Punch-Out!!

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May 18, 2009 Punch-Out!! NA
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Title: Punch-Out!!
Region: America Release: May 18, 2009
Model #: Unknown Price: 49.99
Rating: E10+ - Everyone 10+
Review
Friday, June 19, 2009
In Short:
Everything you remember about Punch-Out, better than it ever was to begin with.

I loaded up Punch-Out!! on the Wii Virtual Console the other day (the NES version, of course), after having taken a break from the infuriating punishment I was receiving in the new Wii Punch-Out!!. Little Mac was so... little! And all the dudes I was punching out were really little too. I remembered them being bigger. It was kind of lame.

Punch-Out!! for Wii has this tendency of doing that. The characters are huge and colorful and cel-shaded, the sound effects are loud and brassy and in stereo, the game runs in widescreen progressive scan, the intro music for the fighters is usually orchestrated or originally performed live, and all the fights have several stylish illustrations to introduce the fighters. It's Punch-Out!!, and it makes the old one look pretty much like crap.


I could talk about how it plays, but play the NES version, imagine your NES pad is your Wii Remote, and that's how it plays. Left and right dodge, down ducks, up aims your punches high, and your two buttons punch with your left and right hands. Tap A (right of the d-pad) for your star attack! This took a bit of training to get used to. (Optional motion-controls and Balance Board support offer a clever diversion, but only serve to trigger your digital inputs, and likely become a bit too touchy to use when you require the instant precision of later fights.)

The first time through the game (the basic ascent through the Minor, Major, and World Circuits for the belts), you'll even find your muscle memory digging up things long forgotten—I dodged a flurry of punches from Piston Hondo (changed from Honda for the new one for some reason I suspect to be trademark) without even seeing it in the new game first, and it felt super sweet to knock his ass down afterward.


I should mention the character design on that note, because it's been hyper-jacked into the magnetosphere. Piston Honda will now bow and utter trite Japanese while you fight, the new Disco Kid is a walking caricature of a super-cool LA self-lover, and King Hippo launches fruit into the air once you knock him on his ample duff. It's in keeping with the stylistic cohesiveness of this new title: it's all how you always thought Punch-Out!! was in your mind anyway, even if this stuff was never in any of the games.

Once you finish the game a first time, all bets are off: now you're in Title Defense mode, and Glass Joe will beat the shit out of you. He's got headgear, Hippo's got a manhole cover taped over his bandage, Disco Kid and many others have entirely new movesets and tells. Frankly it's a different game. If the first time through is a "remake" of the original, the second time through is "the new Punch-Out!!," and it's goddamned brutal. (I will freely admit that in the interest of time, I still have not finished the final Title Defense circuit.)


In addition to all this, once you do finish, you apparently unlock a "Last Stand" mode where a single defeat means you start over... heap that upon the practice mode, where replaying anyone you've already beaten presents you an array of challenges (knock Glass Joe out with a TKO without dodging or being hit, for example), and this game is stuffed.

And for the nostalgia buffs, fear not—this game includes the pink jumpsuit, the Statue of Liberty, training montages, pre- and post-round smacktalk, button-tapping to regain health, the beww-weeew-weeeeew when you knock someone out, and a call to action: Join the Nintendo Fun Clu... I mean, Club Nintendo today!

I spend my days cursing Great Tiger and Mr. Sandman, and my evenings getting repeatedly demoralized by them. The only difference is I'm twenty-five now, and my controller is white.
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