As great as the single player mode is, Punch-Out is a very social game. And I’m not referring specifically to the two-player versus mode. While battling my way through each of the three title circuits, my wife coolly overlooked and offered the occasion “ooh”, “ahh”, and a few helpful hints. Point being, Punch-Out is not only fun to play, it’s extremely fun to watch others play; how they overcome each opponent, how they play compared to you, etc. And yes, there is head-to-head fighting. It’s not on par with the depth of Halo multiplayer or Wii Sports multiplayer, but it’s a fun way to play. Simple but enjoyable.
For as good as Punch-Out is, I do have my quibbles. Firstly, the pre-fight cut scenes are not animated, rather they are only four still drawings faded in quick succession. It’s a boring look to an otherwise nicely animated game. Secondly, the background music quickly gets repetitive; over and over you’ll hear the same identical theme. Interestingly, the exhibition mode mixes this up with clever remixes of the same theme, so I’m not sure why they weren’t included in the campaign. Lastly, you cannot select players in versus mode. Each player must play as a pallet swapped Little Mac. Kinda boring.
I hate The Great Tiger. He was the bane of my existence as a child playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. More than 20 years, a marriage, one degree, and two kids later, you would think I would have mastered the Indian boxer’s teleportation craftiness. But I haven’t. He still gives me the same headaches. And that’s what makes this game so fun for long-time Punch-Out players. There’s enough freshness to make it feel new again, but enough familiarity to suck you right back in.
For its additive gameplay, fresh challenge, and deft style, I give Punch-Out Wii three and a half stars out of four. Rated everyone 10 and older. $50, Nintendo.
(Last page contains 11 more images)