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Punch Out

Punch-Out!!

May 18, 2009
Developer:
Publisher:
Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief

Video Game Cat Review

Date of Review:  May 30, 2012
Format Reviewed:   Wii
Language / Country of Origin:   English / USA
Single or Multi-Player:  Single- and multi-player (up to 2 players).  In the 2-player mode, both players play as Little Mac and fight one another.  
Online Capability: 
None
Prequels: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, Super Punch-Out!!
Equipment Needed: Although you can choose to only use the standard Wii controller, the nunchuk and balance board are required for certain control settings.  There are four different control choices for this game: 1) Wiimote alone; 2) Wiimote plus nunchuk; 3) Wiimote and balance board; and 4) Wiimote, nunchuk and balance board.
Maintenance Required:  None required.

Review:

Plot:  
In Punch-Out!!, you play as Little Mac, a 17-year-old, 5’7”, 107 pound rookie fighter from the Bronx.  In order to prove your worth, progress to the championships and win the title belt, you must box your way through an assortment of opponents (thirteen in all), each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Punch-Out!! is very similar to the other Punch-Out games in the series, with added optional motion controls.  The Wiimote and nunchuk can be swung to punch, uppercut, dodge and duck.  Movements must be timed strategically in order to wait for an opportunity to strike opponents when they are most vulnerable.  Doing so will earn Little Mac a star.  Stars allow Little Mac to unleash a “Star Punch” – a powerful attack which increases in strength with more stars collected (up to three available).  If punches are blocked, Little Mac loses stamina.  If he loses enough, he has to catch his breath and cannot counter attack.  Effectively dodging punches raises his stamina.

The game has different modes, including Career Mode – where Little Mac is fighting his way up through the ranks of the World Video Boxing Association (first through the Minor Circuit and then through the Major Circuit) and Title Defense Mode – where Little Mac faces off against his previous opponents who have learned new tactics to defend against Mac’s punches, creating more difficult battles.  Title Defense Mode also has special achievements to complete, such as winning a fight with no punches blocked.  There is also an Exhibition Mode – where there are additional challenges to undertake, such as beating opponents by TKO.  Finally, there is a Two-Player Versus Mode – where both people play as Little Mac and aim to defeat one another.  Original to the Versus Mode, Little Mac can accumulate “Giga Mac Juice” by properly hitting his opponent.  Once you gain enough juice, you transform into Giga Mac, or a giant version of Little Mac – with increased power.

Cultural / Historical Value: 
Punch-Out!! is a reincarnation of the previous popular title of the same name (originally titled Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!) from 1987.  Many of the opponents and controls are very similar to previous version.  This game, despite the many similarities, was very well received by both the general public and critics.  The title was praised for the nostalgic gameplay, but also for making the game seem new and improved – through better controls and incorporating the Wii’s motion sensors.

Teaching / Learning Characteristics: 
Whether players are using just the Wiimote or the Wiimote and nunchuk/balance board, the game requires very good reflexes in order to defeat the boxing opponents.  The utilization of the nunchuk and balance board gives the game added fitness challenges, as the constant movement of players’ bodies can most definitely raise their heart rates.

Replay Value:  
Although players who are familiar with the previous title may think that they will just be revisiting old challenges, this is not accurate.  Even though players will face off against familiar opponents, the motion controls change the gameplay and bring added challenge.  Further, opponents change their boxing strategies the second time that players battle against them (in exhibition mode).  There are also additional challenges that can be unlocked if players succeed.  The multi-player mode also added to the replayability of the title, by having players fight against one another as Little Mac/Giga Mac.  Finally, it can be argued that the exercise value of the game increases the value of the title (you will really sweat if you play hard/long enough!).

Likely Audiences:
Punch-Out!! might not be appropriate for young children, due to the violence.  However, there is no blood.  The game will appeal, obviously, to fans of the series (both the original title from 1987 and the sequel (Super Punch-Out!!) from 1994), as it has not been substantially changed and will feel familiar.  Boxing/Sports game fans will also find something to appreciate in this title.  Finally, if players are looking for a good workout, this title will be appropriate for them, as gamers can work up quite a sweat (if using the Wiimote/nunchuk combination) while battling their boxing opponents in this game.

Overall Score:
89/100

Other Reviews:
1up.com
Gamerankings
Gamespot
Metacritic
MobyGames

About the Author:
Shannon L. Farrell, MLIS, MS
is an Assistant Professor and Liaison Librarian at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins.  Having been an avid gamer for the last 25 years, she has a great interest in incorporating videogames into library and educational environments.  She has conducted research on the topic, examining current use of videogames in libraries and the resources available for collection development purposes.  Shannon is a member of the ALA Games and Gaming Round Table.  Since she plays videogames on a daily basis, Shannon is a regular contributor and editor of reviews for VideoGameCat.  She also maintains the VideoGameCat Twitter (@thevideogamecat) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/thevideogamecat) accounts.

Awards

Award Giver Category Verdict
Spike Video Game Awards 2009Best Wii Game Nominee
Canadian Video Game Awards 2010Best Visual Arts Nominee
Golden Joystick Awards 2010Fighting Game of the Year Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2010Fighting Game of the Year Nominee

Additional Info

ESRB Description:
Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief

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