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Punch-Out!! Review

Little Mac comes out of retirement in a knockout game

This could have so easily been a failure. When developer Next Level Games (responsible for Mario sports games like Mario Tennis and Mario Strikers Charged Football) were given the task of bringing back one of Nintendo's most beloved cult franchises, it could have been so easy to mess it up. Especially when the series in question is Punch-Out!!.

Had it been too tricky, the vast majority of Wii owners would have been put off. Like it or not, the Wii's audience is very different from that back in the days of the SNES and NES. Had it been too easy though, the game would have certainly upset the hardcore Nintendo gamers; long time fans who have been waiting upwards of 14 years for a new Punch-Out!! to emerge. This is a tricky tightrope to cross, and yet Next Level Games have done it with ease. On a unicycle. While juggling fire.

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Easy Does It?

On first glance, it seems that Punch-Out!! doesn't have much in its locker. It's got an Exhibition mode, a Head-To-Head two-player mode and a Career mode where, like in the previous games in the series, you fight your way through three circuits (Minor, Major and World) in order to become the champ in each one.

Punch-Out!! is faithful to the original game, to the point that some opponents can be defeated using the same tactics as before. When we made King Hippo expose his weak stomach so we could punch away at it, or realised that with the right timing we could once again hit Bald Bull and knock him down as he charged towards us, we couldn't help but think that this was little more than a re-imagining of the original NES game, something that newer gamers would love but older ones (or those who took our advice and have already played through the original games on Virtual Console) would feel short changed by.

In fact, it seemed to us that anyone who'd played the SNES and NES games would have no problem breezing through the 13 opponents here, all of whom (with the exception of one newcomer, Disco Kid) featured in previous instalments of the series. And as we got to the thirteenth and final opponent after only an hour and a half, we feared this would be the case.

We were worried. Sure, anyone who hasn't played Punch-Out!! on the NES or its SNES sequel would indeed take a lot longer than a couple of hours to play through the game, and they'd probably get a lot more enjoyment learning how to defeat each opponent. But nobody's been looking forward to this game more than Punch-Out!!'s long-time fans, and as we finally disposed of our 13th foe, we couldn't help but feel let down by how easy it all was. We had this review all planned out in our head: "great for newcomers but far, far too easy for Punch-Out!! fans. 70%." And that's when things got interesting.

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Punch-Drunk Love

You see, as with all great boxing champions, once Little Mac wins the belt he has to defend it. In this case, by fighting again against everyone he's already fought. "Fair enough," we thought, "at least we already know how to beat them all". Ah, how foolish of us. This string of title defences comes under the heading of "World B", and every opponent is significantly harder than they were before.

Take Glass Joe for example. He's long been the butt of many a Punch-Out!! joke. Having never won a match, he's by far the easiest opponent in the game thanks to his glass jaw (hence the name). Before defending the belt against him though, a cut-scene shows him going to the doctor. The doctor shows him an X-ray and explains that his jaw is weak, giving him a headguard to protect it. As a result, punches to the head no longer faze him. His fighting style is much trickier now too. When he leans back to punch, he'll sometimes fake it, making you dodge at the wrong time and leaving you open.

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Comments

19 comments so far...
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  1. markdean2012 Thursday 21st May 2009 at 10:28

    woo! first comment!

    i have this game now and it is awesome, i have quickly dispacthed the minor circuit and now i'm onto major, a bit too similar to the original, but still it's a great game so far can't wait until i get to title defence mode then the challenge will begin!

  2. Swixer-Swaxer Thursday 21st May 2009 at 10:39

    New to the series but I already love it and am stuck on the Great Tiger. Awesome game

  3. markdean2012 Thursday 21st May 2009 at 10:46

    New to the series but I already love it and am stuck on the Great Tiger. Awesome game

    you get tko'd/ko'd buy his special attack don't you? because if you do all you have to do is

    quickly press and hold down before hits you, (but don't duck, just block) and just keep on the pressing down. (because when he hits you with the attack it will break your block)

  4. Beeson Thursday 21st May 2009 at 12:37

    This was really good review, got me hyped and has pursuaded me to get the game.

  5. super_chris Thursday 21st May 2009 at 14:02

    I got this on Wednesday and love it so far. Just stuck on Great tiger.

