Review By: Siou Choy
|Developer:||Next Level Games|
|# Of Players:||1|
Veteran gamers tend to be of one accord in saying that there really is no boxing game comparable to Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1987. That storied console game was, like all the truly enduring classics of the world, fairly simple – a simulated boxing game hinged upon figuring out each of a series of colorful opponents’ particular fighting patterns and quirks, then exploiting their predictability for a win. There was no real motion around the ring, all you could do is dodge, duck, and block. At the end of the road was a fairly impossible World Championship bout against contemporary heavyweight champ Mike Tyson.
Fast forward twenty plus years, and Punch-Out!! has gotten a fresh release, now for the motion-centered Nintendo Wii. Unfortunately, the game hasn’t changed much from its days on one of the earliest home gaming systems. Yes, the graphics have been updated, new characters have been added, and Mike Tyson (not to mention the sport of professional heavyweight boxing per se) has pretty much been relegated to history’s dustbin in the intervening years. But don’t expect the game to have grown with the consequent advances in technology, or to have been redesigned to fit the system it has ostensibly been released for. Yet and still, for all its retro stylings (both appropriate and frustratingly bewildering), the game remains a lot of fun for gamers new and old (given eventual grudging acceptance of its self-imposed limitations).
The ‘plot’, if such a game can be said to have one in the first place, is identical to the original Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! You take the part of “Little Mac”, an obvious Rocky analogue who (rather bizarrely) is noted as being only 17 years old and 107 pounds (do they actually let skinny, underaged kids get involved in professional boxing these days?). Your trainer is one “Doc” Louis, a presumed ex-boxer gone to seed thanks to his obsession with chocolate bars. “Doc” provides ‘advice’ that alternates between basic, if practical tips on beating the opponent du jour and absurd commentary about his grocery list or the Nintendo Fun Club between rounds. And the overarching storyboard focuses on your working your way through the Minor, Major, and World Circuits to get your shot at the World Championship belt.
Since Punch-Out!! is now on the Wii, there was an attempt made to add some motion based gameplay - sadly, it was a halfhearted and haphazard attempt, at best.
Manual myth #1: you can use the Wii Balance Board to dodge and duck in the game. Reality check: the balance board does a horrible job of registering movement. On nearly every occasion where dodging was involved, my character would strangely A. move the wrong way (opposite to the direction I moved), B. track my motion too slowly to properly dodge hits, or my personal favorite: C. not read my movements at all.
Manual myth #2: attaching the “nunchuk” to your Wii remote allows you to throw punches at your opponents. Reality check: uh…no. Don’t expect arcade boxing here. Don’t expect Shape Boxing…oops, I mean “Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout”. Hell, don’t expect anything at all, other than a possible busted blood vessel from frustration at this stupid game’s utter lack of even a modicum of motion recognition. About the best comment I can offer comes from a fellow gamer, who thought the Wii Remote with the “nunchuk” attached worked sort of OK for the first few opponents (mind you, we’re talking Glass Joe here), but as you progressed to more challenging fights, the slow onscreen reactions to actual thrown punches, not to mention the extra punches the computer throws in for no apparent reason, result in Little Mac hitting the canvas far more often than warranted. But never mind the nice guy review, take my word for it, Next Level Games should hang their heads in shame for selling this as a Wii-compatible, motion tracking based game when it is clearly not, in any sense of the word.
Posted: 2010-06-22 20:06:25 PST