at this time