  6. Beeson Thursday 21st May 2009 at 14:13

    Cheers to mod/admin for removing the spoiler, only wish I hadn't seen it :x

  7. Swixer-Swaxer Thursday 21st May 2009 at 14:19

    New to the series but I already love it and am stuck on the Great Tiger. Awesome game

    you get tko'd/ko'd buy his special attack don't you? because if you do all you have to do is

    quickly press and hold down before hits you, (but don't duck, just block) and just keep on the pressing down. (because when he hits you with the attack it will break your block)

    Did it myself but thanks, stuck on Aran Ryan now :lol:

  8. markdean2012 Thursday 21st May 2009 at 14:50

    New to the series but I already love it and am stuck on the Great Tiger. Awesome game

    you get tko'd/ko'd buy his special attack don't you? because if you do all you have to do is

    quickly press and hold down before hits you, (but don't duck, just block) and just keep on the pressing down. (because when he hits you with the attack it will break your block)

    Did it myself but thanks, stuck on Aran Ryan now :lol:

    me too! lol!

  9. Ai64 Thursday 21st May 2009 at 15:41

    This game looks cool with all these characters.

  10. sivlock Friday 22nd May 2009 at 08:24

    Great Tiger does he still spin around beefing you with a punch each time? Just block the punch be careful with the timing though you should soon enough figure it out, oh wait that was the NES version lol! I gotta get this I love punch out :)

  11. ILoveWii Friday 22nd May 2009 at 10:34

    Cheers to mod/admin for removing the spoiler, only wish I hadn't seen it :x

    Lucky I knew the character.

    Anyway, good review and this game is meant to be awesome so I'm getting it today.

  12. markdean2012 Friday 22nd May 2009 at 14:55

    put all spoilers in boxes like i have the code is


    quote me to get the code

  13. Shadowluigi21 Saturday 23rd May 2009 at 15:49

    This game looked really good and I was going to get it until I found out it doesn't support the classic controller.

    I'll just stick to Super Punch-Out!! for now.

  14. markdean2012 Saturday 23rd May 2009 at 15:50

    This game looked really good and I was going to get it until I found out it doesn't support the classic controller.

    I'll just stick to Super Punch-Out!! for now.

    what are you lazy? using the wii remote and nunchuck to punch is much better than using the classic controller.

  15. Oxo64 Saturday 23rd May 2009 at 17:32

    You can use the Wiimote horizontally too, so the controls are identical to the NES Punch-Out. (Using the Wiimote & nunchuck is more fun though!)

    Awsome game, best in the series so far, without a doubt.

  16. dannnnn Sunday 24th May 2009 at 15:47

    How did the reviewer supposedly breeze through the contender circuits yet lose against Glass Joe in the title defence mode? Glass Joe is tougher than before, yeah, but Mr. Sandman the first time around is miles harder until you get used to him.

    Even though there are circuits there may as well not be, you effectively just fight one boxer after another. There are no consequences for losing (Super Punch-Out!! only allowed you 3 retries in each circuit) apart from a loss on your record.

    Being able to practice against each boxer in Exhibition before fighting them in Career mode is too noob-friendly. In Super Punch-Out!! you had to beat each circuit without losing to unlock those boxers in time attack mode where you could practice and fully learn their patterns.

    It's a really good game and I'd recommend it to any Wii owner, but it's not the best game in the series.

  17. markdean2012 Friday 29th May 2009 at 14:08

    How did the reviewer supposedly breeze through the contender circuits yet lose against Glass Joe in the title defence mode? Glass Joe is tougher than before, yeah, but Mr. Sandman the first time around is miles harder until you get used to him.

    Even though there are circuits there may as well not be, you effectively just fight one boxer after another. There are no consequences for losing (Super Punch-Out!! only allowed you 3 retries in each circuit) apart from a loss on your record.

    Being able to practice against each boxer in Exhibition before fighting them in Career mode is too noob-friendly. In Super Punch-Out!! you had to beat each circuit without losing to unlock those boxers in time attack mode where you could practice and fully learn their patterns.

    It's a really good game and I'd recommend it to any Wii owner, but it's not the best game in the series.

    there's a mode called mac's last stand you know in which you can only lose a certain amount of times and you have to start all over again if you lose.

  18. Dr1f73r Tuesday 9th Jun 2009 at 15:38

    looks good i like the characters i.e-bear hugger i like him 8)

  19. punchoutfan Saturday 18th Jul 2009 at 11:13

    Thank the lord we finaly have another punchout game! I first played the snes version two years ago and have been waiting for a another ever since.Also I'm happy because it is a really fun game.Alough I agree with most things in your reveiw I think that the multiplayer is a lot beter than you make it out,me and my friends all love it!You at nintendo always compliment wiisports and how it is good on multiplayer but this multiplayer is way beter than the boxing on wiisports. Taking that into account I think you could have given the game at least 95%

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