Hello, and welcome to a new segment, Wrapping up the Wii! In this series, I will be catching up on and reviewing a ton of Wii gems I’ve missed over the years. Suggestions are welcome.
The Wii is reaching the end of its lifetime. With the Wii U on the horizon, fewer titles are coming to Nintendo’s little system that could. The only 2012 Wii game I’ve bought this year was Xenoblade Chronicles, and that title finished production years ago. With no new titles releasing for extended amounts of time, I’ve turned to the Wii’s backlog of titles.
I was a late(ish) adopter for the Wii. I got the console in early 2009. There is still a plethora of games I haven’t played. I’m building up my library, slowly but surely. Playing through old Wii games is fun, and I have a constant supply of entertainment. Plus, all the titles are cheap since they’ve been out for years. I’m currently working on three titles.
I decided to make this new series to develop and share my opinions on the Wii. My first game is Punch-Out!!, the retro revival of Little Mac and quick reflexes.
Punch-Out was a favorite of mine, playing on my uncle’s NES. Though I could never win a fight (even against Glass Joe), the game was a ton of fun. To this day, I have no idea how my cousin was able to beat Mike Tyson.
Though the lack of Tyson is felt in the Wii revival, the throwback brings plenty of nostalgia to the table, creating a quirky, challenging game with a ton of content.
Let’s start with the basics. You are Little Mac: aspiring boxer, ready to take the world by storm. Your trainer, Doc Louis, is there to push you to the limit. The boxing world is full of some truly quirky characters. Glass Joe is a French wimp with a less than outstanding record. Super Macho Man portrays a bitter jerk; a celebrity with an ego the size of King Hippo, an obese islander, with questionable hygiene.
This is one of the reasons of why I enjoyed Punch-Out!!. I eagerly anticipated the next character’s reveal, ready to find out what kind of personality each one had. Jumping from martial artists to rednecks to magicians kept me on my toes. Each fighter is introduced in a short slideshow, delving into each one’s life. The cartoons are full of humor, and are filled with some truly hilarious moments.
Many people complain about the lack of new fighters in this installment. I find it a pro rather than a con. The cast of returning characters brings a nostalgic rush to anyone who has played the original Punch-Out!!. Other small touches, such as the recreation of the scene where Doc rides a bike while Mac jogs behind him, truly make the game a retro revival. The title has the second best humor in any modern Nintendo game, only being topped by Kid Icarus: Uprising.
The game has a superb look. The character design is top notch, and the cel-shading looks beautiful. Voice acting is great as well. Each character’s spoken dialogue accents their personalities, even if all that you can hear is grunts. My one complaint is the music. Although the tunes of Punch-Out!! are catchy, all that shows up are remixed versions of each song. Yet, some of the tracks are fantastic. The career mode menu in particular has a truly ominous atmosphere.
Now we get to the main act: the gameplay. If you ever thought Punch-Out!! was a wrestling simulator, you’ve got it all wrong. This is no WWE. The game takes place from a fixed camera angle. You control Little Mac’s transparent as you eye your enemy’s movements.
Punch-Out!! is about defense. You have to dodge your opponent’s attacks, and then find an opening. If you run in and start throwing punches randomly, you’ll be out within the first round. Seems easy, right? Well it’s anything but. The game is full of rapid, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gameplay. You must dodge your opponent’s attacks within a very small window, then immediately return and throw in some attacks. Some enemy’s give you plenty of notice before punching, while other’s have a very short wind-up. Some opponents throw in a mix, just to mess with your head.
The huge difficulty of the game leads into its huge replay value. The title can be incredibly frustrating at times, but you can only blame it on yourself. Fights took me over an hour to figure out, even though it’s possible to best them within a minute. Analyzing your opponent’s moves takes enough skill, but reacting and dodging at the right time is another. Combining these was a great challenge.
Speaking of replay value, the game has some of the best. After completing all three circuits, you’re only one third through the game. You still have to compete against all of your past foes, as they attempt to claim your belt. After practicing for hours and finally defeating the final boss, I thought I was ready for whatever came next. Before I knew it, I was losing against Glass Joe. The game adds so much more challenge than I ever thought was possible. After you beat everyone again, you still have one final mode. Last Stand mode is one of the most intense things I’ve ever experienced. The three loss limit keeps you on your toes at all times. I didn’t want the career to end. After a few fights, I shut my Wii off, scared to lose my belt. Yet, the ending of the story is a truly touching moment, embellishing Little Mac’s rise to fame, and his fall from glory. And his acceptance of it.
The replay value even extends to multiplayer mode. The two player bouts are a fun little distraction, though they are anything but a software seller. The attainable achievements for each fight also add even more challenge to the game, but taking down Soda Popinski in one round is always satisfying.
Punch-Out!! is a hard game to rate. The huge difficulty of the game kept me frustrated during my playthrough. Yet, the game isn’t tarnished in my mind. The franchise has always been known for some of the most difficult challenges in gaming. This title proves to be worthy of the Punch-Out name.
Punch-Out!! gets a four out of five Reggies. Despite some lacking elements and some challenging AI beyond any I’ve experienced, the fun gameplay and quirky nature of the title make this a must-own Wii game that everyone should play. The revival brings new life to a franchise, and I would love to see new additions on Wii U or 3DS.
And so, the first episode ends. Did you like it? Was it the most horrendous thing you’ve ever read? What do you want me to play next? Suggestions are welcome for the series. Your choice might show up in the next episode! Sound off in the comments below.