Knock out: Infendo reviews Punch-Out for Wii

Infendo

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Developer Next Level Games must have studied Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out for years. Because they have recaptured the spirit of that classic game and revived it with slick presentation, tight controls, and fresh perspective in the all-new Punch-Out for Wii. It doesn’t happen often, but Punch-Out not only lives up to the hype of the original, it surpasses it.

Like its predecessors, Punch-Out Wii is “all about the timing,” according to Doc Lewis, your trainer. The game has as much to do with real boxing as Rocky Balboa does; not much. In reality, it’s about countering an offensive from your opponents, or catching them off guard. It’s an exaggeration of the truth, and it’s more fun this way—just like watching Rocky is more exciting than watching a real boxing match. Nevertheless, you can’t just step up swinging and expect to win. Punch-Out requires strategy. And you’ll have just as much fun remembering (or learning) the combos of your opponents as you will overcoming them.

When the updated sequel was first announced, I thought the focus on timing might be antiquated, dare I say gimmicky—like “Blast Processing” (aka speed) was to early Sonic games. But I was wrong. The timing required to win Punch-Out fights has aged considerably well, if not better on Wii—like a fine bottle of wine or rich Italian cheese. But timing is only as precise as the controls, and Wii owners already know how splashy and unresponsive motion controls can be at times. Fortunately for Punch-Out, the default nunchuck and Wii remote controls work like a charm. You’ll feel empowered when using them. And you’ll want to master the game using them.

For long-time players like myself, however, you cannot go wrong with “NES Style” controls. With a quick disconnect of the nunchuck, you’ll feel right at home dodging, ducking, and blocking punches. If I had to pick between the two, I’d give NES Style the slight nod, because they’re a tad tighter. But after beating the single-player mode, I’ve already begun going back to win the championship with motion controls, as it offers a unique and still-worthy experience.

The third control option, which integrates the balance board, is throw away. By standing on the board, you’ll be able to dodge punches from either side and duck. That’s it. Not a lot to experience here. I suppose it could extend the life of the game a bit, but I had no fun playing this way, and quickly returned to hand-only gestures or NES-Style.