Punch Out Review (Wii)

Punch Out on Wii does an A+ job of reviving an old school game for a new generation. The old cast is present (minus Iron Mike) and given playful makeovers from their 8 bit doppelgängers ... not once, but twice ...

Punch Out will tax both your reflexes and puzzle solving skills in ways not present in other games. Each opponent you fight in the ring has special tells that telegraph their next move, and it's up to you to decipher the counter strategy, but even if you have the strategy down, you still have to execute. Blink, and you might miss the next opening; lose your focus and you will lose the game. To be honest, I got some eyestrain playing this game in the dark, and while some extra lighting helped alleviate the problem, it didn't eliminate it completely.

The sad part about this game is that it's limited to 13 fighters in each mode - Contender and Title Defense; after defeating each fighter initially in Contender mode, you become the champion and must defend your title vs. leveled up versions of the 13. It's sick how hard some of them become. Anyways, the final mode is a do-or-die fight to the end of your career. It took me around 9-10 hours to get from the beginning to retirement ... and to discover the surprise cameo ending :) [No spoilers from me, just a teaser.]

I like short games, but I felt like this game was missing something that would have made it complete. Multiplayer is present, but also feels lacking (since it's limited to Little Mac vs Little/Giga Mac). Perhaps a create-a-boxer would have been nice. There are "challenges" to fulfill by revisiting defeated foes in exhibition mode, but without the "carrot" that we've come to known as trophies, the motivation for clearing them is lacking. I also liked the attempt at Nintendo to include motion controls via Wiimote + nunchuck and also Balance Board integration for dodging, and while fun, they ultimately affect your chances of winning since reaction times can be awkward.

Pros: Addicting gameplay, cartoon style matches content well.
Cons: Lack of depth.

kenholic.com rating: 7.5 out of 10.